Saturday, July 6, 2013


Lowtide Guide Service – Port O’Connor; 361-564-7032 or 361-564-7032; Capt. Curtiss Cash has been fishing all his life on Texas coast, from 6"-600 fathoms; notable for tarpon.
Captain Scott Null – Galveston; 281-450-2206;; devout shallow water fisherman offering guided adventures via kayak, poled skiff, and wading.
Eric “Oz” Ozolins – Padre Island National Seashore;; or or; offers shark-fishing (catch & release).
Scott Sommerlatte – Lake Jackson; 979-415-4379;; fly-fishing & light tackle guide.
Trout Tracker Guide Service – Corpus Christi; 361-688-3714; or; Kevin Cochran is longtime fishing guide specializing in speckled trout.
Jay Watkins – Rockport; 361-729-9596;; specializes in redfish & trout.

Sights & Sites
Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail –; state-designated trail system through nature preserves & bird sanctuaries, along the entire length Texas Gulf Coast; Texas hosts more bird species than any other US state so trail system offers some of world’s most unusual bird-watching opportunities; 43 separate driving & hiking trails that include 308 birding sites; more than 450 bird species.

Fling Charters – 1203 North Ave J; 979-233-4445;; for dive trips out to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Sights & Sites
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary – northwestern Gulf of Mexico (105 miles south of Sabine Pass); offshore salt domes in warm waters provide coral colonization site; 2 reefs, East Flower Garden Bank and West Flower Garden Bank; smaller, nearby Stetson Bank; 300 fish species, 21 coral species, several crustacean species, 4 dominant sponge species, and wide variety rays, sharks & skates; loggerhead sea turtles; several resident whale sharks turn in frequent appearances; manta rays are also commonly sighted.

Bigo’s – 464 Paredes Line Road; 956-986-0787; murals in vivid colors; sky blue ceiling;; great Mexican food; also one in Matamoros.
Bigo’s Bar & Grill – 7200 Padre Island Highway; 956-832-0857;; great Mexican food; also one in Matamoros.
Sights & Sites
Camp Lula Sams – 280 Fish Hatchery Road; 956-350-9093; or; built by Earl C. Sams Foundation & gifted to Girl Scouts of South Texas in 1953; over years camp has served as life lesson venue for Ks of children; recent sightings include ocelot, clay colored robins, groove billed anis, guava skipper butterflies & Texas Tortoises.
Farm Road 511 – supposedly haunted; at night, “ghost cows.”
Gladys Porter Zoo – 500 East Ringgold Street; 956-546-7187;
Isla Blanca State Park – 33174 State Park Road 100; 956-761-5493;
Lennox Foundation Southmost Preserve – by appointment onl); 956-546-0547 or 956-459-6121 (cell);; on meandering Rio Grande bend; part of Boscaje de la Palma region; 1.034K-acre preserve; encompasses among last native sabal palm tree stands in US.
Palo Alto Battlefield National Park – 7200 Paredes Line Road; 956-541-2785;; on 8 May 1846, Mexican & US troops clashed on Palo Alto prairie, being 1st battle in 2-year war that changed North American map.
Sabal Palm Sanctuary – 8435 Sabal Palm Road; 956-541-8034;; home to among the last “old-growth” palm forests in US; pay entrance fee at Rabb Plantation House, built in 1892; ancient, otherworldly ecosystem; great bird-watching; hike Resaca Loop Trail for full experience.
World Birding Center Resaca de la Palma State Park – 1000 New Carmen Avenue; 956-350-2920;; largest native habitat tract in World Birding Center network; etched by Rio Grande, its 1.2K semi-tropical acres provide quiet retreat from hustle & bustle of international urban center only few miles away; over 6 miles of trails, 4 decks that overlook 4 miles of resaca & 3.2 mile tram loop that winds through park.

Sights & Sites
Arroyo Park (C. B. Wood Park) – 400 West Harding Avenue; 956-216-5951;; birdwatching.
City Lake Park/Liberty Gardens – 410 ‘76 Drive; 956-216-5951;; great for birdwatching; 8 acres, consisting of .95 mile Hike & Bike Trail, lake, mediation garden & 11 benches.
Harlingen Thicket – 311 East Taft Avenue; 956-216-5951;; 40 acres of native brush in city center, restrooms, parking, extensive trails.
Hugh Ramsey Nature Park – 1000 TX-499 Loop; 956-216-5951;; 40-acre wooded parkland includes 6 wildlife observation posts, 1 restroom facility, 1.5 miles of Hike/Bike trails & medium pavilion.
Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area (Longoria Unit) – from US 77 intersection with Texas Highway 186, continue south on US 77 to FM 2629 (Sebastian), then west on FM 2629, then veer south on FM 506, continue approximately 1.5 miles south on FM 506 from its intersection with FM 2629; 956-565-1223; from Rio Grande Valley to Big Bend, there are numerous units that comprise Las Palomas WMA; all properties within Las Palomas WMA purchased to provide habitat for White-winged Doves in Texas; hunters furnished funds for these acquisitions; these properties also provide critical habitats for various other valley birds; Longoria Unit has short accessible trail with feeding & watering stations; during hunting seasons, certain Las Palomas sites may be closed to birders (review public notices posted in public information kiosks); as TPWD properties, wildlife management areas are open to public on fee basis; WMAs lack staff to collect fees on site; birders visit these sites on honor system; therefore, please take time to purchase Limited Public Use Permit at any state park, TPWD law enforcement office, or from merchants selling Texas fishing & hunting licenses.
World Birding Center Harlingen Arroyo Colorado (Hugh Ramsey Park) – 1001 South Loop 499; 956-427-8873;; Texas ebony woodlands dominate 55-acre Hugh Ramsey Park to east, while 40-acre Harlingen Thicket to west represents mixed upland thorn forest; Green & Ringed Kingfishers, Common Pauraque, Groove-billed Ani, Long-billed Thrasher & Olive Sparrow; Endangered Red-crowned Parrots are found here.

Los Fresnos
Inn at Chachalaca Bend – 36298 Chachalaca Bend; 956-233-1180;
ç ●Julia’s Restaurant – 220 West Ocean Boulevard; 956-233-5653;; try chili cheese enchiladas.
FWS Habitat Tour – 22817 Ocelot Road (run by US Fish & Wildlife Service); 956-748-3607 or 3608, ext. 111;; explores 14-mile Bayside Drive (currently closed to private vehicles); weave & wind past brushlands, wetlands & Laguna Madre; interpretive tour; fall & winter sightings may include osprey, redhead ducks, sandhill cranes, reddish egret (we have many white phase), tri-colored heron, shorebirds, snow geese, white tailed deer, nilgai antelope, bobcat, coyote, javelina, western diamondback rattlesnake, Texas tortoise & American alligator; includes several short stops along way with short walk up to observation deck overlooking lower Laguna Madre; 50-passenger, open-air tram runs October-March on ticket system (12-passenger shuttle bus used during inclement weather, which also runs April-September & requires reservations due to limited space); tickets issued at visitor center on first come, first serve basis day of tour so plan to arrive 30-60 minutes prior to tour (road leading to refuge is in rough shape & will be under construction beginning October 2015 so driving may take longer than expected, and there may be detours; come prepared for great coastal breeze on open-air tram (i.e., jackets recommended); binoculars highly recommended; after rains, mosquitos so insect repellent recommended.
FWS Kayak Tour – 22817 Ocelot Road (run by US Fish & Wildlife Service); 956-748-3607 or 3608, ext. 111;; tours depart from visitor center at 8 am, return by 1 pm (time actually spent on water approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on group size, skills & weather conditions); tandem (2 people per boat), sit on top Ocean Kayaks; advance reservations required.
Sights & Sites
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge – 22817 Ocelot Road (visitor center closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays); 956-748-3607;; largest protected natural habitat area in Lower Rio Grande Valley; 98K acres; Peregrine Fund began reintroducing captive-bred northern aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis septentrionalis) to refuge in 1985, which had been nearly extirpated from Southwestern US; today, it is home to 40 pairs; 9 other endangered or threatened species inhabit refuge, such as Texas ocelot (Leopardus pardalis albescens) & Gulf Coast jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli); hike to Osprey Point.

Rio Hondo
Sights & Sites
Las Palomas Arroyo Colorado – from State Highway 107, travel east (road will change names including State Highway 107, Combes Santa Rosa Road, Combes Rio Hondo Road & FM 508) until FM 508 merges with FM 106 heading east, then ontinue to Rio Hondo & Arroyo Colorado, once across Arroyo Colorado bridge, park at picnic area adjacent to City Hall (on north side of FM 106); 956-501-4793;; 761 acres, most of which have reverted from farm & ranch land to native brush; Green Kingfishers have nested under this bridge & picnic grounds offer excellent opportunity to see all 3 kingfisher species that frequent North America.
Rio Hondo City Cemetery – South Arroyo Drive at Parkway Avenue; 956-748-2102 (city hall);,51196007w; native trees (Texas Ebony, in particular) at this cemetery attract numerous Valley specialties such as Green Jay & Great Kiskadee.

Palms Resort, Cafe & Bar – 3616 Gulf Boulevard; 956-761-1316;

Original Marini’s Empanada House – 3522 South Mason Road; 281-391-4273;; authentic Argentinian empanadas; local craft beers, Blue Bell ice cream & huge variety of sweet & savory empanadas; favorites include Humita, Tia Maria & Beef Gaucho; finish meal with Apple Gabriela empanada.
Sights & Sites
Katy Heritage Museum – 6002 George Bush Drive; 281-574-8618;
Katy Veterans Memorial Museum – 6202 George Bush Drive (VFW Community Building); 281-391-8387;

Great Oaks Manor – 419 Macek Road; 281-343-9551;
Sandy McGee’s – 314 Morton Street; 281-344-9393;; lovely, quaint restaurant.
Sights & Sites
Fort Bend Museum – 500 Houston Street; 281-342-6478;
George Ranch Historical Park – 10215 FM 762 Road; 281-343-0218;
Morton Cemetery – 900 Morton Street; 281-239-3648;; famous interments include Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (2nd Republic of Texas President); General James Long (Long Expedition leader); Jane Anne Herbert Wilkinson-Long (“Mother of Texas”); & Hilmar Guenther Moore (at death, longest serving mayor in US history, 1949-2012).

Country Pho – 1912 Avenue H; 832-595-8868;; spring rolls with peanut sauce & Vietnamese BBQ Sandwich.
Witt Pit BBQ & Catering – 2516 1st Street; 832-759-5182;
Sights & Sites
Rosenberg Railroad Museum – 1921 Avenue F; 281-633-2846;

Sugar Land
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Anonymous Cafe – 9920 Highway 90-A (Sugarland); 832-886-4037;; coffees.
Sights & Sites
Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land – 13016 University Boulevard; 281-313-2277;
Sugar Land Foundation Museum – 198 Kempner Street; 281-494-0261 (call in advance; this is volunteer coordinator number, all that is available);

Galveston (includes Crystal Beach, Dickinson & San Leon)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Mod’s Coffee & Tea House – 2126 Post Office Street; 409-765-5659;; enjoy on patio, weather permitting.
Bars & Nightclubs
Railean Distillery & Buccaneer Bar – .
Gaido’s Seaside Inn – 3802 Seawall Boulevard; 409-762-9625;; old school, motel-like atmosphere.
Hotel Galvez – 2024 Seawall Boulevard; 409-765-7721 or 877-999-3223;; built in 1911; multi-million dollar restoration; still maintains much original charm; sweeping circular drive surrounded by plantings similar to those found in early 1900s; inside, gold leaf topped columns, mahogany ceiling, and period stenciling.
Harbor House – Pier 21; 409-763-3321 or 800-874-3721;; beautiful views; nautical-themed rooms.
Tremont House – 2300 Ship’s Mechanics Row; 409-763-0300 or 877-999-3223;; renovated.
Café Michael Burger – 11150 Termini San Luis Pass Road; 409-740-3639;; closed Mondays and Tuesdays; try Tiki burger; cash only; great fries.
Casey’s – 3802 Seawall Boulevard; 409-762-9625;; huge portions; run by Gaido’s.
Eatcetera – 408 25th Street; 409-762-0803;; hip bistro in arts district with vegan options.
Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant – 3800 Seawall Boulevard; 409-762-9625;; from moment you enter Gaido’s, you feel sense of place and time alive with family tradition and history (since 1911); landmark; long, elegant dining rooms draped in plush period attire make it easy to envision old days; ultra-fresh seafood served with sweeping, panoramic Mexico Gulf views; peels shrimp, shucks oyster, and filets fish fresh and by hand; every meal, from signature Wade Watkins’ bisque to Fresh Fish with Lump Topping, is prepared with old time simplicity and attention to detail; surprisingly amenable to beach attire (facing Mexican Gulf across only thin pavement stretch); busy in evenings).
Gilhooley’s – 222 9th Street (Dickinson); 281-339-3813; difficult to find much fresher oysters because Gilhooley’s pulls its bivalves off boats only few blocks away; children not allowed; try char-grilled Oysters Gilhooley around fire pits outside on ramshackle patio.
Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Bar-B-Que – 5427 Broadway Street; 409-744-0070;; great pork ribs.
Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano – 2328 Strand Street; 409-763-6500;; romantic venue with good, solid Italian food.
Rudy & Paco – 2028 Post Office Street; 409-762-3696;; best restaurant in town; elegant and warm atmosphere; Latin-American seafood; must try snapper Elegante (topped with lump crab, pico & avocado).
Sonny’s Place – 1206 19th Street; 409-763-9602;; neighborhood joint features bar area, as well as restaurant; muffulettas, spaghetti & seafood; looks like old house, which it is.
Star Drug Counter – 510 23rd Street; 409-766-7719;; Texas’ oldest drug store; Galveston’s 1st integrated lunch counter.
Stingaree – 1295 Stingaree Road (Crystal Beach); 409-684-2731;; watch barges go by; try bread pudding with bourbon sauce.
El Tucan – 190 South Gulf Freeway (League City); 281-724-9318; tucked in shopping center; cheery spot with among area’s most extensive Mexican food menus.
Circle H Outfitters – 715 North Holiday Drive; 281-535-1930; or; Captain Scott Hickman from National Geographic series Big Fish Texas; charters out of Galveston on 36' powerboat; red snapper.
Sights & Sites
Galveston Island State Park – 14901 FM 3005; 409-737-1222;; beaches, biking & hiking.
Galveston Seawall – Seawall Boulevard (Pleasure Pier starts at 25th Street); 409-797-5000 or 409-763-2700;; like Texas’ Coney Island.
Maison Rouge – 1417 Harborside; or; 1870s structure built over foundation of Pirate Jean Lafitte’s wine cellar, in his Maison Rouge; no entry & no museum.

Sights & Sites
Mainland Memorial Cemetery (formerly Gold Bond Cemetery) – 6602 O’Brien Street; 409-986-1270.

La Marque
Sights & Sites
Rising Star Cemetery – Albert Street (between Kansas & Rosalee Streets, at Petroleum Street).

Port Bolivar
Sights & Sites
Old Point Bolivar Lighthouse – 419 Everett Lane;; historic lighthouse built in 1872; served for 61 years before being retired in 1933, when replaced by different light.

Alamo (includes Santa Ana)
Alamo Inn – 801 Main Street; 956-782-9912;; low rates with bird bookstore inside.
Casa Santa Ana – 3239 South Tower Road; 956-783-5540;; adjacent to world famous Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge; gated bed & breakfast residence built specifically for birders & other wildlife enthusiasts; detached guest wing, each room with private bathroom; shared recreation room/kitchen with laundry & entertainment facilities. Restaurants
Original Willie’s Bar-B-Q – 320 South Alamo Road; 956-702-1370;; make sure you go to this specific address.
Sights & Sites
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge – 3325 Green Jay Road; 956-784-7500;; subtropical jungle refuge; 12 miles walking trails; try Jaguarundi Trail & Owl Trail Spur; also check out historic cemetery.
Sights & Sites
Edinburg Scenic Wetlands – 714 South Raul Longoria Road; 956-381-9922;; beautiful birding venue.

McAllen Ranch – 33820 Texas FM 1017; 956-802-5796;; 70K acre, historic (since 1791) ranch notable for raising natural beef & hunting; 7 room El Indio Lodge is way to go.

Los Ebanos
Sights & Sites
Los Ebanos Land Entry Port – 200 Flores Street (Los Ebanos, 2 miles south of State Highway 83); 956-485-1084;; last hand-operated, international ferry, border crossing; large Texas ebony tree anchors 3-car barge on US side, pulled by 6 large men; Mexican-side village is tree-shaded but, even at mid-day, place is charming, but spooky.

El Divino – 5001 North 10th Street; 956-627-3990;; about as good as it gets for McAllen; steaks & seafood, as well as tapas-style dishes.
House Wine Bistro – 1117 West Business Highway 83; 956-994-8331;; wine bar with imported wines; pizza.
Pelican Cove – 520 Ash Avenue; 956-630-2478; what appears to be boat run aground is actually popular restaurant that specializes in Italian and seafood.
Quisqueya – 3503 North Ware Road; 956-627-3325; Dominican food.
Republic of Rio Grande – 1411 South 10th Street; 956-994-8385;; sumptuous indoor & outdoor Mexican grill dining.
Salt New American Table – 210 North Main Street; 956-627-6304;; by House Wine Bistro group.
Sights & Sites
McAllen World Birding Center (Quinta Mazatlan) – 600 Sunset Drive; 956-681-3370;; 1930s historic Spanish Revival adobe hacienda in city heart; lush tropical landscaping & native woodland; quiet trails wind through more than 15 acres of birding habitat; formal tropical gardens surround 10,000' square mansion; outlying acres of wild Tamaulipan thorn forest have been enhanced with water & bird feeding stations to make them even more attractive to wildlife; Plain Chachalacas nest in palms & Common Pauraques, Clay-colored Thrushes, Green Jays, Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, and Olive Sparrows seen regularly.

Bars & Nightclubs
Riverside Club – 214 East Chimney; 956-581-1033;; visually appealing and sort of upscale.
Riverside Club – 214 East Chimney; 956-581-1033;; visually appealing & sort of upscale.
Sights & Sites
Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (World Birding Center) – 2800 South Bentsen Palm Drive (at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park); 956-584-9156;; World Birding Center headquarters.
Chihuahua Woods Preserve – take Expressway-83 to west side of Mission, take Inspriration Road Exit (will lead you to Bus-83), go west, under Expressway onto Bus-83 & continue towards Bentsen Palm Drive, continue west on Bus.-83 from its intersection with Bentsen Palm Drive for 3 miles, at 3 miles, Bus-83 will make sharp right turn, at turn, carefully turn left (southwest) onto Chihuahua Road, across Bus-83, go about 50 yards, crossing railroad tracks & park on left (do NOT block gate); 956-580-4241;; 349-acre preserve is relic of what Rio Grande Valley once was: unique ecosystem with expansive variety of trees, shrubs & thickets; home to rare & native hook-billed kite.

Sights & Sites (includes Edcouch)
Delta Lake County Park – 28312 FM 88 (Edcouch); 956-973-7910;; birding.
Estero Llano Grande State Park (World Birding Center Estero Llano Grande) – 3301 South International Boulevard (FM 1015); 956-565-3919;; spectacular array south Texas' wildlife.
Frontera Audubon Thicket – 1101 South Texas Boulevard; 956-968-3275;; few cities cultivate urban green spaces as successfully as at Frontera Audubon Society Preserve & Visitor’s Center; instead of restoring habitat after urban development has destroyed natural growth complexity, this 15 acre urban preserve is mature, old vegetation that offers spectacular oasis for birds & birders alike; trails winding through property are gravel & paved routes; feeding station located deep within thicket provides exceptional views when birds actively foraging; butterfly garden is also part of property.
Valley Nature Center – 301 South Border Avenue; 956-969-2475;; 6-acre park with native birds & plants.

Beaumont (includes Nederland & Port Arthur)
Bars & Nightclubs
Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar – 461 Bowie Street; 409-813-1808;
Bando’s – 215 North 11th Street; 409-212-8445;; tearoom, ladies-that-lunch-kind-of-place; also gift shop.
Crown Pizza – 5535 Calder Avenue; 409-899-9550;
Finch Hutton – 1147 Boston Avenue (Nederland); 409-722-3100;; mid-country bistro that is destination-spot; try jumbo lump crab cake.
Pine Tree Lodge – 3296 Pinetree Road; 409-796-1600;; owned and operated by Miller family since 1984; burgers, seafood & steaks on Taylor’s Bayou’s banks; during summer months, live music every Sunday afternoon under patio with waterfront view.
Suga’s Deep South Cuisine & Jazz Bar – 461 Bowie Street; 409-813-1808;; at lunchtime, limited menu; expanded in evenings; more upscale than one might expect.
Vautrot’s Cajun Cuisine – 13353 Texas Highway 105; 409-753-2015;
Willy Burger – 5535 Calder Avenue; 409-892-3407; great breakfasts and great burgers for lunch.
Bando’s – 215 North 11th Street; 409-212-8445;; gift shop; also, tearoom.

JuJu’s Cajun Crawfish Shak – 18277 FM 365; 409-794-2020;; ask for all 3 house-made sauces (red cocktail sauce, pink mayo-spiked concoction & clarified butter).

Sabine Pass
Sights & Sites
Sea Rim State Park – 19335 Texas 87; 409-971-2559;; camping, wildlife observation, birding, beach combing, walking Gambusia Nature Trail (boardwalk through marsh), canoeing, kayaking, beach swimming (5 miles of beach), fishing & public waterfowl hunting (in season); alligators.

KLEBERG COUNTY (includes Kingsville & Riveiera)
Young’s Pizza – 625 West Santa Gertrudis (Kingsville); 361-592-9179;

Birds of Paradise Inn – 602 South County Road 1150; 361-297-5145;; lodging on south Texas Gulf coast; fantastic bird watching; accommodations offer “home away from home” with complete kitchen, dining rooms, living rooms, and large porches or gazebo; all suites have free wireless Internet and satellite HD TV with sports package; lighted, private pier with barbecue grills, fish cleaning station, and picnic tables.
King’s Inn – 1116 South County Road 2270; 361-297-5265;; open 64 years (since 1945); specialties are sliced avocado salad, onion rings, and shrimp; most famous people to eat here are George W. Bush, Matt Dillon, Nolan Ryan, George Strait, and Betty White; gets fish locally and from other countries (like Australia); closed Sundays and Mondays.
Sights & Sites
Dick Kleberg Park (Kingsville Visitors Center) – 501 East Escondido Road; 361-595-8591;; waterfront park.

Lodge at Karankawa Village – 22996 Highway Texas 60; 979-863-7737;; nice.
Sights & Sites
Matagorda Bay Nature Park – 6430 FM 2031; 979-863-2603;; makeshift kayak trails along FM 2031 are only way to reach tidal estuaries.

Corpus Christi
Bars & Nightclubs
Lou’s Saloon – 5101 Leopard Street ; 361-882-0723; old, seedy bar; 2 levels; also serves burgers and fries.
Texan – 3625 South Staples Street; 361-854-1571; 7 am-2 am, Monday-Saturday; noon-2 am Sunday; live music, pool tables, and Internet jukebox; bands start around 10 Friday and Saturday nights; never cover charge; sometimes place fires up barbecue pit on patio for free eats and washer pitching (can’t be bothered with horseshoes), but not free drinks; patio perfect place for private parties, too; dart board; vintage 1940s shuffle board.
Dobson Café – 1902 North Shoreline Boulevard (at Art Museum of South Texas); 361-825-3523;; overlooks intersection of bay and canal; good food.
Dragonfly – 14701 South Padre Island Drive; 361-949-2224;; French-International; try seafood crepes.
Mamma Mia’s – 128 North Mesquite; 361-883-3773;; try braised lamb shank.
Snoopy’s Pier – 13313 South Padre Island Drive; 361-949-8815;; somewhat mundane but reliable fried seafood; great birdwatching, however; also, ice cream next door at Scoopy’s.
Sultan Mediterranean Cuisine – 6646 South Staples (Market at Timbergate); 361-993-6100;; excellent Mediterranean food.
Torch – 4425 South Alameda Street; 361-992-7491;; Greek food and steaks.
Vietnam – 701 North Water Street; 361-853-2682;
Yardarm – 4310 Ocean Drive; 361-855-8157;; seafood.

Port Aransas (includes Aransas Pass, Fulton & Rockport)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Lisa Bella’s Bistro & Java Bar – 165 Social Circle (Cinnamon Shore); 361-749-4222;
Bars & Nightclubs
Paradise Key – 165 Cove Harbor North (Rockport); 361-729-6000;
I. B. Magee Beach Park – 321 North On Beach; 361-749-6117;; good for fishing (drum, seat trout, shark & tarpon).
Angel Rose Bed & Breakfast – 902 East Cornwall Street (Rockport); 361-729-3189;; Victorian home.
Aransas Princess (#214) – 720 Access Road 1-A;; 6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 3 beds; professionally decorated for enjoying Texas Gulf Coast in comfortable, casual elegance; scenic views of Gulf & golf course at Pamilla Beach Resort from 3 patios.
Crane House – 911 South Water Street; 361-729-7239;; 2-bedroom cottage with kitchen on Nature Conservancy-protected land offering whooping crane viewing.
Curlew Casa – 38 Curlew Drive (Rockport);; average rate $929 night for 5-bedroom coastal palace, but sleeps 14; hot tub, fire pit, kayaks & private boat slip.
Alby’s Seafood – 3402 Highway 35 North (Fulton); 361-729-1521;; grubby restaurant seafood supplier that also sells (to be consumed outside at picnic table) some of area’s best french fries, fresh shucked oysters, and oyster po’boys.
Charlotte Plummers’ Seafood – 202 North Fulton Beach Road (Fulton); 361-729-1185;; seafood.
Glow – 1815 Broadway Street (Rockport); 361-727-2644;; intimate, homey space in converted boathouse for inventive seafood dinners, plus Sunday brunch.
Hatfields BBQ & Blackjacks Beer Garden – 209 East Cornwall Street (Rockport); 361-729-2337;; tidy cedar cabin that serves excellent barbecue.
Lisa Bella’s Bistro & Java Bar – 165 Social Circle (Cinnamon Shore); 361-749-4222;; try Mermaid Soup; great seafood.
Paradise Key – 165 Cove Harbor North (Rockport); 361-729-6000;
Pelican Club – 914 Tarpon Street; 361-749-4888;; excellent seafood.
Poor Man’s Country Club – 1009 Texas Highway 35 (Rockport); 361-729-7667;; beers and burgers.
Port Aransas Brewing Co. – 429 North Alister; 361-749-2739;; burgers.
Whooping Crane Tours – 202 North Fulton Beach Road (Fulton); 361-727-0643 or 800-979-3370;; Captain Tommy knows his birds (not just Whooping Cranes); we saw Caspian tern, Whooping crane, Crested caracara, Anhinga, Loon, Cormorant, Dolphin, Plover, Belted kingfisher, Small blue heron, Merlin, Peregrine falcon, Long-billed curlew, Snowy egret, Whillet (sp?), Foresters’ tern, Aplomado falcon, Roseate spoonbill, Herring gulls, Golden-eyed terns, American oystercatcher, Pelican (brown, white), Mottled duck, and, on island-sand-bar, 20-25 great blue herons nesting; very cool.
Alby’s Seafood – 3402 Highway 35 North (Fulton); 361-729-1521;; restaurant seafood supplier; sells area’s freshest fish and oysters.
Sights & Sites
George W. Fulton Mansion – 317 Fulton Beach Road (Rockport); 361-729-0386;; among earliest 2nd Empire style buildings constructed in Texas & among most important in southwest US still in existence; Colonel George Ware Fulton & Harriet Gillette Smith began building 3.5 story structure overlooking Aransas Bay in 1874 and finished in 1877; dubbed “Oakhurst” by its owners George & Harriet, featured most up-to-date conveniences for time, such as indoor plumbing, central gas lighting and heating; added to National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Goose Island State Park – 202 Palmetto Street (Rockport); 361-729-2858;; surrounded by both St. Charles & Aransas Bays; established between 1931-35; Civilian Conservation Corps built earliest facilities; home to “Big Tree,” Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), thought to be over 1K years old; circumference of 35', 44' h & has crown spread of 90'; no designated swimming area as shoreline consists of concrete, oyster shell, mudflat & marsh grass.
Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center – Ross Avenue; 361-749-4111;
Mustang Island State Park – 17047 Texas Highway 361; 361-749-5246;; paddle Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail, 3 segments of which follow island’s western shoreline; close-up views of coastal birds.
Port Aransas Nature Preserve – Port Street or off State Highway 361 near Mustang Beach Airport; 361-749-4158;; encompasses 1.2K acres undeveloped land in area formerly known as Charlie’s Pasture, where early island residents once grazed cattle; located between ship channel, community park, State Highway 361, and Piper Channel; over 3 miles hike and bike trails, pavilion, boardwalks over algal flats, crushed granite trails on uplands, covered seating sites, and 2 towers overlooking wetland areas around Salt Island; extensive tidal flats provide feeding areas and important habitat for shorebirds and endangered and threatened species such as piping plover.

Sights & Sites
Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center – 2111 West Park Avenue; 409-670-9113;; 252 acres of private botanical gardens & nature reserve; adjacent to Botanical Gardens is bird blind that allows visitors to observe nesting birds in heronry.
Stark Museum of Art – 712 Green Avenue; 409-886-2787;

Port Arthur
Sights & Sites
Veterans Memorial Bridge – State Highway 87; 409-985-7822;; spans Neches River between Bridge City & Port Arthur; 1st cable-stayed suspension segmental concrete bridge in state.

PADRE ISLAND (includes La Feria, Los Fresnos, Port Isabel, San Benito & South Padre Island)
Las Arenas Condominiums – 3104 Gulf Boulevard (South Padre Island); 956-761-4003;
Palms Resort on Beach – 3616 Gulf Boulevard (South Padre Island); 956-761-1316 or 800-466-1316;; small, low-key, comfortable; best affordable place to stay on island; directly on beach; small pool; best restaurant on island.
Pearl South Padre Hotel & Resort – 310 Padre Boulevard; 956-761-6551 or 855-887-3275;
Redfish Inn – 207 West Aries Drive (South Padre Island); 956-761-2722;; offers wildlife tours; 6 rooms; waterfront property.
Sapphire Condominiums – 310A Padre Boulevard; 956-761-4600 or 800-503-6138;
Las Ventanas Condominiums – 3504 Gulf Boulevard; 956-761-4564;

Palms Resort Cafe – 3616 Gulf Boulevard (South Padre Island, at Palms Resort on Beach); 956-761-1316;; small, low-key, comfortable; best restaurant on island.
Will & Jack’s Burger Shack & Beer Garden – 413 East Maxan (Port Isabel); 956-640-7440;; outdoor courtyard & great burgers.

Sapphire Spa – 310A Padre Boulevard; 956-389-8888;

Sights & Sites
Freddy Fender Museum – 210 East Heywood Street (San Benito); 956-361-3800;
Little Graceland – 701 West Ocean Boulevard (West Highway 100, Los Fresnos); 956-233-5482;; Simon Vega, Elvis’ army buddy, has turned his home into memorial; relates personal stories as he shares 2 memorabilia rooms; recreated Graceland gates enhance his driveway; sells tee-shirt; nice guy.
Mont Meta Memorial Park & Cemetery – 26170 State Highway 345 (San Benito); 956-399-3097;; good bird-watching.
Tio Cano Lake – Palis Road at Pomelo Road (La Feria); 956-423-5440 (Harlingen Chamber of Commerce); bird-watching location.
El Zacatal – travel south of El Zacatal Cemetery on Highway 281 to County Road 1550, right on CR 1550, then right again on County Road 1575; these lakes are dependent upon wet season rains, so during long drought periods eventually become dry; when wet, look for Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, Least Grebe & various waterfowl in these resacas; Kingfishers often found perched on snags & migrant shorebirds feed along exposed shore as water levels drop during late spring.

Crofutt’s Bakery & Sandwich Shop – 1610 FM 136 Road; 361-529-6663;

Port Mansfield
Windjammer Restaurant & Lounge – 1088 East Port Drive; 956-944-2555;; it is what it is.

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