Corpus Christi is a coastal city in southern Texas near the Mexican border. Its brilliantly warm weather, beautiful beaches, clear Gulf Coast waters, and abundance of recreational activities attract visitors year-round. Within the city, you can shop at hundreds of quality venues, explore cultural and recreational attractions, and feast on fresh seafood and another indigenous fare. On the surrounding barrier islands, you can swim, sunbathe, enjoy water sports, fish, and observe wildlife. Here are some of the top locations for vacation rentals in and around Corpus Christi.

1. Corpus Christi/North Beach

Source: Flickr / Mike Boudreaux

The North Beach area of Corpus Christi is on the El Rincon Peninsula, between Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay. You can swim and sunbathe on the long sandy beach and take a long stroll on the concrete beach walk. Two fishing jetties give you plenty of space to drop your line. North Beach hosts the Texas State Aquarium, a vast facility with a number of simulated natural environments housing dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and many other species of marine wildlife. The aquarium schedules many fascinating special education programs for children. Another popular North Beach attraction is the USS Lexington, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum.

2. Corpus Christi/Downtown

Source: Flickr / sarowen

The downtown Corpus Christi seawall, marinas, and bayfront parks are ideal places for taking relaxing walks and absorbing the sights. Take the kids to Corpus Christi Skate Park for a day of fun. Hurricane Alley Waterpark is full of waterslides, wave pools, and other fun aquatic activities. The downtown sports, entertainment, and arts, or SEA district has a number of unique, family-friendly museums, including the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, the Museum of Asian Cultures, and the Texas Surf Museum.

3. South Corpus Christi

Source: Flickr / Karen

Vacation rentals in the south end of Corpus Christi offer convenient access to the beautiful and extensive South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. This fascinating nature park features 11 different gardens and exhibits, including an orchid conservatory, a rose garden, a hummingbird garden, and a butterfly house. It also has a nature trail, a wetlands boardwalk, and collections of parrots and reptiles. The Suter Wildlife Refuge on Oso Bay has a hiking and cycling trail where you can observe egrets, herons, pelicans, seagulls, spoonbills, and other sea birds. Nearby South Corpus Christi is King Ranch, the largest ranch in Texas, where you can tour the museum and environs to learn about Texas ranching and history.

4. Corpus Christi/North Padre Island

Source: Flickr / Drew Kolb

Padre Island’s 113-mile length makes it the longest barrier island in the world. Its northern end lies within Corpus Christi city limits, and it’s a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Bob Hall Pier stretches an amazing 1,240 feet out into the Gulf and offers anglers an unparalleled opportunity to fish for speckled trout, groupers, and other species. Nearby Padre Island National Seashore is a haven of pristine white sand beaches and dunes. It’s a popular spot for windsurfing, and it’s also a sanctuary for many species of migrating seabirds as well as rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand.

5. Corpus Christi/Mustang Island

Source: Flickr / Allison Turrell

A portion of Mustang Island, a barrier island adjacent to North Padre Island, is a part of the city of Corpus Christi. Vacation rentals on the island provide easy access to Mustang Island State Park, with its lovely stretch of coastline that’s perfect for shell collecting, nature watching, surfing, and parasailing. The Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail offers 20 miles of canoeing or kayaking over shallow-water areas that are great for bird watching or fishing. Other popular Park activities include picnicking, hiking, cycling, and building sand castles.

6. Port Aransas

Source: Flickr / Allison Turrell

The town of Port Aransas lies on the northern tip of Mustang Island. Its position on the Corpus Christi Ship Channel makes it a popular destination for swimming, fishing, and water sports. Convenient ferries connect Port Aransas with the mainland. You can charter a boat at the marina to take you fishing in the bay or out into deep waters. For kids of all ages, the town hosts the Red Dragon Pirate Cruise, which includes a treasure hunt, mock sword battles, water pistol fights, music, and dancing. The annual Texas SandFest draws sand sculptors of all levels from around the world.

7. Ingleside

Source: Flickr / Robert Hensley

A causeway across the bay connects the town of Ingleside with the city of Corpus Christi. The kids will love N.O. Simmons Skate Park, which includes a hiking and cycling trail, sports facilities, and a state of the art skating bowl. Live Oak Park has nature trails and two 18-hole disc golf courses. Whitney Lake is a wetland area in Ingleside with boardwalks for observing wading birds and other waterfowl. The nearby waterfront recreational area of Cove Park offers picnic areas, boat ramps, and a fishing pier.

8. Aransas Pass

Source: Flickr / TexasEagle

The city of Aransas Pass lies on the shore of Redfish Bay just north of Corpus Christi. A causeway and free ferry service linking it to Port Aransas make Aransas Pass the gateway to Mustang Island. The harbor at Aransas Pass offers dolphin watch tours, yacht rentals, and charters for deep ocean fishing. At Conn Brown Harbor Park you can use the barbecue grills and picnic tables and fish off the piers. The whole family will be amazed at the beautiful speedy denizens of the Newberry Park Hummingbird Garden, the largest hummingbird garden in Texas.

9. Rockport

Source: Flickr / Angi English

The city of Rockport is just north of Aransas Pass on Aransas Bay. It offers convenient access to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary that offers protection to birds such as whooping cranes, herons, egrets, ibises, and roseate spoonbills. Animals you might catch glimpses of in the refuge include bobcats, collared peccaries, and alligators. Across the bay, Matagorda Island State Park is on a barrier island accessible only by boat. It’s a beautiful secluded location for watching birds and observing wildlife. Rockport hosts the Texas Maritime Museum, which provides a fascinating look at shipbuilding and maritime history. It also hosts the Aquarium at Rockport Harbor, which has displays focusing on local marine wildlife.