Corpus Christi, TX
Corpus Christi is a Gulf Coast destination that allows travelers to get away—without feeling that they have ventured too far from everything Texas. This southeast Texas city offers what beach goers want in a vacation, as well as diversions that not found in many waterfront locales. Its population—slightly less than 300,000— is big enough to support entertainment such as cultural arts, baseball, movie theaters and shopping malls. Yet for all it offers, foamy white caps, that salty sea smell and vibrant Corpus Christi Bay sunsets give Corpus Christi the pervasive feel of a cozy beach town.
A top Corpus Christi attraction for families and nature lovers is the Texas State Aquarium, located on Corpus Christi Beach, a short drive from downtown. The aquarium houses thousands of marine animals, as well as reptiles, amphibians, birds and four-legged mammals. Watch divers hand-feed stingrays and barracudas, or stop by special pools where you can touch rays and bamboo sharks. Join a behind-the-scenes aquarium tour or become a Dolphin Trainer for a Day.
Sightseers thrill to self-guided tours of the USS Lexington, the most highly decorated aircraft carrier of World War II, also located at Corpus Christi Beach. She was decommissioned in 1991 and retired to Corpus Christi Bay, where she serves as an enormous floating museum. Five tours showcase different decks and highlights on the 16-story ship. A flight simulator straps visitors into the pilot’s seat of a fighter jet. A 3-D theater presents breathtaking imagery from inside the cockpit, and virtual battle stations challenge visitors with interactive WWII combat.
More Corpus Christi attractions offer outdoor fun. Wind conditions are just right for kite flying and wind surfing on the bay front at Ocean Drive. Hit the sands of Padre Island National Seashore, a nature preserve on the world’s largest stretch of undeveloped barrier-island beach, or sunbathe with the locals in North Beach, north of Downtown.
For sports enthusiasts, Whataburger Field offers minor-league baseball excitement. Home to AA Baseball’s Corpus Christi Hooks, the field resembles an old-time ballpark, and games feature kid-friendly promotions along with sweeping views of Corpus Christi Bay.
From the field you also can see the Art Museum of South Texas. The three-story white structure has been a bay landmark since 1972. The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, located near the USS Lexington, is another staple. On site is a replica of Christopher Columbus’ ship, the Pinta, built in Spain using authentic 15th-century materials. Other highlights include treasures from four Spanish shipwrecks that occurred near Padre Island in 1554.
Hungry? The Water Street Seafood Company and its sister, the Water Street Oyster Bar, are routinely voted top local restaurants for fresh seafood with a South Texas touch. Try dishes with Cajun inspiration at the SaltWater Grill, or steaks in a fine-dining ambiance with a panoramic bay view at the AAA four-diamond Republic of Texas Bar & Grill. And visitors must eat a Whataburger, the hamburger from the restaurant chain that began in Corpus Christi in 1950.