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.
Fishing is a local obsession in Corpus Christi, which is hardly a surprise as the Gulf waters are filled with species like spotted sea trout and red drum. Head to the marina to charter a vessel or try sea fishing in your waders on South Padre Island.
Corpus Christi itself may not have the most dazzling beach, but the nearby region is blessed with some truly stunning places to sunbathe or swim. Some of the most popular include Malaquite Beach on Padre Island and McGee Beach, which you can reach on foot in 15 minutes from the center of town.
It's not all about hitting the beach or fishing. Corpus Christi also has a clutch of museums to check out. The Art Museum of South Texas showcases the region's best artists, the Texas State Aquarium offers dolphin shows, while the USS Lexington is moored in the harbor and a visit to this preserved WW2 aircraft carrier is always fascinating.
When you are in Corpus Christi, don't miss the fresh Gulf seafood available at restaurants like Crawdaddy's, the Water Street Oyster Bar or Yardarm Restaurant. You'll never have tasted shrimp so tender or fish cooked straight from the line.
If you've never tried windsurfing, water-skiing, jet-skiing or parasailing, Corpus Christi is the place to do so. Rent a board and try windsurfing at Bird Island Basin, try slalom skiing on the Nueces River, or take to the ski over Lake Corpus Christi with Chute 'em Up over at Port Aransas.
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.