Texas is big – really big. Bigger than many nations throughout the world. Yet, there’s more to the Lone Star State than Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. With our Texas City Guides series, we’re going to explore some of the smaller and more far-flung parts of the state. We hope you come to appreciate the variety of local color you can find across Texas.
As the 8th most populous city in Texas, Corpus Christi has more to offer than just lazy days on nearby beaches – though they are some of the best in Texas (and nationally protected!). This coastal city features a unique conversion of pop culture, sports, outdoor activities, and of course, great seafood.
So, pack your sunblock, your swimsuit, your baseball cap, and a sense of adventure, and let’s head down to the Texas Riviera.
Take Yourselves Out to a Ballgame
Baseball? You bet. People rave about attending a small-town Texas high school football game, but the same can be said about taking in a game of minor league baseball at the waterfront stadium at Whataburger Field, which opened in 2005.
Learn About the Sea
If you want to learn more about marine life during your coastal stay, take the family to the Texas State Aquarium. Run by a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and conserve marine animals and other wildlife, the facility treats visitors to an up-close-and-personal view of bottlenose dolphins, as well as the opportunity to view the birth and growth cycles of egg casings and juvenile jellyfish in their Aquatic Nursery.
In 2009, the Texas State Aquarium built a bird sanctuary called Eagle Pass where rescued and rehabilitated raptors have come to nest. Grace, a bald eagle that was rehabilitated in Alaska, now calls Eagle Pass her home, providing an opportunity for visitors to see our national bird in person.
And if your visit to Corpus Christi finds you battling the heat, then pop on your swimsuit and sunblock and cool off at their HEB Splash Park, the first zero-depth wetscape in the entire coastal South Texas region.
The Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla was an icon at the time of her murder in Corpus Christi in 1995, and her status has only grown in the past two decades. By the time of her passing at only 23 years of age, this singer, songwriter, spokeswoman, and clothing designer had become one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of the late 20th century.
The Selena Museum, built in 1998 by the Quintanilla family, was a response to the thousands of letters the Quintanilla family received over the years, as fans wanted a place to visit and pay tribute to the late singer. On view is her red Porsche, her trademark outfits, her numerous awards, and more.
Eating Fresh Food and Fast Food in Corpus Christi
There are two absolute musts when it comes to eating in Corpus Christi, and they couldn’t be more opposite on the food scale. One is fine, the other is fast!
As a city on the Gulf of Mexico, you would be remiss not to indulge in the gulf-caught seafood of Corpus Christi.
For a classier spin on seafood, head to Water Street Seafood Company. There you’ll find a wide variety of options, including fresh oysters on the half shell, coconut shrimp, seafood quesadillas, and crab cakes.
But if you wish to take a bite out of Texas culinary culture, you’ve found yourself in the home of the fast food chain, Whataburger. Founded in 1950 by Paul Burton and Harmon Dobson, their goal was to make a fresh burger that took two hands to hold and when someone took a bite, they would say “What a burger!” And judging by the frenetic activity on the brand’s Twitter feed, those founders definitely succeeded!
Dobson was an avid pilot, and often flew over Corpus Christi, trailing a huge Whataburger banner behind him, and dropping coupons for free burgers. Recognizing the importance of eye-catching architecture and signage, he was inspired to create the white and orange striped A-frame restaurants that are the signature look of Whataburger locations across the country. The color choice of orange and yellow stems from the colors so often used on airports, another nod to Dobson’s love of flying.
If fast food burgers aren’t your thing, at least head over to the original location on Ayers Street and order yourself a cold drink, while you take in the history of a megapopular fast food joint.
A Day or Two on Perfect Beaches and Protected Coastlines
Waterfront views are easy to come by in Corpus Christi, but to sink your toes into the best possible sand, you’ll want to head out of the city and into the nearby state and national parks.
If you’ve never slept on the sand with the sound of the ocean at your side, remedy this by camping at Mustang Island State Park. An 18-mile long barrier island, we recommend partaking of the surfing, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and pure relaxation while on the island. Simply pack up a picnic and bring a shade for a day on the beach.
Even more pristine beaches lie to the south of Corpus Christi along the Padre Island National Seashore. With 70 glorious miles of coastline, it is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. It is a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, and it’s a haven for almost 400 species of birds. Dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats brimming with life, set the scene for a getaway that is sure to leave you and your family in awe of one of Texas’ best kept secrets.