Top 10 Attractions Along the Texas Gulf Coast

Gulf Coast Texas Attractions

Texas has over 300 miles of coastline bordering the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to many stretches of beautiful beach, the Texas Gulf Coast region is home to some of the state’s most popular attractions.

1. Texas State Aquarium

2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402

The “official” aquarium of Texas, the Texas State Aquarium houses hundreds of marine animals and provides educational programs for visitors of all ages.

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: You “Otter” Know This; Dolphin Presentations; Dive Encounters; Reptile Report; Birds of Prey; and much more. There are also a number of special events throughout the year and several educational programs, including the popular Sea Camp and Sea Squirt programs.

During the summer months, Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Aquarium is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The rest of the year, the Aquarium is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is reasonable, with rates being: Members – FREE; Adults {13 years and older} – $14.95; Senior citizens {65+} – $13.50; Children {3 to 12 years} – $9.95; Children {2 and younger} – FREE. Group discounts are available. Parking is $4. The Aquarium suggests visitors arrive 20 minutes early for dive presentations.

2. USS Lexington

2914 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402

Following many years of “active duty,” the WWII-era USS Lexington “retired” to Corpus Christi. The Lexington now serves as a floating museum and even offers overnight stays!

After an exhaustive refurbishing process, the USS Lexington was docked a short distance away from the Texas State Aquarium and opened to the public. Today, the Lexington serves as a museum and features a number of exhibits, as well as a museum, flight simulator and breathtaking views of Corpus Christi Bay. Additionally, the Lexington also offers a few very unique experiences, such as overnight camping trips and summer camp programs for children.

The USS Lexington is open seven days a week, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Labor Day through Memorial Day; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tickets prices are $12.95 for adults, $9.95 for seniors and military personnel, and $7.95 for children ages 4 to 12. Children 3 and under are free.

3. Moody Gardens

1 Hope Blvd, Galveston, TX 77554

Visitors crossing the causeway to Galveston will surely see the pyramids rising on the western side of the island. Those pyramids are just part of magnificent Moody Gardens. With attractions that include several aquariums, an IMAX theatre and even a rainforest, Moody Gardens is a must see for Galveston visitors.

Visitors crossing the causeway to Galveston will surely see the pyramids rising on the western side of the island. Those pyramids are just part of magnificent Moody Gardens. With attractions that include several aquariums, an IMAX theatre and even a rainforest, Moody Gardens is a must see for Galveston visitors. Moody Gardens visitors can also take tours of Galveston Bay aboard the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat. Concerts are staged at Moody Gardens throughout the summer season as well.

Moody Gardens is open 365 days per year. A one-day pass for all attractions is $39.95 per person. A two-day all attraction pass is $47.95 per person. Passes for individual attractions are available and range in price $6.95 to $18.95, depending on the attraction and visitor’s age. Moody Gardens is located at One Hope Boulevard in Galveston. For more information call 800-582-4673 or visit their website via the link below.

4. Texas Seaport Museum

Pier 22 Suite, #8, Galveston, TX 77550

Home to the 1877 tall ship Elissa, a national historic landmark, the Texas Seaport Museum tells the seaborne history of Galveston, which was known as “The Ellis Island of the West” in the 1800s. In addition to the Elissa, one of the main attractions is the Pier 21 Theater, which shows the panoramic documentary film, “The Great Storm,” which documents the 1900 hurricane and its aftermath. Several other unique exhibits and displays help stitch together Galveston’s long and colorful history.

The Texas Seaport Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and during the Elissa’s annual sea trials, which cover a two week period over the end of March and beginning of April. Admission is: adults – $8; students (6-18) – $5; children 5 & under – free. The Texas Seaport Museum is located at Pier 21, Number 8 in Galveston. For more information, call 409-763-1877 or visit their website via the link below.

5. Port Isabel Lighthouse

421 E Queen Isabella Blvd, Port Isabel, TX 78578

Located in Port Isabel, one of the oldest towns in Texas, the Point Isabel Lighthouse served mariners along the Lower Texas Coast throughout the Civil War and into the 1900s.

The “beacon” of the southern Texas coast in more ways than one, the Point Isabel Lighthouse is located in the tiny coastal community of Port Isabel, just across the Laguna Madre Bay from South Padre Island. During its active period, the Lighthouse guided mariners across the waters of the Laguna Madre and nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Today, it guides thousands of tourists, interested in getting a glimpse of Texas maritime history, to Port Isabel.

Today, visitors to Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Brownsville or any other South Texas town, should stop by and pay the Lighthouse a visit. It is located just off Highway 100, near the base of the Queen Isabella Causeway, which connects Port Isabel to South Padre Island. Visitors unfamiliar with South Texas will find getting to the Lighthouse a snap. Simply take Interstate 77 South past the city of San Benito. Approximately 5 miles south of San Benito, take the South Padre Island/Highway 100 East exit. Follow Highway 100 East for approximately 21 miles and you will find yourself at the entrance of the Point Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site.

6. Sea Turtle Inc.

6617 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597

South Padre Island’s Sea Turtle, Inc. is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles, particularly the endangered Kemp’s Ridley. Sea Turtle, Inc. also offers education tours, giving visitors an up-close look at these magnificent creatures.

By the time they leave, guests have fallen in love with the turtles at the center and appreciate the group’s mission to save them. Sea Turtle, Inc. is located on the northern end of Padre Boulevard, just south of the South Padre Island Convention Center, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; from June to mid-August, it is open until 5 p.m. A small donation fee is required. Visit the website of Sea Turtle, Inc. for more information.

7. Sea Center Texas

302 Medical Dr, Lake Jackson, TX 77566

Located in Lake Jackson, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Sea center Texas serves as a marine hatchery, museum and aquarium all in one.

The Sea Center hatchery has the capacity to produce 20 million fingerlings per year, primarily red drum and spotted sea trout, for release into Texas coastal waters. Visitors can lazily drift through the vast aquariums, which include the Gulf of Mexico, Salt Marsh, Coastal Bay, Jetty, and Artificial Reefs. Handle marine animals such as blue crabs, hermit crabs, urchins, and anemones in the 20-foot touch pool. Or get up close and personal with one of the large fish in the Gulf of Mexico aquarium. Visit one of the world’s largest red drum hatcheries and marvel at replicas of Texas state saltwater fish.

8. Battleship Texas

3523 Independence Pkwy, La Porte, TX 77571

A veteran of both World Wars, the Battleship Texas is now moored at the San Jacinto Historical Site, just a short drive from Houston, where it is open for tours to the public.

The Battleship Texas has been at its current location at the San Jacinto Battleground Historic Site in La Porte since 1948, when the State of Texas purchased it from the Navy following World War II, a first-of-its-kind acquisition.

9. Museum of the Gulf Coast

700 Procter St, Port Arthur, TX 77640

Located in Port Arthur, the Museum of the Gulf Coast traces the history of the Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast region from prehistoric times to the present day.

Beginning with paleontology and biology, the Museum of the Gulf Coast tells the exciting story of the Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast region. Permanent exhibits include Native American history, European contact, the Civil War, economic and cultural growth, the petroleum industry, and the region’s maritime history. The second floor of the Museum is dedicated to the many internationally recognized musicians and athletes who call the Gulf Coast home, including Jimmy Johnson, Janis Joplin, Babe Zaharias, The Big Bopper, and others.

10. Museums of Port Isabel

Located just across the bay from South Padre Island in historic Port Isabel, the Museums of Port Isabel celebrate the history of Port Isabel, South Padre Island and the Lower Laguna Madre area.

The tiny town of Port Isabel in Deep South Texas is steeped in history. As one of Texas’ oldest towns, Port Isabel served as a strategic port during both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Over the last decade or so, Port Isabel has begun to showcase its history. At the center of this movement have been the Museums of Port Isabel.

The Museums of Port Isabel are actually three separate facilities – the Historic Port Isabel Museum, Treasures of the Gulf Museum and the Point Isabel Lighthouse. The Historic Port Isabel Museum showcases the area’s history from Native American times to modern day, while the Treasures of the Gulf Museum features the three Spanish shipwrecks of 1554, which occurred in the near shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The Point Isabel Lighthouse is a piece of history in itself, having played an important role in the area since its construction in 1852. All three locations are adjacent to each other, making viewing all three at once as easy as walking across the street.

The Museums are open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Point Isabel Lighthouse grounds are open to the public seven days a week. However, admittance into the lighthouse structure is only available during operating hours, which are Sunday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. during the summer. The Lighthouse is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. the remainder of the year.

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