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Cover 07/10/2013

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Photo: Photo by Callie Enlow, License: N/A

Photo by Callie Enlow

Not a bad view in Port A

Aside from the debaucherous Spring Break crowd, South Padre delivers hedonistic good times no matter the season and you won’t need beer goggles to find
the soft, sandy beaches attractive. However, you might need to be sauced to ignore the trash in more crowded spots. There’s an incredibly helpful Google map online titled South Padre Island Beach Access Map or you can pony up $5 to drive into Isla Blanca Park. Isla Blanca has some of the best surfing in Texas, and many visitors are lucky enough to glimpse dolphins. Others can’t get past grungy facilities and lackadaisical park employees, preferring to spend their dough at a hotel with beach access. More than 50 bars populate less than 30 square miles, making it easy to get your swerve on before, during, and after surf sets. Like most other Texas Coast spots, SPI lacks for refined lodging (for instance, Holiday Inn Express is the No. 1 ranked hotel on Trip Advisor’s webpage for the island), and visitors should expect to pay River Walk prices for economy motel rooms (last we checked, HIE’s rooms were more than $200 for a one-night summer weekend stay).

Sleep: A better deal than paying through the nose for an Econo Lodge might be renting a condo. One complex that’s both affordable and highly recommended is Gulfview 1 and 2, which has public beach access and is within walking distance of Isla Blanca. There’s also a pool, hot tubs, and tennis courts. Look for their units on the VRBO website.

Food: The 35-year-old Blackbeard’s has staying power for a reason. Go big with the seafood supreme platter, which includes fish, bivalves, and crustaceans galore, broiled or fried. Kill your hangover with a breakfast quesadilla and enjoy the island’s best cup of coffee at Yummies Coffee Shack.

Nightlife: You can’t go a half-mile on the beach without running into some type of drinking establishment, but if you’re hoping to winnow the options: Clayton’s Beach Bar is a giant wooden shack on the gulf side of the island that sets off fireworks every Saturday night; Wanna Wanna is another famous bar on the beach, as noted by party aficionados Playboy and MTV, serving up strong cocktails and nightly live music. Padre Island Brewing Company, a grandfather of the Texas indie brewing scene, prices their rotating brewed-onsite beer at a remarkably low rate ($2.75 for a 10-ounce pilsner) and will let you leave with a growler (half-gallon jug) of your favorite for $16, which you can refill during happy hour for $8.

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