Brownsville – On the Border, by the Sea and Beyond
Brownsville, Texas is a multifaceted destination that caters to a wide range of interests, making it an ideal place for various travelers.
Brownsville is steeped in history, evident in sites like the Palo Alto National Historical Park and the Resaca de la Palma Battlefield. These locations offer insights into the Mexican-American War, with opportunities for guided tours and exploration.
Brownsville’s Old City Cemetery was established in 1853 and is recognized as an outstanding historical landmark by the Texas Historical Commission. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The cemetery reveals much of the city’s history; from victims of war and gunfights to those who died from yellow fever and cholera epidemics. Those buried here reveal the hard life and the early conditions of a Texas border town.
Brownsville boasts several museums that highlight its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Brownsville Heritage Museum, Stillman House Museum, Historic Brownsville Museum, Costumes of the Americas Museums, and the Laureles Ranch House Museum.
Brownsville is the Winter Haven for Over 500 Bird Species, and the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, built in the 1800’s, is a top birding spot for tourists.
Nestled in the southernmost tip of Texas, Brownsville emerges as a birdwatching haven during the winter months, attracting enthusiasts and tourists from around the globe. Renowned for its diverse ecosystems and unique geographical location, Brownsville welcomes over 500 bird species, offering an unparalleled opportunity for birdwatchers to witness an extraordinary avian spectacle.
Charro Days, celebrated annually in late February, is a vibrant and culturally rich festival that honors the region’s Mexican heritage. Originating in 1937, it was conceived by local business leaders to uplift spirits during the Great Depression. This weeklong fiesta is a vivid showcase of Mexican traditions, where thousands of people, including schoolchildren, immerse themselves in the festivities.
The essence of Charro Days is expressed in the colorful traditional Mexican attire, representing various regions of Mexico. Participants, including schoolchildren, don these elaborate costumes and engage in folkloric dances, adding to the festival’s lively atmosphere.
The streets of downtown Brownsville transform into a dynamic parade route, adorned with vibrant floats and enthusiastic crowds, celebrating the shared cultural history of the area on both sides of the Rio Grande. Tied in with Charro Days, Brownsville celebrates the Sombrero Festival – a three-day event -that provides games, food, and plenty of live entertainment.
The Sombrero Festival is held at Washington Park, near the heart of downtown Brownsville, and features games for both children and adults.
Brownsville is also home to the Gladys Porter Zoo, one of the nation’s top-rated zoos, with over 31 acres, and the only zoo south of Corpus Christi. The zoo has 377 species of animals and some of its new features include the Russell Aquatic and Ecology Center with its Stingray touch tank and a Giraffe Feeding Station.
A new feature opening in the summer of 2024 will be the Soaring Eagle Zipline. The Soaring Eagle Zip Line will offer a thrilling experience, taking zoo visitors over 120 feet in the air, high above the tree canopy.
The zip line will provide riders with a unique vantage point to view the zoo, extending to the Rio Grande and neighboring Mexico. The choice of a zip line was made to offer something distinctive and unmatched by other zoos.
Rockets, Bikes, Tacos & More
For space enthusiasts, located approximately 20 miles east of Brownsville is Starbase which is owned by SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Starbase is home to SpaceX development which manufactures, tests, and launches SpaceX’s Starship program. It’s a full production site with the world’s tallest rocket launch and catch tower at 480 feet high.
SpaceX often provides tours at Starbase to provide locals and guests with the opportunity to see the latest happenings in space development.
There have been eight suborbital test flights at Starbase, two fully integrated – one in April 2023 and the second in November 2023 – and the team is preparing for increased cadence in 2024. Hundreds have flocked to the area for a chance to view the rocket launches and have not left disappointed. Many visitors often plan their trips to South Texas specifically to visit Starbase.
Brownsville also has numerous hiking and bike trails for those individuals who want to get out and enjoy nature. One of the most popular is the West Rail Trail, which transformed an old railroad station into a hike and bike trail. The six-mile trail features open fields, benches, shaded structures, and other amenities.
Brownsville is known as a bike-friendly city as offers bike rentals to anyone who would like to take a ride around the city to take in the municipality’s sites.
In the heart of downtown Brownsville are several locally owned eateries that offer something for everyone’s palate. Whether you are looking for a nice steak, fried shrimp, a slice of homemade pizza, or a healthy salad you are sure to find it at one of the city’s downtown restaurants.
If you are looking for a delicious hamburger, you can find it at Rutledge Burgers, the city’s oldest hamburger joint. It has been selling hamburgers for over a century and is also one of the oldest eateries in the state. Although the eatery is small in size and is a cash-only business, its homemade hamburgers keep hungry patrons satisfied.
There are several antique shops also located in the downtown area as well as a locally-owned book store with a large assortment of books which also has a Book Club.
Brownsville’s Market Square, also in the heart of downtown Brownsville, comes alive on the First Friday of every month with its “First Friday” events. This family-friendly free event features entertainment, music, food, and art.
Participating bars, restaurants, and local businesses join in on the fun from 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM for a Friday full of fun for the entire family.
Brownsville is home to a variety of taquerias or taco eateries, each with its unique flavor and style and this is why Brownsville is known as the Taco Capital of Texas.
Because Brownsville is known as the Taco Capital of Texas, it has developed its own Taco Trail which includes 12 restaurants known for having some of the best tacos.
Visitors to the Taco Trail website can get a Taco Trail passport that can be used at the participating 12 eateries. After checking into all 12 participating taquerias, you can win prizes from the Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Office of Space Commerce.
Brownsville has 32 hotels/motels and many are pet-friendly should you choose to bring your furry family member along. The city’s bus service makes it easy for tourists to navigate and explore the various attractions.
Brownsville is a destination that blends history, culture, nature, and gastronomy, offering something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in historical tours, cultural festivals, wildlife exploration, space technology, outdoor adventures, or culinary experiences, Brownsville’s diverse attractions make it a compelling place to visit.