SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY Around this time of year, when the heat index hovers in the hundreds, folks start dreaming of cooler temperatures and places north, as in the Pole. But on the weekend of July 25—27, we recommend you travel south, to the tip of Texas. Yeah, it will be hot—just like it was last year and just like it will be next year—but you’re a Texan, so suck it up. Being hot doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, especially if you wear lightweight clothing, put on lots of sunscreen, and stay where you can take a dip in the pool.
Friday: Stop by the Gladys Porter Zoo, home to gorillas, white-cheeked gibbons, and Galapagos tortoises. (On Saturday night the zoo hosts the Starlight Safari Sleepover, where families enjoy a pizza dinner, tour the zoo, and spend the night.) Later, head across the border to Matamoros and shop in the market for handicrafts and knickknacks before dinner at Garcia’s (take it easy on the margaritas—they’re real).
Saturday: Make your way to Dean Porter Park for Gulf Shrimp Fiesta 2003, a day-long festival that hosts competitions in net mending and shrimp peeling and eating and features food booths (offering shrimp, of course) as well as activities for the kids. During the hottest part of the day, beat the heat at the CineSol Latino Film Festival, where you can screen movies like Colors of Courage and Voices From Texas.
Sunday: This is the last day of the Brownsville International Birding Festival, so take advantage of the early-morning field trips to the Los Ebanos Preserve and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, where you’ll likely spot a plain chachalaca, a groove-billed ani, or an American avocet. You won’t see these rare, beautiful birds at the Pole.
(See Brownsville.)