Use these suggestions for things to do in Corpus Christi – Texas’ Gulf Coast Capital.
Living in a landlocked city has me always dreaming about a getaway. I recently visited Texas’s Gulf Coast Capital. As a native Texan, this was not my first visit to the area, but it had been over a few years. Corpus Christi still has sleepy beach town vibes, but much has changed. You’ll want to check out these things to do in Corpus Christi if you’re planning a vacation soon.
With a creative cocktail scene, fresh seafood, colorful street art & murals, and miles of pretty beaches, Corpus Christi makes a great vacation for solo travelers, couples, and families. There are many tourist attractions for all to enjoy. Corpus Christi is the largest coastal city and a short drive from
I’ve put together some tips and itinerary suggestions for visiting Corpus Christi, including what to do at the beach and where to eat, drink, and activities for when you want to get out of the sun.
Visit Corpus Christi sponsored my visit. All opinions are my own.
Top Things To Do In Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi has six islands, nine beaches, and eighty-plus miles of coast. Each beach has in common the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and pretty sunsets.
For the sun seeker and beach lover who wants to escape the city, book a stay on North Padre or Mustang Island. North Padre Island is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. There are sixty miles of pretty beaches to explore.
Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park is an eighteen-mile-long barrier island. This park is a main Corpus Christi attraction. Go to Mustang Island for the pristine beaches and wildlife adventures, spotting turtles, dolphins, birds, and shallow-water fishing spots. Ranger programs like stargazing and birding are also available. You can camp on the beach here and even drive your vehicle onto the beach.
Travel Tip: You’ll need a beach parking permit.
Padre Island National Seashore
A little south of Mustang Island State Park is the Padre Island National Seashore, 130,000 acres of dunes, grasslands, and beaches, in short, a paradise on the Texas coast. Check out the Grasslands Nature Trail and learn about the plant and animal life that inhabit the dunes and marshlands.
Are you a bird watcher? With over 200 bird species migrating annually to this coastal city, the city of Corpus Christi has been named the “birdiest city in America” multiple years in a row by the Coastal Bend Audubon Society. Big Bird Island at Padre Island National Seashore is the perfect place for birdwatching, and campsites are available.
Sea Turtle Release Program
If you go at the right time of year, the park has a visitor program allowing you to watch freshly hatched sea turtles as they are released into the Gulf of Mexico. Call the Hatchling Hotline for updates on the next releases. (361)949-7163.
Padre Island National Seashore is also one of the top destinations in North America for windsurfing. Check out Worldwide Windsurfing for paddle board, kayak, and windsurfing classes.
Outdoor Activities (On The Beach)
Horse Rides on the Beach
Horses On The Beach can accommodate all ages and levels of experience. There’s a guide who helps everyone get on the right horse and leads the way to ensure nothing in the path might spook the animals. A ride along the beach was given the thumbs up by my group. Horses on the Beach is open year-round, but hours may be limited in fall and winter.
Though not known as a surfing capital, you can still catch a wave in Corpus Christi. Many people come here to learn at either Padre Island Surf Camp or Texas Surf Camp. Both offer private and group sessions. The availability may vary during the winter, so check the website.
Glow Row is fun and easy, regardless of your fitness level. The boats are five feet long and three feet across, accommodating two people. If you’re solo, you sit in the back. Equipped with several different light colors and patterns, it’s a fun adventure to paddle around the calm, shallow waters of the harbor with a group glowing in the dark.
The experience is about an hour long, and you’ll paddle about three-quarters of a mile. For perspective, we started and ended at the bridge across from Snoopy’s.
There are so many more activities on the beach to consider.
North Padre Island
Places to eat, drink, and hang out are on the island’s north end (North Beach). Sunset Island is where the action is. Check out Marker 37 Marina for boat launches and places to pick up fishing gear. This is where all the fishing charters depart. Tip: most charters will clean and cook anything you catch.
Snoopy’s Pier is among the most popular spots for dining, drinking, and sunset views and has dining options for casual food and lots of fresh seafood.
Island Joe’s a cute, colorful place for various java-fueled drinks housed in shipping containers.
Marina Arts District In Downtown Corpus Christi
I loved the vibrant art and culture scene of downtown Corpus Christi, accented by restaurants serving fresh seafood and refreshing cocktails. If you stay near the marina, you can walk to the shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. The marina area is a great place to walk or jog.
Corpus Christi is awash in art, and murals are everywhere downtown, even on electrical boxes. There’s so much to see – you could spend a couple of hours just walking around looking at the murals. Don’t miss a chance to take your photo with Selina. Another famous face of Corpus Christi is Farrah Fawcett, known for her role in the TV show Charlie’s Angels.
A few not to miss, in my opinion, include the Farah Fawcett mural on Water St., the art of the side of Dokoyo Dauntaun restaurant (where you should also go for Asian-inspired eats and drinks), the Lotteria on the side of K-Space Contemporary (another cool gallery to visit), and Where the Music Meets the Bay at 201 S. Chaparral St.
If you get the chance, the Selena Museum is open and located at 5410 Leopard St.
Art Museum of South Texas
The Art Museum of South Texas was designed by Phillip Johnson, with additions designed by renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legoretta. The building materials are poured concrete blended with aggregate to easily mix with the environment. With sweeping views of the Bay and a large collection of art, sculpture, and artifacts, plus community programs, the museum is a cultural gem on the Bay.
USS Lexington Museum
The world’s oldest naval aircraft carrier is the USS Lexington. In 1992, it became a Naval Aviation Museum permanently located in Corpus Christi. The flight is two acres with a height of nineteen stories. The USS Lexington offers many opportunities to learn and have fun on board this retired naval aircraft carrier. Escape Rooms, overnight camping, a Pearl Harbor exhibit, and many other activities make the Lexington a fun visit for all ages.
Best Restaurants & Bars In Corpus Christi
Water Street Market
This is a cute development with good coffee shops and bars. Try Lucy’s Snackbar for coffee, pastries, wine, and beer. Central Kitchen has fresh oven-baked bread and breakfast and lunch selections. The Executive Surf Club is also located here.
Dokyo Dauntaun serves classic Asian favorites and inspired cocktails. There are two dining sections, but one is a bit darker, quieter, and sexier.
Located inside the Art Museum of South Texas, Elizabeth’s is a tapas-style dining experience. Combine waterfront views, a great atmosphere, and some of the prettiest cocktails I’ve seen. I highly recommend visiting the museum and then dining here. It’s also a good spot for that Instagram photo op.
Water Street Oyster Bar
Water Street Oyster Bar is a long-time favorite in town, with waterfront views and the freshest seafood. Try the raw bar, sushi bar, and cocktail bar. Mix it up.
Executive Surf Club
This club is a popular spot for locals and visitors. They’ve hosted some of the biggest names in music history since opening in 1990. Good food, good vibes, and a good patio, too. The Executive Surf Club has a daily happy hour, weekend live music, and open mic nights.
Bus (Bar Under the Sun)
Housed in a former Greyhound Bus station, this bar and eatery is casual with just the right mix of craft cocktails, games, food, and an outdoor dining area. It’s also family and pet-friendly and open six days a week. Menu items include a classic burger, tuna tostadas, and poblano quesadillas. They also serve Sunday brunch.
The Goldfish Bar
For a great outdoor patio (pet-friendly), great cocktails, wine & beer, head to 724 North Mesquite. Open until 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Nueces Brewing Company
A newcomer to Corpus Christi’s thriving brewery scene. Nueces Brewing Company claims old-world brewing techniques and Texas BBQ, which sounds like a good combination to me. There are a few outdoor tables, but most of the seating is inside the spacious former car dealership space.
Corpus Christi is good for anyone who wants a beach vacation without the jetlag and expense of filing across the country and the necessity of a passport.
Insider Tip: Corpus Christi is very spread out. If you stay downtown, you’ll need a car to visit urban attractions like the USS Lexington, The Texas State Aquarium, and The Art Museum of South Texas, but nothing is very far away. You’ll also need transportation to visit the beaches.
All photos are by Penny Sadler.