[y] Laredo Visitors Guide
Laredo has a long and vibrant history. Just 150 miles southwest of San Antonio and 150 miles north of Monterrey, Mexico, Laredo is truly a land of many cultures, filled with rich colors, flavors, and sounds.
Founded on the north bank of the Río Grande in 1755 by Captain Tomás Sánchez, the Spanish settlement became a Mexican city in 1821. After several residents became disgruntled with the Mexican centralist government’s rule by dictatorship, many Laredoans supported the creation of the Republic of the Río Grande in 1840. Laredo became the capital of the new republic which attempted to unite Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and parts of South Texas. After the U.S./Mexican War, the Río Grande was declared the boundary between the United States and Mexico. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Laredo officially became part of Texas.
Today, Laredo is known as the principal port of entry from Texas into Mexico and the second fastest-growing city in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Laredo Metropolitan Statistical Area was one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation during the 1990s. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 176,576. A 2005 Census estimate showed 208,754. The racial makeup of the city was 82.27% White, 0.37% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 13.94% from other races, and 2.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino accounts for 94.13% of the population in terms of ethnicity.
The median income for a household in the city was $9,108, and the median income for a family was $12,449. The per capita income for the city was $1,084.
The Laredo Children’s Museum is a facility that provides bicultural exhibits in a creative learning environment to the children and families of Laredo. The TAMIU Planetarium located at the Texas A&M; the International University campus offers shows for the entire family and boasts one of only seven Digistar-3 systems in the nation. This high-tech equipment allows for the projection of incredible images on the planetarium dome.
History buffs will have lots to do and see in Laredo. You can take the Heritage Tour via a turn-of-the-century trolley which, for two hours, allows travelers to tour some of the city’s oldest sites including the Old Mercado, the restoration of Ft. McIntosh, the San Agustin Cathedral, and more. The Republic of the Rio Grande Museum traces the brief time in history when Laredo served as the capital of the Republic of Rio Grande. This unique museum, a must for historians, contains guns, saddles, and household belongings from this brief but important period in Laredo’s history.
The historic downtown areas of San Augustin and Mercado, with its dozens of shops, has often been called America’s largest urban outlet mall. Located near the international bridge, wholesalers along Zaragoza Street tempt shoppers with items ranging from electronics to clothing and shoes to jewelry. Linger in perfume shops where you can purchase the world’s famous fragrances at prices far lower than you would typically find elsewhere. Beyond the lights of Laredo, visitors can find active desert wildlife, walking trails, fish-filled lakes and more. The Brush Country also offers plenty of winter activities for area residents. Love the marine life? Anglers find plenty of activity at the Lake Casa Blanca. This man-made lake is filled with black bass as well as blue and yellow catfish. The lake is also popular for boating, sailing, and picnicking. Or, set your tee time at the Casa Blanca Lake Golf Course and enjoy the challenge of 18-holes of golf.
Laredo is also home to the Laredo Bucks (professional hockey team), the Laredo Lobos (Intense Football League), the Laredo Broncos (professional baseball), and the Laredo Heat Soccer Team.
The Laredo Center for the Arts hosts a variety of artistic and cultural events, including international art exhibitions, dance performances, art history lectures, musical performances, and art education classes for adults and children.Come together for superstar concerts, spectacular family shows, world-class sporting events, and breathtaking ice shows at the state-of-the-art Laredo Entertainment Center.
Whether you are in the mood for steak, shrimp, pasta, or enchiladas, Laredo restaurants promise to satisfy your palate. At Taco Palenque, you can expect great Mexican food 24 hours a day. The beans, the tortillas, the meats, the salsas are all superb. The Cotulla Style Pit Bar-B-Q is home to the “World Famous” Mariachi which is a flour tortilla filled with your favorite ingredients. If you come on the weekends, you can enjoy great Mariachi music and several other great authentic Mexican dishes. The Coyote Creek Grill and Cantina offers great barbeque at an affordable price. The Tokyo Garden Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar serves a variety of foods including Japanese and Sushi while the Emperor Garden Restaurant & Bar serves Chinese food.