South and North Padre Island, Texas
Fun Things to Do on Padre Island with Kids
National Park Service
Near the north end of North Padre Island, Malaquite Beach is one of the least crowded beaches in the area and a family favorite. There are picnic tables, restrooms as well as a visitor center offering displays on local history and wildlife. (20420 Park Rd. 22, Corpus Christi; 361/949-8068)
Schlitterbahn South Padre Island
The largest waterpark in this neck of the woods is the 25-acre Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort, home todozens of raft rides, body slides, surf simulators, lazy rivers, wave pools, and many dry rides and activities for kids of all ages. (100 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island; 956/761-1160)
Sea Turtle, Inc.
The mission of Sea Turtle, Inc. is to educate the public about the sea turtles that nest in the area. Your family can attend a short kid-centric “turrlte talk” and view sea turtles being cared for by staff. (6617 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island; 956/761-4511)
South Padre Island Adventure Park
South Padre Island Adventure Park offers 60- and 90-minute family horseback rides along the beach. Teens 14 and up can take a 30-minute spin around the dune track on an ATV, while younger kids will enjoy hay rides and a petting barn. (Park Rd. 100, South Padre Island; 956/761-4677)
Texas Parks & Wildlife
You need some luck and good timing to pull this off, but it’s worth keeping on your radar. A few dozen times each year, the park service invites the public to early-morning releases of sea turtle hatchlings from eggs cared for at the Padre Island National Seashore incubation facility. Call the Hatchling Hotline at 361/949-7163 for the latest information on the release date, time, and location. You can also attend hatchling releases with Sea Turtle, Inc., whose Hatchling Hotline is 956/433-5735.
South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
The southern tip of the island, with its dune meadows, salt marsh and intertidal flats, is irresistible to migrating birds. You can take a nature stroll along the 3,300-foot boardwalk at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center and take guided bird walks offering views of spectacular wetland birds, migrating songbirds, and the island’s dazzling butterfly population. (6801 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island; 956/243-8179)
Want to learn how to build a fabulous sandcastle? Andy Hancock and his team at Sand Castle Lessons can show you how with a few simple steps and basic tools. You’ll learn how to stack wet sand, carve sharp details, and finish your sculpture so that it’s worthy of a family photo op. (South Padre Island; 956/433-9948)
On the western side of the island, the Laguna Madre offer some of the most ideal conditions for learning to windsurf. The only full service kitesurf and windsurf shop located directly on the water at South Padre, Windsurf, Inc. offers lessons for individuals and small groups. (224 W. Carolyn Dr., South Padre Island; 956/761-1434)