Boasting its very own natural harbor on the Gulf of Mexico, the Texan city of Corpus Christi is a charming nautical getaway spot. Corpus Christi began humbly as an isolated outpost, but soon grew into one of the largest shipping ports in the country. If you long for pristine beaches, a lively multicultural vibe, and scrumptious seafood, book a stay at one of many unforgettable Corpus Christi vacation rentals, so you won’t miss a beat. Check out the top attractions in Corpus Christi.

1. USS Lexington

This wonderful naval aviation museum pays homage to the USS Lexington which played an important part in the nation’s defense for over 50 years. This vessel has 11 decks to explore including the foc’sle gallery, hangar, and flight deck. Stop by the Virtual Battlestation to take command of the ship, or take a pilot’s seat in a fighter jet and head out to battle in the Flight Simulator.

2. Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History

Showcasing more than 50 years of South Texas history, this beautiful museum features several signature exhibits such as the Coastal Ecology display called the Seeds of Change that lets you get a closer look at nature and the life that abounds on the coastal shoreline. Historical collections range from shipwrecks and explorers to decorative arts created by local artists.

3. South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center

This lovely community-based nature center is home to a number of gardens, including the Arid Garden that features succulents such as cacti, bromeliads, and cycads. The Hummingbird Garden is a delight, the orchid house has over 3,000 common and rare species, and you can take a leisurely stroll through the fragrant Rose Garden. Follow the Mesquite Trail and take in magnificent landscapes that sustain over 35 species of grass, shrubs, herbs, woody trees, and keep your eyes open for the of wildlife.

4. Texas State Aquarium

This aquarium promotes the importance of environmental protection and rehabilitation of the Gulf Coast’s native wildlife. In addition to daily dive shows and training sessions, you can watch two boisterous bottlenose dolphins romp in Dolphin Bay, and get a glimpse of the rescued raptors that reside at Eagle Pass. Smile at the mesmerizing jellyfish at Floating Phantoms, and get an up-close view of magnificent coral reefs, moray eels, and cow nose stingrays in the Flower Gardens exhibit.

5. Texas Surf Museum

Surfing and the Gulf Coast go hand-in-hand, and this fascinating museum features numerous exhibits, displays, and stories about the surfing history in Texas. The projection theater features films such as Endless Summer and Texas Waves, and when you need to rest, take a seat on a bench made from surfboards.

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6. Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island is an undeveloped barrier island with over 70 miles of magnificent protected coastline. The island has a variety of landscapes such as rolling dunes, sweeping prairies, and exposed tidal flats brimming with life. This beautiful area provides natural habitats for rare, threatened, or endangered species such as Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.

7. Hans and Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge

Birdwatchers and nature lovers flock to Blucher Park to wander along a network of paths that lead through this four-acre pocket park in downtown Corpus Christi. Follow the trail through marshes, woodlands, and grasslands where you can glimpse dozens of shorebirds, butterflies, and wildlife.

8. Bob Hall Pier

Located on the north end of Padre Island in Padre Balli Park, this impressive pier extends 1,240 feet into the Gulf. You can catch deep water fish that rarely come close to shore, and there’s plenty of room for swimming and surfing. There are changing cabanas for your convenience, and you can picnic and relax while observing the remarkable seaside vistas.

9. North Beach

Escape from the city crowds without leaving the city when you head for this white-sand beach. North Beach is very close to many of Corpus Christi’s top attractions such as the aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum, and you can indulge in some great seafood at restaurants like the pirate-themed Blackbeard’s on the Beach.

10. FunTrackers Family Fun Center

For a change of pace, head over to FunTrackers and try your hand at some golf on the 18-hole miniature course, or test your climbing skills on the rope course. This newly-renovated venue has a vast collection of arcade games to challenge every skill level, or you can challenge fellow travelers to a go-kart race. Recharge your batteries with a pizza or burgers at the Raceway Cafe.

11. Old Town Six Points

Situated at the intersection of three main streets — Alameda, Ayers, and Staples — this shopping center has a ‘town square’ vibe that appeals to small independent businesses. Shop for gifts at Blue Frog Mercantile, or pick up a treasure at Bumblebee Antiques, then head over to Feliz Amanecer for a quick bite to eat.

12. The Beef Jerky Outlet

This is the place to pick up some premium South Texas jerky for the folks back home. This high-quality jerky has no fillers and is made from the best selections of whole muscle eye of round. Snag a few snacks such as gourmet popcorn or dried fruit, and don’t forget to check out the insect candy.

13. The Art Center of Corpus Christi

Stop in for a class at the Barry Brown Clay Studio located in this beautiful center and try your hand at wheel-throwing or hand-coiled clay techniques. Located in the pretty Bayfront District, the art center also features original artwork on a rotating basis.

14. Whooping Crane Boat Tours

Board the Wharf Cat for a four-and-one-half hour narrated voyage through the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Endangered whooping cranes make their home at this beautiful refuge from November through early April, making this a top winter attraction in Corpus Christi. Enjoy numerous photographic opportunities as you take in the spectacular coastal scenery and observe many species of birds that frequent the barrier islands and reefs.

15. Selena Museum

This thoughtful museum pays homage to Selena Quintanilla-Perez, a popular, best-selling Latin artist who died tragically at the hands of a fan when she was 23. You can follow Selena’s life journey through the exhibits that feature her stage outfits, her numerous awards, and her cherished red Porsche.

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