Tucked away in the far south of Texas, Corpus Christi is easy to overlook when you are searching for the perfect beach destination, but don't write it off. Corpus Christi is actually a superb place to take your family, with attractions that everyone can enjoy and some of America's finest beaches.
If it's what you're after you can spend your whole vacation stretched out and soaking up the sunshine on Padre Island, letting your mind drift far away from everyday life. But Corpus Christi offers plenty for active vacationers as well. From windsurfing and fishing to golf, parasailing or cycling, you can expend as much energy as you like when you visit this gem of a resort.
When the day is done, you can dine on fresh Gulf seafood, down a few cocktails as the sun goes down and retire to luxury accommodation overlooking the sea. So what are you waiting for? Corpus Christi is a fantastic beach destination.
If all you want from your vacation is access to miles and miles of unspoiled, beautiful beaches, Corpus Christi is ideal. Base yourself in Downtown Corpus Christi and you can be on Padre or Mustang Island in minutes, where the water is warm and the soft sands are always inviting.
Another major attraction of Corpus Christi is the cuisine. Texas' Gulf Coast is one of the best places in America to dine on shrimp, fresh fish and oysters, and restaurants like Crawdaddy's will prepare your favorite seafood dishes to perfection.
Corpus Christi is also a great place to take your kids. Not only will they adore the beaches, there's the Texas State Aquarium to visit, which offers daily dolphin shows during the summer season as well as water parks like Schlitterbahn and Hurricane Alley.
You don't need to have your seafood prepared for you by expert chefs. Instead, why not catch your own dinner by chartering a fishing vessel from Corpus Christi marina or heading to Padre Island to fish from the beach? With hundreds of fish species in the area, you're sure to land a delicious catch.
Corpus Christi isn't your usual beach destination. It's also one of Texas' great musical cities. Head to Heritage Park in October to enjoy the town's Jazz Festival, which features genres as diverse as funk, bebop and gospel or enjoy live concerts on the beach every Friday and Saturday.
Commonly known as "The Blue Ghost," the USS Lexington is an illustrious museum ship. It has garnered one of the most coveted accolades: the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC). Take a ride on the national historic landmark that is most especially known for customer satisfaction and high-quality maintenance. Let your historical side come alive with the unique spectacle of salvaged guns from scrapped ships. The most notable is the 5"/38 DP turrets from the Des Moines cruiser.
Located off the cool South Texas coast, the PAIS is a nature preservation point. It rests on a long beach and is part of the earth's longest barrier bar system. It serves as a host to varieties of dunes and pristine beaches. The best is the tidal flat environments that windsurfers (and anyone, really) will find perfect for honing their windsurfing skills. Discover the different species of birds from the present 380 species that includes the great egrets, black-necked stilts and lots more.
The elegant building of this art museum is in itself artistic. Gaze at the amazing architectural finishes and floor-to-ceiling windows that play off the Corpus Christi Bay as well as the South Texas sun. Take part in the wide array of enrichment and outreach programs such as musical and theatrical performances, dance, and so on. Awaken your artistic senses with the vast diversification of regional art which mainly focuses on the region's rich multicultural heritage. Enjoy a breathtaking view of the Gulf and beach as you take a stroll at the museum.
Resting on 2.5 ha (6.3 acres) of land, the Official Aquarium of Texas is renowned for its environmental conservation efforts and wildlife rehabilitation. Engage your friends and family in a fulfilling, educational walk through the various exhibits. Gaze at some creatures including four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Spend the night at the aquarium, where you'll experience private and informative tours. Alternatively, you could also enroll in the week-long camp. Here, there's absolutely no limit to the fun and engaging family activities.
Set out to explore 180 acres of flawlessly landscaped grounds in the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center. Walk through several exhibit houses that have a broad range of beautiful flora such as hibiscus, bromeliads and cacti. Experience the one-of-a-kind feeling that comes with being surrounded by more than 3,000 beautiful orchids once you step into the orchid house. Take a slow walk down the mesquite nature trail that features approximately 35 species of shrubs and woody trees and other marvelous plant life.
Summer sees temperatures regularly topping 90 degrees (as well as high humidity), so it's a good time for beach lovers to head to Corpus Christi. However, if you don't love such extreme heat and want to beat the crowds, try a fall or spring vacation. May or October are good times to go, when the weather is still fine but the crowds are thinner. However, try to avoid the Spring Break period as accommodation costs can go through the roof.
The easiest way to get to Corpus Christi is by flying into Corpus Christi International Airport, which is a few miles from the city center. Major airlines serving the airport include United, American Eagle and Southwest, with connections to Dallas and Houston (so connecting flights from other cities will be required). It may be more convenient to fly into San Antonio and then take a bus or drive from there (it's about three hours away by road). If you do fly into Corpus Christi, taxi companies like American Cab Company and Express Cab operate from the arrivals terminal, while hotel shuttles and limousine services are also available.
You can't travel to Corpus Christi directly by Amtrak, but San Antonio is on the network and isn't that far away. The Texas Eagle links San Antonio to Chicago, while the Sunset Limited connects the city to New Orleans.
Once you get to Texas, driving to Corpus Christi is simple. Just take I-37 all the way to the end. Those coming from Houston by car need to take US-77, then change to US-59, which hooks up with I-37 close to Corpus Christi.
Greyhound's local stop is at 702 N Chaparral St and provides direct bus connections to cities like San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, and indirect connections to the rest of the American bus network.
For most visitors, the best place to stay in Corpus Christi is right next to the seafront. It's where you'll find the best bars, restaurants, and hotels, and it's walking distance from the beach and marina. Some of the best places to sleep in the area include the Best Western Marina and the Omni Corpus Christi, both of which provide comfortable accommodation in convenient locations. Self-catering is a good option as well, with apartments near the beach at Las Brisas Condominiums. For those on a budget, there are also some excellent cheaper options, including the Knights Inn - so the city offers a good spread of choices.
Downtown and the Marina – Downtown Corpus Chrisi is a busy, attractive seafront area, with one of the largest marinas on the Gulf of Mexico. This makes it a popular place for sailing and fishing fans, but families are well catered for too, thanks to attractions like the Texas Aquarium and Hurricane Alley Waterpark. It's also the best place to shop in town, making it the perfect base to explore the area.
Mustang Island – Located a few miles south of Corpus Christi, Mustang Island is a long stretch of sandy beaches that will suit anyone who wants to get away from it all. Camp in Mustang Island State Park, fish with charter boats in San Jose, go bird watching or dine on fresh Gulf seafood at local restaurants like Bernie's Beach House.
South Padre Island – South of Mustang Island, Padre Island might be even more beautiful. This is the place to come for lazy beach holidays, with gorgeous stretches of sand at Schlitterbahn Beach, huge beach bars like Clayton's and some of the most fertile sea fishing areas on the Texas coast.
A few tourist trolleys are operated by the Corpus Christi Regional Transport Authority and provide a handy way to get around the center of town. It's also very cheap, with a $0.75 basic fare and day passes costing $1.75. Coverage isn't great, but the service is extended for special events like the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival, so check the schedule - it might help you out.
If you don't have a car, taxis will take you out to Padre and Mustang Islands in around 20 minutes, but they don't tend to be cheap. The basic meter drop is $4.95, and taxis cost $2.55 per subsequent mile. However, Uber have a presence in the city and offer big savings. They tend to charge a $1 meter drop, then $1.05 per mile, so usually work out much cheaper.
Enjoying the coast around Corpus Christi is much easier if you have your own car. If you want to get out to the islands, South Padre Drive (TX-358) will get you there in no time. It's also the location of most of Corpus Christ's best restaurants and shops, so it's a good idea to orient yourself around it.
Shopping in Corpus Christi is based around the city's malls, and visitors have plenty of places to choose from. However, by far the best place to head for major brands is La Palmera Mall where stores include Aldo, Macy's and Sunglass Hut. Be sure to check out independent stores as well. For example, the Treehouse Art Collective on N Water Street is a good place to find works by local artists, while the flea market at Moon Plaza is always a good place to look for unusual gifts.
Many visitors to Corpus Christi choose to stay in self-catering accommodation and buying groceries to stock your kitchen shouldn't be hard. There's a Walmart Supercenter for essentials along with more upmarket stores like Sprouts Farmers Market and HEB. However, don't expect bargain prices. Corpus Christi grocery prices are around the national average, with a gallon of milk costing $3.80 and 12 eggs about $3.
Seafood is one of the major attractions of Corpus Christi, and vacationers can choose from a huge range of Gulf seafood restaurants. Some of the best include Crawdaddy's, with its cajun specialties, the Water Street Oyster Bar and the French-influenced Yardarm Restaurant. If shrimp and oysters don't excite you, try the sushi at Aka Sushi or B&J's Pizza, for appetizing alternatives. Expect to pay $13-15 for a mid-range meal and around $20-30 for entrees at upmarket local eateries.