Fall Getaways in the Rio Grande Valley


Last month, on a Saturday night, I found myself sorting a huge bin of bible felts. I texted a fellow mom who lives close by and invited her to join me, but she was busy doing her own form of sorting: laundry. I texted my sister-in-law, who is also a fellow mom.  She was already in her pajamas. At nine o’clock on a Saturday night my random sample of three moms revealed pajamas, laundry, and sorting felts.  Perhaps we were all stuck in a bit of a rut. 

[Related: Guide to Fall Events & Activities]

Sometimes motherhood leaves us in a rut.  This, however, is no time to be stuck in a rut.  It is finally fall in the RGV! We have reestablished school routines. The relentless summer temperatures that began way back in March are finally starting to drop. Perhaps, best of all, we are far enough from both the business of summer and the stress of the holidays that we can truly relax. Take advantage of what fall has to offer, get out of your rut, and check out one of my three favorite getaways in the RGV!

Camp at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

I haven’t met many people who have camped at Bentsen State Park.  It does not boast grand natural wonders.  Instead, it lies on an international border. (Indeed, the only time I witnessed  smuggling operations in real time was just outside Bentsen State Park.) Despite this, my family spent a weekend camping at the park last year, and we had a surprisingly enjoyable time. 

Why did we enjoy camping at Bentsen?  Camping is a lot of work, so it was nice to camp somewhere that didn’t require a road trip. Although the campsites are quite a walk from the parking area, a shuttle will carry you and your gear to a drop off point close to the camping area. 

Once you are settled, enjoy the quiet a vehicle-free park offers.

  • Wake up early to watch the birds eat at the freshly filled feeding stations
  • Spot a javalina behind one of the bird blinds.
  • Enjoy a family bike ride on the vehicle-free paved roads. 
  • Spend the afternoon lounging in one of the park swings.
  • Visit the nearby Butterfly Center. 
  • Summit the hawk observatory tower to watch the sunset. 
  • Shine your flashlight in the grass at night to see eyes glowing back at you. 

Camping isn’t for everyone, and camping at Bentsen State Park is no exception. The park lies at the intersection of nature and a patrolled international border, which you will notice if you spend a whole weekend there. During my family’s camping trip, we heard helicopters, encountered Border Patrol agents on a trail, and heard the muffled sounds of an agent’s radio during the middle of the night. But if you are like me, willing to make the most of what makes the valley unique, you might enjoy a weekend at Bentsen State Park.

Rent a Condo on South Padre Island 

As fun as it is, a day trip to the island is also exhausting. You round up the beach gear and load it in the car, questioning the the necessity of it all. After a drive longer than you remembered, you arrive at the beach and lug your gear through a lengthy path of dry sand. As you watch childless youths waltz past you with a tote bag lightly hanging from their shoulder, you again question the necessity of all your gear. 

You set everything up and enjoy the beach. The ocean feels lovely. The joy of water and sand consumes your children. You indulge in snack food and read a bit.

Then it’s time to leave. Everyone is tired, everything is sandy, and you are now certain you do not need all your beach gear. You load everything  in the car with less care. Despite your best efforts, sand is all over your vehicle. You arrive home after dark, unload the car, and give necessary baths. You go to bed exhausted and with a full heart because you spent a lovely day at the beach. 

After five years of exhausting day trips to the island, my family and I rented a condo for a weekend— and it was A-MA-ZING! We walked to the beach for an hour or two at a time, taking just the basic necessities, and returned to the condo for sand-free meals and delicious naps. We took real showers before boarding our car and rode our bikes in the evening.  I always leave the island happy, but leaving after enjoying the beach from the comfort of a condo was a wonderfully new happy. 

October is perfect for a weekend at SPI. Summer crowds are gone; the water is still warm. What are you waiting for?

Stay a night at the Inn at Chachalaca Bend

Located in Los Fresnos, the Inn at Chachalaca Bend is my favorite romantic get-away in the valley. The inn is small and intimate. The rooms are lovely.  The breakfast is fresh. The grounds are peaceful and hidden. You can enjoy the veranda on the Resaca, listen to the noisy chachalacas, or walk the short on-site trail that even features some trees dripping with enchanting Spanish Moss. 

The inn is close enough to South Padre Island to make a short trip feasible, which will be considerably easier because this is a romantic getaway without the kids.

My neighbor calls the Inn at Chachalaca Bend a hidden gem, and I agree with him completely.  I almost don’t want to share it with everyone for fear hoards of visitors will spoil it. It’s that good. 

Whatever you do, make sure you get out and enjoy fall in the RGV!

Now you know my favorite getaways in the RGV. You may disagree, or have a few of your own — and that’s fine by me. My goal is to inspire you to get out of your rut and out of your house. The best time of year in the RGV is starting! Don’t let this time slip away unenjoyed. Make an intentional effort to spend quality time together outside, away from the distractions of everyday life, before the craziness of the holidays arrives. 

[Related: Guide to Fall Events & Activities]




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