Lodging rates in a beach town are akin to those in a ski village—they can be mile-high in the busy season and downright affordable the rest of the year. The following South Padre accommodations include prices for a weekend stay in mid-summer (the busy getaway season in Texas, despite the fact it’s 93 degrees and humid).
Among the affordable options is South Beach Inn (120 E. Jupiter Ln., 956/761-2471, www.southbeachtexas.com , rooms range $49–149 depending on size and season), an independently owned 12-unit establishment nestled among the palms just a block from the beach. One of the oldest hotel buildings on the island (1961), South Beach offers mostly efficiency-style kitchenettes with full-sized stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, and toasters. Pets are welcome, and Wi-Fi service is available.
Also in the affordable range is Beachside Inn (4500 Padre Blvd., 956/761-4919, www.padrebeachside.com , $99 d) featuring clean, simple rooms within walking distance of the beach, an outdoor pool with hot tub, and kitchenettes with microwaves and refrigerators.
The next step on the price ladder gets you a bit closer to the action with some added amenities. One of the more popular and reliable options is the Ramada Limited (4109 Padre Blvd., 956/761-4097, www.ramada.com , $129 d), offering a free hot breakfast, an outdoor pool and hot tub, and rooms with microwaves, fridges, and free wireless Internet access.
Closer to the Queen Isabella Causeway is the casual yet consistent Super 8 (4205 Padre Blvd., 956/761-6300, www.super8.com , $129 d) offering a heated outdoor pool, free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi access, and mini microwaves and refrigerators.
Another trustworthy chain option is Holiday Inn Express (6502 Padre Blvd., 956/761-8845, www.southpadreexpress.com , $143 d). What sets it apart from the other corporate choices is the massive aquarium in the lobby with dozens of colorful fish darting about. Otherwise, the amenities here are pretty standard, including an outdoor pool, a fitness center, beach access, Wi-Fi access, and rooms with microwaves and refrigerators.
The Travelodge (6200 Padre Blvd., 956/761-4744, www.travelodge.com , $159 d) offers a large outdoor pool and hot tub, a private walkway to the beach, free wireless Internet access, a deluxe continental breakfast, and a microwave and a refrigerator in each room.
Each of the establishments in the final category of lodging options contains the word “resort” in the title, an indication of their top-notch quality and corresponding higher rates. Occupying 15 tropical beachside acres is Bahia Mar Resort (6300 Padre Blvd., 956/761-1343, www.bahiamar.com , $175 d), a comfortable yet fancy spot with ample amenities and several types of accommodations. Choose from standard guest rooms, kitchenettes, suites, or even fully equipped two- and three-bedroom condominiums, all with private balconies. Other amenities include a tropical lagoon walk to the beach, a surfside cabana, two outdoor swimming pools and a hot tub with adjacent patio bar, a children’s pool, beach volleyball courts, an exercise and weight room, two lighted tennis courts, a putting green, a shuffleboard court, and a gift shop. Rooms include refrigerators, microwaves, and ample closet space.
Closer to the causeway is La Copa Inn Beach Resort (350 Padre Blvd., 956/761-6000, $190 d) offering free Internet service, a free deluxe continental breakfast, and nightly happy hour with beer, wine, and snacks. Just down the street is the upscale Peninsula Island Resort & Spa (340 Padre Blvd., 956/761-2514, www.peninsulaislandresort.com , $225 d), featuring one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with kitchenettes, a swim-up pool bar, large edgeless pool, hot tub, rooms with fancy Brazilian furniture, a gym, and an on-site convenience store.
Among the most luxurious choices on the island is the Radisson Resort (500 Padre Blvd., 956/761-6511, www.radisson.com , $159–259 d or suite), boasting the best beachfront location in town with excellent services. Rooms include free Internet access, microwaves, and refrigerators. Consider upgrading to a condo suite—the spacious rooms, living area with a couch and second TV, fully equipped kitchen, and separate bathrooms (a godsend for those with kids) provide a perfect home away from home. It’s the hotel’s grounds, however, that keep guests coming back for repeated recreational relaxation. Enjoy the direct beach access, two outdoor swimming pools with a cascading waterfall and popular “Whiskey Shack,” three whirlpools, four lighted tennis courts, shuffleboard courts, and plenty of lounge chairs.