25 Fun Things to Do in Brownsville, TX

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A wooden walkway next to a river, trees, and a building with a dome
Brownsville has many beautiful outdoor and riverside attractions

Brownsville is a charming Texas town that sits on the border with Mexico. Visitors to the area will discover an array of fun things to do in Brownsville, TX. Just a few activities to enjoy include exploring the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, going to the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, and admiring traditional clothing at the Costumes of the Americas Museum.

In addition, you can find some great attractions just outside the city, like South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach. Want to know what else there is to do in Brownsville and the surrounding area? Read on for 25 activity ideas!

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25 Fun Things to Do in Brownsville, Texas

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Brownsville, Texas, Things to Do

A dirt path through trees and greenery
There are many scenic nature trails to follow at the Sabal Palm Sanctuary

Wander around the Sabal Palm Sanctuary

The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is a pretty place to go for a walk. It covers 557 acres and includes a nature reserve and bird sanctuary. There are many walking trails to follow around the attraction that take you past rivers and through wetlands. Animals you may spot include bobcats, armadillos, and a variety of birds, from yellow-billed cuckoos to hawks.

Learn about local history at the Historic Brownsville Museum

The Historic Brownsville Museum is a fascinating attraction to visit to learn more about the area's history. The museum is housed within the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot that was built in 1928 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Exhibits at the museum cover events dating from the founding of Brownsville to the present. During a visit, you'll also get to go to the Simon Celaya building, which houses a narrow gauge railroad locomotive and exhibits on the history of the Rio Grande Railroad.

Tour the Stillman House Museum

Another of the top historical attractions in Brownsville, Texas, is the Stillman House Museum. The residence was constructed in 1850 by a hotelier and is one of the oldest standing structures in the city.

While the house has had some additions and renovations over the last 150-plus years, it closely resembles how it was in the 1850s and is a fascinating place to explore. Visitors can tour the different rooms that are decorated with antique furniture. You can also go to the Heritage Museum, which has interesting exhibits.

Look around Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park

United States history enthusiasts will definitely want to add a trip to Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park to their Texas bucket list! The park is the site of the Battle of Palo Alto that took place in 1846 and was the first battle of a border dispute that led to the Mexican-American War.

Visitors to the historical park can see the battlefield and learn more about the battle itself and its effects on the overall war. You can also check out the visitor center, which has exhibits, artifacts like military uniforms, and a video about "War on the Rio Grande."

Spend some time at Monte Bella Trails Park

Monte Bella Trails Park is a fun place to spend the day. The park has hiking and biking trails, including a mountain bike track, which is very popular among bikers, including beginners. As you follow the tree-lined trails, you'll likely see wildlife such as various species of birds. There's also a disc golf course and playgrounds for kids.

A wetland area with grass and trees surrounding it
Resaca De La Palma State Park has beautiful scenery and an array of wildlife

Visit the Resaca De La Palma State Park World Birding Center

If you're interested in nature, especially birds and bird watching, you'll want to plan a visit to the Resaca De La Palma State Park World Birding Center. The attraction is one of the nine World Birding Center locations in the Rio Grande Valley and is the largest, covering 1,220 acres.

As you explore, you can follow eight miles of trails and look out for wildlife, with four wildlife viewing decks spread throughout the grounds. You can also take a tram tour around the park, spotting many birds along the route.

Hang out at Dean Porter Park

Spending some time at Dean Porter Park is one of the more laid-back Brownsville, TX, things to do that's fun for all ages. The park surrounds some attractions, like the Children's Museum of Brownsville and the Gladys Porter Zoo.

It also features lawns to hang out on, trails, a swimming pool and splash pad, and two playgrounds for young kids. Whether you want to have a family picnic, workout, or simply enjoy the fresh air, Dean Porter Park has something for everyone.

View artworks at the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art

The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art is one of the best attractions in the city and is well worth a visit. The gallery showcases works by local, national, and international artists across various mediums. After admiring all the artwork, you can enjoy some crepes at the on-site Crepe Town restaurant!

Attend an event in the Mitte Cultural District

The Mitte Cultural District is a neighborhood in Brownsville that comprises many attractions, including the Historic Brownsville Museum and the Costumes of the Americas Museum. You can also attend events in the area. Things going on range from a Saturday farmers market to seasonal events like a Holiday Village and a beer festival.

Take your kids to the Children's Museum of Brownsville

For those wondering what to do in Brownsville, TX, with kids, going to the Children's Museum of Brownsville is a must. The museum is created for children up to about eight years old.

During a visit, your kids can enjoy an array of hands-on and interactive exhibits, such as playing in a pretend cafe, making block structures, and creating crafts in the arts area. Adults are welcome to explore the exhibits with their kids or can hang out nearby while they play and learn.

Shop at Sunrise Mall

Sunrise Mall is the perfect place to splurge a little or visit for some window shopping. The mall has a variety of shops, with clothing and accessories, books, beauty products, home furnishings, and much more on offer. While there are chain stores here, you'll also find many local independent stores, like Gabriella's Mexican Details selling beautiful embroidered clothing items.

🏨 Stay in close proximity to the Sunrise Mall

Two zebras standing next to each other in a zoo enclosure
You can see an array of animals, like zebras, at Gladys Porter Zoo

Spot an array of animals at the Gladys Porter Zoo

Gladys Porter Zoo is a highly family-friendly attraction in Brownsville. The zoo opened in 1971 and is home to approximately 400 different species of animals. Just a few of the creatures to see include rhinos, iguanas, giraffes, and lions. After seeing all the animals, you can shop for some animal-themed merchandise at the zoo shop.

Explore the Costumes of the Americas Museum

Another of the fascinating attractions in Brownsville, TX, is the Costumes of the Americas Museum. The museum specializes in showcasing approximately 600 different indigenous costumes from all regions of the Americas, from North America and Central America to South America and the Caribbean.

As you view the beautiful outfits, you'll be able to learn more about the culture and history of various indigenous communities across the Americas.

Watch a show at the Camille Playhouse

The Camille Playhouse, or Camille Lightner Playhouse, is a performance venue that hosts a variety of shows. Performances to see include unique local productions and reproductions of well-known shows and plays, like The Sound of Music and As You Like It by Shakespeare. No matter what you see, you're sure to have a memorable night out at the Camille Playhouse!

Relax with a coffee at Angelita's Casa de Cafe

One of the more laid-back activities in Brownsville, Texas, is relaxing with a coffee at Angelita's Casa de Cafe. The cozy coffee shop offers a variety of drinks, including numerous hot and cold coffee drinks, frappes, and teas. You can also get some Mexican-style beverages, like a horchata latte or a Mexican mocha frappe, and homemade baked goods are on offer too.

Once you have your drinks, you can sit on comfy chairs and chat with friends, get some work done, or play one of the board or card games available. Live music acts are also frequently hosted.

Travel back in time at the Laureles Ranch House Museum

Laureles Ranch is a late Georgian Greek Revival-style ranch constructed in the 1800s. The home was owned by Chalres Stillman, the founder of Brownsville. Today, the ranch is a house museum that's furnished as it would have been in the 19th century. You can tour the building during a visit and learn more about its history and previous owners.

Stone crosses in a cemetery with grass around them
The over 150-year-old Brownsville City Cemetery is a fascinating place to explore

Dare to explore the Brownsville City Cemetery

Also known as the Old City Cemetery, the Brownsville City Cemetery is a unique attraction to visit. Established in 1853, the cemetery features rows of above-ground tombs and mausoleums, plus many stone statues.

Those buried here include many victims of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1867. As you look around, you can learn more about those buried at the cemetery, with informational plaques placed near the most historical grave sites.

Follow the Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail

If you enjoy biking, the Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail is one of the best routes to follow in the city. The ten-mile trail begins in the Mitte Cultural District and ends at the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park. Other sites to see along the route include Resaca de la Palma National Battlefield and the Brownsville Events Center.

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Get beer and pizza at The Kraken Lounge

The Kraken Lounge is one of the best places to visit in Brownsville, Texas, to hang out with some drinks. The quirky bar serves a variety of beers and fresh-made pizza. Fun cocktails are sometimes available too. There's also live music, including DJs and rock bands, on the weekend.

Dine at Madeira Restaurant

Madeira Restaurant is a contemporary Argentinian eatery serving classic dishes in a modern way. Dishes to enjoy include ahi tuna tostada, shrimp and hearts of palm salad, and ribeye wagyu with truffle fries. To accompany your meal, you can order white, red, or sparkling wine and champagne.

🏨 Stay nearby Madeira

Things to Do Near Brownsville, TX

Sandy dunes next to the ocean under a clear blue sky
When visiting South Padre Island, you can enjoy beach days and coastal walks

Plan a day trip to South Padre Island

South Padre Island is located just under an hour from Brownsville, depending on traffic, and is a fun place to visit for the day. There are numerous fun things to do on South Padre Island, like visiting South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, going on a dolphin-watching cruise, or parasailing over the barrier island. Of course, you can also hang out on the beach, enjoying the weather and beautiful views.

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Go to the RGV Wing Commemorative Air Force Museum

The RGV Wing Commemorative Air Force Museum is another of the interesting specialty museums near Brownsville. The museum has exhibits on the air force and transportation history, and you can see eight WWII aircraft. You can also see other artifacts, like military tanks, photographs, and air force uniforms.

One of many fun things to do in Brownsville, TX, is visiting Boca Chica Beach
Hanging out at Boca Chica Beach is one of many fun things to do in Brownsville, TX

Spend the day at Boca Chica State Park and Boca Chica Beach

Situated about 40 minutes from downtown, Boca Chica State Park is one of many state parks in the area to visit if you enjoy nature and wildlife. The state park also includes the Boca Chica Wildlife Reserve, home to various animals, especially many species of birds.

While visiting, you can hang out on the sand at Boca Chica Beach or follow some wildlife trails. Interestingly, Boca Chica State Park also sits next to Starbase, a SpaceX spaceport.

See the Palmito Ranch Battlefield National Historic Landmark

The Palmito Ranch Battlefield National Historic Landmark is another famous battle site in the area. The Battle of Palmito Ranch was a Civil War battle that occurred in 1865. Some consider this to be the final battle of the national conflict, while others say it was the last land battle of the war.

The site received National Historic Landmark status in 1997, and visitors today can explore the battle area that remains relatively unchanged.

City buildings and an observation tower next to green trees and a red sculpture
San Antonio is a fun and beautiful city to spend the weekend in

Spend a weekend in San Antonio

San Antonio is an exciting city with numerous Texas landmarks and attractions to visit. The city is located around four hours from Brownsville but is an ideal weekend getaway location if you don't mind the journey.

Activities in San Antonio include going on a guided tour of the Alamo and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and catching a San Antonio Spurs NBA game.

There are also lots of free things to do in San Antonio if you're on a budget, like wandering along the River Walk or visiting the Japanese Tea Garden. In addition, those that plan a multi-day trip will discover numerous nighttime activities in San Antonio to enjoy, such as getting drinks at the bar at Hotel Emma or checking out eateries at Historic Market Square.

🏨 Accommodations close to San Antonio

In Conclusion

Whether you live in the area or are visiting, you'll discover many activities in Brownsville, TX. Things to do range from going to historic battlefields and niche museums to enjoying nature attractions.

You can also discover many fantastic local businesses, including boutiques, bars, and coffee shops. No matter how long you're visiting or what you like to do, you'll find plenty of places to visit in and around Brownsville!

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell FORMER WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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