Even more than other Texas border towns, Laredo has always been tightly entwined with its sister city to the south, the fittingly named Nuevo Laredo (New Laredo). News stories of drug violence and tight border controls have severely crimped a place where Mexico and the US seemed to blend the most seamlessly even just a decade ago.
While the border situation remains unsettled, Laredo makes for a good stop on any Rio Grande itinerary. The city's old downtown is evocative and has three good museum spaces, and the historic architecture alone makes exploring worthwhile. And in many ways, starting with the strong Hispanic culture, Laredo's like a trip south of the border without the customs inspection.