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.

 

 

20 Awesome Experiences of 2016

As we look out with anticipation towards all the possibilities that 2017 may hold, it’s important we take time to reflect on all that happened the year before it. I do this each year and it always seems likes so much more greatness happens by the end of the year than what I first anticipate. I believe this happens when you leave yourself open to adventure, partner with creative, driven people, and live your life with the purpose of collecting and telling great stories. Thanks to our work with Kia Motors in 2016 we were able to tell a plethora of great stories, with incredible people, and have some really awesome experiences. Here is a recap list of some of our favorite memories from 2016.

20 Awesome Experiences of 2016

Dinner under the Stars ( Mom 2.0 at The Ecology Center)

Enjoying the Suite Life ( Hotel Emma, Salamander Resort & Spa, Hotel Zepplin, Solage)

Solage Calistoga suite

Suite at Solage Calistoga CA #KiaSoulTurbo

Ice Box Hotel Emma San Antonio

Hotel Emma, San Antonio TX #ExperienceNiro

Hotel Zepplin San Francisco CA

Hotel Zepplin San Francisco CA #KiaSoulTurbo

We went back in time in Middleburg VA when we drove the all new 2017 Cadenza ( more here)

Alice Chase and Africa Miranda Kia Cadenza Virgina

and we saw the future and what vehicles we would be driving when we get there during  SEMA 2016.

Kia Sorento Ski Gondola

Soul First Class

Soul First Class photo cred: Kia Motors

And went to some pretty unusual places ( Borrego Springs, Seven Magic Mountians, Bird’s Cafe, Penny’s Cafe, )

Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Sky Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs

Alice Jeff Joel Seven Magic Mountians

Birds Cafe, CA #KiaSoul Turbo

And some really beautiful places too.

San Francisco Bridge #KiaSoulTurbo

#KiaSoulTurbo Drive

Vegas Views SEMA Kia

Vegas Views

I even got to make a music video and karaoke with some of my coolest friends

This was just a recap of what made 2016 so special. (Be sure to go back and check out any posts on adventures you missed from 2016!) I’m sure 2017 will have even more in store for us. Some things are already on the books and I’ll share with you in the upcoming weeks. Other adventures are still to come and we’ll both be surprised when them come to pass. The exciting part is that with every new place, adventure, and road traveled we learn more about ourselves and have the opportunity to explore and share these stories. Thanks to every one of you who chose to follow along and take part by reading here, interacting on our social channels and generally being such a support and encouragement. Huge thanks to Kia Motors for both taking me along on these adventures and allowing me to tell part of that story. It’s always an awesome experience!!

West Covina Adventures with my Crazy Ex-Girlfriend #KiaDad

This past weekend I was scheduled to attend an on-campus fly-in class as a requirement for my masters program in California. After talking with the amazing people at Kia, I was given a new 2017 Kia Sportage to drive while in town. I couldn’t allow this opportunity to be all work and no adventure, now could I?? We had just finished up a conversation about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and West Covina was just around the corner from where I was staying. So…….

Kia Dad adventure West Covina

I arrived with studious aspirations but as soon as I was inside the vehicle, I thought “HMMMMM, this is just way too cool of a car to drive to and from campus, I need to have some fun!!”  

After pondering for a moment about where was, I did what any rational human with a vehicle, a full tank of gas, and a few hours to kill…. I drove to West Covina, California

Kia Dad Adventure West Covina
I know what you are thinking… “Who drives to West Covina (just two hours from the beach)???” Okay, Okay….the residents of West Covina argue that the beach is a *little* closer than two hours. Someone actually even mapped it. 

While traffic allowances may still make the beach drive time debatable, anyone who has seen our favorite binge worthy Netflix show, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, just might want to check out West Covina too! When I realized how close I was by pulling up the address from the Apple Car Play/GPS navigation, off I went “To WEST COVINA…. CALIFORNIA… the pride of the inland Empire”

Kia Dad Adventure West Covina
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the city WAS pretty cool. I went to “Home Base” which I thought was just a place made up in Hollywood-land but in fact, it’s actually really there! Well sort of….

Kia Dad adventure West Covina Home Base

It’s really called “Big League Dreams”, the city’s sports complex. It does have replica ballparks, and seating just like the show. You’ll find six near-identical, scaled-down playing fields that are replicas of famous ballparks such as Boston’s Fenway Park, New York’s Yankee Stadium and Chicago’s Wrigley Field etc. where kids can play like pros under the lights. During my visit, there was actually a game in progress, so I didn’t get to go inside and take in all the splendor, but I got close.

kia-west-covina-4

kia-west-covina-5

Of course, once I found this spot I knew I couldn’t stop there. It was off to find the piece-de-resistance. The most important location…. the site of the Big Opening Number!!

kia-west-covina-6-huge-pretzel

So, I didn’t have a huge floating pretzel or a backup squad of 100 random citizens surrounding me in spontaneous flash mob dance style. In comparison, the area was starkly quiet and remarkably clean. The fountain wasn’t in opperation for MY performance but what are you going to do….  My expectations may have gotten a little high. It’s West Covina California after all. (water restrictions ??)

kia-west-covina-7-at-the-mall

But that didn’t stop me from enacting my own rendition of the song.. NOPE, in fact it probably encouraged me. ( If you haven’t ever seen the original performance from the show- watch it first here to get the full effect of my performance.)

Surprisingly, the mall area was pretty big. They clearly used all the space they could in the opening song. It worked well too, though the signs didn’t sing to me like they did to Rachel Bloom in the show. In fact, there was nothing on most of the signs, but again its West Covina, on a weekday, what did I expect.

kia-west-covina-at-the-mall-2

A fun surprise.. killing two birds with one stone as it were, was the office exterior for  “Whitefeather & Associates” ( the law office building where the main character from the show works), is actually found just north of the fountain quad I pointed out earlier. It’s the white building just behind me.

kia-west-covina-at-the-mall-3

After breaking the silence by my song and dance, I knew it was time say goodbye to West Covina, and head back to class before I was late.  So, I packed up my hopes and dreams, and headed back to my Kia Sportage. I put in directions for the next stop and headed on.

kia-west-covina-apple-carplay

The drive to campus seemed to take a lot less time, maybe because I was able to tap into my favorite music using Pandora and Spotify through Carplay

Once I got to campus it was time to find a spot, park and head to class.

kia-west-covina-10-biola

This seems like as good as any spot. And I am sure they won’t mind, after all this MY adventure. 

Oh and just in case anyone is wondering…. I DID finally make it to the beach. 🙂

A #beautiful sunset is the perfect way to end an awesome trip #KIADad thanks @kiamotorsusa for driving me.

A photo posted by Randall Chase IOM?Social Media (@randallschase) on

Spent some #KIADad time at the beach… Love getting to relax after a long day of classes. @kiamotorsusa

A photo posted by Randall Chase IOM?Social Media (@randallschase) on

Have you watched “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” yet? We are always looking for great new show recommendations. What is your favorite Netflix show to binge watch? 

Interested in a few of our other Kia adventures? Check them out here, here, and here.

Going Places in the 2016 Toyota Avalon

2016 Toyota Avalon
I am always up for a road trip anytime of year. So when She Buys Cars and Toyota presented us with the opportunity to test out the 2016 Toyota Avalon on our way to the DFW Auto Show it didn’t take us long to pack our bags and get out on the road.

Toyota Avalon trunk space

The ample trunk space was just the beginning of the long list of features in the 2016 Toyota Avalon making this drive so enjoyable. I may have opted for the scenic route just to get a few more miles in. We were wishing we had more distance to cover before we would arrive. I can’t remember the last time I’ve said that on a road trip, can you? Here’s a few things that really made this ride stand out:

The 2016 Toyota Avalon

Toyota Avalon exterior
The Exterior: We all know it’s important not to judge a book by it’s cover. Lucky for us, we are talking cars today not books- judge away! There is no denying the Toyota Avalon brings plenty of visual appeal.

Safety: Two elements that really make this an anxiety free drive are the standard backup camera with available projected path and the blind spot monitor. The back up camera video quality is exceptionally clear which really brings peace of mind living in a neighborhood with lots of children and pets. The backup camera also helps guide you into or out of tight spots with ease.

Once you get out onto the road the blind spot monitor becomes your best friend to alert of fast approaching vehicles you may not have seen by illuminating a warning signal on the correct outside mirror.

toyota avalon blind spot

 

The Interior:

2016 Toyota Avalon Interior

Interior comforts matter to everyone. Whether you are the passenger or the driver you will appreciate the attention to detail here, which includes heated/ventilated seating with lumbar support. The Toyota Avalon premium leather seating offers a very contoured feel making everyone, front or rear, feel secure on even the curviest of routes. The roofline allowed room for my 6 ft+ husband to still be comfortable in the back and plenty of legroom too. If you are in the rear seating you will find the center armrest cup holders and trunk pass-through exceptionally convenient to access any items reducing the need for frequent stops. The ambient interior lighting was a nice touch as well.

Performance: Toyota Avalon offers a sport mode option that increases throttle response and quickens the electric power steering (EPS) giving the offers a livelier handling experience anytime during your drive. Toyota Avalon Sport mode

Toyota Avalon Gas Mileage

When talking road trips we can’t leave out gas mileage. For those of you on the conservative side the Avalon also offers an eco option and normal mode in addition to the performance sport mode.  We had different objectives during different parts of our road trip and we are betting you will too. Overall you can estimate about 21/31/24 (mpg city/highway/combined).

A photo posted by Alice Chase (@alicechase) on

You can tell by the smiles on our faces we had a great time on our drive. The Toyota Avalon played a big part in that. To learn more about the rest of the features of this and other vehicles Toyota offers check them out on their website here.

Thanks again to both She Buys Cars & Toyota for this opportunity to get out on the road! Looking forward to going more places together. 

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