What’s in a name? Corpus Christi, Texas was discovered on the Roman Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi and named after the holiday. It is fondly known as the Sparkling City by the Sea, thanks to its clear blue water and pearly white beaches. This coastal city is overrun with energy, nature, beaches, and a rich history!
A lot of Corpus Christi’s sites are focused on the coast, beach, and surf because of all the water surrounding this marvelous jewel. High-speed winds dominate the area, making it a mecca for watersports like sailing, surfing, kite flying, and kiteboarding. This fun Texas town has even hosted windsurfing world championships.
Other attractions are focused on history, sports, food, colorful culture, and nature. When in Corpus Christi, TX which is on the Gulf of Mexico, prepare to go big and bold. Check out every part of Corpus Christi and see how their unique way of life is even bigger than their beaches.
Looking for things to do in Corpus Christi? Here are some points of interest for those who want to coast like a Texan and for those seeking new experiences and memories.
CORPUS CHRISTI DOWNTOWN
Initiate yourself to Texas Country by going to downtown Corpus Christi, where Texas snuggles up to the shore and adopts its casual side. It’s where you go to get an easy authentic lifestyle that is uniquely Corpus Christi.
Downtown Corpus Christi is a darling for those who enjoy draft beer. Grab a local brew from over 30 brews on tap. Pair your beer with a pizza topped with locally grown produce you pick for yourself at the local farmers’ market.
Roll down to the downtown marina aboard an open touring boat known as Japonica. The glorious skyline takes a new life while the sounds of Corpus Christi Bay soothe your body and soul.
Find one-of-a-kind souvenirs and pieces forged by local artists and photographers at Cathy’s Boutique and Gifts. Pop into the town’s only floating bar and enjoy a tasty meal and drinks at Tavern on the Bay.
A friendly neighborhood awaits you.
USS LEXINGTON MUSEUM ON THE BAY
The USS Lexington Museum is located in Corpus Christi Bay on the North Beach waterfront just across the ship inlet from downtown Corpus Christi, Texas. It was commissioned in 1943 and was a combat aircraft carrier with the 5th Fleet at Pearl Harbor during World War II.
The retired legend now rests in Corpus Christi Bay and is the world’s oldest aircraft carrier. Lex currently serves as a naval aviation museum and is great for tourists and children of all ages. Its dark blue color, which afforded it impressive camouflage, earned it a special nickname: The Blue Ghost.
Touring this epic 16-deck, 33,000-ton aircraft carrier is an adventure in itself. There is an option of a guided tour or a self-guided one. Get ready for battle as the pilots did in the Ready Room, explore historic planes on the flight and hangar decks, visit the Admirals Quarters and Engine room and relive the last-ditch Japanese kamikaze campaign. Learn more about the ship, the people, and the times of WWII. It’s a remarkable patriotic lesson in this day and age.
Pulse-pounding thrill seekers experience the escape room in the lockdown On The LEX which will mess with your head and senses. Those interested in scary ghost stories get to go on a mission. With frights around every corner, this tour does not disappoint and is only for the brave. Enter if you dare!
For young scouts and adventure seekers of all ages, Camp Lex is not to be missed. Take all five tour routes of the ship, listen to stories of historical events from Blue Ghost’s past, participate in a scavenger hunt, watch a film in the 3D MEGA Theater, take two trips through the chow line, bunk in original crew quarters, and tremble at LEX ghost stories. Their unforgettable patriotic flag ceremony will have you in full salute.
Details: 2914 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402 | Website
TEXAS STATE AQUARIUM
With over a million gallons of water, The Texas State Aquarium is the largest in Texas. It is also among the largest in the United States. The aquarium aims to improve environmental protection and rehabilitation of the wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico.
Different exhibits showcase thousands of animals and represent over 300 species. It is an unforgettable way to be educated and entertained. Get ready to be captivated, amused, and motivated.
Arrive early for the dolphins’ presentation, get up close to six sandbar sharks or snorkel with stingrays, barracudas, and eels. The free-flying birds in the jungle are also a sight to behold.
Breathtaking moments, of the good kind, in this man-made wonder are a guarantee.
Details: 2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402 | Website
PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
Padre Island National Seashore is the most extended sweep of an undeveloped barrier island in the world! The Spanish shipwrecks of 1554 also add to its appeal. Padre Island National Seashore stretches over 70 miles, all of which is protected land.
Dunes, prairies, and tidal wind flats brimming over with life are common elements here. You will also see protected nesting grounds for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and over 380 bird species. Padre Island National Seashore is a shelter to all.
Sitting on more than 130,000 acres of land, Padre Island National Seashore is an exceptional place for birdwatching and fishing. Be sure to pack your fishing rods, camera, and binoculars!
Another way to escape everyday life and become one with nature is to travel deep into the park’s most remote areas. These are only accessible with a high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle but are worth it.
This beach on Padre Island is every nature lover’s dream, especially as a camping spot. It is also a good choice for a beach hangout. Fresh air, sugary sand, and water stretch as far as the eye can see.
The park has a bathroom and shower facility and a gift shop and visiting center. You can drive your vehicle along the beach and pick any spot. Everyone has their own space!
In the corner parking lot is the Malaquite Picnic Shelter, where you can sit under some shade on the covered deck while taking in the beautiful view of the white sandy beach. There are two viewing platforms, an auditorium, museum, bookstore, and gift shop.
The Laguna Madre is a long, shallow, hypersaline (i.e., saltier than the ocean) lagoon along the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The most substantial wind-tidal flats and clay dunes in North America are also found here.
It is home to the only strain of oysters that have adapted to high salinity in North America. Other protected species found on Laguna Madre are piping and snowy plovers, reddish egret, brown pelican, peregrine falcon, and white-tail hawk.
Laguna Madre’s other rarity has the only natural rocky shoreline in Texas and the only serpulid worm reefs in all of Texas. This rarity is perhaps one of the most disregarded wonders in North America. You cannot afford to miss this one-of-a-kind spot inside the Padre Island National Seashore.
Details: 20420 Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418 | Website
HORSES ON THE BEACH
Horses On The Beach Corpus Christi offers customers an incredible experience of horseback riding on the beach. Horse riding is open to all interested parties. People of all ages with different riding abilities get to be cowboys for a while.
Riders six years and over get to ride their own horses, but the young ones safely ride on ponies with one of the cowboys. Book a one hour ride during the day or try the 90 minute sunset ride
After your ride is over, visit the animals at the stables petting zoo. Relish some fresh finger-licking seafood and other local favorites from the on-site food truck.
Details: 16499 S Padre Island dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78418 | Website
CORPUS CHRISTI HARBOR BRIDGE
Corpus Christi’s skyline is in the early stages of transition. That is because the iconic Harbor Bridge, a roadway that is an unusual detail of the Sparkling City by the Sea’s landscape, is undergoing a significant upgrade.
Once complete, the new Harbor Bridge will be the most elevated point in South Texas and, hands down, the longest cable-stay bridge in the United States.
Lovers of a good run and workouts are in for a challenge. Put on your favorite walking shoes and start your day with some morning exercise while enjoying an amazing lookout of Corpus Christi from atop the bridge.
The new bridge design combines many details that are pleasing to the eye. There is a shared-use path, a community plaza for the weary, nighttime LED lighting, and xeriscape landscaping. A sight to behold.
Experience the bright downtown skyline from this unique view that magnifies its beauty.
Whitecap Beach, named after the white sands you’ll find on this untouched shore, is perfect for those looking to escape a busier beach scene. This one has enough space for everyone.
The area is adequately maintained and comfortable for sitting, picnicking, appreciating the sunset, or making a bonfire. The atmosphere is agreeable and very family-friendly. Your fur babies on a leash are also welcome here.
Drive directly on the beach, which is densely packed and easy to drive on, or park in one of the free parking spaces nearby.
DON’T MISS THE SEAWALL
Sprawling from Whitecap Beach to South Packery Beach is the mile-long Padre Island Seawall safeguarding the hotels and resorts.
It also offers a sand-free path for biking, jogging, or walking along the beach.
This waterfront wall and exhibition is a sight unique to Corpus Christi. Relax in one of the sea viewpoints to take in the ocean view or take a walk through the planets in a new exhibit along the Downtown Seawall.
The Selena Museum honors a true child of Corpus Christi — Selena. Selena Quintanilla Perez, the Queen of Tejano Music, continues to feature in the story of Corpus Christi. Selena Museum was built by the Quintanilla family to celebrate the life and achievements of their beloved daughter and for all Selena enthusiasts.
You will get a tour of Selena’s stage costumes, collections, and memorabilia, including her red Porsche, GRAMMY Award, and more.
You may even catch a peek of Selena’s family, because Q Productions is still a working studio and office!
Details: 5410 Leopard St, Corpus Christi, TX 78408 | Website
BOB HALL PIER
At a remarkable 1,240 feet, this pier extends proudly into the Gulf of Mexico and serves as a hub for many avid anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Fish like grouper and speckled trout have been spotted here.
The Bob Hall Pier is usually open all day, every day, but the pier was closed to the public after being damaged during Hurricane Hanna in 2020. The pier is currently undergoing reconstruction, and the new pier will hopefully be finished in the early months of 2023.
SOUTH TEXAS BOTANICAL GARDENS & NATURE CENTER.
The South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center is a fantasy destination for nature tourists. It is all about flora, fauna, and fun!
The 2600 square-foot screened Butterfly House is straight from a child’s fantasy. The Orchid and Bromeliad Conservatories, majestic Rose Garden, and seasonal Plumeria Garden are also waiting to leave you enthralled. You also get to enjoy the Sensory Garden and appreciate the diversity of the desert, arid, and lush tropical gardens.
Resident Reptiles and vibrant exotic parrots provide entertainment and learning elements not found at typical botanical gardens.
Details: 8545 S Staples St, Corpus Christi, TX 78413 | Website
CORPUS CHRISTI MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY
The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History was established in 1952 and is seated on the picturesque harbor waterfront in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Discover the history of South Texas through exhibits of fossils, photographs, works of art, shipwrecks, and more at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. Find out what makes this part of the Lone Star State unique as you wander through the museum’s exhibits.
If you have kids, take them to the HEB Kid Zone, where they can play and learn inside the huge DNA-model playground.
Details: 1900 N Chaparral St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401 | Website
TEXAS SEALIFE CENTER
Texas Sealife Center’s objective is to rescue injured and stranded coastal and aquatic wildlife. They provide supportive care and rehabilitation to release wildlife into their natural habitats successfully. They also teach and facilitate public awareness about conservation efforts to save wildlife.
Take a stroll in the arboretum and meet different animals. Get up close and personal with rescued Green Sea Turtles. Learn the tales behind each animal rescue.
With some good luck and proper planning, watch the feeding frenzy as the tour guides feed the different animals.
Details: 14220 S Padre Island dr., Corpus Christi, TX 78418 | Website
THE ART MUSEUM OF SOUTH TEXAS
The Art Museum of South Texas was established in 1936. The all-white building on the water stands out from everything else and is one of the best museums in southern Texas.
Boasting 30,000 square feet, this museum incorporates four galleries, an auditorium, a gift shop, a library, classrooms, administrative areas, and two outdoor sculpture courts.
The museum staff completes lectures, gallery talks, readings, films, and music and dance performances.
Details: 1902 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78401 | Website
ART CENTER OF CORPUS CHRISTI
The Art Center of Corpus Christi is home to local art in the coastal bend. With seven galleries, a gift gallery, a restaurant, and local artists’ studios, you are assured of a feast for all your senses. All of this is free of charge!
Standing majestically while facing Corpus Christi Bay, the Art Center is home to a permanent exhibition of more than 1,500 paintings, numerous sculptures, various prints, illustrations, one-of-a-kind ceramics, and more.
TEXAS SURF MUSEUM
When you think about Texas, you may be thinking about oil barons and cowboys, but you should also be thinking about…surfers!
The Texas Surf Museum in Corpus Christi is (surprise!) the only surf museum in the state, and is a great place to learn about the history of surfing, and Texas’ place in the surf world. This museum also features a film, and they sell surfing supplies and merchandise here too.
It’s the perfect place to stop for the surfer (or wannabe surfer) in your group.
Details: 309A N Water St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401 | Website
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR TRIP TO TEXAS
- YOUR TEXAS VACATION
- TEXAS WITH KIDS: 11 Amazing Kid-Friendly Weekend Getaways in Texas
- SOUTH PADRE ISLAND: 21 Captivating To Do In South Padre Island (+ Our Tips)
- WACO: 11 Fantastic Things To Do In Waco (+8 ‘Fixer Upper’ Rentals)
- SPI HOTELS: 9 Sensational South Padre Island Hotels Your Family Will Adore
WHERE TO STAY IN CORPUS CHRISTI
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