20 Things To Do In Brownsville, TX

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Sharing a border with Mexico in the Lone Star State’s far south, Brownsville is a colourful and historic Texan city that has been at the forefront of defining South Texas’ culture and economic prosperity. The city is home to a thriving population of about 185,000 residents and is the most populous city in the Rio Grande Valley, with the city’s rich history dating back to the early 1800s when it played a key role in the earliest battles of the Mexican-American War. Today, the city shares an incredibly strong connection with the United States’ southern neighbour and is home to an amazing collection of attractions, historic landmarks, architectural marvels and breathtaking outdoor spaces that are unlike anything else on offer elsewhere in the United States.

Brownsville, Texas

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20 Things To Do In Brownsville

1- Visit Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

Old Canonns
Visiting Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park is one of the things to do in Brownsville this weekend.

Arguably the most famous landmark in Brownsville is the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, a 3,357-acre (1,359 ha) stretch of southern Texas prairie land which was the setting of the Battle of Palo Alto in 1846, the first major precursor to the Mexican-American War.

Partly owned by the federal government and partly by private landowners, the former battlefield was converted into a National Historical Park by the National Park Service in 2009 and has also been declared a National Historic Landmark.

Attracting thousands of visitors every year, a visit to the former battlefield is a must for war historians travelling through Brownsville or just anyone interested in stopping by an important historic setting and scenic outdoor area rolled into one.

The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park is at 7200 Paredes Line Rd, Brownsville, TX 78526.

2- Discover The Sabal Palm Sanctuary

Sabal Yapa Palm Tree In The Garden
Visiting the Sabal Palm Sanctuary is one of the things to do in Brownsville.

The Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park might steal the show in Brownsville when it comes to exploring the region’s history, however, when it comes to enjoying south Texas’ stunning landscapes and ecological diversity, there’s no better place in town to visit than the 557-acre (225 ha) Sabal Palm Sanctuary.


Situated within the Rio Grande Valley river delta about 8 miles (13 km) outside downtown Brownsville, the sanctuary serves as a haven for the region’s many native wetland animals and groves of sabal palms which were widely used by early explorers for its medicinal purpose.

The sanctuary was established in 1971 on the grounds of the Rabb Plantation, a former sugarcane plantation whose beautiful 19th-century Queen Anne-style plantation home currently serves as the sanctuary’s headquarters and main base of operations.

The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is at 8435 Sabal Palm Grove Rd, Brownsville, TX 78521.

3- Explore South Padre Island

Beach In South Padre Island, Texas
Exploring South Padre Island is one of the things to do in Brownsville Tx.

While not technically within the borders of Brownsville proper, South Padre Island is the city’s go-to destination for summertime relaxation and recreation enjoying some of the region’s best beaches, resorts and entertainment options.

28 miles (45 km) from downtown Brownsville, the island is renowned for its biodiversity and natural beauty, with dolphin watching and ecological tours two of the most popular activities available to travellers on South Padre Island.

More than just a barrier island, this scenic 34-mile-long (55 km) island is great for vacationing or taking in nature, with miles of white sandy beaches, exciting shopping areas and world-class dining options on hand to make every visit to South Padre Island as memorable as the next.

4- Visit The Children’s Museum of Brownsville

Within walking distance from the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art and the Gladys Porter Zoo is the Children’s Museum of Brownsville, a state-of-the-art educative centre where young minds can learn through a series of fun and interactive exhibits.

The museum is in downtown Brownsville and was opened to the public in 2005, with the centre dedicated to teaching kids up to 8 years of age about subjects such as health, science, engineering, nature and technology.

A great destination to visit for young families, the Children’s Museum of Brownsville is the leading centre of its kind in the region and is praised for its encouraging approach to education.

The Children’s Museum of Brownsville is at 501 E Ringgold St #5, Brownsville, TX 78520. A fun way to discover the museum and Brownsville is on a scavenger hunt.

5- Have Fun At Bobz World

Big T-Rex
Spending time at Bobz World is one of the fun things to do in Brownsville TX.

Undoubtedly one of the most unique attractions in the Lone Star State, Bobz World is an adventure park, miniature golf course and wax museum rolled into one convenient location that’s one of the most popular destinations in Brownsville.

This one-of-a-kind attraction was the brainchild of Bob and Elizabeth Harris and has been entertaining Texans with its unique fantastical blend of natural and human history ever since Bobz World opened its doors to the public in 2006.

Bobz World’s laundry list of things to do includes train rides, obstacle courses, live music, mini golf, laser tag, arcade games and shopping for gifts at the on-site souvenir store, all while being surrounded by life-size statues of dinosaurs and other exotic animals.

Bobz World is at 36451 TX-100, Los Fresnos, TX 78566.

6- Learn Something New At Brownsville Museum

Housed inside the beautifully restored Spanish Colonial Revival-style depot of the former Southern Pacific Railroad, the Historic Brownsville Museum is the place to go to for learning all about Brownsville’s storied past.

The museum opened in 1986 and boasts an ever-expanding collection of bilingual displays and exhibits depicting the region’s history through a series of insightful artefacts and important items.

Among the museum’s top things to see are the Rio Grande Railroad’s restored steam-powered Engine #1 from the 1870s and the mahogany bedroom set of local 19th-century railroad magnate Simón Celaya, with plenty more to uncover for eagle-eyed history buffs.

The Historic Brownsville Museum is at 641 E Madison St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

7- See The Animals At Gladys Porter Zoo

Giraffe In The Zoo
Visiting Gladys Porter Zoo is one of the things to do in Brownsville Texas.

The Gladys Porter Zoo is a world-class botanical and zoological park situated in the heart of Brownsville’s bustling downtown district that’s been attracting hundreds of thousands of annual visitors ever since it first opened its doors in 1971.

An accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the 30-acre (12 ha) zoo is home to some 400+ unique animal species and well over 1,000 animals, many of whom are endangered in the wild.

Be sure to swing on by the Gladys Porter Zoo for the rare opportunity to spot animals such as elephants, African lions, ostriches, Arabian onyx, chimpanzees, white rhinos, gorillas and Grant’s zebras in the far south of the Lone Star State.

The Gladys Porter Zoo is at 500 E Ringgold St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

8- Brownsville Museum of Fine Art

Within downtown Brownsville’s Mitte Cultural District is the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, a world-class centre dedicated to preserving, collecting and showcasing visual art by some of the best local and international artists past and present.

The state-of-the-art art museum originally opened in 1935 as the Brownsville Art League before undergoing a name change and moving to its current 17,000-square-foot (1,579 m2) home in 2006.

The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is at 660 E Ringgold St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

9- Glimpse Into The Past At Stillman House Museum

One of the oldest remaining structures in Brownsville, the Stillman House Museum offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the region’s colourful past with a broad collection of artefacts, records and historic items.

The Greek Revival-style house dates back to 1850 when it was completed by Charles Stillman for his newly-wedded wife Elizabeth Pamela Goodrich before being converted into the headquarters of the Brownsville Historical Association in 2002.

The Stillman House Museum is at 1325 E Washington St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

10- Enjoy Nature At Resaca De La Palma State Park

One of three member parks which make up the World Birding Center, the Resaca De La Palma State Park is an unblemished 1,200-acre (486 ha) expanse of Texan nature first unveiled to the public in 2008.

The largest of the three World Birding Center members, the state park’s name stems from the type of oxbow lakes found across Texas and is a popular outdoor attraction thanks to its excellent hiking and biking trails.

More than just a destination to trek or cycle through nature, the state park is also littered with observation decks and has an on-site butterfly garden and tram tour, making it effortless to enjoy the park’s diverse array of flora and fauna.

The Resaca De La Palma State Park is at 1000 New Carmen Ave, Brownsville, TX 78521.

11- Shop At Brownsville Farmers Market

Cherry Tomato Selling At Farmers Market
Shopping at Brownsville Farmers Market is one of the things to do in Brownsville, TX this weekend.

Great for snapping up fresh produce or mingling with the locals, the Brownsville Farmers Market is among the most popular community gatherings in the city’s downtown district and regularly takes place each Saturday morning between May and October.

Organised in downtown Brownsville’s Southern Pacific Linear Park, the market was first held in 2008 and has grown into a must-visit destination for picking up organic foods and homemade delicacies in the region, with regular entertainment on hand to make visiting the market a fun experience.

The Brownsville Farmers Market is at 1534 E 6th St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

12- Visit South Texas EcoTourism Center

Sitting on approximately 10 acres (4 ha) along State Highway 100 about 26 miles (42 km) is the South Texas EcoTourism Center, a unique outdoor attraction which aims to promote the sustainable exploration and enjoyment of South Texas’ precious biomes and wildlife.

The first-of-its-kind Brownsville attraction was completed in 2022 and boasts spaces for community gatherings and a growing collection of native Texan flora for visitors to enjoy without leaving too big of an impact on the landscape thereafter.

The South Texas EcoTourism Center is at 501W TX-100, Laguna Vista, TX 78578.

13- Step Back in History At Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail

Connecting the downtown district of Brownsville with the nearby Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, the 10-mile-long (16 km) Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail is ideal for exploring Brownsville’s scenic landscapes and historic landmarks on foot.

The trail forms part of the much larger Caracara Trail and was unveiled to the public in 1999 following the city’s purchasing of an old railroad which used to connect Brownsville with Robstown.

Available to hikers, cyclists and in-line skaters, the trail is within walking distance from landmarks such as the Gladys Porter Zoo and the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, making it both accessible and useful for vehicle-free exploration and navigation.

14- Relax In Southern Pacific Linear Park

The go-to community gathering place in downtown Brownsville, Southern Pacific Linear Park is a fairly busy urban recreational space that’s home to both the Brownsville Farmers Market and the starting point of the Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail.

Established following the demise of the Southern Pacific Railroad, the park is ideal for an afternoon visit or trekking 10 miles (16 km) to the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park via Southern Pacific Linear Park’s popular recreational trail.

15- See A Show At Camille Lightner Playhouse

The home of Broadway-quality productions in Brownsville since 1964, the Camille Lightner Playhouse is the go-to venue in town for theatre lovers hoping to enjoy popular community-led plays by local entertainers of all ages.

Named after theatre founder Camille Sams Lightner, the venue serves as an important centre for honing the talent and theatrical ability of the next generation of talented Texan stage actors.

The Camille Lightner Playhouse is at 1 Dean Porter Park Dr, Brownsville, TX 78520.

16- Visit The Costumes Of The Americas Museum

The Costumes of the Americas Museum is a one-of-a-kind venue in Brownsville, exhibiting a staggering collection of approximately 600 unique costumes and garments of the western hemisphere’s native populations.

Opened in 2005, the museum’s collection includes hand-woven traditional clothing from North, Central and South America, with the collection boasting everything from Brazilian Samba dresses to ceremonial garments from Papantla.

The Costumes of the Americas Museum is at 1004 E 6th St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

17- Shop At 77 Flea Market

Arguably Brownsville’s busiest shopping district, the 77 Flea Market is an immensely popular public marketplace that’s one of the oldest flea markets in south Texas.

First organised over 40 years ago, the market has developed into a sprawling outdoor mall of sorts and is the best place in town for snacking on some authentic Tex-Mex cuisine or buying hand-made goods from local artisans.

The 77 Flea Market is at 5955 Frontage Rd, Brownsville, TX 78526.

18- Enjoy The Outdoors At Ernesto Gamez Cascade Park

The 55-acre (22 ha) Ernesto Gamez Cascade Park is a favourite outdoor attraction among many Brownsville locals, with excellent hiking, recreational sports and playground amenities for all ages to enjoy.

5 miles (8 km) outside downtown Brownsville, the park’s signature feature is undoubtedly its large pond and 40-foot-tall (12 m) illuminated waterfall rock feature, which creates a dramatic backdrop against the rest of the park’s rolling greenery and open areas.

Ernesto Gamez Cascade Park is at 3510 Old Port Isabel Rd, Brownsville, TX 78526.

19- Visit The Heritage Museum Brownsville

The Heritage Museum Brownsville is an eye-opening centre inside the historic Stillman House that charts Brownsville’s multicultural past through an extensive collection of photographs, artefacts, maps and more.

Managed by the Brownsville Historical Association, the Heritage Museum Brownsville was established in 2002 before being reinterpreted 7 years later in 2009, with the venue home to hands-on exhibits, fascinating installations and even the La Tienda Gift Shop where visitors can pick up souvenirs to remember their trip to Brownsville by.

The Heritage Museum Brownsville is at 1325 E Washington St, Brownsville, TX 78520.

20- Visit The Boca Chica Wildlife Refuge

Treating nature lovers to more than 1,000 acres (405 ha) of prime south Texan outdoors that’s chocked full of dunes, spectacular beaches, mangroves and salt prairie, it’s no surprise that the Boca Chica Wildlife Refuge is among the popular outdoor attractions in the Rio Grande Valley.

The refuge got its start in 1994 when the land it sits on was acquired by the State of Texas and forms part of the expansive 10,680-acre (4,322 ha) Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, an area famous for its staggering biodiversity and amazing wildlife watching opportunities.

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Jessica Shaw
Jessica Shaw is a storyteller who has lived in four U.S. states - Missouri, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois - and has visited many others. She loves history and nature and is a big fan of road tripping.