Neither of us had been to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, (AKA The Valley), but since beaches are our thing, Pedro and I have been meaning to visit South Padre Island for years. We went as far south as Port Aransas last year, but for our second wedding anniversary we finally committed to make the six hour drive from Houston to South Padre, and it was totally worth it.
We stayed at the Queen Isabel Inn in Port Isabel, the city right before you cross over to South Padre Island. Honestly, we chose this place because it was cheaper than staying on the Island itself, so we weren't expecting much. I only browsed the AirBnb reviews and made a gamble. Their online photos don't do them justice though, the place was really lovely, conveniently located, and the staff was so friendly.
Almost immediately, we fell in love with Port Isabel's charm. We surprisingly spent more time exploring there than on the Island, which was still a small city but much more crowded and commercial in comparison.
I really didn't do any planning or research for the trip. Partly out of laziness and partly because the point of this trip was to relax and avoid the stress of trying to see everything that the area had to offer (unlike our New York trip where we exhausted ourselves). I wasn't expecting easy accommodations for my vegetarian/vegan diet on this trip, but when I checked the Happy Cow app, I found a vegan ice cream stand in walking distance from where we were staying.
Adjacent to the ice cream place was a souvenir shop with rocks/minerals and trinkets, and a burger shack with a vegetarian mushroom and avocado burger. There was no seating (or air conditioning) in the burger shack. There were tables and chairs in a garden patio behind the kitchen. It was so peaceful there, and the restaurant owners seemed to be really genuine.
The next day we ate breakfast in our room and then headed to a cafe for a snack. When I saw it from the outside I immediately knew I wanted to go there for the aesthetic, but once we were there, there was just such a good vibe overall. The barista was telling us about how they are expanding their hours and are updating the patio in the back to accommodate live music at night. If you ever are in the area, you should definitely stop by the Causeway Cafe and Bar. I ordered a smoothie with spinach, avocado, and orange juice which I was informed was completely organic. 10/10 would go back and try their full menu.
The water was so clear and blue on the Island, unlike any other beach in Texas that we've been to. Even though I typically don't enjoy salt water in my eyes, I had a good time when I did step into the waves. The weather was perfect. We soaked up the sun. I beat Pedro at cards. Couldn't have asked for a better day.
We ate dinner at Marcellos in Port Isabel, and it was lovely. I learned that when you order veggie pizza with garlic sauce and no cheese, you're basically just ordering a different type of garlic bread. It was still delicious though.
The next morning we hit some souvenir shops before heading home. Tragically, we couldn't stay forever, but now we know that we could easily make the drive for a weekend trip in the future.
I still can't believe that we have been married two years already, and this summer marks five years of being together. The time really has flown by, but I'm so happy to get to spend it with my best friend.