Did You Know?
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Did You Know?

By: Silke Jasso
Date published: 01.29.2024

If there is one thing I love about Laredo, it's that there are always hidden gems waiting to be discovered around the city. Laredo, the ultimate history buff's paradise, has some seriously cool secrets up its sleeve! Sure, everyone knows it's the biggest inland port in the U.S., and who can resist the month-long bash for George Washington's Birthday? But did you know that Laredo is the Lone Star State's rebel, rocking not six, but seven flags? Move over tradition, we got our own style!

And if you thought Casa Ortiz was just a fancy house with killer views, think again. This bad boy is not only a historic stunner but also the OG of Texas residences – been standing strong and proud longer than anyone else!

Get ready to uncover the hidden history in Laredo, – a place where every street corner whispers tales of the past, and the culture is as rich as a double-fudge chocolate cake. It's time to dive into the city's vibrant charm and discover the fun facts that make Laredo the ultimate history treasure trove!

How It All Began

Let's take a trip down the historical rollercoaster of Laredo, the city with a story as wild as a rodeo! Back in 1755, Laredo was its own cool independent country, rubbing shoulders with three Mexican states like they were the coolest crew in town. Fast forward to 1840, and boom! Laredo sprouted from a tiny village into the VIP capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande. Talk about a glow-up!

But wait, there's a twist in this Texan tale. After a little rendezvous with Mexico, Laredo got a one-way ticket to the United States post-Mexican-American War in 1848. Some folks weren't feeling the relocation party, though. Cue the Mexican residents hitting reverse and crossing the Rio Grande like it was a dance move, creating the hip new town – Nuevo Laredo!

So, buckle up, history buffs! Laredo's journey is a ride filled with plot twists, country-hopping, and a dash of rebellious spirit. It's not just a city; it's a saga that'll make your history-loving heart do the Texas two-step!

Rich History...and Gold?

Hold on to your hats, because Laredo is home to the OG homestead of Texas – Casa Ortiz! Built back in the wild west days of 1830, this casa is not just a crib; it's a living legend. Picture this: it's part of the Historical Center of Laredo, crowned as a Texas Historical Landmark in 1964 – basically, it's the celebrity of houses.

Now, let's dive into Casa Ortiz's rap sheet. This place has seen it all – from cozy family gatherings to high-stakes political showdowns. Rumor has it, it even threw down in some old-school shootouts with Native Americans. And guess what? At one point, it doubled as a holy hideout for Catholic clergy. Talk about a multi-talented casa!

If you're itching for a piece of history, Casa Ortiz opens its doors for free tours. Yup, you heard it right – free! Get up close and personal with the nooks and crannies of this historic beauty and soak in the stories firsthand.

Oh, and here's the scoop: legend has it there might be buried treasure on the property. Gold, anyone? Casa Ortiz – where every brick has a story, and every rumor might just lead you to a pot of gold.

Photo Credit: Casa Ortiz

It's Golf Time!

Calling all golf enthusiasts on the hunt for a hole-in-one adventure! Brace yourselves for The Max in Laredo, Texas – a golfing gem waiting to be unearthed. This 18-hole wonderland spans a whopping 7,297 yards and was crafted by the legendary Robert Trent Jones II. In just a blink after its grand opening in 2013, it soared to the top 50 municipal golf courses in the U.S. according to Golfweeks Magazine – talk about a hole-in-one triumph!

Picture this: as you tee off at the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course, you'll be standing on the brink of the country, gazing out over the majestic Rio Grande. The course weaves through expertly crafted contours, showcasing native flora and fauna. Century-old mesquite acres, varying elevations, and meandering creeks that play watershed double duty add a natural twist, offering a visual and tactical challenge for players of all skill levels.

And hey, after a morning of mastering this one-of-a-kind golfing paradise, treat yourself to a scrumptious meal at the clubhouse. Because nothing complements a perfect swing like a delightful post-game feast!

Curious for more? Swing by the Max A. Mandel Municipal Golf Course's website at www.themaxlaredo.com for all the juicy details. It's not just golf; it's a Texan golfing fiesta waiting to be experienced!

Yummy Food For All

Laredo, Texas, is a culinary haven where every meal is a celebration of vibrant flavors and rich cultural influences. Nestled on the border with Mexico, Laredo boasts an array of authentic Mexican cuisine that tantalizes the taste buds with its bold and savory character. From the sizzling street tacos, bursting with the essence of seasoned meats and fresh toppings, to the mouthwatering enchiladas and tamales that carry the warmth of homemade traditions, Laredo's food scene is a fiesta for the senses.

Whether you explore bustling local markets, family-owned taquerias, or dine in charming restaurants, you'll encounter a diverse range of dishes like kekas, mole, chile relleno, and pozole, each telling a delicious tale of the city's culinary heritage. In Laredo, every meal is an opportunity to experience the authentic and irresistible fusion of Texan and Mexican flavors, making it a destination where food becomes a true cultural adventure.


Guess what's making a grand comeback? Brace yourselves because the ultimate party is just around the corner, and we're ready to dive headfirst into the excitement! It's none other than the Washington's Birthday Celebration (WBCA), a month-long bash that lights up February in Laredo. This colossal celebration, dedicated to the OG George Washington, is the biggest fiesta of its kind, pulling in a whopping 400,000 hyped-up party animals each year! Get ready for a rollercoaster of events, from fancy pageants like the Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant and Ball to the groove-filled Princess Pocahontas Pageant and Ball. Oh, and did we mention the two wild parades, the heart-pounding carnival, a sky-dancing air show, breathtaking fireworks, and chart-topping concerts.

Hold onto your colonial hats because there's more! Picture this: the whole city glammed up for the citywide prom, where Laredo's crème de la crème dons their best colonial threads. And get this – our very own George and Martha Washington, locals in disguise, steal the show every year! Here's a juicy nugget of knowledge: the sizzling hot Jalapeño Festival isn't just a local hit; it's officially one of the Top 10 eating festivals in the United States. Boom! Get ready to party, Laredo-style – where every celebration is an invitation to a month-long carnival of non-stop fun.

A Vibrant Artistic City

The Laredo Center for the Arts stands as a vibrant cultural hub, weaving creativity into the fabric of the city. Located in the heart of Laredo, this dynamic center serves as a melting pot of artistic expression, showcasing a diverse range of visual and performing arts. The building itself is a masterpiece, seamlessly blending modern architecture with a touch of classical elegance. As you step inside, you're greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors and a symphony of artistic voices echoing through the halls.

The center hosts a variety of events, from contemporary art exhibitions that push boundaries to captivating performances that bring the stage to life. Whether you're a seasoned art enthusiast or just dipping your toes into the creative waters, the Laredo Center for the Arts offers a welcoming space to explore, appreciate, and be inspired by the boundless world of artistic expression. It's not just a building; it's a sanctuary where imagination takes flight and the spirit of creativity knows no bounds.

The Perfect Place to Stay

Nestled in the heart of Laredo, La Posada Hotel is not just a place to stay; it's a magical escape into Texan charm and hospitality. As you walk through its doors, you're greeted by the warm embrace of Southern elegance with a sprinkle of cowboy flair. The lobby is like a time capsule, blending modern comfort with a dash of old-world charm that makes you feel like you've stepped into a Western film set – cowboy boots and all!

The rooms? Oh, they're like cozy hideaways, each telling a story of comfort and relaxation. And let's not forget the courtyard, a little oasis where the Texas sun meets a touch of serenity. It's the kind of place where you can imagine sipping sweet tea on the porch, sharing tales of yesteryear. La Posada Hotel isn't just an accommodation; it's a Texan adventure waiting to unfold, where every corner whispers, "Y'all come on in and make yourself at home!"

Photo Credit: La Posada

Birds, Birds, Birds

If there's one thing that'll keep you on your toes in Laredo, it's the city's knack for surprises! Let me spill the beans on one of our coolest hidden treasures – the Laredo Birding Festival. Yep, you heard it right, Laredo is like the VIP hotspot for bird watching! Our city is a bustling metropolis for hundreds of local and migratory birds, and we're not talking your average birds – we've got Green Parakeets, Red-billed Pigeons, Scaled Quails, and even the fancy Morelet's Seedeater and Clay-Colored Thrush, just to name a few.

Now, here's the real scoop: The Rio Grande International Study Center throws the ultimate annual bash – the Laredo Birding Festival. Picture this: full-day scenic trips led by birding gurus and the cool folks from the Monte Mucho Audubon Society. You get to explore Laredo's coolest spots, from the riverfront to nature trails and private ranchland, all in a chill and enjoyable vibe.

Top-notch sites on the checklist? The Chacon Creek Trail, Killam Ranch, Ranchito Road, Robert Muller Trails, Lake Casa Blanca, and Las Palmas Trail – just to name-drop a few. And guess what? This year's festival is hitting the town from February 7-10, with guest speakers Robert M. Peck, Christina Baal, and the fabulous Cin-ty Lee.

Head over to www.laredobirdingfestival.org or give them a ring at 956-718-1063. Let's make this bird-watching extravaganza the tweet of the town!

Museum Fun

Welcome to the Border Heritage Museum in Laredo, where history meets a fiesta of fun! This museum (which is just one of the many in Laredo) is not your average dusty collection of artifacts – it's a lively journey through the cultural tapestry of the borderlands. Picture this: you stroll through the doors, and it's like stepping into a time machine that's dialed up to party mode. The exhibits aren't just informative; they're the cool kids in the history class, making the past come alive with a splash of Texas flair.

The Border Heritage Museum is a treasure trove of all things Texan. It's not just about looking at history; it's about dancing with it. As you weave through the exhibits, you'll discover the rich blend of Mexican and Texan heritage that makes Laredo so uniquely awesome. It's like a carnival for your brain, where every corner has a surprise waiting to jump out and shout, "Howdy, history lover!"

So, whether you're a history buff or just a casual explorer, the Border Heritage Museum is the place where the past throws on a party hat and invites you to join the celebration. Get ready to soak in the vibes, kick up some dust, and dance through the tales of the borderlands – because at this museum, history is anything but boring!

Photo Credit: Border Heritage Museum

Sister Cities!

The Sister Cities event in Laredo, Texas, is the ultimate fiesta that bridges cultures and celebrates global connections! It's not just an event; it's a Tex-Mex extravaganza where Laredo's sister cities come together for a wild rendezvous. Imagine mariachi bands serenading, salsa dancing that could rival the Rio Grande currents, and a feast that combines the best of Texan barbecue with international flavors.

The air is buzzing with excitement as folks from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and beyond gather to share laughter, stories, and a whole lot of fun. From cultural exchanges to a parade that paints the streets in a riot of colors, the Sister Cities event is where diversity is the guest of honor, and unity is the life of the party. So, grab your sombrero and boots, because in Laredo, we don't just have sister cities; we have family from all around the world coming together for a good ol' Texan-style shindig!
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