Padre Island National Seashore#1 in Best Things To Do in Corpus Christi
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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.
Padre Island National Seashore charges an entrance fee. The entrance fee is $25 for a seven-day pass or $10 for a single-day pass. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, though the stand to purchase entrance tickets has different hours. Restrooms and showers are found at the Malaquite Visitor Center & Pavilion. You can get to the park by crossing the John F. Kennedy Causeway then driving 10 miles south to the park entrance. Parking on the beach is allowed, but some restrictions may apply. Visit the seashore's website for more information.
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#2 USS Lexington
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.
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