With the nation focused on tightening its purse strings, it is good to know that a safe, affordable fantastic staycation can still be had here in the United States. South Texas offers the incomparable South Padre Island, one of America's top ten beaches and hidden treasures. Bring your whole family to this hidden gem on the Texas coast. Your kids will delight at the Schlitterbahn waterpark with its thrilling rides and uphill water coasters, relaxing waterways you can ride a tube on, and kiddie park. A two-day weekend pass can be had for around $40. A more daring pastime that can be shared with older children is parasailing; parasailing is when you are safely secured to a huge parachute and pulled by a boat as you enjoy the panoramic view of paradise. You and your family could also go to the north side of the island and go horseback riding, rent a beach buggy to ride on the sand or pedal your day away on a four-seater bicycle. Your kids will squeal with excitement when the waves crash near them or use the incoming water to make a moat around their sandcastles. You could even take a sandcastle lesson from residents and Master sandcastle builders, Sandyfeet   http://www.spionline.com/  and Andy Hancock  http://www.sandcastlelessons.com - a true family vacation event where age and ability all start equal.

There are many interesting things to do the whole family can enjoy such as visiting the sea turtle center, taking a dolphin watch trip on a boat that does not return to port until you actually see dolphins playing in the water next to your vessel. There is a dolphin research center where you can see all kinds of neat sea creatures such as rays, remoras, spiny lobster, giant shrimp and many other species. It is located next to a real lighthouse in Port Isabel, the city at the base of the causeway before you get to South Padre Island. Above all, the beach is what people to this perfect playground for adults and children. Go for a stroll in the warm waters of the gulf or go fishing aboard a vessel on a bay fishing trip or on an exciting offshore trolling trip http://gofishsouthpadre.com/ . If you want a more personal service you can hire a local captain such as Mark Guillot - http://www.southpadreislandfishing.info - who, along with 7 other captains, are based at parrot eyes restaurant.

 You could stay at a hotel or rent a condo with activities included and which saves you money because you can cook your own meals or have sandwich fixin's for the beach in your room and not have to spend so much at restaurants but you should try some of the fantastic restaurants there though such as Gabriella's, Yummies for breakfast and lunch, Daddy's Cajun food, Blackbeard's, the Windjammer (for their incredible panoramic view of the gulf) and the Sea Ranch listed as one of the top 300 restaurants in America. There is much more than this article allows space for such as jet skiing, amphibious tours, banana boat riding, bungee jumping, diving, snorkeling, kite flying, kiteboarding and too much to list.