Texas has a lot of great beaches. Not all are free. State parks and National parks charge a fee for entrance unless you hold an annual pass. Padre Bali Park is a free public beach. It offers a great parking lot very close to the water, bathrooms, decent surfing, a fishing pier where you can purchase bait, and a great restaurant.
We recently drove down for a nice relaxing day of fun in the sun. We packed light. Our trusty sand toys, shovel, and this bucket with the bottom cut out were all we needed to keep the kids entertained for hours. We throw it all in the large black tote you see by the picnic tables strap it to our tiny trailer.
Sand Castle tip: Cut the bottom out of your bucket. Fill it with sand and a little water and pack it down tightly.
Take a couple mesh bags to bring towels and laundry home in so you can just throw them straight in the laundry when you get home. The little mesh bags are also great for collecting sea shells in and rinsing the sand off in the ocean before you leave.
Can’t be too safe. I never let anyone in the family in the water without life jackets.
You can drive onto the beach to the left side of the parking lot. Driving on Texas beaches requires a permit with the exception of the beach at the National Seashore. More info on beach parking permits can be found here.
A permit is good for a year if you decide to buy one. Parking in the super close parking lot right by the beach, bathroom, trash cans, and picnic tables, is free.
Have the kids write their name in the sand themselves and you will get not only their handwriting, but possibly one of their cute nicknames as well. I think pictures make the best free souvenirs.
The beach at Padre Bali Park is free. You can play and surf and fish from the beach all day for free. The pier is not free. It is privately owned and there is a charge to go out onto the pier, and another separate charge for fishing poles brought onto the pier. A quick youtube search of the fishing at Bob Hall Pier will definitely impress you. You can catch anything from red snapper to sting rays and sharks.
Turn left when you get to the gate to head to Mikel Mays. No charge to get into the restaurant. Pier rules and fees are listed here. For more info on the pier check out the this link.
Click here for panoramic shots of the view form Mikel Mays. I would love to post a link to the menu, but their website seems to be down. So I will keep an eye on that and hopefully be able to update it soon.
The kids menu is pretty standard, corn dogs, chicken strips, and popcorn shrimp. My kids loved it, The servings were huge.
I ordered the Nachos from the appetizer menu. What can I say, I’m a sucker for nachos. I added the spicy chili. It was spicy. I shared with everyone. We all loved it. It would be equally delicious without the chili if you’re not wanting spicy.
My son got the Shrimp Tacos. My husband got big fried shrimp. Both are made with fresh gulf shrimp. My son is a huge fan of shrimp tacos. He gets these every time we go and they never disappoint.
We had a great day. We could’ve just as easily packed a picnic and ate at a picnic table. It would have made our day at the beach free. But Mikel May’s is part of our new tradition. Let the kids run and play under the pier. Stop and take a few photos. Slow down, and enjoy a day at the beach.