Best Things To Do in Corpus Christi
The beach is likely what has drawn you to Corpus Christi and you have a few different options to choose from. If you want to stick close to your... READ MORE
The beach is likely what has drawn you to Corpus Christi and you have a few different options to choose from. If you want to stick close to your hotel, pop by one of the city beaches, which are easy walking distance to restaurants for a post-beach bite. If you want something more scenic, pack the car and a lunch and head for Mustang Island State Park or Padre Island National Seashore. Both are on barrier islands that provide access to the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. When you need a break from the Texas heat, consider cultural attractions like the Texas State Aquarium, the Selena Museum or the historic USS Lexington.
Updated October 2, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Corpus ChristiBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
This barrier island stretches along the Texas coast for 113 miles, though it's split into two islands. While its southern section, South Padre Island, is a well-known spring break destination, Padre Island offers a calmer seaside getaway near Corpus Christi. In particular, travelers rave about the island's national seashore, a 70-mile stretch of land protected by the National Park Service, for its pristine beaches, calm atmosphere and space to spread out.
At the national seashore, travelers can build sandcastles on the beach, windsurf on Laguna Madre (a small body of water that is saltier than the ocean) or hop on a four-wheeler and cruise down the sands. If you time your trip for a summer visit, you may even be able to catch a sea turtle hatchling release. Remember that these releases have no set schedule as the baby turtles will hatch when they like. And if you're looking to save on accommodations, you can do so here by camping on the beach. Just know that camping is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Corpus ChristiMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Following its commission in 1943, the USS Lexington was a combat aircraft carrier with the 5th Fleet at Pearl Harbor during World War II. Now, the retired ship rests in Corpus Christi Bay and serves as a museum where visitors can learn about the ship as well as naval aviation and battle.
Exploring the ship is split into five different self-guided tour routes. Routes explore different areas of the ship including the flight deck, the hangar deck, crew quarters and the forecastle (the area where anchoring took place). Guided tours are also available and have different themes. Visitors can choose from paranormal tours, an experience that takes patrons to parts of the ship not available on the self-guided tours and a tour that explores the launch experience of a pilot on an aircraft carrier. The USS Lexington also hosts its own escape room and offers virtual battle stations and a flight simulator, among other attractions.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Corpus ChristiBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Sitting almost 30 miles south of downtown Corpus Christi, Mustang Island State Park is well worth the drive. This 18-mile-long barrier island features beautiful dunes and a bevy of wildlife, including 400 different bird species, raccoons, fish, deer and sea turtles.
This park offers spacious sands for sunbathing and sandcastle building. Visitors can also swim in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters or take their kayaks out along the Mustang Island Paddling trail, which features more than 20 miles of waterways ready for exploration. Kayak rentals are available just south of the park as well as in Port Aransas. You can extend your stay by bedding down at one of the campsites available at the park.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Corpus ChristiZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Texas State Aquarium focuses solely on sea creatures found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It's also devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife, keeping the oceans clean and educating the populace (particularly children) about the sea. At the aquarium, you'll find exhibits featuring sharks, stingrays, fish, octopus and dolphins, as well as birds and, of course, oodles of fish. There's even a special nursery exhibit where patrons can learn more about the birth and early life cycles of moon jellies, bamboo sharks and brine shrimp.
Past visitors raved about the aquarium, appreciating the variety of animals in its care, the informative exhibits and knowledgeable volunteers. One minor pain point for a few patrons was the price, as some travelers thought the entrance fee was too expensive for the experience.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Corpus ChristiBeaches, Natural Wonders, Free, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Free, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The main reason to head to Corpus Christi is its plentiful beaches. While you'll find many pristine sands along the Padre Island National Seashore and Mustang Island, you can also find a few beaches closer to town along the Corpus Christi Bay.
North Beach sits approximately 1 mile north of both the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington. It offers 1 ½ miles of sandy shores, a concrete boardwalk, and three different places for restrooms and showers along its stretch. You'll also find Dolphin Park (which has a playground) at the far north end as well as hotels and restaurants alongside the beach. Past travelers favored North Beach for its proximity to the city and said it can be a good spot for kids. Others, however, noted that if you want a quieter and more scenic experience to head to one of the island beaches.
- #6View all PhotosfreePort Aransas#6 in Corpus ChristiBeaches, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
On the north end of Mustang Island lies Port Aransas, a quaint coastal city that makes a great daytrip from Corpus Christi. Despite its small size, Port Aransas always has something to do. You can experience a myriad of events here, including a sand sculpture contest, a regatta and an art festival. The city also celebrates Beachtoberfest each year in September and October, hosting many food and music events. Port Aransas is also a well-known fishing spot providing opportunities for deep-sea fishing and fishing off the pier. You can even partake in a tournament. One thing you don't want to miss is Port Aransas Beach, which visitors praise for its cleanliness and the ability to drive on its shores.
Port Aransas is located northwest of downtown Corpus Christi and it'll take you approximately 45 minutes to drive there. You'll pass Mustang Island State Park on your way. For more information about Port Aransas, including the dates for its annual events, visit its tourism website.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Corpus ChristiMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
This museum spans almost 100,000 square feet and focuses on Corpus Christi and southern Texas. Exhibits explore Texas' role in the Civil War, historic photographs of the North Beach section of the city and an excavated shipwreck from Padre Island. Meanwhile, science-focused exhibits boast locally found gems and crystals, southern Texas wildlife and an outdoor garden. There's also a 5,000-square-foot Science Center where kids will be able to romp on the outdoor playground, build with large blocks and learn with other hands-on activities.
Past travelers said the museum is worth visiting, noting in particular that it's a great option for a rainy day and will keep children entertained. However, patrons also cautioned that the museum could use a little updating.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Corpus ChristiMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Art Museum of South Texas has a long history, dating back to the 1930s. It started housed in the small Centennial Museum and has since been expanded not once, but twice. Today, the museum's two buildings (constructed in 1972 and 2006) are home to a variety of rotating exhibits from the museum's permanent collection of more than 1,850 works, which focus mainly on regional art. Works include sculptures, watercolors, paintings and full-scale installations. In addition to perusing the exhibits, visitors can explore the gift shop and children can play in the on-site ArtCade to create their own works of art. The museum also hosts different events for both children and adults.
Past travelers offer mixed reviews of the museum. Most reviewers were impressed by the museum's architecture and say the art on display is lovely. Others were dismayed that the exhibits and art had little variety in style.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Corpus ChristiMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known as Selena, was a Latin pop artist who was regularly called the "Queen of Tejano music." During her career, Selena recorded four albums, earned a Grammy Award for Best Mexican American album and designed all of her own costumes. Selena's career was cut tragically short when she was murdered in 1995 in Corpus by the former president of her fan club.
Today, Selena is memorialized with her own museum in Corpus Christi. The museum itself is attached to the Q-Productions studio, which is her family's music studio. Here, fans will find numerous portraits of Selena and artifacts from her childhood. Her famous costumes are also on display, along with her platinum and gold albums.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Corpus ChristiParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Flower fans will likely want to stop by the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. Here, you'll find an orchid conservatory, a plumeria garden and a rose garden along with a hummingbird garden, a butterfly house and a sensory garden. Children can expend energy running around the on-site playground and meet both parrots and reptiles that live at the park.
Though it is small, recent travelers said the park is tranquil and a wonderful place to walk around. Others appreciated the kid-friendly atmosphere and friendly staff. However, multiple reviewers also noted that the park could use a little updating and that the plants could use identifying labels.
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