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!  

Making School Uniforms Uniquely Their Own

Bummed about school uniforms this year? In collaboration with JCPenney, Kaitlyn & Sebastian took a unique shopping trip to prove there are plenty of options to style original back-to-school uniform looks WITHOUT breaking any rules. Back to School Uniform looks JCPENNEY accessories

I was a little worried this year might be a challenging one. Not because we will officially have two tweens in middle school but because this is the year we are starting over. Starting completely from scratch in a new city, new campus, making all new friends, and new uniforms. We’re the kind of parents that have always allowed our children their own personal style and expression. While this wouldn’t be the first school for our children to have worn uniforms, it was the first time they would have flexibility in what styles of uniform they could wear. In an effort to make uniform shopping lighthearted and fun we took a Friday afternoon and headed over to JCPenney. We gave each child a budget and reviewed the parameters of their new school dress code carefully before letting them shop. They were actually excited to pick out school uniforms!!!

I have to tell you, we REALLY did have a lot of fun together and I was pretty impressed with the unique uniform choices they came up with. They also have a few tips for making a school uniform look your very own without breaking the rules. Their number one school tips for styling your school uniform is to accessorize! Backpacks, jackets, and shoes are all great ways to make a look your own. Switching it up from ballet flats to sneakers can completely change a look. Read on for a few more tips and examples of how Kaitlyn and Sebastian styled beyond the basic uniform and each developed unique looks they loved.

Back To School Uniform Looks For Girls at JCPenney

Kaitlyn discovered a black jumper paired with a white button up uniform shirt that she spun around in like it was a princess dress. She also picked out an IZOD khaki Skater Skirt and paired it with a perfectly fitting blazer. Going a little more casual, she choose a fitted red polo with a pair of casual slim fit khakis rolled the hem and for a little flair choose a pair of floral sneakers to personalize this look.

JCPenney Back To School Uniform trends

Girls Back to School Uniforms JCPenney

Girls Back To School Uniforms Prep JCPenney

Back To School Uniform Looks For Boys at JCPenney

Sebastian is always a wild card. He’s a pretty easy-going, athletic kid but his new school dress code doesn’t allow for athletic clothing to be worn during school hours. He chose to embrace it full on and his first look was dress shirt and tie. He even found a perfect belt. his second look was more comfortable and casual: Red polo and khakis. I noted he did find a pair of high-top Converse sneakers to give the look a little more of his own style.

Back to School looks Boys JCPenney

JCPeney Back to School Boys Casual

JCPenney has all the Shoes and Backpacks For Back To School

After we were done in the dressing room we headed over to the shoe department because new shoes are always one of the best parts of back to school shopping. Sebastian admired the bright white Adidas on display but was torn between these and a few others pair we had seen online. Asa professional boy mom, I know we’ll be going through several pairs this year so I assured him we’d be getting a few pairs to put into the school year rotation. Just don’t grow too fast, okay son?

JCPenney Back To School shoes

JCPenney Back to School Shoes Girls

Are you done with your back-to-school shopping yet? No? Just stop in at JCPenney to find all your children’s needs in one stop for boys and girls, from the latest trends to a classic uniforms. You can also check the great deals and see what everyone is wearing by following the #SoWorthIt in all the social spaces.

But wait there’s more!!! Did you know you can also check the Back to School haircut off your list while at JCPenney? From now through 9/9 kids K-6th can schedule an appointment at your JCPenney salon for just $10!

JCPenney Haircuts 2017

Autonomy Makes Our Marriage Work

Chases in the Snow #SorentoFamily

One of my goals this year was to become a better writer. This summer I decided I would be writing something every day. Every.Day.  With kids out of school, moving to new places, traveling for summer vacations, it’s harder than it sounds. I suppose most things worth committing yourself to are. I haven’t necessarily published every day but I have been writing every day. I’ve also been reading more too. It helps to see what others are writing. The practice is good, the introspection better. So far I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel I’ve been able to contribute more value to conversations with others as well. One recent conversation with my husband turned into a conversation discussing how keeping a certain amount of autonomy in our marriage has been part of the success.

We just celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary June 21st (the first official day of Summer and International Gnome Day, for those of you who keep track of things like that). I had just read an article shared by several respected friends who have all been married long over a decade or more. The article focused on the element of happiness in marriage and evaluating what marriage will cost you beyond the wedding day itself. It’s claims of sacrifice talked about much more than giving up half the closet space or letting someone else decide what would be on the dinner menu that night. I think we could all agree that marriage, along with most relationships, is full of compromise, but I completely disconnected when the author said “it will cost you yourself.”

I disconnected immediately but that statement still bothered me for days. I couldn’t reconcile why this piece resonated for so many others and felt so abrasive to me. I spent more time than I should have thinking about it and finally it occurred to me.

After fifteen years, the thing that has kept us together is allowing each other to be different. Autonomy makes our marriage work.

One of the things I have appreciated every day of our marriage relationship is the element of autonomy for both of us. Uniting in marriage has never required that either of us give up who we are as individuals. As we’ve gotten older and more mature we’ve changed certainly but not given up our individuality.

au·ton·o·my
noun: autonomy
  • the right or condition of self-government, especially in a particular sphere.
  • freedom from external control or influence; independence.
    synonyms: self-governmentself-rulehome ruleself-determinationindependencesovereigntyfreedom

     

Autonomy doesn’t mean that we are in an open relationship or that either of us have an “I do what I want” attitude with the other ( although I am known to jokingly reply with that on occasion.) We don’t typically ask the other to refrain from saying or doing something because we are adults capable of self-regulating and making their own choices. That’s how adulting works.

Autonomy Means We Won’t Always Agree

What autonomy in marriage does mean is that we have a mutual respect to allow one another to hold a difference of opinion on religion, politics, parental topics, who makes the best tacos, favorite IPAs and career choices. We don’t always agree. In truth, it’s our different perspectives that have made our relationship so intriguing and appealing from the beginning.

We don’t always agree but we ALWAYS communicate intelligently and respectfully. We allow one another to hold different opinions and can entertain discussions with each other without trying to convert the other. We communicate to understand and not change. Perhaps through various dialogue one of us will deliver a statement that opens up a point of view the other had not considered. Maybe not. Either way, allowing each other independence in opinion and thought continues the balance of equality that drew us to want to spend so much time together in the very beginning. This translates in how we choose to work together and make decisions in our life.

The article I was so bothered by positioned the “sacrifices” you must make in a marriage. I call those just being a decent human. If a person isn’t exemplifying that type of behavior from the very beginning I don’t want to commit to coffee with them much less a lifetime. Maybe that’s just me but I’m glad to be in a relationship with someone who lets me be me. We appreciate each other and don’t ever ask one another to play small or give up any part of ourselves. It works for us and I’m betting that we’ll be good at this gig for at least another 15 years.

iFLY Austin : Our Indoor Skydiving Experience

Thanks to iFly Austin for inviting us out to participate in one of the coolest family activities in the Austin area- INDOOR SKYDIVING!! Read on to find out about our first family skydiving experience, our initial thoughts, and what surprised us most!

iFLY indoor skydiving Austin TX

iFLY is an indoor skydiving experience that creates true free fall conditions, just like skydiving, without having to jump out of an airplane. iFLY’s vertical wind tunnel generates 1600 horse power from 4 powerful fans, creating a wall-to-wall cushion of air on which you can safely float. There’s no parachute, no jumping, and nothing attaching you to planet Earth. It’s just you and the air, AND it’s the most incredible adrenaline rush.

Our daughters have always been the extreme thrill seekers in our family so I knew immediately that Kaitlyn would want to come along to experience this for herself. Sebastian had recently gone with his class on a field trip here just a couple of weeks before so I was prepared to have to sit on the bench this time, thinking he would be ready to go again. To my surprise he INSISTED I go in his place because as he put it “Everyone should try this at least once in their lifetime.” It looked like this would be my day to try indoor skydiving. I’m so glad I did!!

austin iFLY indoor skydiving building

First time Indoor Skydiving? What you can to expect at iFly Austin

When we arrived at the facility, check in was a breeze because we already had completed our forms online. We just provided our names and they were able to locate everything easily. We did have participate in a quick (very discreet) weigh in so that the air pressure in the flight tube could be calculated correctly for our flight.

After that we went upstairs to watch a quick safety video with the instructor and got fitted in our flight gear. The gear consisted of a helmet, goggles, earplugs, and flight suit. The flight suit is basically just a jump suit that goes on over your clothes. I recommend wearing athletic clothing that fit close to your body, athletic shoes and pulling your hair back. You’ll also want to remove any jewelry that could come loose as well.

iFly indoor skydiving flight suits

All suited up and putting on our best game faces as first time flyers. We looked brave but eek! We were a little nervous.

The biggest surprise was finding out what a workout this could be. You might not initially consider indoor skydiving as part of your fitness routine but during your one to four minute flight session you are engaging a series of isometric contractions to keep your entire body suspended and stabilized as you encounter the high-speed wind resistance in the tunnel. iFLY offers several flight packages that could be a really fun way add some new energy to your fitness routine.

ifly indoor skydiving tunnel

Not really knowing what to expect and not entirely sure I could remember the instructions from the safety video, I was relieved to see our instructor would be in the tunnel with us to help us remember what to while we were in there. Kaitlyn and I positioned ourselves somewhere in the middle of our group so we could watch a few other attendees go first and see how it’s done. There were people of all ages, sizes, and athletic ability in our group. I wouldn’t let any of those be a factor in holding you back from this super fun experience.

Here’s a video of what the iFLY experience was like:

We were able to experience 2 full flights in the tunnel each with our instructor. Kaitlyn had such a great time that we upgraded her experience and she took an advanced flight going higher and learning a few more techniques. At the end we both received a certificate for our indoor skydiving experience. We both agreed we would love to come back!!

iFLY Austin Certificate

Ready to take an iFly indoor Skydiving adventure of your own?

Have we convinced you to in check out iFly for yourself? You’ll find the Austin location at 13265 North US 183, Suite A Austin, TX. (Outside of the Austin area? No Problem! iFly has several location in Texas and throughout the nation. Just check the website for the location nearest you here)

Give them a call now to set up a visit (512) 774-4359

Hours of Operation:

Monday-Thursday: 10am – 9pm
Friday: 10am-11pm
Saturday: 9am – 11pm
Sunday: 9am – 9pm

Be sure to check out their website here for more information and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest offers and events!

Have you been indoor skydiving? I’d love to hear about it!! For other fun activities in the Austin area check out this post

 

Making Life Changes + New Car Buying Easier


Capital One Navigator Kia Cadenza

Thank you Capital One® for sponsoring this post. Capital One® Auto Navigator® simplifies car buying and financing before you ever set foot in the dealership. With Auto Navigator, consumers can find a car and see their financing options, all in one place. Whether it’s moving to the suburbs, having children or getting a new job…as life changes happen, so do your car needs.

For the first time in 14+ years we aren’t going to be a minivan family. That’s not to say I don’t still love a good minivan. After all they are functional, reliable, can be decked out with ALL the amenities of home. Between soccer, dance, football, errands and shopping my minivan was my home away from home. Sometimes it was my mobile office because it was the only quiet place in my home to make a phone call. This summer everything is changing.

We moved to Austin Texas as a large family of six with an equally sized dog, smaller cat, and much smaller frog. This week we are moving out of the city due to my husband’s new work position and are leaving with only two children. The oldest two have flown the nest, one took the dog,  and sadly the frog died this week. We did pick up a hedgehog, Sunny, during our time here. All of that is to say there have been lots of changes.

Along with these new changes is the possibility of changing vehicle needs. In the past we absolutely needed a minivan or larger SUV to all ride together. Now with our reduced family size, our options are much more open! As life changes happen, so do your car needs.

Have you bought a car recently? Thinking about getting something new? The Capital One® Navigator website can help!

Auto Navigator Capital One

What is the Capital One® Auto Navigator® website?

Capital One developed Auto Navigator to simplify car buying and financing. Auto Navigator focuses on adding transparency to a sometimes confusing process by allowing consumers to pre-qualify for auto financing and see their financing terms before visiting a dealer.

Capital one Auto Navigator

I am a huge advocate of knowing that your time is as valuable as money in the bank. I would rather spend more time with my family and less time at the dealership talking financing. Capital One Auto Navigator makes it easy to do that part on the sofa at home, on the road traveling, or ANYWHERE because I can do it all from my phone.

It’s a big change for our family to make this transition to a new city, new home, new schools, and yes, even a new car. Changes in life are inevitable but they don’t have to be hard. Look for ways to make your life easier and recapture more of your time and finances. I’m glad companies like Capital One are thinking outside the traditional models to help us do just that.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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