Content Produced in Partnership with Visit Corpus Christi
Very rarely do work trips feel like a vacation, but Corpus Christi straddled the line in the best way possible. With fishing their biggest draw, people come here to not to forget time but to stop it. With nowhere to rush to, it was refreshing to dawdle to watch the waves and the gulls instead of cramming attraction after attraction into every hour of every day. For a rare instance, I actually let myself loosen the reigns, be present, and enjoy the spoils of my labor. Considering it’s already snowed three times in Colorado and I can’t even remember the last time I swam in the ocean, the Vitamin Sea felt even more therapeutic (and necessary).
Corpus Christi can seem a little anticlimactic upon arrival because unlike most beach towns, there’s no obvious boardwalk or touristy area. It’s enormous and encompasses multiple beaches, cities, and habitats. Once you get a lay of the land and stop to marvel at just how massive it truly is, you’ll begin to appreciate just how much room you have to play. You’ll crawl into bed salty, sticky and itchy but content. Here’s how to make the most out of a Texas beach getaway complete with waves, wings, and wildlife.
Explore on Land
Your first stop should inevitably be the marina promenade. The 1.5-mile Seawall is the spot to watch boats of all shapes and sizes. Keep an eye out for the singing Selena memorial (Corpus Christi is her beloved hometown) and observe the squawking seabird interactions. If you’d rather hoof it, Horses on the Beach is a bucket list worthy way to stroll the shores at sunset (as long as you remember the bug spray). Their gorgeous and well-tamed rescue horses are happy to meander along the sand, which means I finally succeeded in finding a stallion that likes long walks on the beach as much as I do.
Watch the Waves
Padre National Seashore (not to be confused with South Padre Island) is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. Home to 130 thousand acres of dunes, grasslands, and sandy shoreline, it’s one of the most pristine and non-commercial beaches on the planet. You can rent kayaks and SUPs, but one of the more unique and local pursuits is windsurfing thanks to their nearly perfect year-round conditions.
Worldwinds offers daily lessons and rentals, and you’ll learn the basic maneuvers are fairly similar to sailing. Easy to pick up (albeit quite the arm workout), you have a boom and a mast and navigate by rotating the sail and your feet to gain speed. If you prefer relaxing on the shore, Mustang State Park up the road is basically a private beach while it rebuilds post hurricane. You can try the area’s other favorite pastime, kiteboarding here.
Get a Spot of Culture
Beyond the beaches and the outdoor pursuits, Corpus Christi has a handful of museums to peruse. The USS Lexington is the area’s top-rated attraction, a record-setting vessel which has sailed the equivalent of 8x around the world. As a non-history buff; I actually spent way more time here than I thought I would. And while the militia isn’t my thing, the exhibits showcasing life aboard the ship were super interesting and interactive as you traverse a maze of narrow and slightly claustrophobic halls and stairs. The ship is huge (the equivalent of three football fields) and like five museums, haunted theatre, and escape room all in one.
Follow any one of the self-guided, color-coded tours to explore. Keep an eye out for the rooftop flight deck (including the Blue Angels which are much bigger in person), the Captain’s quarters, the crew berth (fun fact: they slept in hammocks before bunks were added) the chapel, sickbay, mine room, dental clinic, cafeteria, and even on-board barbershop.
Become Friends With the Locals
The Texas State Aquarium is a rescue and rehab facility right on the water, and with the humidity and exotic bird chirping, it has a distinctly tropical vibe. With both indoor and outdoor exhibits, you’ll explore the underwater worlds of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and beyond. Don’t miss the brilliant pink flamingos, free-roaming sloths, and replica Blue Hole. There are touch tanks almost everywhere, dolphin and otter feedings, and wildlife shows. If you visit in the spring or summer, you can also see sea turtles nesting in the wild on Padre Island.
Taste the World
You may immediately think oceanfront dining and seafood along the coast, and while there are plenty of oysters and crustaceans in Corpus Christi, there’s so much more than that. A true melting pot of cuisines, tempt your taste buds beyond the Texas staples of BBQ and tacos.
Family-owned and operated for 10+ years, Thai Spice was the best Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand; the gourmet “ginger lover’s” plate served in a fancy tortilla bowl with pineapple garnish. Aka Sushi has rolls highlighting local flavors like crawfish, jalapeños, and island spices. There are tons of food trucks and spots that’ll cook your own catch, which is even more satisfying than ordering off a menu. Corpus Christi restaurants are even working to recycle and return oyster shells to the Bay to repopulate reef habitats. We like to call that dining for a cause.
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