Corpus Christi is one of Texas most popular tourist destination and for good reason — it is home to a pair of the state’s top attractions. In addition to the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington, both of which are family-friendly attractions, Corpus Christi offers miles of great beaches, a minor league baseball team that plays in one of nation’s top minor league ballparks, great restaurants, and much, much more.
1. Padre Island National Seashore
Kids of all ages love the beach and Corpus Christi is home to some of the best beaches in Texas. Since the city lies both on the mainland and on Padre Island, visitors have the opportunity to choose between bay and Gulf beaches. Those looking for a relaxing way to spend the day while wading, swimming or floating in calm waters should choose the bay beaches.
Those looking to “catch a wave” with a surf or body board will prefer the Gulf beaches. Among the most popular stretch of Gulf beach accessible from Corpus is the Padre Island National Seashore. And, what a stretch it is — 75 miles of undeveloped beachfront that offers a variety of outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, camping, beachcombing, birding and more. Mustang Island State Park is another great beach.
Stretching more than 70 miles, the Padre Island National Seashore, known locally as PINS, is the largest stretch of undeveloped barrier island beach in the world. Although it has no modern development other than a picnic shelter or two, visitors to PINS will find plenty to see and do. Fishing, camping, shell collecting, birding, swimming and surfing are just a few of the activities beachgoers can partake in on this islolated stretch of sand. During spring and summer, PINS is also home to a number of sea turtle nests.
2. Visit the Texas State Aquarium
Located in Corpus Christi on the middle of the Texas coast, the Texas State Aquarium attracts over 500,000 visitors each year (and educates over 60,000 children each year through a variety of educational camps and programs). Designated as the “Official Aquarium of Texas,” the Texas State Aquarium provides both educational and entertaining experiences for those who walk through its doors.
As the largest aquarium in the Lone Star State, the Texas State Aquarium attracts over 500,000 visitors each year. Additionally, the Texas State Aquarium educates over 60,000 children each year through a variety of educational camps and programs. Designated as the “Official Aquarium of Texas,” the Texas State Aquarium provides both educational and entertaining experiences and is a great way to stay out of the summer heat during the middle of the day during a visit to Corpus Christi. The Aquarium has a vast array of displays housing fish which are indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a few exotic species. There is a full slate of daily programs, including: Dolphin Presentations; Dive Encounters; Birds of Prey; and much more.
The best time to visit, especially during the busy summer season, is during the week. If you plan to visit the Aquarium on the weekend, try to avoid the busiest times, which Aquarium staff says are between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
3. Tour the USS Lexington
Visitors to the Coastal Bend region of Texas certainly have plenty of choices for sight-seeing activities. Of course, Corpus Christi, the region’s largest city, is definitely at the heart of any trip to the Coastal Bend. And, it is in Corpus that visitors will find one of the state’s more unique tourist attractions.
The USS Lexington, locally known as “The Lex,” is a former World War II-era aircraft carrier, now ‘retired’ in Corpus Christi. Unlike so many other retired warships, the USS Lexington is still active, in a manner of speaking.
Following many years of “active duty,” the WWII-era USS Lexington “retired” to Corpus Christi. This massive aircraft carrier now serves as a floating museum, complete with a theater, flight simulator, cafe and more. Additionally, the Lexington offers a variety of educational programs, including summer camps and overnight stays. Although the Lexington is an unbelievably entertaining way to spend the day, visitors need to be aware a lot of walking is required to see the ship in its entirety, so it is imperative to dress cool and comfortably. But, that said, it is impossible to beat the views of Corpus Christi Bay from the flight deck of the Lexington.
4. Corpus Christi Hooks Baseball Team
The Corpus Christi Hooks, a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros, play their home games at the beautiful waterfront Whataburger Field. Seeing this Double-A team in action is a great way to see the future stars of MLB, as well as a fun way for the family to spend an evening in Corpus Christi. In addition to all the fun and excitement of the game itself, there are usually a variety of themed promotions the Hooks stage throughout the summer months.
5. Corpus Christi Marina
The Corpus Christi Marina houses a large number of sailboats and recreational watercraft. Taking a stroll along one of the Marina’s three t-head piers makes for a pleasant diversion – not to mention grabbing a bite to eat at one of the fine restaurants at the end of the piers. There are also vendors available to rent paddle boats, kayaks, jet skiis and other watercraft.
Corpus Christi and the surrounding small towns which make up the Texas Coastal Bend region offer visitors exciting vacation opportunities throughout the year. Regardless of the season, there is plenty to do in the Coastal Bend.
Corpus, of course, is the shining star of the Coastal Bend, with plenty of lodging, dining and entertainment options twelve months a year. Beautiful stretches of beach can be found on both the mainland and island sides. Mustang Island State Park and Padre Island National Seashore are the top spots for sunning, shelling, fishing, swimming, surfing and a myriad of other beach activities.
Corpus is also full of premier attractions. The Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington are at the top of everyone’s list, but places such as the South Texas Institute of Art, Corpus Christi Museum of Science and Art, and a variety of other museums are certainly worth visiting.
And, while you’re in the Coastal Bend, don’t forget to visit some of the small towns in the area, such as Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, and Rockport/Fulton. Each of these towns features a variety of landmarks and attractions, as well as activities such as birding, fishing, shelling, and a variety of water sports. Taken as a whole, the Coastal Bend region has more than enough fun to fill an entire vacation – regardless of the season.