A visit to a local school at the end of the academic year will reveal that we live in a culture that practically worships our children, and we are a fruitful people. Whether pupils are celebrating the end of their high school or preschool careers, balloons, baskets, stuffed animals and candy galore dominate awards ceremonies. This works in our favor, as our city works hard to ensure that there are plenty of child friendly destinations. With many parks to choose from in our area, here are three of the most frequented ones:
|The lovely waterfall at Cascade Park.|
Residents are welcome to ride bikes, exercise and even fish from the bridges. Birthday parties can also be scheduled if the park is contacted ahead of time. For more information call (956) 838-0162.
|Dean Porter Park is located at 501 Ringgold Street.|
With great picnic areas, expansive playgrounds, and easy access to Sam's Pool (which is home to free lap swimming summer mornings) and splash pad, it is a welcome respite from the intense heat. For more details on the park and surrounding areas, check out their website.
|The Pirate Ship Park is located at 1 Event Center.|
With pocketfuls of outdoor play areas along these paths, families are encouraged to walk, bike and hike together and catch occasional breaks. This particular park has access to swings and a pirate ship, and also sits near a resaca. For more information on the Hike and Bike Trails and for a complete map of the trails, please visit this website.
|It's never too soon to expose your children to a love of reading.|
If a break from the heat is what you crave, the Brownsville Public Library System has exactly what you are looking for. With two different locations, a library card grants you access to thousands of books, a Summer Reading Program for children with incentives, the Reader's Mark Cafe with delicious drinks and pastries, internet and computer access, an Adult Reading Club, a Teen Book Club and Movie Time. For more details on all the local library has to offer, please visit their website.
If you are looking for an online program to help your children with reading fluency, Summer Reading Skills through Baylor University offers curriculum for students as young as 4-years old through those entering the 12th grade. Helping in the areas of phonics, comprehension, fluency, textbook study skills, speed reading and love of reading, your kids can hone their skills in the comfort of their own home. Tuition depends on the particular program level, and family discounts are also available. For more information or to register, please call 1-800-964-9974. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday 7 am-8 pm and Saturday 8 am-3 pm.
South Padre Island
|A portion of the wooden playground at Andy Bowie Park.|
Paying $10 will also give you a one-day pass to Andy Bowie Park, located on the north side of the island, fully equipped with barbecue pits, restrooms and a wooden playground, and Isla Blanca Park, located on the south side of South Padre with the same commodities.
|A rescued turtle at Sea Turtle, Inc.|
Home to the historic Rabb Plantation and newly opened Barbara T. Warburton Education Center, the Sabal Palm Sanctuary sits right along the U.S./Mexico border. The sanctuary boasts more than 5 miles of nature trails that feature wildlife sighting areas, for those interested in birdwatching and observing rich biodiversity. Weekly, guided bird walks and historical tours of the Rabb House are also offered. Admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for children 12 and under. Affordable annual passes are also available. For further details, please visit their website.
|Enjoy a bike ride along the Resaca de la Palma trails.|
The park also rents out bicycles and binoculars, if needed, for a small fee. Entrance is $4 for adults, with children 12 and under entering for free. Special events happen monthly, and the summer is full of Ranger Programs. For more information on these, please visit their website.
Located in Linear Park, the Brownsville Farmers' Market has grown in the last couple of years. A family-friendly environment where you can find edibles like farm fresh eggs, raw honey, ready to eat and grow herbs, shrimp, homemade granola, fresh coffee and tea, among other items, the market strives to support local farmers and promote healthy living. Open every Saturday from 9 am-noon year round, the market will often host morning yoga and Zumba classes, and features live music.
|Come support local farmers and healthy eating at the Brownsville Farmers' Market.|
When you are done at the market, head across the street to the Gladys Porter Zoo. Home to 1500 animals on 31 acres of land, the zoo is a favorite, historic spot. With a paved, shaded walkway that runs throughout, snack bars with picnic tables, a playground, petting zoo, butterfly garden and gift shop, it is the perfect escape for little ones to get their wiggles out and adults to enjoy a break. Membership to the zoo is a worthy investment so that visits can be enjoyed all year long. Single members pay $60 annually, while a family can purchase a card for $80 (this includes two adults and an unlimited amount of children under the age of 18). For more information on membership and visiting, please visit their website.
|A handsome peacock shows off at the Gladys Porter Zoo.|
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