You can find many Texan cities along the 1248-mile-long stretch of the southern Texas-Mexico border. Several of these towns are twinned with Mexican cities across the border. These border towns share much of their food, culture, and traditions with their Mexican counterparts.
Many border towns in Texas have a rich history of cross-cultural exchange. They are divided from their Mexican sister cities by the Rio Grande. Notable Texas cities bordering Mexico include El Paso, Laredo, Brownsville, and Rio Grande City, the largest of which is El Paso.
Texan Cities That Border Mexico
Texas has several border towns that offer Mexican food, desert beauty, and a rich history of cultural diversity. Texas has the longest stretch of border territory of the four U.S. states on the Rio Grande. It borders the four Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Leon, Chihuahua, and Coahuila.
Brownsville is Cameron County’s seat near the western Gulf Coast. With its proximity to the border, it has a sister city, Matamoros, in Tamaulipas, Mexico. The two cities create a huge metroplex, which is why 93.9% of Brownsville’s population is Hispanic.
Brownsville is notable for having several historical houses and battle sites of the Mexican-American War. It has become a popular destination for birders looking for nesting and migration sites due to its humid, subtropical climate and proximity to the desert and the Gulf coast.
- A commercial hub thanks to international trade with Mexico, it is a fast-growing manufacturing city.
- Brownsville is the proposed site of the SpaceX launch site in South Texas.
- Mexican culture infuses the city, and it hosts several fiestas celebrating its connection to Matamoros.
Found at the southern tip of Texas, McAllen is a town on the Rio Grande. It is across the border from the Mexican city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas. It was first settled in 1904. Since then, it has grown from a rural agricultural town to an economic trade hub with Mexico.
McAllen is often ranked as one of the safest cities in Texas. Like Brownsville, it is noted for its excellent birdwatching opportunities. It experiences very long summers that are hot and humid, while winters are shorter and relatively warm.
- Home of the World Birding Centre at Quinta Mazatlan.
- The McAllen public library is an award-winning space with a spectacular book collection.
- It is the home of the International Museum of Arts and Science.
Rio Grande City Texas
The county seat of Starr County, Rio Grande City was initially called Camargo when it was first settled in 1846. It covers an area of 11.35 square miles and borders the municipality of Camargo in Tamaulipas, Mexico. With a vibrant history, Rio Grande City has many historical sites and trails.
The area was the site of the Garza Ranch, which was established in 1762. The ranch was later owned by Henry Clay Davis. Thanks to its position on the Rio Grande, it was one end of the river’s Steamboat Route. This made it an economic hub and port of entry to Mexico in the cotton trade.
- The Kelsey-Bass Museum and Event Center shows what life was once like in this historical river port.
- Excellent Mexican food and Southern American dining can be found at restaurants such as the Casa de Adobe.
- La Borde House is a historic building dating to 1899, commissioned by a French riverboat trader.
Roma is in Starr County, across from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Roma was once an important port along the Rio Grande and was the westernmost inland seaport. However, irrigation drew so much water from the river that by 1900 it was no longer navigable.
The city has nearly 30 historical structures and buildings in the Roma Historic District. It is a convenient crossing site, as the Rio Grande spans only 200 feet at Roma. It is a picturesque town with buildings reflecting the city’s ties to northern Mexico and the Spanish empire.
- An international suspension bridge was built in 1927, connecting Roma to Ciudad Miguel Aleman.
- The city is also known as Roma-Los Saenz, as it includes the Los Saenz area.
- The city celebrates the Fourth of July and Mexican Independence Day, showcasing its cross-cultural heritage.
Laredo is found in Webb County and is the county seat. It’s located on the opposite bank of the Rio Grande to its sister city in Mexico, Nuevo Laredo. It was briefly the capital of the Republic of the Rio Grande and, as such, flies seven flags instead of the usual six.
Laredo is the third-most populated U.S. city along the American-Mexican border. It boasts the largest Hispanic population of all U.S. cities. Laredo is well-known for Washington’s Birthday Celebration, a major festival in February that attracts many visitors.
- It was originally founded in 1755 and was known as Villa de San Augustin de Laredo.
- Laredo is the largest Inland port of entry in the United States.
- Laredo has featured in several popular songs, most notably the cowboy ballad “The Streets of Laredo.”
Del Rio Texas
The city of Del Rio is the county seat of the southwestern Texas county of Val Verde. It was initially a small Spanish settlement, but the modern city covers 20.2 square miles. It sits on the edge of the South Texas brush area known as Tamaulipan mezquital and has many small springs.
Laughlin Air Force Base is 9 miles east of the city and is a flight training base. It remains one of Del Rio’s largest employers. It has a mix of traditions and heritages and offers much in the way of arts and culture.
- The Fiesta of Flight Airshow is a must-see for aviation enthusiasts.
- The film No Country for Old Men features Del Rio as a significant setting, despite not being filmed there.
- The nearby Lake Amistad is noted as an excellent spot for bass fishing.
Situated across the Rio Grande from the Mexican city of Ojinaga, Presidio is located in Presidio County on the western border. After the Mexican War, American settlers began to come to the area, which was formerly a penal colony. The Rio Conchos joins the Rio Grande near Presidio.
Presidio border the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and the name comes from the Spanish for ‘fortress.’ The Ft Leaton State Historic Site is three miles south of Presidio and forms the western entrance point to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Presidio has become a popular access city to Mexico.
- Presidio offers hiking, historical, and archaeological activities at Fort Leaton.
- The area where present-day Presidio sits is thought to have been farmed from as far back as 1500 B.C.
- The anglo settlers of 1830 originally named the town Presidio del Norte.
El Paso Texas
At the very end of the western border of Texas and Mexico sits the city of El Paso. It is El Paso County’s seat and the sixth-largest city in Texas. It sits across the Rio Grande from its Mexican sister city Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua.
Nearby are the Biggs Army Airfield, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, and Fort Bliss, making El Paso a major military center. It has several annual festivals, with the Amigo Airsho one of the top airshows in the U.S. El Paso hosts the Sun Bowl and is well-known for college football.
- The Franklin Mountains State Park covers 24,248 acres and is the largest urban park in the U.S.
- Many songs and films have featured El Paso, and it has a strong musical tradition.
- Award-winning actor, playwright, and director John Cameron Mitchell comes from El Paso.