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.

Snowbirds & RV Travelers - - Contents - Story by James Stoness Life­style Prop­er­ties

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.

Pho­tos cour­tesy Equity

Fish­ing at the break­wa­ter at Isla Blanca Park.

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