Near the southern tip of Texas, at the lower end of the Rio Grande Valley, the city of Harlingen is a blend of South Texas hospitality and the rich, colorful traditions of Mexico.
Located just 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Harlingen’s early development was primarily agricultural, distribution, and shipping. But with a rich history in railroad and World War II military installations, the area became more diversified as trades, manufacturing, and service industries sprang up.
Today, tourism is big as Winter Texans flock to the area, as well as schools of Spring Breakers and it is home to many multifaceted retirement communities. Those visitors realized what native Texans always knew—South Texas is host to many wonderful year-round outdoor opportunities and attractions.
Beginning November 16, outdoor enthusiasts will discover their next great South Texas adventure begins at the new Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Harlingen, according to a recent (October 21) news release.
The 145,000-square foot Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Texas’ sixth, is the signature anchor for the Cameron Crossing retail development located at the intersection of U.S. Expressways 83 and 77. While you’ll find a huge selection of outdoor gear, Bass Pro Shops stores are also part museum, art gallery and an aquarium, education, conservation, and entertainment center. The Grand Opening is set for Thursday, November 17 but a special “Evening for Conservation” to help benefit area conservation groups will be held Wednesday evening, November 16 beginning at 6 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
The entire store is a tribute to the beautiful landscape of the South Texas countryside-from the Hill Country to the Rio Grande and the subtropical region of the Gulf Coast—its history and the culture of its people. Like other Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World stores, it takes on the flavor and atmosphere of the region in which it is located. Using more than 3,500 area artifacts, antiques, period pictures, state and record wildlife mounts, and memorabilia, the store becomes a living museum of Texas’ hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor legacies.
The Harlingen store welcomes guests to the property from the moment they enter the site. The landscaping pays tribute to the subtropical climate for which South Texas is known. In homage to the area’s rich, cultural traditions of Mexico, a themed structure and old stone well have been added to the outside front of the store. Massive log and rock work frame the Grand Entrance with a front lobby that salutes the grand tradition of a Spanish hacienda.
The entryway diorama, framed by yuccas, displays a huge Texas Longhorn mount, behind old, bleached fencing and prickly pear cactus. Whitetail deer stand amongst a lush, dense thicket. A replica of the famous buck, “The Tall Texan,” from Bass Pro Shops’ King of Bucks Collection, is displayed in the lobby as well as several whitetail mounts from the historic King Ranch.
Hand-painted murals from renowned artists such as Denny Burkhart and Burita Hansen depict familiar scenes of the region. The series of beautifully painted murals transport the viewer through panoramic vistas of the South Texas countryside. Bluebonnets blanket a hillside populated with wild turkey; an old water tank and windmill sits amidst mesquite trees and prickly pear as doves fly overhead. Spanish Moss drips from cypress trees along the Rio Grande while white ibis stand near the banks of a deep lagoon frequented by alligators; sheltered coves give way to a wetlands area with scores of waterfowl flying above.
One mural features the Goose Island Live Oak Tree—thought to be the largest one in the nation—with feral hogs rooting beneath its gnarled branches. Yet another mural depicts a scene in Lost Pines at Bastrop State Park of a picturesque bass lake tucked away.
Elk, deer, raccoon, rabbit, turkey, bobcat, and bear tracks are imprinted in the concrete floor.
Wildlife exhibits and dioramas are seen throughout the store. One feature depicts a Texas coastal tidal flats scene and displays a duck blind on stilts. Coyotes, turkey and deer stand amongst large, overhanging rock ledges on top of the 27,000 gallon fresh water aquarium. The multi-story waterfall, reminiscent of the McKinney Falls area, cascades down rocks and into the aquarium which will be stocked with more than 100 fish native to the area.
With a nod to Texas’ coast fishing, restrooms are disguised as an old charter boat launch dock and an open air fish cleaning station with a wooden platform and an aged tin roof.
Bowling will be offered at the Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl and Grill. This 15,000 square-foot nautical-themed entity, located within the Bass Pro Shops store, features a truly unique atmosphere and design geared for family fun and dining.
More than a hunting and fishing store, visitors will also find items perfect for camping, hiking, outdoor cooking, bird watching, or whatever your outdoor pleasures may be.
Bass Pro Shops
With 58 retail stores in 26 states and Canada Bass Pro Shops are visited by over 110 million people annually.
Phone: (800) BASS PRO (227-7776)