Palo Alto Battlefield – Brownsville, TX
We are pretty lucky because we quite literally live just down the street from the Palo Alto Battlefied. This is a national park that is only open from the normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are literally gates that close and lock up at 5 PM sharp so when preparing to visit be sure you get out in time that you don’t learn what it’s like to sleep at a historical battlefield 🙂
North of Brownsville, TX and South of Los Fresnos, TX this little stopover can easily be visited when driving through to South Padre Island. In fact, it’s right about a 30 minute drive from the island even you decide to just hit the park up outright.
Unfortunately the battlefield looks nothing today like it did back in the day. Dotted with tons of cacti and mesquite gone wild the landscape is far from the once grass covered fields of back in the day. Apparently overgrazing cattle on the land in fairly recent history helped to kill off the native grasses and allow the invading cacti and mesquite to take over.
There is a visitor center within the park that features beautiful, locally inspired architecture. Not only the exterior is a treat, however, there is an informative video that you can watch to learn about the Mexican American war that took place here. Now normally I balk at the videos we’re asked to watch when we hit up visitor centers but this particular movie was short and enjoyable.
Inside you will also find replica uniforms of the opposing armies as well as general exhibits. Though it is small inside, it’s definitely worth a turn. Once outside you can follow trails around the park in general, and then you can follow the battle lines for the U.S. and Mexican forces separately.
When you meet in the middle you’ll find a covered area, great for a quick rest on a hot day with even more information to learn on plaques that face the field itself.
Though not pictured, this park is also pet friendly. We brought our Ollie and Carly and allowed them to have a nice, long walk on the leash. Just be warned that it is HOT here beginning mid-morning and our pups only made it to this halfway point before we sat for a rest and then continued back to the car.
While there you’ll see lots of cannons from the time of the war and have a nice walk around. Since the park is free and informative with super helpful staff, I’d highly recommend a visit. Please take care of proper heat precautions, though!