Where to Eat in Harlingen — Readers’ Choice Best Places

a seafood dinner with text overlay: Best places to eat in Harlingen, TX Readers' Coice Awards Valley Morning Star

I don’t eat out a lot so, when I do, I look for restaurant recommendations from locals-in-the-know wherever I am. Review apps can be helpful but those reviews are often by tourists who may not know about local favorites. Checking out the “Best of” winners in local newspapers is a good resource. Therefore, I always looked forward to the Best of Orange County when I lived in southern California. So, when the Readers’ Choice Winners for the Valley Morning Star came out, I was eager to learn who won for the best places to eat in Harlingen. Would they be the same as the top restaurants on TripAdvisor and Yelp or would they be hidden gems? How are the Readers’ Choice Winners Selected? The Valley…

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Authentic Texas Barbecue — What it is and where to find it in the RGV

typical authentic Texas barbecue plate with text overlay: Authentic Texas Barbecue Where to find it in the RGV

I have to admit, when I was growing up, barbecue was not one of my favorite foods. Barbecue, to me, always brought to mind neighborhood parties with chicken on the grill with burnt on barbecue sauce. Or maybe it was dry baby back ribs, which don’t have enough meat on the bones to be worth the effort, with that same burnt on sauce. The only kind of barbecue I was even remotely fond of was a pulled pork sandwich with sweet barbecue sauce. Even in my adult life, it is not a food group I seek out. This lack of desire for barbecue was cemented in my mind even further when, a few years ago, I went to a barbecue joint in southern California with…

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Indoor Activities in Harlingen – When it’s just too hot outside!

large aquarium and bowling lanes with text overlay: Best indoor activities to beat the heat in Harlingen, TX

The Rio Grande Valley has wonderful sub-tropical weather which makes for enjoyable outdoor activities — most of the time. Some days during the summer, though, it’s just too darn hot to go outside, except in the early morning. If you are still itching to get out and explore, that’s when it’s time to find some entertaining indoor activities. Here are my recommendations for the best indoor activities in Harlingen, Texas. Best Indoor Activities in Harlingen Texas Travel Information Center – Find all the Best Indoor Activities in Texas I told you about this awesome location in a previous post. It’s the perfect place to visit to learn more about the whole state of Texas and what there is to do anywhere in the state. They…

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Port Isabel — What to See and Do in this Charming Bayside Town

View of Port Isabel from Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier

12 Best Things to See and Do in Port Isabel, Texas Port Isabel is a charming town on Laguna Madre on the very southern tip of Texas where you’ll find history, adventure, nature and lots of fun things to see and do. Like many towns, it has had several names over the years, including Point Isabel. The town was incorporated in 1928 and its name was changed to Port Isabel. These 12 things to see and do in Port Isabel are truly in Port Isabel. This list does not include attractions on South Padre Island like some lists of best things to do in Port Isabel. Yes, South Padre Island is just across the causeway but there are plenty of interesting things to see and…

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Alligators Find a New Home at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center

Boardwalk and bird blind

South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center The lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas is a mecca for birders. Two major flyways converge there and bring an abundance of migrating species. South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is the easternmost of the nine properties that make up the World Birding Center in the Valley. It is located near the tip of South Padre Island, the longest barrier island in the world. In May, the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center became the new home of some rescued alligators. This was my third World Birding Center to visit and each is very special in its own way. Nothing makes me feel more at peace than being around or on the water and South…

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Freddy Fender Museum is Just One of the Museums of San Benito

Sign at entrance of Museums of San Benito

Moving to Texas has been an eye opener in many ways. For example, I wrote about how surprised I was when I learned the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex food. And I can’t forget learning that alligators are native wildlife here! A few days ago, I went to the Freddy Fender Museum in San Benito, and besides learning all about Freddy’s life, I learned about a music culture that I didn’t know much about. Although I had heard the music, I knew nothing of its origins or history. I’m talking about the unique style of American folk music called conjunto that was founded in south Texas. I’ll tell you more, but first, some background on the  Museums of San Benito. Related: I Had to Know:…

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Estero Llano Grande State Park — My First RGV Birding Experience

Ibis Pond at Estero Llano Grande State Park with text overlay: World-renowned birding

I have always been fascinated with birds. Years ago, while living in Nevada, I took a falconry class and became a licensed falconer. I put brush piles and water all over my property to lure birds to watch from my living room window. When I moved back to California, I volunteered with the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center helping rehab birds and other wildlife. Now that I’m in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in Texas, one of the foremost birding locations in the world, I wanted to continue learning about birds. Lucky for me, an experienced birding couple lives in my park and agreed to take me under their wing. The first time they took me out birding was to Estero Llano Grande State Park,…

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Dolphin and Bird Watching on Laguna Madre with Fins to Feathers

dolphins in bay with text overlay

One of the drawbacks of traveling solo is that it can be difficult to get into a small tour group. I’ve been trying for several weeks to get into a dolphin watching cruise on a small boat that only takes a maximum of six passengers. That doesn’t sound like a big deal except they also have a minimum of four so they have to fit me in with a group of four or five. It wasn’t working out so, since there is more than one small boat that goes out from Port Isabel, I decided to contact Fins to Feathers about their dolphin watching cruise. Captain Paul followed up with me and got me into a group in just a few days. Getting to Fins…

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Will You Save Money with a Texas State Parks Pass?

bench overlooking lake with text overlay Texas State Parks Annual Pass

Getting a Texas State Parks Pass has been on my list of things to do for a while but I have put it off because the weather has not been very conducive to outdoor activities. We finally have had a few clear days with sunshine so, recently, I went to Estero Llano Grande State Park. I loved this park and knew it was time to make my purchase. I know in the long run, I will save money at Texas State Parks with the annual pass. Day use fees at the more than 90 Texas State Parks usually run $2-$8 per person. Since I know I will visit lots of state parks and visit some of them often, I feel that, even for a single…

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Quinta Mazatlan Celebrates the Monarch Butterfly

orange umbrellas and bougainvillea decorate entryway

I have been anxious to get outside and visit more of the amazing nature areas nearby but the weather has been less than cooperative in that arena. Even on the day that Quinta Mazatlan celebrated the monarch butterfly with their Monarch Festival, there was a 30-40% chance of rain. I decided to risk it and go anyway. It rained on the way there so I was mentally prepared to just find a place to go have breakfast. But the rain finally stopped about 10 miles from McAllen and held off until I was driving home. The colorful entry really brightened up an otherwise pretty gray day. I loved the vibrant orange umbrellas overhead and the striking red bougainvilleas down the walkway. There was lively music…

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