Tucked into a bay between the Padre and Mustang islands, Corpus Christi is a haven of sun, sea, and sand just off the Gulf Coast of Texas. What began its life as an outpost in the middle of nowhere is now one of the Lone Star State's most popular year-round destination. Although Corpus Christi is famed for its beaches and ample bird-watching opportunities, it's also a charming city with dozens of attractions. In fact, you might even find more things to do in Corpus Christi than you would anywhere else along the Gulf Stream.
Whether you've tried windsurfing before, would like to, or are happy to watch as your family try it out, it can be done on Laguna Madre. Laguna Madre, which is Spanish for "Mother Lagoon" is a stunningly rare hypersensitive lagoon with tons of activities you can do in and around it. From windsurfing to fishing, photographic opportunities, and camping, outdoor lovers will be in their element here. However, if you do want to try windsurfing once in your lifetime, let it be in Corpus Christi.
Snoopy's Pier is a staple for residents on the island. As many would vouch, there's hardly a better place to dine around Corpus Christi than here. The popular seafood restaurant began as a small bait and burger joint in 1980, but since then it's become one of the beacons of life in Corpus Christi. As well as serving locally-sourced fish, every meal is quality controlled and made onsite, guaranteeing freshness every time. Why not enjoy the sunset from Snoopy's on a Sunday? You might end up lucky winners of a Sunset Sundae.
Aquariums in the middle of big cities can be quite expensive as well as incredibly busy. The Texas State Aquarium, on the other hand, has discount deals, free parking, and the chance to knock a couple of bucks off the entrance fee if you book online. Here, the whole family can experience the underwater worlds of the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and see thousands of marine creatures from all over the globe. The Texas State Aquarium also has plenty of interactive ways for people of all ages to learn why conserving our sealife is so important. Why not feed the stingrays while you're there?
Anchored off of Corpus Christi Bay is the huge vintage WWII warship, the USS Lexington. The Lexington, nicknamed "The Blue Ghost," has, in her time, served at Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and had her part in many raids. In 1991, the U.S. Navy handed Lexington over to the City of Corpus Christi where she's resided ever since. A year later, her decks were turned into a naval museum worth its weight in sea salt. Onboard, you'll be able to see the original engine room, small theater, over a dozen aircraft, and thousands of naval items from the past.
The Art Museum of South Texas ought to be considered an exhibition in and of itself. Its bright, ice-white walls and pyramid-like roof have been an iconic landmark on the Corpus Christi since the 70s. Of course, the art contained within is plenty inspiring, too. Permanent exhibits include regional art from the Corpus Christi and all over Texas, but there are always rotating exhibitions that bring surprises every time.
The scenery in Corpus Christi doesn't get better than from one of its many trails. Trails such as the Corpus Christi Bay Trail give you the opportunity to hike or bike along eight miles of coastline. You can explore its lengths from the South Texas Museum of Art to the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. That being said, it's also good to keep in mind that the trail is popular and is used by residents and tourists both. If you're not looking for solitude by the ocean, you'll find some of the best views of the ocean on the trail. As well as the sights and sounds, there's always usually a food vendor or three along the way.
All you need to do is spare 15 minutes in a rental car from downtown Corpus Christi, and you'll arrive at one of its coastal gems. Padre Island National Seashore consists of 70 miles of white sand beaches, rippling sand dunes, and the kind of warm ocean water Northeasterners can only dream of. Padre Island is the largest undeveloped barrier island not only in Texas or the United States but the world. If you're looking for more than basking in the sand or building sandcastles, there are also tons of activities for the whole family. From camping and birdwatching to baby sea turtles and a nature trail, there's no shortage of things to do here. That includes not wanting to leave.
Not everybody is built to sit still in the sand for hours. Luckily, in Corpus Christi, you don't have to be. Padre Island has riding stables that will let you jump on one of their horses and take a beach stroll on horseback. Horses on the Beach is a great initiative for people who have never ridden before to those that miss it and haven't in a while; it's even good for professional riders. Sure, walking along the white sand beaches is good, but riding along them while talking to friends and meeting new people is even better.
Another gem on the Corpus Christi harborside is the Museum of Science and History. This is a natural history museum that invites visitors of ages along to learn about local and Statewide history, geology, archaeology, and more. The museum has an excellent balance of exhibits that are purely for kids and others that are fun for all ages. If you're traveling with fidgety grandkids, you might benefit from all of the interactive opportunities here. While they play around in the science lab, you can mosey on over to see the Buccaneer Queen's stunning gown.
Who says the beachfront of Malibu should get all the rollerblading action? You can do the same on the bayfront promenade on Corpus Christi, too. Anyone can hire skates or blades and go cruising along the promenade. Alternatively, you can go to Sk8land, a rollerskating rink that's close-by. Corpus Christi has a long history of roller skating, and there's no reason that should stop anytime soon. If you're lucky, you might also get to see the famous rollerblading nuns.