Set Your Winter Texan Roots in Harlingen
In the southeast tip of Texas lies a land overlooked by the snow king. It’s a land that offers Winter Texans a pleasant winter with a myriad of activities and one that attracts ardent bird watchers from across the continent.
Harlingen, Texas and the surrounding area have all the necessary attributes to attract those looking for a great place to retire and who want an enjoyable location for the long winters. The city is built in the middle of prime agricultural land that provides fresh vegetables year round and is surrounded by several natural parks where hikers and birders alike can enjoy the outdoors. The sub-tropical climate is perfect. A multitude of RV parks are now established there, including four Encore
Resort Parks: Sunshine RV Resort, Paradise Park RV Resort, Tropic Winds, and Lakewood RV Resort.
With its position nestled in the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is close to nine birding centre viewing areas. Migrating birds pass through this area avoiding the deserts to the west and making use of the verdant growth to find rest and food. Over five hundred species of birds come through here and there is a niche for each of them ranging from the salty wetlands along the coast, the freshwater marshes further inland and the dryer thickets to the west. Expect to see orioles, green jays and many hawks, and countless gaily coloured songbirds. Since these centres are spread out, you can expect to find new experiences at each one, which include float trips, walks in the wilderness and great exhibits.
To the west, enclosed by several meanders of the Rio Grande River, you will find the Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge. Here a mixture of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Gulf Coast, and the Great Plains, are home to at least 300 species of butterflies and 400 species of birds. You also can see the bobcat, ocelot and the indigo snake as you take the 11km (7mi) drive, or enjoy some of the 19km (12mi) of walking paths. A tram tour is also available.
There is a birding centre on South Padre Island, but you may be heading there to sample the long, undeveloped beach, perhaps the longest on this part of the east coast. It’s a great beach for peaceful long strolls as the restless waves caress the sand at your feet. Opportunities abound for horseback riding, sea kayaking and fishing. You might like to stop at Port Isabel on the way to the bridge to South Padre Island. There are several seafood restaurants that have great tasting food that is worth the trip in itself.
If the grandkids have dropped in for a visit, take them to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark on the island. Here a variety of rides, slides, and swims, as well as a massive five story water fun house will provide a lot of entertainment for the little ones, and just maybe… the older ones too.
Are you a shopper? If so, not far from
Harlingen at Mercedes is a 140-unit outlet mall with several brand stores you will know. In Harlingen, the Bass Pro Shop is a huge tourist attraction with a wide selection of clothes and equipment for hunting and fishing. The store features big aquariums filled with native fish, log and stone works and many wildlife exhibits.
The Gladys Porter Zoo has many species of native and exotic animals, always a treat to see. To increase your sense of adventure the zoo is divided into several zones such as Tropical America, Indo Australia, Asia, and Africa. As well there is a herpetarium with examples of unique nature’s shapes and several species of lizards, snakes and other reptiles.
Later, kick back and relax with a tour downtown to see buildings with attractive large murals inside and outside of the buildings. Afterwards perhaps you could take in a show at the Harlingen Performing Arts Theatre, which provides top-notch live entertainment. If you are interested in the founding history of Harlingen, visit the Arts and Heritage Museum.
For the fisherman, Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier located near the bridge to Padre Island is perfect. Some of the fish caught from the pier wouldn’t embarrass anyone sharing their fish stories back home. Even if you don’t have fishing equipment with you, you can rent it at the Pier. And, they have bait too! If you want to get out on the water, select from the several private charters whether you just want a boat tour, or a chance to try for some big fish out where it’s deep.
Golfers will be happy to know that the area has four public golf courses and one private, with the most play days of any area in the USA.
When Canadian Winter Texans head south to dodge the winter blues, they usually look for warmth, a nice place to stay, and things to keep them entertained. The Harlingen area has an abundance of all of these.
Gladys Porter Zoo.
Lakewood Shuffle Gazebo.
Fishing at the breakwater at Isla Blanca Park.