A Rio Grande Valley Jewel


For birders, the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas offers innumerable must visit destinations. As you explore lodging options in Valley, I highly recommend the Alamo Inn B&B and Outdoor Store.  This quaint inn and nature store is conveniently situated in the heart of one North America's birding meccas and, more importantly, innkeeper Keith Hackland and his wife Audrey Jones have targeted birders and eco-tourists as their primary clientele.

The Alamo Inn, located in the town of Alamo, is less than 10 minutes from Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Other local hotspots such as Estero Llano Grande State Park, Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park, Anzalduas Park, and the Valley Nature Center in Weslaco are all within 30 minutes of the inn. If you want to bird along the Gulf Coast, Brownsville, South Padre Island, and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge are a mere 90 minutes away, with lots birding opportunities en route.


The original building, erected by the Alamo Land and Sugar Co. in 1919, was purchased by Audrey in 1998. After 18 months of remodeling, the inn opened for business in November of 1999. It features themed suites that are clean, comfortable and plenty spacious if you intend to settle in for a multi-day stay. Seven additional apartment suites are available in a separate complex just down the street from the main inn. The apartments, which can be rented for extended stays of up to a month or more, feature full kitchens, which are stocked with dishes, pots and pans, and cooking utensils.

The nightly rates for most of the suites and apartments, which range from $55-70, are a bargain compared to what you will pay for a cookie-cutter room at one of the national chains and the amenities offered at the Alamo Inn far outstrip those that come with such accommodations. I'm consistently underwhelmed by the "breakfast" options at most motels/hotels and invariably the person charged with putting out the continental breakfast is late in doing so. Not the case at the Alamo Inn, which features a wonderful little dining area with real dishes and silverware, and the kind of food you might eat at home. Choose from a variety of juices, fruits, yogurts, and a hearty and healthy assortment of cold and hot cereals. Milk options are many, with everything from skim to whole and even soy milk. The inn features locally-baked artisan breads and a nice array of local jams and jellies (including jalapeno) to spread upon them. All of this is available self-service round the clock, so if you want to start your day at o'dark thirty, you won't have to wait around for the food to be put out. If you need a lunch for the day, the refrigerator is stocked with cold-cuts etc. There is even a white board hanging on the wall, with postings about rare birds in the area.

Talk to virtually anyone who has experienced the Alamo Inn and they'll convince you that it's the place to stay when you visit the Valley. These days, nearly all of the inn's business comes from word of mouth advertising or repeat customers, so you'll want to book your stay well in advance.

The top image shows the dining area at the Alamo Inn B&B, which is right off the back of the nature store (below). The store is well-stocked with anything a birder might need, including an extensive inventory of field guides to birds (both foreign and domestic), plus guides to butterflies, dragon and damsel flies and other fauna of the region. There are also a number of books about the general history and natural history of the Rio Grande Valley and comfortable places to lounge about as you peruse the various volumes. (Photos by Dave Irons)

The Johnson Suite (above) features a western style, with lots of cowboy memorabilia and antiques from Audry (Johnson) Jones' family. The South Padre Island Suite (below) offers a coastal motif. These suites are both located in the main building. (Photos sourced online at www.alamoinnsuites.com)

This image above shows the living space in one of the apartment suites, which are located in a complex about one block from the main building. In addition to what can be seen here, each apartment has a separate bedroom and a full kitchen. (Photo sourced online at www.alamoinnsuites.com)

                           As the sign over the door at the Alamo Inn B&B and Outdoor Store says:



This is a great spot! My wife and I stayed there in 2006 for the “Texas Tropics Nature Festival” and also in spring of 2009 for a mostly self-directed birding trip with our daughter Anna. We stayed in the annex the second time and were given access back to the main hotel for the breakfasts. When we go back, this will be the place!


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