Outdoor Adventures for Fall in the RGV
I can’t really think of one thing that I don’t like about fall. I can’t get enough of pumpkin spice, red maple leaves, wrapping up in a snuggly scarf, and seeing my misty breath when I walk outside in the morning. Oh, wait, I’m thinking about the best season of the year that I knew growing up in beautiful North Carolina.
Here in the Rio Grande Valley, we kind of have to convince ourselves that it really is fall. The first day of fall was Thursday, and you’d better believe that my house is completely decked out with pumpkins, scarecrows, and fiery leaves. It even smells like cinnamon in here.
And while temperatures might still be in the 90s, there’s hope, y’all! The fresh days of fall are on their way. The relief from the heat brings the welcome chance to actually take the kiddos outside during the day and go on an adventure! I grew up climbing mountains, hiking to waterfalls and exploring nature. While our options are a bit more limited here in the RGV, nature is still all around us. Below is a list of our family’s favorite outdoor adventure destinations that are perfect once the weather starts cooling down.
National Butterfly Center (Mission)
Ideal for ages: 2 & up
Highlights: The butterflies will actually land on your hand, and the plant life is gorgeous!
Insider Tip: The Texas Butterfly Festival is Oct. 29-Nov. 2, and admission is free.
Location: 3333 Butterfly Park Drive, Mission, TX (off of Conway Ave. and Military Highway)
Price: Kids under 2 are FREE, $2.50 for ages 3-12; $5 for adults. (these prices are for residents of Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy and Starr residents)
More information: http://nationalbutterflycenter.org/
Bonus stop: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park is right around the corner!
McAllen Nature Center (McAllen)
Ideal for ages: 3 & up
Highlights: 3/4 miles of trails and open areas for picnics
Insider Tip: Follow them on facebook for a schedule of events and volunteer opportunities
Location: 4101 W. US Highway 83, McAllen (on Bus. 83 between Ware Rd. and Bentsen Rd.)
More information: https://www.facebook.com/McAllenNatureCenter/
Bonus stop: Summer Breeze Park! It’s super close by on Bentsen Rd, and one of my kids’ favorites!
Estero Llano Grande State Park (Weslaco)
Ideal for ages: 5 & up
Highlights: Cool trails that include boardwalks over the water.
Insider Tip: The Alligator Lake path is awesome if you have a wild streak. It always scares me to death, but the kids love the thrill of spotting the alligator. I would be more concerned with avoiding the serious birders who want the kids to stay super quiet.
Location: 154 Lakeview Dr, Weslaco (off of FM1015/International Dr.)
Price: Kids under 12 are FREE, $5 for Adults
More information: http://theworldbirdingcenter.com/estero.html
Bonus stop: Margos Raspas It’s our favorite in all of the Valley. Get the Strawberry Delight. You’ll thank me later.
Gladys Porter Zoo (Brownsville)
Ideal for ages: All ages, but especially 3 years & up because they can recognize and identify the animals.
Highlights: Petting zoo, getting close to the lion and touching a sting ray.
Insider Tip: The animals are so much more active when it’s cool outside, and the kids are happier, too!
Location: 500 E Ringgold St, Brownsville, TX
Price: FREE for kids under 2; $8 for kids ages 3-12; $11 for Adults
Discount available with a AAA Membership.
More information: http://gpz.org
Bonus stops: Dean Porter Park and the Children’s Museum of Brownsville
With the fall season upon us, even if the leaves aren’t changing and the thought of drinking hot chocolate just makes you sweaty, take heart. Soon, very soon, we will be able to actually go outside without absolutely melting. So get out there and take your kids on an adventure! We have already visited the four places listed above, so our new list for this fall are Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in Alamo and Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen.
Leave us a comment with more insider tips and outdoor adventure destinations in the beautiful Rio Grande Valley!