11 things to do on South Padre Island

1. Rent a house on the beach

If your budget allows you to do so, I highly recommend staying on the beach. We rented a place through SPI rentals, that had its own private pool/jacuzzi and walkway to the beach. We got up every morning to watch the sun rise, walked down to the beach to look for seashells, and came back to make breakfast. It was definitely more intimate and private. The address for SPI rentals is 2600 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597 and the phone number is 956-572-6656.

Private pool/jacuzzi and the view of the beach.

Private pool/jacuzzi and the view of the beach.

Private walkway shared with the rental next door. 

Private walkway shared with the rental next door. 

2. Get up early to watch the sunrise

Sunrise was at 7:00 am when we visited in April. We got up every morning (except our last day because a cold front came in) to watch it. There's just something about a sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise from our rental. 

Sunrise from our rental. 

Sunrise on the beach in front of our rental.

Sunrise on the beach in front of our rental.

3. Watch the sun set

As much as I love a good sunrise, I love a good sunset just as much. The sunsets were incredible, especially if you're at dinner or enjoying a drink somewhere. 

Sunset while walking on Laguna Blvd. 

Sunset while walking on Laguna Blvd. 

Sunset at Laguna BOB's.

Sunset at Laguna BOB's.

Sunset at the Painted Marlin Grille.

Sunset at the Painted Marlin Grille.

Sunset while riding bikes. 

Sunset while riding bikes. 

4. Rent bikes

Preferably from Wheels on Padre. They are closed Monday and Tuesday, but we arrived on a Wednesday and stayed until Sunday, so it worked out in our favor. We looked around before finding this place and the prices were anywhere from $30 a day to $50 a day. We then found Wheels on Padre and he offered it to us for $20 a day. We then added another day and got another bike for my husband, and the owner only charged us $15 per bike for another day, instead of $20. The owner was super friendly, and recommended some things to see and do. Their address is 2500 Padre Boulevard Suite 1, South Padre Island, TX 78597 and their phone number is 956-299-4562. 

Posing with my trusty bike and some Oleanders.

Posing with my trusty bike and some Oleanders.

From above. 

From above. 

5. Visit South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

This place is a must. Not only do you learn about and see a variety of birds and wildlife, but you get a good exercise at the same time! There is over 3300 linear feet of boardwalk to walk along and check out birds, plants, butterflies, and even alligators! Apparently there are about 10-15 alligators living there now, and the babies that were just born are the third generation. We spotted two baby gators when we visited, along with a blue crab, ducks and their babies, terrapins, and more. For more information about SPI Birding and Nature Center, their website is http://www.spibirding.com/.

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Baby gator peaking out from under the brush!

Baby gator peaking out from under the brush!

View from the 5th story.

View from the 5th story.

6. Visit Sea Turtle Inc. 

Again, this is a must, and right next to SPI Birding and Nature Center. This facility operates solely on donations and what is purchased through the gift shop. They are a nonprofit that doesn't receive any funding from the government. The donations they receive basically help keep this place intact and these turtles alive, while also teaching kids and adults about these magnificent creatures.  

When we visited, the staff were very friendly and let us know a little bit about how they worked. Each turtle tank has a binder that tells you about the turtle and its story (why it is there). Some turtles unfortunately are unable to go back into the wild due their injury or condition, but a lot of turtles are rehabilitated and released back into the water. If you are interested in going, their address is 6617 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597 and phone number is (956) 761-4511.

7. See the "White Sands" of SPI

Head north on State Park Rd 100/Ocean Blvd., past the convention center, until you reach SPI Adventure Park (about 7 miles). You will see the sand dunes along the way and as you continue on, you will see the sand start to make its way onto the road, almost making it impossible to drive forward. Up north near the Adventure Park, there aren't any hotels or places to stay. People come this way to usually camp or get away from the "hustle and bustle" of SPI. I'd recommend this place for sea shell hunting too. We found so many more sea shells than where we were staying, and there were so many different kinds and sizes. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. 

Having fun in the sun.

Having fun in the sun.

And in the sand. 

And in the sand. 

So many shells!

So many shells!

Nothing for miles!

Nothing for miles!

I spy mama bear. 

I spy mama bear. 

Posing for the camera. 

Posing for the camera. 

8. Have a drink on the water

There are plenty of places to grab a drink and enjoy the salty air, fresh breeze, and sound of seagulls squawking. Every place we went was biking distance and most of the time we did bike there. Make sure to get there at least an hour before sunset if you want to get a good seat. 

Wanna Wanna, which was right next to where we were staying. 

Wanna Wanna, which was right next to where we were staying. 

Painted Marlin Grille-currently the newest restaurant/bar on the island. 

Painted Marlin Grille-currently the newest restaurant/bar on the island. 

The inside of Painted Marlin Grille.

The inside of Painted Marlin Grille.

Peach-guava Bellini from Painted Marlin Grille. 

Peach-guava Bellini from Painted Marlin Grille. 

Laguna BOB's on Laguna Blvd. 

Laguna BOB's on Laguna Blvd. 

Mango Pina Colada at Pier 19. 

Mango Pina Colada at Pier 19. 

Pier 19, located on Padre Blvd. 

Pier 19, located on Padre Blvd. 

Pier 19 boardwalk, before you get to "Hooker's bar" at the end of the pier. 

Pier 19 boardwalk, before you get to "Hooker's bar" at the end of the pier. 

9. See some dolphins!

This was at the top of my list of attractions when we planned this SPI trip. When we were trying to find a place that did dolphin watches, we couldn't find any that did them in the morning. All of the reservations started at 11am or 1pm. We also couldn't find something that was more of a private tour rather than 50-100 people jammed onto a boat. I stumbled upon the Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center and saw that George and Scarlet offer a more intimate encounter with dolphins, and have been doing this for 18 years. They can only fit 6 people on the boat, making the experience better than I imagined. We were lucky enough to see what seemed like 20 dolphins, maybe more, the whole entire hour we were out on the water. George even answered questions that we had about the dolphins. And, he had his dog Gorgi on board who seemed to really enjoy being the dolphin whisperer. I highly recommend this if you are wanting to see dolphins. The address to the Nature center is 10 N Garcia St, South Padre Island, TX 78578. If you want to reach them by phone to book an appointment, the number is 956-299-1957, but you need to text instead of call. 

10. Explore Port Isabel

Port Isabel is just across Queen Isabella Causeway, coming from South Padre. Port Isabel has an HEB, Walmart, DQ, Wingstop, Subway, Pizza Hut, Whataburger, Church's, Dominos, Walgreens, and more. But, what you really should go see, is the area right off the bridge near the Lighthouse. There are beautiful and colorful shops, art galleries, and restaurants that are worth exploring. Plus, you have to stop at Los Cabos for a breakfast taco before heading back home, they are easily the size of your face, if not bigger. 

Davey Jones Ice Cream Locker.

Davey Jones Ice Cream Locker.

Will and Jack's Burger Shack and Beer Garden.

Will and Jack's Burger Shack and Beer Garden.

Nature's Creamery.

Nature's Creamery.

Shop next to Nature's Creamery/Burger Shack that sold different stones, rocks, necklaces, and more. 

Shop next to Nature's Creamery/Burger Shack that sold different stones, rocks, necklaces, and more. 

Bean and cheese breakfast "taco" at Los Cabos. 

Bean and cheese breakfast "taco" at Los Cabos. 

The inside!

The inside!

11. Eat Seafood!

Last but not least, eat all the seafood while visiting! Shrimp, crab, lobster, fish, and more shrimp! 

Shrimp three ways at Blackbeard's. 

Shrimp three ways at Blackbeard's. 

Fried shrimp basket at Painted Marlin Grille. 

Fried shrimp basket at Painted Marlin Grille. 

And that's a wrap! Hope you enjoyed my second blog post, since returning to the game. My next post may have something to do with Regina or shoes. Stay tuned! 

Vancouver/Seattle

Hi again! Where do I even begin? I'm going to talk about our recent trip to Vancouver and Seattle. We had heard so many good things about Vancouver from friends so we were excited about our trip.

Our morning started at the airport where we were then told that Paul needed a special waiver to fly since he was British, and we only had 45 minutes until our flight left. It took Paul nearly 15 minutes to fill out the form on his phone and when we get to the counter they basically told us that they may not have enough time to get it all confirmed before the plane leaves. So, Paul told me to go without him. I didn't want to leave him and travel by myself so I stayed for a few minutes longer. It made more sense for only one of us to buy a ticket to Canada rather than two so in the end I had to leave him at the check in desk… But, he made it! As I was taking my shoes off and going through security, I see him running behind me calling my name. A smile instantly appeared on my face. I ran ahead to get on the plane and to let them know he was right behind me. He was the last person on before they shut the doors. Talk about a sigh of relief! 

Sunrise as we flew into Dallas, TX. 

Sunrise as we flew into Dallas, TX. 

Dallas to Vancouver was a breeze. We finally arrived in Vancouver and the airport was about 30 minutes outside of the city center. I remember feeling that cool air on my skin for the first time and was so in love. I finally got to wear my new coat and scarves and got to bundle up. First stop was fish and chips for lunch.

The Fish Counter  @thefishcounteronmain

The Fish Counter @thefishcounteronmain

The fish at The Fish Counter was insanely good. Highly recommend going if you ever visit Vancouver. From there we hopped on the train into the city center and it worked out perfectly; you don’t realize how good public transport can be for getting around a city that you don’t know. The first stop once we arrived in the city was our airbnb, which was a little studio on the 18th floor of a high rise. We had an amazing view of downtown.

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We set our bags down, freshened up, and headed for the streets. We headed to Chinatown to check out a coffee shop, but of course we stopped on the way for pictures.

Propaganda Coffee  @propagandacoffee

Propaganda Coffee @propagandacoffee

The Husband  @andtheboat

The Husband @andtheboat

We wandered over to Crab Park which was right on the water. There weren't many people around and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. That is one of the main reasons we went in February/March, so that the city wasn't full of tourists like ourselves :)

 

Crab Park 

Crab Park 

Crab Park

Crab Park

Downtown Vancouver 

Downtown Vancouver 

For dinner, we made reservations at a place called Hawksworth. It was fine dining in an upscale restaurant, so we thought it was right up our alley. We decided to do the tasting menu so that we could try a little bit of everything. Out of the 6 plates, I think I enjoyed 3 or 4 of them. In my opinion, it wasn't the best place we ate at and it definitely wasn't worth the money. But you live and you learn, right?

The next morning is what I was most excited for. We stopped off at another coffee shop before adventuring through Stanley Park. 

Green Horn Cafe  @greenhorncafe

Green Horn Cafe @greenhorncafe

Stanley Park 

Stanley Park 

Stanley Park cont. 

Stanley Park cont. 

After the perfect morning at Stanley Park, and a good amount of walking, we headed back to the city to meet up with Amy H. aka @constellationinspiration at @revolvercoffee. She ended up taking the cutest pictures of Paul & I that I want to frame!

Inside Revolver

Inside Revolver

Outside of Revolver Coffee

Outside of Revolver Coffee

We then headed to “Ask for Luigi” (@askforluigi) for lunch; an Italian spot specializing in fresh handmade pasta. It was absolutely scrumptious and a local favorite, I would recommend it in a heartbeat. We then made our way back to our place, but not without stopping for a donut from @cartemsdonuts first. 

Cartems

Cartems

Cartems Donuterie 

Cartems Donuterie 

We decided to go to Vancouver Urban Winery before dinner, and try some Vancouver wine. We both had flights- I chose the pink flight and Paul did the red. We really enjoyed this place and the atmosphere and would recommend it to anyone visiting. Then we made our way to Bauhaus, a restaurant specializing in German food. SO GOOD. I ordered the wiener schnitzel, cranberry sauce, and I ordered spatzle with it. If you don't know what spatzle is, it’s basically like a German mac n' cheese. I couldn't stop raving about this meal and definitely still think about it to this day. We ended the night at The Diamond, which is a bar on the top floor of an old building, overlooking Maple Tree Square. It was lovely, and recommended by the lovely Amy H (@constellationinspiration).

Our last full day in Vancouver started with another highly recommended place, @beaucoupbakery. We started there and then made our way over to Granville Island Market.

Beaucoup Bakery 

Beaucoup Bakery 

Beaucoup Bakery cinnamon scroll

Beaucoup Bakery cinnamon scroll

Granville Island Market 

Granville Island Market 

Can't forget about the only colored wall I found in Vancouver!

Can't forget about the only colored wall I found in Vancouver!

After Granville Island, we walked over to another donut shop called @luckysdoughnuts. Instead of cake donuts like the one I had from Cartems, this one was yeasted. Super tasty! Then just a few blocks down was where we were having lunch. A place called @maenamrestaurant, specializing in Thai Cuisine with a twist, who were voted best restaurant in 2016 in Vancouver. Again, this meal was AMAZING. 

Maenam

Maenam

We then headed back into the city and stopped at another great coffee shop reccommended to us by Amy @constellationinspiration. Are you noticing a pattern here?! 

The Birds and The Beets  @birdsandbeets

The Birds and The Beets @birdsandbeets

And again, it was back to our place before our last dinner in Vancouver. We ate at a place in Chinatown called Bao Bei (@baobei1). It was an upscale Chinese restaurant that had things like potstickers, sticky rice, and pork belly on the menu-all with a little twist. This place was phenomenal. And I wish I had a picture of our food, but I highly recommend it. We then went for drinks afterwards at a bar a few doors down called @thekeeferbar. The bathrooms were super creepy and cool. 

Bathroom at The Keefer Bar

Bathroom at The Keefer Bar

After dinner and drinks, we headed back to our place to get some sleep, since we had to be up at about 4:30am to catch the Amtrak to Seattle. 

When we woke up the next morning, we made sure that we had plenty of time at the Amtrak station – Trying to learn from our previous airport experience. We arrive about an hour before the train departs. We already have our tickets and are waiting in line. They finally start boarding and we get to the counter and that's when more problems arise… *Backstory: Paul recently renewed his visa and didn't have his new card yet since it was being mailed to him. It said in the letter that his old one will act as his current one until the new one comes so he didn't think anything of it.* The woman working immigration told us he was supposed to have this piece of paper and since we didn't we needed to go to a separate room and get verified before being able to get on the train and go back into the U.S. Luckily, after taking finger prints and pictures, they were able to verify Paul. But seriously, talk about a bunch of stress! We made it on the train and finally made it to Seattle 4 hours later, about 10:45 am.

We then headed to our hotel. We stayed at the Kimpton Palladian Hotel (@palladianhotel) on 2nd Ave. I did my research beforehand so I knew I was going to LOVE this place. It's one of those hotel rooms where you really don't ever want to leave. 

Bedside table 

Bedside table 

Angelina Jolie comes with the room

Angelina Jolie comes with the room

View from our hotel window

View from our hotel window

We set our bags down and went to explore @pikeplacepublicmarket

Pike Place Flowers

Pike Place Flowers

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market

After our walk and a little exploring, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We ate at a place called @bateauseattle, which specialized in meat. They had a chalkboard of all the cuts they had on hand and as someone ordered a cut, it would get crossed off the list. It was a very good steak and meal, AND it was connected to two amazing places that we would visit the next day: @gpdoughnuts and @barmelusine. After dinner we headed to @thesmithtower for drinks with our friends, Craig and Todd, before heading over to the Museum of Pop Culture. The Smith Tower costs us $10 to get to the top for drinks, but once we were up there, the view was incredible. You can even walk along the edge of the building for pictures and exhilaration. 

Smith Tower 

Smith Tower 

The next morning, Saturday, we went for a coffee @stumptowncoffee, and then headed over to General Porpoise so that I could grab a donut before we headed to Bar Melusine for Oysters and bubbles. I've never really had a filled donut before that I loved, so this was quite the experience for me. The donut was to die for. I ordered the chocolate marshmallow one and I think I made a good choice.

General Porpoise Doughnuts  @gpdoughnuts

General Porpoise Doughnuts @gpdoughnuts

Bar Melusine  @barmelusine

Bar Melusine @barmelusine

Bar Melusine

Bar Melusine

Saturday was the night of Paul's Pub Quiz (@geekswhodrink), which is the real reason for this trip in the first place. So after Bar Melusine, we walked around Capital Hill (which ended up being our favorite area and would recommend anyone to stay in this area because there is so much to do, see, eat and drink). We went in some shops, Paul bought some new shoes, we went to a wine bar, and then grabbed a burger at @lilwoodys. I got the 'Stranger Things Burger" which consisted of an Eggo waffle bun, maple cream cheese, grass fed beef, bacon, and creamy peanut butter. Did I just blow your mind???

Lil Woody's Stranger Things Burger

Lil Woody's Stranger Things Burger

We found some really cool graffiti and wall art in Seattle, which is something that I didn't find in Vancouver. This made me happy :)

Paul headed off to his competition with the boys and I met up with Aaleen and Trinity for drinks. I made it back to the hotel before he finished aka I got to hop into bed and watch crappy TV. The next morning was the day we were leaving, but we were able to squeeze in breakfast and one last stop for coffee at @elmcoffeeroasters.

Biscuit Bitch  @biscuit_bitch

Biscuit Bitch @biscuit_bitch

Elm Coffee Roasters  @elmcoffeeroasters

Elm Coffee Roasters @elmcoffeeroasters

Overall our trip was filled with tons of food, coffee, drinks, and walking. We had such a great time exploring these new places. I think my first impression of Vancouver wasn't as high as everyone seemed to make it, but once being there, eating the food, and exploring, I grew to love it. The food in Vancouver was by far my favorite. Almost every meal was a 10/10. In Seattle we had good food, but some meals weren't 10/10. I do feel like we didn't have enough time in Seattle to give it a chance, so I wouldn't mind going back ;) 

Paul also made a video of our trip! If you haven't seen it already, you should take a look :) 

Thanks for reading! Hope to do another post soon; whether that be an adventure, a recipe, or a collaboration. Stay tuned!

-Halee aka The Gingersnap