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32+ Best and Fun Things to Do in Laredo, Texas

Laredo marks the boundary between Texas and Mexico. Even though Laredo is on the Texas side, Mexican roots are clearly evident.

It is important to point out that Laredo was founded in 1755 but did not become part of Texas until 1846. This explains why Laredo’s history is so intertwined with Mexican culture and how, even now, the culture, traditions, language, and ideas are still reflected today throughout the city streets, in community events, the language, restaurants, stores, and the people.

We wanted to share all the visit-worthy sights and important places in Laredo, so you make the most of your next Texas adventure! These tips come from locals and tourists, so you’ll get the best of both worlds!

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Is Laredo Safe?

Before we begin, you should know that, although Laredo sits on the edge of the Mexico border, the overall security risk in the city is low. Laredo was ranked the 13th safest city in America by SmartAsset. While there are minor thefts and property crimes, violent crime is low, and the cartel war is not a problem for citizens or tourists. You can rest, safe and secure, knowing that Laredo might just be one of the safest towns you’ll ever visit in the US (much to people’s surprise).

Unlike most Spanish settlements in Texas, which were constructed around forts or missions, Laredo was established in 1755 as a ferry crossing. Tomás Sánchez is credited with forming what began as a Spanish colonial settlement, called Villa de San Agustin de Laredo. San Agustin de Laredo was a mouthful, apparently, and was eventually called Laredo for short.

One of the original border crossings along the Mexico-United States frontier is now located in Laredo. It serves as the biggest inland point of entry in the country. Laredo has been able to thrive as a result, fusing the two very different cultures of Mexico and the United States. Laredo is actually the only Texas community with seven flags flying proudly!

Visit the Museums

The Washington’s Birthday Celebration Museum – Inside the La Posada Hotel, you’ll find a collection of exhibits, pictures, and memorabilia from parties over the last 110 years celebrating George Washington’s role in welcoming immigrants who settled in Laredo. While the celebration occurs during the month of February, the museum is open year-round for visitors. 

The Republic of the Rio Grande Museum – This particular museum is inside a historic home in the downtown San Agustin de Laredo Historic District. Admission is free.

Constructed in the mid-1800s, the house was once the home to the Mayor of Laredo and was once utilized as the Capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande. The flag of the Republic of the Rio Grande is still lifted high, and the residents have flown it since 1840. 

The inside of the home is a recreation of an authentic home from the 1800s in Laredo. The kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms are staged to demonstrate their lifestyles during this time, helping you wrap your mind around the daily toil in those times. It also brings to life the timeline of what led to the Laredo we know today, such as how the borders were drawn and its cultural influences.

Timeline exhibit of the history of the Republic of the Rio Grande

The Cathedral of San Agustin – This is one of the oldest buildings and one of the most famous landmarks in Laredo. It was founded in 1778 in downtown Laredo and is a part of the San Agustin National Register District, along with the Republic of the Rio Grande Museum and the La Posada Hotel.

The exterior of the Cathedral of St. Agustin

La Posada Hotel – The interior is decorated in a Spanish hacienda style with bright colors, terracotta tiles, mosaics, and it is surrounded by natural vegetation that blends with the hotel. As previously mentioned, it is located in downtown Laredo and is a part of the San Agustin National Register District. 

The Villa Antigua Border Heritage Museum – This iconic red building is located on the banks of the Rio Grande and keeps with the predominant European style of the time, as well as the magnificent homes in the San Agustín District in the early 20th century. In 2002, Webb County and the Heritage Foundation began renovating and historically restoring the house to make it the landmark it is today. Today, the San Agustin Plaza is one of the most popular destinations for locals during peak season and throughout the year. 

There are two exhibits: “Cantinfleando,” which tells of the famous Mexican comedian Mario Moreno, popularly known as “Cantinflas.” The other is a collaboration with the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and the American Legion Post 59, featuring “War and Peace on the Rio Grande, 1861-1867,” an exhibit about the rich history of the American Civil War in South Texas and part of the Mexican American war. They also host movie nights in the courtyard and display the works of local artists.

Art exhibit

The Laredo Center for the Arts – Here, you’ll find a constant rotation of different exhibitions for less than $5 per ticket! The Laredo Center for the Arts not only promotes national and international artists who bring their art to the people of Laredo, but they also support local artists.

The Laredo Selfie Museum – This is the perfect place to stop and stage photos for your Instagram. There are all kinds of setups, and any special occasion can be celebrated with them!

The Laredo Water Museum – I can’t say we knew much of what to expect here. A museum on the water? Instead, there were many ways that they immersed us in this museum. There are interactive displays, water facts, and lots of interactive activities and fun facts about water treatment and service in Laredo. At the end of the day, it will help you think critically about water and water use!

Interactive exhibits

Casa Ortiz – A historic building built in the early 1800s by Jose Reyes Ortiz, the entire Ortiz family is a part of the main history of Laredo. It offers a magnificent view of the Rio Grande and has a beautiful garden surrounding the property. They also host events, seminars, and workshops. It was officially declared a Texas Historic Landmark in 1964.

Attention All Foodies!

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth – At Dulcerias Pinkis, there are aisles and aisles of Mexican sweets and even an entire aisle dedicated to Chamoy and hot sauce! All the amazing choices are almost overwhelming!

Eat All the Tasty Food – Micheladas that are three glasses high, authentic Mexican food, and a strange combination of sushi and tacos? Laredo has it all! Since we found so many hidden gems with delicious food, plus local favorites and popular tourist attractions where you’ll undoubtedly get your fill, we had to write a whole blog about it! If you want to learn more, click here to read about all the best places to eat in Laredo!

Man holding an elaborately decorated Michelada that is three glasses high

Don’t Go a Day Without Some Good Coffee – Start your day with a cup of Joe accompanied by a tasty meal or a snack. You’ll discover everything from brunch menus to sweet bread with your cafecito at these coffee shops in Laredo.

Explore the Beauty of Laredo

The Las Palmas Nature Trail – This trail is a premier birding trail, extending for half a mile along the Rio Grande and ending at Zacate Creek. Just off the Rio Grande, there’s a park, perfect for taking a break to take photos and enjoy the shade.

The entire hike is approximately 1.5 miles long, mostly on level ground with slight inclines. You can also just explore Las Palmas at the entrance for a shorter hike.

Tall palm trees behind a sign that says "Las Palmas Trail"

Walk From Aztec Park to Zapata Creek – Start at Aztec Park and follow the creek to the right after crossing the small bridge. The trail is a little wild, but you’ll reach a waterfall if you stick with it. I am not going to lie, there is lots of trash, and it stinks a little, but it is a reminder that we need to care for the environment. However, you can also find moments of beauty in unlikely places. Yes, there was trash, which was disappointing, but it was still possible to see past that at the beauty of the waterfall!

Casa Blanca State Park & Lake – If you are an avid camper, Casa Blanca is the perfect place for you. The campground facilities are large, clean, and private. There is running water, electric hookups, picnic tables in the shade, and there are rangers that patrol the area. The park has many hiking trails, fishing piers, a nice beach to play on, and playgrounds for the kids.

Tomás Sánchez de la Barrera and Captain Gallardo of Laredo built the Casa Blanca, or the White House, as part of a settlement that was founded there around the mid-1700s. In 1991, the state established Lake Casa Blanca as a state park. 

The Casa Blanca on-site at the state park

Go Kayaking on the Rio Grande – Laredo Kayaks offers tours for those who want to enjoy a day of outdoor fun with time on the water. The whole experience is relaxing, the river is beautiful, and the ride is quiet, scenic, and somewhat challenging. All in all, the tour takes about 3 hours. Remember to bring snacks, water, and a hat. Otherwise, you will be at the sun’s mercy.

The bank of the Rio Grande River

Discover the Many Murals of Laredo – Laredo has amazing murals by famous artists scattered throughout the city. If you want to go on a scavenger hunt, get a map of the murals at any hotel or at the Laredo Office at 101 Salinas Avenue. The most popular is the Abrazo mural in the parking lot of the Rialto Hotel at 1219 Matamoros St. These are the best photo stops to commemorate your trip.

The famous Abrazo mural

Head to Nuevo Laredo – When the border lines were drawn between Texas and Mexico, Laredo was split in two. Today’s Laredo is a part of Texas and on the north bank of the Rio Grande, while Nuevo Laredo is nestled in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas on the river’s south bank. Nuevo Laredo is larger than Laredo and offers a wide range of activities for a day, a full weekend, or as long as you plan to stay. Check out our blog on the best things to do in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico and be sure to not forget your passport!

Plan Your Road Trip Around These Local Events

Dance at the Jalapeño Festival – This event is held in early February with banda groups, popular Hispanic singers, an iconic jalapeño eating contest, a Miss Jalapeño beauty contest, and an El Grito contest. The Jalapeno Festival has been named one of the top 10 food festivals in the nation! The atmosphere is vibrant and lively, with plenty of food and lots of fun!

Join the Washington Birthday Celebration – This celebration lasts for almost a month! It begins in February and continues through the end of the month with various events. The festivities consist of various festivals, a Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant and Ball, a Princess Pocahontas Pageant and Ball, two parades, a carnival, an air show, the HEB Fireworks Extravaganza, live concerts, the “Fun Fest” at Laredo Community College, and a citywide prom where the dress code is colonial.

Pageant float going by during the parade

Indulge at the Sister Cities Festival – The Sister Cities Festival will be held this year from July 14-16, 2023. For three days, the Auto Arena transforms into an indoor market with vendors selling handcrafted goods from all over Mexico. You will find products made of leather, home accessories, jewelry, shoes, bags, wooden toys, clothing, traditional foods, and sweets.

Break Out Your Binoculars for the Annual Birding Festival – The Laredo Birding Festival offers 13 full-day excursions for birders to choose from each year. Birders get to explore areas near Laredo’s riverfront, creek systems, nature paths, and picturesque private ranch land while being escorted by qualified field guides and neighborhood Monte Mucho Audubon Society members. Birders from all over the nation travel to Laredo for its incredible views to spot birds like green parakeets and more! The next Birding Festival will take place February 7-10, 2024.

Treat Yourself to a Souvenir

Go Shopping at the Outlet Shoppes – ​This outlet mall is located in downtown Laredo with over 50 brand-name stores. The I-35 exit, and the Mexico Pedestrian Bridge, go to the mall at 1600 Water Street.

Stores along downtown Laredo

Stroll Down San Bernardo Avenue – San Bernardo Avenue is 40 blocks of import shops selling a large variety of Mexican goods. Some popular stops are:

  • Basket & Pottery Alley 
  • The Blue Goat
  • Dulcerias Pinkis 
  • El Alamo Pottery