Arroyo City, Texas, is a great place to enjoy the water and sunshine. The family-friendly town has a slow pace and plenty of gorgeous vacation rentals to choose from. Located near popular destinations including South Padre Island, this area has plenty of things for all ages to do. Here are some family activities to consider when you book your Arroyo City vacation rental.

1. Swim In the Ocean

Although Arroyo itself is located on the Arroyo Colorado river, pristine ocean beaches are just half an hour away. If you don’t feel like driving, hop into a water taxi to get to South Padre Island. There you’ll find miles of beautiful sandy beaches and warm water to enjoy. While South Padre Island has a bit of a reputation as a party town, there are plenty of family-friendly beaches as well.

2. Go Fishing

Fishing is the main recreational activity in Arroyo, and there are plenty of great spots to choose from. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find a vacation rental that has its own pier. The Arroyo Colorado River has speckled trout, snook, redfin, and more to angle for. If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, you can find a chartered deep sea fishing boat from South Padre Island.

3. Shop and Dine At Port Isabel

Port Isabel is just a short drive or boat ride away from Arroyo, so it’s a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. It was initially established in the 16th century, so there are beautiful historic buildings and a lovely old-fashioned lighthouse to check out. Stop by the museum to learn about the history of the area, then stroll along the eclectic beach shops to pick up some souvenirs. If you want to spend the day, be sure to visit the pristine beaches and keep an eye out for pelicans and other shorebirds.

4. Watch for Birds

This area of Texas is a mecca for birdwatchers, particularly during seasonal migrations. Numerous rare species can be found in the area, including vividly colored painted buntings and Altamira Orioles. The Arroyo Colorado World Birding Center in nearby Harlingen is a particularly great place to explore, but keep your eyes peeled in the backyard of your vacation rental, too.

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5. Hit the Trails

There are plenty of hiking opportunities in and around Arroyo City. The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is the largest protected area in the region and offers trails ranging from short, easy hikes to long, challenging treks. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of an elusive ocelot, as several of them make this area their home. There’s also a visitor center where guided nature walks are often available, but tour schedules may vary depending on when you’re in the area.

6. Go On a Dolphin Tour

If you’ve never seen dolphins up close in their natural habitat, this is a great area to go on a dolphin tour. There are several pods that live full-time around South Padre Island and tend to have fairly predictable movements, so chances are high that you can catch a glimpse of these remarkable animals, along with other wild animals living along the coast. There are numerous outfitters offering dolphin tours, but the Original Dolphin Watch is one of the most popular.

7. Learn To Surf

The nice waves and pleasant waters around the Arroyo City area make it a great place to surf. If you already know what to do, bring along your own board and keep it in your vacation rental between uses. If not, don’t worry. The South Padre Surf Company offers surfing lessons to help you get started. You can dip your toes in with a one-hour lesson, or learn the ropes a bit better with a three-hour surf camp. Even small kids can get in on the fun, as the instructors are used to working with kids as young as three years old.

8. Build a Sandcastle

If you’ve ever wondered how people are able to create amazing sculptures out of sand, you can learn the techniques firsthand with a sandcastle lesson. These two to three-hour lessons are fun for all ages and let you create your own professional-looking sand sculpture. You can head down to South Padre Island and build on Sandcastle Lessons’ private beach, or ask for instructors to come to you.

9. Visit the Port of Brownsville

About 45 minutes from Arroyo is the city of Brownsville, which is home to a working deep sea port. You can explore it on your own to some degree, but the best way to see it is by taking a tour boat from South Padre Island. These tours are a combination of a nature tour and a tour of the port and its associated industries. You may get to see Navy supercarriers, deep sea oil rigs being built, and more.

10. Ride Along the Surf

Texas is horse country, and you can experience it for yourself at the Island Adventure Park. This amusement park offers daily guided trail rides through the dunes and along the beach. You can even splash through the waves. For safety reasons, only children older than six are allowed to ride. The park also has zip lines for a more exhilarating experience, as well as a petting barn for children of all ages. Kids between the ages of two and six can also go for a pony ride in this area.

11. See the Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are amazing creatures, but they’re often injured by boats and other hazards. Sea Turtle, Incorporated steps in to rehabilitate these endangered turtles and release them back into the wild. The organization is also dedicated to educating the public about sea turtles, so it welcomes visitors. Stop by to see a Turtle Talk, where a keeper provides general information about the turtles in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way. During the summer, you can watch the turtles be fed or just visit with them as they swim and play.

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