Summer Day Trips: Family-friendly places to visit around the Valley

(Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald.) In this Jan. 23 file photo, a seagull flies over the Point Isabel Lighthouse. A resolution was Tuesday requesting that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continue to have oversight of the lighthouse.

Now that children are out of school and on vacation, families have many places to choose from around the Rio Grande Valley to spend their summer days creating new and lasting memories. Whether it’s spent observing wildlife, sightseeing, shopping or learning about art and science, families are able to find a variety of activities to do and places to visit throughout south Texas.

Laguna Madre area

Visitor’s of Sea Turtle, Inc. are able to dive into the world of sea turtle conservation by seeing what it takes to rehabilitate and protect these fascinating creatures that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico. Sea Turtle, Inc. is located on South Padre Island at 6617 Padre Blvd. The facility’s summer season schedule will be held now through Aug. 15.

During this time, Sea Turtle, Inc. is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility is self-guided and enables visitors to navigate through its rehabilitation and education centers at their own pace. Educational presentations and “Turtle Talks”  are offered throughout the day starting at 10:30 a.m.

Daily, sea turtle residents are served breakfast at 10 a.m. in the education facility and patients are fed in the clinic at 3:30 p.m. Admission prices are $10 for adults 18 and older, $6 for seniors 62 and older and for any adult with a military ID and $4 for children ages five to 17. Admission is free for infants and preschoolers. For more information, visit .

The Historic Port Isabel Lighthouse Square offers an array of dining, shopping and sightseeing opportunities for its visitors. Whether someone’s craving seafood, an ice cream treat or just wants to shop for local handmade goods, visitors are able to find what they’re looking for in this area located near the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway.

Families are also able to venture up the Lighthouse set in the center of it all to learn about its history and get an aerial view of the Laguna Madre area. Weather permitting, the Lighthouse is open Mondays to Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for adults, $4 for seniors ages 55 and older and $3 for children ages four to 12.

During July, movies are projected on the side of the Lighthouse. The next showing is Sonic the Hedgehog. The movie night will be held on July 15 at 9:30 p.m. There is no admission charge for movies at the Lighthouse and concessions will be available. For more information, call the Visitors Center at (956) 943-2262.

By the border

Located in central Brownsville at 500 E Ringgold St., the Gladys Porter Zoo showcases, cares for and educates the public on animals from around the world. Especially during the hot and humid summer months, it’s recommended for visitors to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress according to the weather.

To get a break from the weather, visitors can visit the zoo’s Herpetarium, Russell Aquatic Ecology Center or the Australia Exhibit. The zoo is open Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission costs $14 for adults, $8.50 for children ages two to 13 and $11 for seniors ages 65 and older. Admission is free for children two years old and younger. To plan a trip, visit .

Gateway to the Valley

An experience of a lifetime can be found at the Alpaquita Ranch in Raymondville, located at 6501 Israel Cavazos Rd. The ranch offers alpaca tours that include information and a brief history of the animals. Additionally, visitors will be able to walk an alpaca, pet and feed them and take unlimited pictures with the alpacas. An alpaca tour costs $25 per person. For an extra fee, visitors have the option of adding a charcuterie dining experience with the alpacas during their visit. To reserve a date and time to visit the ranch, visit .

Upper Valley

The Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets in Mercedes is the perfect place to visit for those who love to shop and are in search of back to school deals. Located off Expressway 83 in Mercedes, the outlet features 140 stores and has a variety of places to grab a bite to eat, such as Asian Chao, Villa Pizza, La Palatera and Guille’s Mexican Food. The outlets are open Mondays to Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

With its variety, everyone in the family is sure to find artwork and activities of their liking at the International Museum of Art and Science (IMAS) in McAllen. IMAS is located at 1900 W Nolana Ave. One of the museum’s latest exhibits features artwork of a wide array of media from more than 100 national and international artists that celebrate the iconic Frida Khalo.

The museum is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. IMAS offers accommodations for sensory needs on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free for IMAS members and is currently $1 for all visitors ages four and older. To plan your trip, visit .