Thousands of snow-weary northerners flock to Texas for the winter.
In Texas—a state famous for adding its unique flair—migrating snowbirds have been affectionately dubbed Winter Texans.
The majority of Winter Texans flock to “The Valley”, an area near the Mexican border that stretches from Brownsville and Harlingen in the east to Mission in the west—a distance of about 65 miles. Starting in the east and heading west, there’s Brownsville, Los Fresco, Rio Honda, San Benito, Harlingen, La Feria, Mercedes, Weslaco, Donna, Alamo, San Juan, Pharr, Edinburg, McAllen, and Mission.
Technically not part of The Valley, nearby Rio Hondo, Port Isabel, and South Padre Island are also favorite roosts for Winter Texans. The South Padre Island beaches are never crowded, except during Spring Break, when no Winter Texan in their right mind would venture there.
The Valley lies at nearly the same latitude as Miami, Florida. Winters tend to be mild and a bit breezy; however, the weather can be unpredictable. The Valley enjoys a year ’round sub-tropical climate with an average temperature of 74°F. The average rainfall is 23.2 inches.
The Valley is arguably the best bargain in the U.S. for wintering in a warm climate. While the area offers everything you’ll find in other snowbird roosts, living costs are less expensive, with the added advantage of being right next door to Mexico.
Dining comes in all shapes and sizes in The Valley, beginning with Texas slow-cooked barbecues, where the pork, chicken, and beef fall off the bone, to Tex-Mex specialties, Mexican cuisine that’s as good as you’ll find in Mexico, fast foods, and buffets. Eating out here does not break the bank, and senior specials are available daily.
It has been said of The Valley that there are two kinds of ground cover: Perfect rows of irrigated citrus groves and winter vegetables; and semi-organized rows of recreational vehicles.
Local attractions, restaurants, and retailers go all out to lure these winter visitors. Newspaper headlines and signs welcome Winter Texans back home to The Valley.
In trying to define what makes the Winter Texans different from their Snowbird cousins in Florida, Arizona, and Southern California, it seems to do with their roots and why they spend their winters here. Winter Texans come primarily from a Mid-West, small-town or rural roots—not that much unlike those that winter in Yuma, Arizona.
Bird-watchers from around the world converge on The Valley to see rare and unique birds.
Mostly frost-free, the valley contains the northern-most extension of the Mexican subtropical biota ecosystem, attracting a variety of neotropical birds more commonly found in Mexico.
Much of the valley now supports extensive urban/agricultural activities, but numerous natural areas along the Rio Grande have been protected and provide oases for more than 500 bird species that reside in or migrate through this region.
Many of the subtropical species are south Texas specialties, meaning it’s the only location in the United States where these birds can be found.
There are probably thousands of stories to explain how the term Winter Texan first originated. But few pre-date the one from Barbara Pybus who published a personal account on the Texas State Historical Association Web site concerning the winter immigration of her grandparents starting back in 1925.
According to the story, it was Edward Horace Tate and Lucinda Amanda Tate who may have been the first Winter Texans. Grand-daughter Barbara reports in 1925 the Tates joined a real estate excursion train at Roosevelt, Oklahoma, traveling to McAllen, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. Convinced of the health benefits of the region and after being impressed by the tour of the Valley, the Tates decided they liked it enough to purchase a parcel of property to be used a place to escape the Oklahoma winters.
Tens of Thousands of Snowbirds come to Texas for the winter where they transform from snowbirds to Winter Texans.
We have wintered in Winter Texan Friendly RV parks in Harlingen, La Feria, Alamo, and Mission.
Approximately 15 percent of Winter Texans eventually make the Valley their permanent residence.
Come to Texas for the Winter, You’ll be glad you did! You may even become a Converted Texan.
Winter Texan is Better Than No Texan
No matter how far we may wander, Texas lingers with us, coloring our perceptions of the world.