S.B. asks from Fort Worth, TX on May 15, 2009
Vacation in South Padre
My husband and I are taking our first real vacation with our 4 year old little boy in just a few weeks. We will be going to South Padre, and need some tips!! Where to stay, where to eat, what to do, and even the what NOT to do's, or where NOT to stay.
We have never done think kind of thing with our son before, and are a little timid about it. He has ASD and we are worried about the stress that the trip may cause, so if you have any tips about that, PLEASE share. The farthest we have ever gone with him was from Fort Worth to Abilene and back and only stayed over the weekend. We will be staying in Padre from Monday to Thursday. We have decided that we want to do normal family things, and are afraid that he is missing out on childhood memories, but are terrified of stressing him because of his ASD.
Any and ALL tips are welcome. Please help me make this a great trip for all involved!
Thanks in advance, I know yall will help me with what I need!!!
1 mom found this helpful
K.A. answers from Dallas on May 15, 2009
Well, I was going to say we stayed at the Bahia Mar hotel about four years ago and enjoyed it, BUT I read the reviews on tripadvisor.com, and apparently it is under new management and not good at all - so I won't recommend that. They have a birding center in Padre where you can walk out on this really long pier/boardwalk thing. It is fenced and safe, so that is a good place to go burn off some energy. Brownsville has a really great zoo (Gladys Porter, I believe). I would recommend you check tripadvisor for hotel reviews and definitely try to get something beach front. We went to the beach this past spring and had to get in the car to go to the beach. I am still trying to get the sand out of my van. Have fun!
E.M. answers from Dallas on May 16, 2009
When I am putting my ASD kids into new situations, I explain to them (in short simple language) what is going to happen. If I let them know what to expect and what is expected from them, they behave much better.
When we are driving long distances we stop at resturants that have a playground. They kids play while we eat and then they eat when we get back into the car. That was they get a break from sitting and then they have something to do in the car.
E.A. answers from Dallas on May 16, 2009
I've been going to South Padre my whole life. My grandparents used to live in south Texas and now my mom lives on South Padre. It has the best beaches in Texas, I highly recommend it. My mom owns the movie theater on the island, Island Cinema. It is small but nice and clean, a great place to go for a break from the beach or if the weather isn't cooperating. Also, I would recommend Blackbeard's restaurant and the Padre Island Brewing Company. Both have very good food and a wide range of options so that everyone in the family is happy. I'm not sure where to recommend staying since we usually just stay with my mom but Franke Realty has a good website with lots of places on the beach and the typically have lots of pictures of the condos so you can see what they look like. I have always stayed in a condo rather than a hotel, it's nice to have you're own kitchen and refrigerator, especially with kids, and it saves a little money on eating out the WHOLE time. Hope that helps!
M. answers from Dallas on May 16, 2009
There are lots of dolphin watch boats - some also are called eco-tours. On these, they throw out a net in the bay and scoop up random sea creatures and put them in a tank on the boat. Then the captain goes through the tank and picks up the creatures and tells all the kids about them - the kids all gather by the tank and looooove this. It's also a lot of fun when you get to see some dolphins.
There is a sea turtle rescue center - this is so much fun and they operate on donations. They do a little presentation every morning - you might check on times when you get there. You can leisurely look at all the rescued turtles and hear what they are doing to save these animals. My kids love this as well.
Right before you cross the bridge to the island is a lighthouse. You'll find a pirate restaurant that's fun. Next door is a small aquarium-type place - there are several hands-on areas with little crabs, starfish, etc - we usually save this for a rainy day.
Stay at a hotel on the surf side - not the bay side. Then you can just walk out to the beach and rent an umbrella/chairs. It's saves you a lot of mess when you don't have to drive to the beach. Go to Dollar Tree before you leave here and stock up on sand toys - that will also save you some $$$.
Have fun. Definately take a DVD player and some new movies in the car - it is a loooong drive.
C.C. answers from Dallas on May 18, 2009
I don't know about places to eat/stay, but smoe basics (and probably things you already know):
But FIRST & MOST IMPORTANT: RELAX - (you and your husband). Your son is going to pick up on your 'terror' .....
1) Try to arrange your arrival time by mid-day. This will give you all time to settle in to your hotel and get familiar with the town and it's opportunities for entertainment.
2) Limit SUGAR - especially after 2 PM. It only aggravates ASD and ADD children (& adults).
3) Be sure to take along some of his favorites - toy, pillow, blanket, DVD, .... and buy a NEW toy or game or movie - something he will associate ONLY with a vacation.
4) When you first arrive, look for a favorite restaurant (of HIS) - McDonald's, Whataburger, Jack in the Box - someplace he will connect to being home .... try to eat your first meal there.
5) If he likes the water, make sure the hotel has a pool and spend some time in it with him.
6) Buy him a beach package (sand bucket/tools, etc). If he has never been to the ocean, he will probably find the beach really scary. Let him play in the sand and build a sand castle or something with him....you may go 'wading' but do NOT force him into the water - even if he is being held .... (it's sort of like forcing a kid to sit on Santa's lap when they're terrified of Santa).
7) He will probably not be interested in going 'shopping' - so if you are going to take back souveniers, let him help pick-out gifts for Grandma & Grandpa, etc. You can pick out a few and let him choose which one (sort of like you do his clothes...'which one do you want to wear today?).... OR, you can point him toward a certain section (cheap) of the store and let him pick out something on his own .... give him the money and let him actually buy it. (if it isn't what you had in mind, one of you stay with him at the hotel, pool, etc., and the other go get the gift you had in mind).
8)If you want to do a nice, relaxing seafood dinner on the beach, be sure they have American food - burgers, chicken nuggets, etc ..... in case your son doesn't like seafood. (A lot of restaurants have books/pages and colors for small children. Just in case they dno't, you would do well to bring/buy one .... these things will keep him busy while waiting for dinner .... (snacks-crackers, etc - are always good to have in your purse,
9) If you normally attend church as a family, try to attend at least one service ....
The key to this vacation is two-fold: try to include things he would normally experience at home and try to make the 'new' things really interesting for him. As best you can, try to keep his routine as close as possible to his routine at home (meal time, bath time, bed time, etc.
Second: Wear him out .... the more activity he has, the more tired he will be and ready to go to bed and sleep well. A good night's rest will help him cope with the new stuff.
K.M. answers from Dallas on May 16, 2009
We took our children to South Padre when they were young and they really enjoyed it. We always stayed at the Sheraton because it has two pools and there were fun things to do there. There is also a water park nearby. Just google it and also the restaurants and you can see what is available to fit your needs. There are some really good restaurants there that are kid friendly from pizza to steaks. We also stayed in a condo but the pools at the Sheraton were better and there were more kids there. It is right on the beach.