A Day Trip to Nuevo Progreso, Mexico from South Padre Island
During our Christmas break in South Padre Island, my father in law, who had traveled with us, wanted to visit a dentist in the border town of Nuevo Progreso that he had been referred to, and we decided to tag along for a day trip of food and shopping!
Nuevo Progreso is located about an hour from South Padre Island, and is a tourist border town that literally survives on tourist money from the approximate 100,000 Winter Texans that live in the Rio Grande Valley each winter and 1.25 million vacationers that cross the pedestrian bridge each year to visit.
Driving from South Padre Island to Nuevo Progreso took about an hour. We passed through Harlingen, which offered plenty of shopping and dining, as well as the Simon Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlet Mall with 101 stores. All we had time to do was a quick stop at the very cute Bandera Coffee Company for a human fuel fill up for my daughter and father-in-law.
Mid December of each year, Progreso has a big festival to welcome back the Winter Texans, many of whom drive their RV’s down from northern states and even Canada! Many others leave their RV’s in Texas year round, or even own condos or houses.
The Rio Grande Valley is a farming community, scattered with orchards and sugar cane farms. The road to Progresso was lined with orange and grapefruit orchards, and all the trees were bowing down, loaded in fruit ready to picked! It was very scenic and we stopped to pose for several pictures along the way!
We also stopped along the way to visit with a Texas DPS officer, who pulled my father-in-law over for driving over the speed limit and a missing front license plate. But she was very nice and after a ticket, we were quickly on our way.
We arrived at the border crossing and there are huge parking lots to accommodate those who wish to cross on the pedestrian bridge, while many visitors will drive in for the day to have their car to carry back their purchases! The pedestrian bridge was easy to cross, with a $.50 toll (and $.25 to come back across) and a change machine, but it’s a good idea to arrive with the proper amount.
While you aren’t stopped crossing into Mexico, do be prepared to show a passport or some identification when you return.
We were only minutes away from my father-in-laws dentist appointment, and went their first. My daughter, 17, who needs to have her wisdom teeth removed, decided to have an appointment for an estimate, as well.
The Rio Grande River as it divides Texas and Mexico at Progreso and Nuevo Progresso.
We stopped half way across the bridge for this picture!
Their dentist, Ricardo Carreon and Associates, was located just feet from the border crossing at the colorful Plaza Rincones de Mexico. While there are a ton of dentist and doctors in Nuevo Progresso, we did our research on Dr. Carreon and his staff and office. They only use bottled, U.S. distilled water, and Dr. Carreon was educated both in Monterrey and Loma Linda University in California. In the office, the wall was filled with pictures of his mission visits to Africa as well. All of the office staff spoke excellent english, a plus for us who do not speak excellent Spanish!
In the plaza of the Plaza Rincones de Mexico is Vinny’s Happy Teeth Bar.
While my father-in-law and daughter were in the back at their appointments, my husband and I chatted with the rest of the patients, all of whom were Winter Texans who come yearly for their dentist appointments and had for years. Some walked across and some drove, stating that their insurance pays for 15 miles into Mexico. They were amazing resources on where to eat, shop and things to see in Nuevo Progreso!
I was posting on Instagram during our visit while we sat in the waiting room, and I had a huge response from people wanting more information. So, this I’m just giving a review of our experience. No actual work was done at this time, but my daughter, who has a very healthy set of teeth, was quoted $2,600 to have all four wisdom teeth removed at home, and $600 to have them removed in Progresso. There is a follow up visit, so you do need to adjust to cover cost of travel and room, but it was quiet a difference!
Following their appointments, we were starving and headed into the city to find something to eat. The road was lined with vendors selling everything, from jewelry to toys to hats
. Hunger propelled us onward to Arturo’s, a recommendation from my friend Amy and several of those we spoke with! Arturo’s was huge and completely filled with Americans. We ordered, and ate, way to much but really enjoyed it, all while a piano player entertained us! The waiters are all dressed in jackets and bow ties, and all spoke English. We were told that if you order a margarita, the second one is on the house, and that they have a large free parking lot for cars, but of course we walked across. While we ordered fajitas and , they also serve game meat such as cabrito, quail and even frog legs.
Afterwards, we headed out to do some shopping.
We crossed the Ave Benito Juarez and headed to several of the boot shops, as I was looking for a new pair of boots.
We also visited several pottery shops and at the Plaza we bought some jewelry, Mexican vanilla and a couple of the Baja Blanket hoodies, which my kids love. They hoodies were only $8, compared to $25-$40 back home, and I wished we had bought a few more for gifts. We loved just looking at all the unique items in the El Disco Super Center.
After a couple hours of shopping, our hands were full and we decided to head back across. As we left, we noted that the area around Vinnie’s Happy Teeth Bar was a very happening place, filled with music and vendors. At the border we had show our identification, which it turned out was a problem for me. I realized that I forgot to bring my wallet, with my drivers license, etc. I was pulled aside for about 2 minutes while they asked me my name and reason for visit, but then quickly allowed to cross with the rest of my family, who were already resigned and making plans for life without me. While my father in law and daughter had their passports, my husband only had his drivers license, and again, he had no problem at the crossing at all.
Each year in March, Nuevo Progreso holds a huge festival, the Winter Texan Festival Click HERE to read more about it!
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