Brownsville

The southernmost city in the state, Brownsville offers the history, culture, traditions, language and people of two countries. Matamoros, Mexico, is just across the Rio Grande. The city was founded in 1846 after Gen. Zachary Taylor established Fort Brown to claim the Rio Grande as the official U.S./Mexico border. It was this border dispute that touched off the Mexican War of 1846 - 48.

Today, visitors enjoy tennis, fishing, nature viewing, swimming and going to the beach. Boca Chica Beach offers the natural beauty of a pristine, undeveloped stretch of coastline. This city is a birder's paradise with more than 500 documented bird species in the refuges and around the area.

At the convergence of two major flyways, the city hosts many species during spring and fall migrations. Open by appointment only, Los Ebanos Preserve offers opportunities to view birds and butterflies in an 82-acre private nature park. 956/399-9097. www.losebanospreserve.com.

Charro Days Fiesta is held the last week of February. Other festivals include the Air Fiesta in March and the Latin Jazz Festival in October.

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