Rio Grande Valley

The semitropical southern border area of Texas is much wetter than the arid west, thanks to the moisture-laden winds off the Gulf of Mexico. This lush environment is perfect for farming; much of the winter produce sold in the USA comes from Texas.

The temperate winter climate attracts hordes of migratory creatures. A breed known as 'Winter Texans' – American retirees from the north – arrives in flocks, as do more than 500 species of bird, who in turn attract bird-watchers to scores of natural spots.

The valley begins at the mouth of the Rio Grande, which meets the gulf in vast palm-studded wetlands, lagoons and remote beaches.

Heading west up the valley most of the land is given over to farming until the area around McAllen, at which point the gulf winds diminish and the land becomes increasingly arid and the population thins.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Rio Grande Valley.