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!  

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!!

Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas Part 1: From L.A. to Vegas #KiaRoadTripLV

Mention a road trip from L.A to Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas quotes immediately come to mind. (I’ll only add quotes from the script when they are appropriate, although they never really are).  That drive is exactly what a group of us decided to do last week. While the drive route may have been the same, I can assure you THIS road trip of ours couldn’t have played out more differently especially since the most adorable 4 year old ever would be accompanying us – here’s looking at you Bucket List Publications. There were definitely a few oddball journalists among us – I’m not naming names- but we all left all our lawyers at home (1st fear & loathing reference, for those who are counting). If I was making our road trip into a movie, Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas, would have been the most appropriate title. Thanks to Kia for bringing together a really great group for this trip and providing all accommodations, entertainment and Kia Sorento which was the perfect getaway vehicle. We had such a spectacular time!

BucketList Publications Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

It’s ridiculous how excited I was to visit @kiamotorsusa today! #KiaRoadTripLV

A photo posted by TWITTER: @6Chases (@alicechase) on

Our group gathered at Kia Headquarters for a little tour, talk and lunch before we hit the road. Having the opportunity to visit here was exceptionally exciting for me. I’ve attended several events with Kia over the last two years but all occurred offsite at other fabulous destinations. This was a little like being invited into someone’s home. I got to see where all my favorite Kia celebs work, answer their phones and eat their lunch. A peek behind the curtain, where the magic happens and all that. Super fun for me.

We divided up into our drive groups and were off. Jeff, from Out with the Kids, and Joel, from 3jsand1s, were both amazing drive/ride partners. I seriously could not have asked for better guys to take this trip with. Be sure to follow them – they are really great humans. 

But first, let’s take a selfie….

Clearly the most photogenic group of road-trippers you’ve ever seen #kiaroadtripLV @kiamotorsusa #travel #travelblogger

A photo posted by TWITTER: @6Chases (@alicechase) on

Alice & Eden Kia Road trip LV Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

I love this girl! I’ve totally claimed her as my lil sister – we joked that we are getting matching bracelets.

We each had our own agendas along the trip. Some would be doing live video, some stopping at strategic travel locations for photography, others filming video. We decided on a few group stops along the way to keep us all on schedule. Our first group meeting location was a couple of hours along the route at Penny’s Diner.

Kia Roadtrip LV Penny's Diner Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Penny’s Diner

Penny's Diner door CA Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Penny’s Diner  is a classic 1950s-style diner, tastefully decorated with nostalgic memorabilia. They feature standard American cuisine, including hamburgers, meatloaf, old-fashioned sundaes, milkshakes, and malts – all made from scratch. We each ordered a milkshake  or peach cobbler. I ordered vanilla because that is my go-to favorite flavor.

This place was perfect for photos. I was really happy with the ones I captured and could have stayed here for a good portion of the day doing just that. We had more road to take on so we loaded back in for more road trip adventures. Our next stop was in hopes of finding a special craft root beer for Jeff ( “Good people drink good (root) beer- fear & loathing reference).  That’s kind of the greatest thing about a road trip right?? Half the fun is just making quirky stops along the way.  I don’t know if any of us were quite ready for all the quirk we were about to experience.

We had roughly outlined a few items of interest we wanted to stop at along the way. World’s Tallest Thermometer, Seven Magic Mountains, and Alien Fresh Jerky just to name a few. Lucky for us two of these locations were right along the route and practically next door to one another not detracting anytime from our drive. (We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert,….- fear & loathing quote again) 

Alien Fresh Jerky

Alien Fresh Jerky Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

I was so very excited to hear this was the location that housed the special root beer Jeff was looking for because just two days before a friend of mine had snapchatted from this location. It seemed like the universe was echoing a need to stop here, as much as anyone can need to stop at an outer-space themed love shack of jerky, I suppose. Blame it on the desert heat if you will but once we stopped I couldn’t help but be fascinated by it all. It really was a sight to behold. I recommend a stop. 

Alice and Joel Alien Fresh Jerky Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

A traditional roadside jerky stand with a decidedly Space Alien/UFO twist. Just across from the World’s Largest Thermometer, Alien Fresh Jerky has it all. There’s jerky, T-Shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets, strong political opinions and, of course, a place to smash a penny with one of four Alien Fresh Jerky imprints. And, let’s face it, what self-respecting roadside attraction would be complete if one couldn’t smash a penny. More than that, this location held a soda that a friend of mine had been raving about, Cheerwine. I had never seen it before so although I am not a traditional soda drinker I made sure to pick one up and try it.  

Cheerwine Alien Fresh Jerky

As it turns out, Aliens know about all the best stuff : Cheerwine, root beers, dried meats and all. 

World’s Tallest Thermometer

The world’s tallest thermometer is a 134-foot-tall symbol of the record high temperature in the U.S., in nearby Death Valley. The day we visited it was only 108 degrees, a virtual cold front in comparison to the record high temperature in the U. S of 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. If you are looking to add this stop on your trip it sits along the 3 mile stretch of Baker, CA a small town near the Nevada border that calls itself, “Gateway to Death Valley”.

Seven Magic Mountains

Seven Magic Mountains was a pretty memorable stop on our trip to #Vegas #KiaRoadtripLV @owtk @3jsand1s

A photo posted by TWITTER: @6Chases (@alicechase) on

This was one of the BEST stops on our drive and we almost missed it. I had mentioned wanting to see it before we headed out but after reaching the lull that every road trip group encounters we had become indifferent to finding it. Luckily the bright colors of these seven towering formations contrasted enough against the muted tones of the desert to catch Joel’s eye. Once he pointed them out we all caught with a second wind of inspiration to search them out for a few fantastic pictures.  We may have even taken a offroad route to reach them we were so excited!

After offroading in the Kia Sorento

*For those that were wondering, the Kia Sorento handles even rockier roads well.

“Internationally renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale site-specific public art installation located near Jean Dry Lake and Interstate 15, approximately ten miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada. Comprised of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high, Seven Magic Mountains is situated within the Ivanpah Valley adjacent to Sheep Mountain and the McCullough, Bird Spring, and Goodsprings ranges of mountains. A creative expression of human presence in the desert, Seven Magic Mountains punctuates the Mojave with a poetic burst of form and color. The exhibition opened May 11, 2016 and will be on view for two years.”

Alice Jeff Joel Seven Magic Mountians Friendship and Laughter in Las Vegas

Within 15 minutes, we would arrive at the beautiful Hard Rock Hotel Las Vegas where we  truly were treated like Vegas stars. More on that tomorrow, Part 2 of Friends and Laughter in Las Vegas, but most of it well, you know what they say “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas.” 😉

On our drive through the desert we talked a lot about the places we’ve traveled and the people we’ve met along the way. My favorite places always involve stories of meeting interesting people. As it turns out, all journeys can be measured in miles but the best ones can be measured by friendships. I came home with a pocket full of amazing friendships this trip. My heart is full.

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas