Ideally located at the southernmost tip of the Texas, Brownsville enjoys the cultural influences of neighboring Mexico and a plentitude of recreational and wildlife-viewing activities on the picturesque Gulf Coast. Where else can you savor award-winning Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, feed a baby giraffe, tour a sculpture garden, relax on sandy beaches and watch view the future of interstellar travel?
Thanks to SpaceX South Texas Launch Site, migratory birds aren’t the only spectacles in the sky. Just ten miles from Brownsville, this private rocket production facility, test site and spaceport allows aspiring astronauts and space enthusiasts an up-close look at Starship rockets and test-launches. Standing 12-stories high, Starship rockets will someday undertake missions to Mars as well as carry passengers and cargo into Earth’s orbit. Until then, you can view the rockets from nearby public areas, including the access road to the Starbase facility and Boca Chica Beach. SpaceX doesn’t offer on-site displays or tours, but the opportunity to witness a test launch on the tidal flats inspires many visits to Brownsville. Relax on eight miles of undeveloped beach, fish for speckled trout on the jetty, spot dolphins and sea turtles in the waves, and (just maybe) watch smoke billowing out of Starship and hear the roar of SpaceX’s Mars ambitions. Insider tip: Roads close during test launches, so if the street barriers start going up, it’s likely that a rocket will, too. Plan ahead by visiting Cameron County’s SpaceX website.
From parks to playhouses, museums to markets, many of the city’s most popular destinations reside at The Mitte Cultural District: the cultural and recreational center of Brownsville. With the 25-acre Dean Porter Park as its hub, Mitte offers a variety of historical, educational, cultural and family-oriented activities, all within a five-minute walk.
Begin your day with a trip to one of Mitte’s five museums. At the Brownsville Museum of Fine Art, view a rotating collection of drawings, paintings and photographs by local, national and international artists. Stroll through the sculpture garden and pose for a pic with the giant wings near the museum entrance. Artifacts abound at the Historic Brownsville Museum, featuring the world’s only remaining 1871 Baldwin Woodburning Narrow Gauge railroad locomotive, and at the Costumes of the Americas Museum, which displays a rotating collection of over 600 indigenous costumes, accessories and folk arts from almost every country in the western hemisphere. Children delight in the hands-on, interactive exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Brownsville, the only museum of its kind in South Texas. Kid-sized costumes and fully equipped, lifelike sets inspire creative role-play at exhibits such as the All World’s Café, where aspiring culinary artists don aprons and chef hats, and at Dr. Bone’s Health Clinic, where future doctors examine their patient-parents with stethoscopes and lighted x-ray panels. Venture on to the Laureles Ranch House Museum, or let the kids cool off with a swim at Sam’s Memorial Pool or a quick frolic through the splash pad, both located at Dean Porter Park.
Featuring 377 species of animals and 225 species of plants on over 31 acres, the Gladys Porter Zoo is the number one destination for wildlife lovers. Regarded among the top zoos in the country, the Gladys Porter Zoo is renowned for its commitment to preserve endangered species, such as Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and Western lowland gorillas, as well as its successful breeding program. The park offers four distinct zoographic areas—Africa, Asia, Tropical America and Indo-Australia—where, among stunning exhibits and natural habitats, visitors enjoy a herpetarium (amphibian and reptile exhibit), Tropical America Free-flight Aviary and Bear Grottos in addition to newer, interactive features such as a giraffe feeding experience and the Russell Aquatic and Ecology Center with a stingray touch tank.
Stretch out and enjoy the coastal breezes at one of Mitte’s seven parks. Get your heart pumping at the Dean Porter walking and fitness trail or the Historic Battlefield Trail, site of the first battle of the Mexican American War in 1846. Don’t forget to check the events calendar for information about local festivals, such as the Sombrero Festival at Washington Park, Charro Days in February, Brownsville Latin Jazz Festival, and the Farmer’s Market, held at Southern Pacific Linear Park. Up for more entertainment? Catch a Broadway show or an impressive local production at the Camille Playhouse or join a spooky tour through the historic Old City Cemetery.
One of the best ways to experience a city’s culture is through its culinary traditions. Known for its deep Hispanic roots, Brownsville offers destination-worthy Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Whether your style is contemporary or traditional, roadside or refined, you’ll find something to satisfy every taste. For a guided (and discounted) tour of the city’s taco culture, hop on the Brownsville Taco Trail.
With so much to see and do, it’s clear that Brownville truly does go beyond—beyond the border, beyond the sea, and into your hearts of all who visit.