Where to Stay and Play on South Padre Island

South Padre Island Texas WelcomeBeautiful South Padre Island has a known reputation for the influx it receives during a couple busy Spring Break weeks in March. If that’s the only thing that comes to mind when you hear South Padre, I’d suggest you think again! It is a WONDERFUL getaway for families too! During the rest of the year, South Padre Island is a relaxing oasis that rivals the best beach towns in America. This summer our family was invited to experience this Texas island as a family and we’ve got the best recommendations for a getaway you’ll never forget.

*We believe in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by the South Padre Island CVB in partnership with Texas Travel Talk. As is common in the travel industry, our family was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. As always we only provide opinions, recommendations, and experiences that are 100% authentic and our own.  

Where to Stay on South Padre Island

Pool at the Sapphire South Padre Island

One of the things I love most about staying on South Padre Island is that there are a wide range of available properties to fit every accommodation preference and budget. I can assure you that there is not a bad view anywhere on the island but if luxury accommodations are what you are looking for (you KNOW this is what our family enjoys most!), I highly recommend booking at the Sapphire through Coastal Lifestyles Luxury Rentals. The Sapphire has two private pools and rows of private cabanas to enjoy a beautiful day poolside.

Sapphire pools South Padre island

Beautiful lush landscape leads you to the beach boardwalk and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico just steps away from the pool cabanas. If you like to pool hop, staying at the Sapphire also allows you access to the neighboring Pearl pools and facilities as well. After spending a little time in the sun you can indulge yourself in luxury with amazing massages, refreshing facials, relaxing manicures and pedicures at the Sapphire Spa.

Sapphire Spa South padre island

Your teens can enjoy a space all to themselves in the Teen Game Room to enjoy some shuffleboard, pinball, pool and foosball! All fun and games here at Sapphire South Padre! At the end of the night, when you want to wind down as a family there is a private movie theater that let’s YOU choose the movie from a lonnnnng list of new releases. Just schedule the movie of your choosing with the front desk and it’s all yours!! This was one of our family’s favorite amenities.

Private Movie Room Sapphire South Padre island

Where To Play on South Padre Island

There is so much to do on the island you might have a tough time choosing exactly what to do first. We spent a very full weekend here and STILL didn’t have enough time to fit every thing in that we wanted to do. That gives us plenty of reason to plan a second (and third) trip back! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that the island has to offer.

-Get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise Sapphire South Padre Island

Build Sandcastles with the Experts!  Who else is fascinated with the elaborate sandcastles you’ve seen on the beach? I am always enamored with them. As it turns out, the experts are available and willing to teach you and your crew a few simple techniques to make you a master architect of sand as well. Several members of our group had the opportunity to meet on the sand to get an in-person lesson. This will be one of our “bucket list” items for our next beach trip!

Sandcastle building South padre island

-Get out on the water in a kayak, jetski, water bike or stand up paddle board!

If your body is a little water logged from being IN the water, you can still have fun ON the water. Even if your family has never kayaked before South Padre Island truly is the perfect place to learn. Of course you’ll all be wearing life-vests but the water surrounding the island in most places is only four feet deep. This means even if you are a little apprehensive about your stability on the water, and worst case scenario you do tip, all you need to do is stand up.

ProTip: Be prepared for the hyper-salinity (extra salty) of the water here. If it gets in your eyes it may be a bit more noticeable than average salt water.

Kayaking on South padre island

-Take a Eco-Sea life cruise while Dolphin watching or go on a pirate adventure on the Black Dragon with Osprey cruises

Pirates Pier Port Isabel

We arrived on a Friday night just in time for the evening pirate show and cruise on the Black Dragon. Drinks and snacks are available on the deck and aboard the ship. This cruise is IDEAL for families with young children.

Black Dragon Sign

The Black Dragon cruise is super interactive and the crew is just incredible with families! You’ll be on board to catch a beautiful sunset over the water and if you are there on a Friday or Saturday you’ll also get to watch the fireworks!

On Saturday, we took the 2 pm Dolphin watch cruise and we saw one of the most active dolphin pods I’ve ever seen!  This was a perfect time of day to be out on the ship too.

Osprey Cruises Chase Family South Padre Island

The ocean breezes kept us cool and there was plenty of shade on the deck to ensure we wouldn’t get too much direct sun. While sightseeing, you’ll also learn about the local wildlife and ecology of the Laguna Madre. The crew will use a trawling net to bring sea life directly to you onboard the ship and return it safely back into the eco-system.

Eco Tour Osprey Cruises Starfish South Padre Island

-Go Birdwatching at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The birding center is fascinating and people come from all over the world just to see the birds that migrate here.

Swim the Day Away Remember the two awesome pools I mentioned at Sapphire? AND at the Pearl? Almost every resort or condo has great pool access to enjoy splashing the day away. Be sure to take enjoy some pool time while you are here!

Swimming at Sapphire South Padre Island

-Enjoy a fun filled day at Schlitterbahn South Padre

“Experience the best the Gulf Coast has to offer… a 25-acre paradise and the most popular waterpark in the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy nearly two dozen world-class attractions, roar down 13 amazing indoor and outdoor water slides, or float one of the multiple river systems. The resort includes lodging, great Gulf beaches, fantastic dining location options, and unlimited use of both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.”

Where To Eat on South Padre Island

Vegetarian foods at the Painted Marlin grille

Whether it’s prepping for the day or coming in from a full day of island activities, South Padre has you set for dining options for breakfast lunch or dinner. Two of our best recommendations are WindJammers Beachfront Cafe ( located inside the IslaGrand Beach Resort) and The Painted Marlin Grille. Both have spectacular views and casual attire is acceptable at either location. Remember to be laid back enjoying the views and atmosphere, even though you are in Texas this is island life!

Painted Marlin Grille

Painted marlin South Padre dining

 

Fish and Chips at the painted Marlin Grille South Padre Island

For more family fun and ways to explore South Padre Island head over to Visit South Padre for all the latest activities and fun on the island! Be sure to check out our Instagram for more photos of our trip to South Padre Island and for the latest in Texas travel follow @TXTravelTalk on twitter.

Have you visited South Padre Island? What was your favorite activity, accommodation, or memory? Share in the comments below!  

Traveling to Tahoe : Winter Adventure Day 1 #SorentoFamily

Traveling to Tahoe #SorentoFamilyGetting out and adventuring together as a family is what life is all about. Sunshine or snowfall, the Chases are all about finding the next adventure any time of year. So when Kia Motors America invited us to join them for some #SorentoFamily winter fun in Lake Tahoe at The Ritz-Carlton, we jumped on a plane and were on our way!

Naturally, living in Texas we didn’t own a lot of true winter gear. Skiing, snowmobiling, tubing, snowball fights, and well, virtually every activity we would be participating in required winter gear that we didn’t previously own.  Solution: GetOutfitted.com

getoutfitted.com #SorentoFamily

Did you know you can rent everything you need for the ultimate winter vacation and have it delivered right to your doorstep or resort ?! That eliminates a lot of the pressure of shopping, stuffing bulky coats, boots, gloves, goggles and everything else into your suitcase and traveling with it. Fast growing children also means renting is a much more economical option rather than investing to only get one trip out of it. We will never choose to do it any other way now and have recommended this option to several friends going on their own winter adventure.

Once we’d packed up, we headed to the airport and off to Lake Tahoe. Sebastian was super excited to check a few photos off his travel photo checklist before we had even arrived. This one with the pilots was at the top of his list.

Picture with the Pilots #SorentoFamily

When we landed we were met at the airport by some of our favorite Kia representatives who directed us to the Kia Sorento we would be driving during our stay. They were incredibly thoughtful to equip our Sorento with a cooler of our favorite snacks and a warm blanket for our drive to the resort.

#SorentoFamily Snacks

The Sorento was the perfect vehicle for our adventure! The automatic liftgate and spacious trunk made it easy to load our many bags and the other luxury features kept the whole family comfortable inside.

#SorentoFamily Luggage

#SorentoFamily features

The Kia Sorento has heated seated warmers for the front AND back seats, heated steering wheel keeping the driver’s hands toasty warm, and an expansive sunroof keeping the gorgeous mountain peaks and treetops in full view. It also provides just enough lighting for the PERFECT selfies!

Family Selfie #SorentoFamily

Our navigation system kept us going the right way even while we kept distracting each other with “LOOK OVER THERE! OH WOW!” due to all the beautiful scenery we were driving through. Thankfully, Sebastian brought his GoPro along so we wouldn’t miss a thing.

Want to see what the whole drive was like? Check out the time lapse of our drive below!

Being that this was the very first time for the kids to experience what show was really like, we knew would want to pull over and stop along the way, let them play a little bit and capture their first reactions to this gorgeous landscape. I’m so glad we did because, you guys, I’m just in love with the pictures we got and the expressions on their faces are ones I’ll never forget.

Playing in the snow lake Tahoe Kia Sorento #Sorento Family

Kaitlyn first look Lake Tahoe #SorentoFamily

We played and played. Each time we stopped it took a bit of cajoling to gather our excited children back into the Sorento so we could make our way to the Ritz-Carlton in time for check in. I couldn’t really blame them it was a beautiful day to be outside.

Kaitlyn scaling rocks in Tahoe #SorentoFamily

Lake Tahoe Trees and Kids #SorentoFamily

We were haveing so much fun on all our little roadside stops together and the real activities hadn’t even begun yet. I truly wanted to live in these moments forever.

Finding a little zen in the snow #SorentoFamily

Pushups over the water Tahoe #SorentoFamily

We encouraged them to take a few moments of zen to focus and regroup. Then off to the Ritz! They had no idea how much more fun there was to come!

This week we will have several more posts covering our Winter Adventure in Lake Tahoe. I hope you will check back each day for a new post! Until then you can check out some of our photos and social posts we did on site by following the hashtag #SorentoFamily on instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

 

Travel Tips : Packing Like Pro #travel

Between myself and the hubs, we’re doing an immense amount of traveling this year. What’s awesome about that, besides getting to see some really cool places, is that we have also discovered some pretty cool packing tips too. Since I’m getting all packed up for Mom2.0Summit this week, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite travel tips to help you Pack like a Pro on your future trips.

Packing ProTip No.1  

Pack small jewelry in a PillBox

packing protips  travel tips

 Packing ProTip No.2

Wrap warm styling tools in potholder & secure with hair tie before adding to your suitcase.

packing protips  travel tips

Packing ‪ProTip No.3
Wrap shoes in a showercap to protect clothing in your suitcase.

packing protips  travel tips

 

Aren’t these GENIUS??!? Well, if you thought thses were cool- just wait…. We’ve got a few more tricks in our suitcases but we’ll have to unpack those for you in another post. I’ve got to get some sleep so I can  I catch my plane early in the morning.

For now, Share some of your best travel tips or packing #momhacks with me in the comments below!

MUST SEE Attractions at Universal Studios Orlando & Islands of Adventure

Universal CollageRecently, I had the opportunity to tour both Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure as part of a VIP press tour. Because of our express status we were able to bypass the lines to visit nearly every attraction and ride in both parks ( VIP tours are available during your vacations too! Have you ever considered scheduling one? Totally worth it in my opinion! Get the VIP info here.) If you’re lucky you just might get partnered with one of these lovely ladies they were incredible and had SO MUCH knowledge about the park, movies, attractions. The trivia junkie in me was soaking up every piece of info they were willing to share.

VIP Tour Universal Studios

There seriously are SO MANY incredible rides and  attractions at both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure ( Did you realize there are 2 theme parks here?!?!) I have a “MUST SEE” list for you of my favorites.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

This ride is one of the BEST for all ages! It is a 3D motion ride that is just THE most fun! Let me tell you, it outshined all my previous 3D experiences. It IS Universal Studios so expect nothing less than amazing.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit 

HollyWood Rip Ride RockIT
Adrenaline pumping and music thumping, you start climbing straight up. A moment later, you’re screaming at 65 mph, 17 stories over Universal Studios. For not being a Thrill Ride girl  I absolutely LOVED this ride and would do it all over again. It was one of the first “big” rides we did and while the height from the ground looked intimidating, being able to only hear your music as you go up, over, and around was my favorite part. Your teens and adreneline junkies will love this one!

HARRY POTTER AND THE ESCAPE FROM GRINGOTTS

Escape from Gringotts
At the far end of Diagon Alley™ stands Gringotts™, the goblin-run bank. Inside, you’ll experience a pulse-pounding adventure on the groundbreaking, multi-dimensional thrill ride that puts you right in the middle of the action as you navigate your way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults – encountering Harry, Ron, and Hermione along the way!

Hogwarts Express – Platform 9 3/4

Hogwarts Express

While this is not technically a “ride ” , it is an experience that will make you believe you are attending Hogwarts yourself.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the most spectacular themed environment ever created! The excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter films have truly come to life here. The expansive 20-acre area includes the village of Hogsmeade featuring Zonko’s joke shop, Honeydukes, the Three Broomsticks, the Hog’s Head pub, the Owlery and Owl Post, Ollivanders and Dervish and Banges.

Just beyond Hogsmeade is Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods and three attractions that place guests right in the middle of Harry’s world: Dragon Challenge, Flight of the Hippogriff and, located within Hogwarts castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

19_Hogwarts Castle

Interactive Wands
Wand Collage
Be sure to pick up an interactive wand while you are here! With this special wand you will receive a map to show you where to fins special location to cast a spell just like Harry Potter. You do have to move the wand in just the right way so this may be something suited for older kids or those willing to try more than once.

Seuss Landing
seuss landing
If you are a Dr Seuss lover like me you will not want to miss Seuss Landing! Keep your eyes open Universal Studios Orlando had let no small detail to be missed.
Seuss Collage

I LOVED this trip and am looking forward to taking my family with me next time! Have you visited Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure before? Tell me what your favorite part was! Or if you’ve never been what part would you most look forward to visiting?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Thanks again to Universal Studios Orlando for providing accommodations, park tickets, and meals for this press trip. All experiences and opinions are my own.

Dining, Shopping, & Entertainment – Universal CityWalk has it All!!

Citywalk

Dining, Shopping, & Entertainment – Universal CityWalk has it All!!

Universal Orlando really had so much more to offer than I ever expected. I think we have all heard about the amazing theme park, thrill rides, and cool events ( check out all the fun we had the Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Celebration). A few of us were familiar with Universal Orlando Resorts too. But did you know, there is an entirely separate entertainment, shopping and dining destination to enjoy too?! Universal CityWalk was one location my girlfriends and I had to check out! Also a big thanks to Universal Studios Resorts &  The CowFish for providing an amazing dining experience in both quality food and service as part of our #UORGirlsGetaway!

Dining
Cowfish Location Collage
On our first night out, we dined at The CowFish, a sushi-burger bar. “Burgushi” as its called here is a one of a kind dining experience! The Cowfish aims to offer something for the entire family. Between everyone in our group sharing, we got to enjoy a bite of practically everything! Generous appetizers for sharing,entree-sized salads, homemade desserts and a fun kid’s menu. With all the options I just couldn’t make up my mind. If you are like me, order a bento box to sample a mini-burger along with your choice of sushi roll and three side items!Cowfish Collage

Another evening we visited Antojitos at Citywalk, a Mexican dining experience! This restaurant features great drinks, a mariachi band, and complimentary guacamole made right at your table! On your way out don’t miss an opportunity to get your picture taken with the vintage VW bus!

Entertainment & Nightlife


The entertainment options at CityWalk are just as plentiful. Live karaoke, performances by Blue Man Group, a movie theater, awesome mini-golf are just a few of the nightlife options available on your visit.21_Blue Man Group Show

Golf CityWalk

The girls and I had a LOT of fun at Rising Star karaoke. Here  you get to sing with a live band and backup singers! Even though I do not ever wish to hold a microphone, this was such great karaoke. Everyone who went was having a great time!

03_Rising Star02_Rising Star

Shopping

You can’t come home from a fabulous vacation without a few souvenirs right? Lucky for you, there is also no shortage of fantastic shopping available at CityWalk either.

shopping at CityWalk

Fossil, Fresh Produce, P!Q, Element, Universal Studios Store, NBA Store, and many, many more to choose from. You can also go home with a tattoo if that’s your thing.( I can’t say the idea of getting tattoos on the girls trip wasn’t brought up – ha!) We decided visiting a few more shops for the kids was better for us on this trip. We had a lot of fun goofing off and finding unique gift items to bring home. Shopping Collage

CityWalk was such a fun part of our trip! It is something I wouldn’t have known to plan time for but I’m so glad we got to experience it. And now that you know your CityWalk experience will be AMAZING! For more information on store and restaurant hours check out the CityWalk website here.  Be sure to check out my other experiences at Universal Orlando Resort, like staying at Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Celebration, for other insider tips.

%d bloggers like this: