Community > Visitor Information > Winter Visitors > Places to Go, Things to Do
Places to Go, Things to Do
The Museums of San Benito are located in the San Benito Community Building, 210 E. Heywood (Corner of North Reagan & East Heywood), and are open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., or by special group arrangements by calling 956-399-9991, 956-399-6032, 956-245-1666 or 956-276-9588. Admission is $3.00 Adults and $1.50 Children Under 12. The Museums include the San Benito History Museum, the Freddy “Fender Museum and the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Volunteers are always welcome to help out at the Museums and the Visitor Information Center during the winter months. To learn more, or to sign up to help, please call Tootie Madden at 399-9991 or 399-6032; Rey Avila at 245-1666, Ron Rogers at 399-7818, or Rogelio Nunez at 399-0110.
San Benito History Museum
Step back in time and see how San Benito came to be.
From the natural formation of the resaca (an old course of the Rio Grande River) where Indians and Spanish land grant ranches flourished to the arrival of the railroad and diverse ethnic pioneers hungry for cheap and fertile land, a small community grew and prospered.
San Benito grew into a social and commercial center in the tropical Magic Valley of Texas. Pioneers built schools and churches, formed clubs and held dances and even put on a "Hog Waddle."
Over 100 hundred years have past since San Benito’s founding and naming by Col. Sam Robertson and his business colleagues. Walk through our small tale in United States history and as the words of a popular song echo, "Reminisce about the days of yore…"
A project of the San Benito Historical Society
Freddy Fender Museum
Texas Folklife Resources calls "Freddy Fender an icon and the most significant Mexican-American singer, writer and musician in musical history."
The Freddy Fender Museum gives those who love Freddy Fender’s music a rare glimpse at his roots and what made him such a significant entertainer to so many. Freddy Fender's music career was ignited in the late 1950s when he recorded Spanish-language versions of Don't Be Cruel and Jamiaca Fairwell, which were chart-topping hits in Mexico and South America. He first recorded and had regional success with Wasted Days and Wasted Nights in the 1960s, but in the 1970s the song, along with his signature, Before the Next Teardrop Falls, propelled Freddy to International stardom. In 1975, he won the Academy of Country Music's Best New Artist award. This was the first of many major awards that Freddy would receive throughout his life.
In more recent years, he co-founded the Texas Tornados with Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers and Doug Sahm, toured as a solo artist, and as part of Tejano super group, Los Super Seven. A multi-Grammy Award winner, Mr. Fender performed for US presidents, governors and sold-out audiences worldwide. With music awards in 4 decades, numerous movie and TV credits, he continued to perform to sell out audiences from Vegas to Amsterdam until 2005.
Freddy was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999 for his contribution to music. Now you can enjoy Freddy’s story in his own words of his humble beginnings to the height of fame as an international recording star. See his Grammy awards, his Harley Davidson and costumes worn in various performances. The legend, and the spirit, of Freddy lives on in San Benito, Texas.
Texas Conjunto Music
Hall of Fame & Museum
The Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum is a part of the Museums of San Benito, the birthplace of conjunto music.
They strive to promote, preserve, archive, document, and to permanently display the history of Conjunto regional music and to honor those who created it. Detailed information on the instruments used in conjunto music, its cultural origins, and stories of San Benito’s legendary music institutions – “La Villita” dance hall and the Ideal Records are among featured exhibits.
In annual ceremonies, capped with a grand dance, worthy conjunto personnel are inducted into the Hall of Fame, which today features 33 notable individuals. They are highlighted in the biographies and memorabilia featured in the museum.
Conjunto music pioneer Narciso Martinez is credited with solidifying the combination of the German and Polish accordion polkas, schotishes and redowas with the Spanish bajo sexto (12-string guitar) and musica ranchera (ranch music).
Called the "working man’s" music, conjunto legends’ memories, and their spirit ,are kept alive in the Resaca City at the Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum.
The Visitor Information Center at the Museums of San Benito is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Approved informational brochures and publications are welcome for placement by merchants and organizations.
Volunteer workers are welcome to assist in the operations of this Center. To volunteer your time and talent, please call the Visitor Information Center at 956-361-3830, or the Museums at:
- San Benito Historical Society at 956-399-9991 or 956-399-6032or online at www.sanbenitohistory.org
- Texas Conjunto Music Hall of Fame & Museum at 956-245-1666 or 956-276-9588
- Freddy Fender Museum at 956-399-7818or online at www.freddyfendermuseum.org
Supported by the City of San Benito.
Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center
Narcisco Martinez Cultural Arts Center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the Mexican heritage through visual arts, music, theater, dance, film and literary works. The center was named for Marcisco Martinez, who is considered the "Father of the Texas Mexican Conjunto" music. Located at 225 E. Stenger. Call 956-361-0110 for more information.
- Writers Forum
Sponsored by Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center. Come develop your writing skills and share your talent with this creative group. Conducted 1st Tuesday of each month. Contact Beto Conde at 350-3905.
- El Second Weensdee
A cultural heritage program sponsored by Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center, 255 E. Stenger each 2nd Wednesday of month at 7 p.m. except September & November. Call 956-399-0110.
San Benito Market Day
Held in downtown San Benito and sponsored by San Benito Chamber of Commerce on the third Saturday of each month from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The event is an open-air bazaar where live music, arts and crafts, and people, come together for fun and profit. It includes festive activities including live entertainment and performances from our many talented student choirs, bands and other musical groups, taste-tempting treats at food booths and selling handmade and one-of-a-kind items at bargain prices. Market Days vendors may rent open space at a rate of $15 by contacting the San Benito Chamber of Commerce at 399-5321. Tables will be rented for $3.00 each. Chamber members receive discounts, and all participating Chamber members will be recognized in promotion of the events. Food booths will be limited. No flea market or garage sale booths allowed.
Adolph Thomae, Jr. County Park
The popular Adolph Thomae, Jr. County Park on the Laguna Madre is located within and surrounded by the huge Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. Facilities include lighted fishing piers, picnic areas, a playground, boat ramp, nature trail, and 35 RV sites with full hookups. Take F.M. 106 east 3.1 mi. to F.M. 2925; travel north 14.8 to the park entrance. Find Best Western San Benito lodging nearby. Call 956-748-2044 for more information.
Caddy Shack at Fairwinds
Caddy Shack at Fairwinds is a 9-hole public course located at 2524 Spur 54 in Harlingen. Call 956-423-2010 for more information.
Cottonwood Country Club
Cottonwood is a public par-3 course located at 1001 South Ed Carey Drive in Harlingen. Call 956-428-7758 for more information.
Forever Aloe Plantations
The Valley is the aloe vera capital of the nation. The magic healing aloe plant is vital to the skincare industry and is being tested for treatment of arthritis and diabetes. The visitor center at Forever Aloe Plantations features a 15-minute video on how this unassuming plant is grown, harvested, and processed. A variety of aloe products are available in the gift shop. Located on U.S. 83, Altas Palmas exit. Call 956-425-2585 for more information.
Gladys Porter Zoo
The Gladys Porter Zoo is one of the top ten small zoos in the country. The zoo is on a 31-acre preserve with more than 1,800 mammals, birds, and reptiles. Located at Ringgold and Sixth Streets in Brownsville. Call 956-546-7187 for more information.
Harlingen Art Forum Gallery
Harlingen Art Forum Gallery is the city's only co-operative gallery featuring original work by local artists. Located at 305 W. Van Buren. Call 956-425-4030 for more information.
Iwo Jima Monument and Memorial Museum
The original working model of the famous bronze statue at Arlington National Cemetery was donated by sculptor Dr. Felix W. de Weldon to the Marine Military Academy. It depicts the raising of the U.S. flag during World War II. A visitor center includes a museum, focusing on the battle and features a 30-minute film, "The Battle for Iwo Jima." Located next to the Valley International Airport at 320 Iwo Jima Blvd. Call 956-412-2207 for more information.
Knapp Chevrolet Antique Auto Museum
The Knapp Chevrolet Antique Auto Museum features a showroom full of antique and classic autos, including a 1929 Chevrolet, 1957 Belair convertible, and several collectible Corvettes. Located on U.S. 83, Stuart Place Road exit. Call 956-423-1370 for more information.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Reserve
With 45,000 acres Laguna Atascosa is the largest protected area of natural wildlife left in the lower Rio Grande Valley. The refuge also features two roads for touring by car or bike, and five hiking trails with an alligator pond. Designated sites within the refuge permit camping, fishing, boating, and hunting. Located just 14 miles northeast of San Benito. Call 956-748-3607 for more information.
Los Ebanos Preserve
Los Ebanos is a unique private 82-acre bird and butterfly preserve. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, hike the nature trails, sit and enjoy the water birds on the lake, or just relax with a book in the pavilion. Located in San Benito at 27715 Hwy 100. Call 956-399-9097 for more information.
Los Indios Free Trade Bridge
The Los Indios Free Trade Bridge is centrally located about ten miles south of Harlingen/San Benito on the FM 509 at Los Indios on the US/Mexico border.
Rio Grande Valley Museum
he Rio Grande Valley Museum brings South Texas history to life through tours of historic Harlingen buildings. Visitors can step inside the Paso Real Stagecoach Inn, built during the Civil War. Vintage medical equipment is on display in the city's first hospital. Visitors can a take a peek at daily life inside the home of city founder Lon C. Hill, which features many original family possessions. Located off Loop 499 at Boxwood and Raintree Streets in Harlingen. Call 956-430-8500 for more information.
South Padre Island
Located just 29 miles east of San Benito is South Padre Island, the premiere beach resort on the Texas coast. The island is know for its long white sandy beach and water sports, including jet skiing, bay, surf, and deep-sea fishing, parasailing, sailing, dolphin cruise, and windsurfing. Other popular island activities include bicycling, tennis, shelling, and horseback riding on the beach. The location of the island also makes it one of the premiere spots in the state to observe wildlife in its natural state. Call 956-761-6433 for more information.
Tony Butler Municipal Golf Course
Named after local golf pro legend Tony Butler, this 27-hole course dates back to 1929 when it was known as the Harlingen Country Club. Both the 9-hole original course and the 18-hole championship course that was added later are fairly short and have narrow fairways lined with mesquite trees. From Highway 77 south, exit M Street, and then turn right. Call 956-423-3934 for more information.