05 September, 2022

A Perfect Weekend Getaway from Austin - Port Aransas and Corpus Christie, TX

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Port Aransas is a perfect Weekend Gateway for families and couples alike for a relaxing time on the beach. There are many more cool things to do other than beaches. 

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Getting There from Austin

We are exploring places within 5 hrs of Austin for a relaxing weekend. Houston, Dallas, Port Aransas, Corpus Christie, San Antonio, and Galveston are great options. When we also searched for the cleanest beaches, Port Aransas and Padre Island of National sea shore appeared in the top 10 list.

Port Aransas is around 4hrs from Austin via US-183 S. It can also be reached via I-35 S and I-37 S through San Antonio. We can either go through Corpus Christie on a road bridge or get to Aransas Pass and take the free ferry to Port Aransas. 

If you are visiting from any other state, here are some cheap flights to San Antonio:

The ferry is definitely a wonderful experience while traveling with kids. We can find the schedule and wait time at the Aransas Pass by following the updates by @PortA_Ferry on Twitter. Usually, wait times on both sides is 15 to 20 mins. Ferry runs 24 hrs day weather permitting. 

Where to stay in Port Aransas?

Port Aransas and Corpus Christie are just 45 mins away from each other. Since We found that accommodations are expensive in Corpus Christie and they fill up pretty quick, we chose Port Aransas as our base for the weekend trip. It is easy for us to drive to Corpus Christie, Padre island national seashore, Mustang Island, White cap beach, and other popular destinations from Port Aransas.

We stayed in 'Life in Paradise' vacation rental. We stayed at Sea Breeze condos - a 2 Bedroom suite that is clean, comfortable, not very expensive, and includes all necessities with a fully equipped kitchen. It's a walkable distance to IB Maggie Beach. There is a fishing pier as well on the beach.

There are many options to stay in Port Aransas with an ocean view and the hotels are less expensive compared to Corpus Christie. It's less crowded as well than Corpus Christie.

Here are some hotels around to book.

What to do in Port Aransas?

Beaches in and around:

This is an exclusive relaxing beach vacation for us, so we spent most of the time in IB Maggie beach which is very close to our accommodation. 

There is a fishing pier as well which is great to walk during Sunrise/sunset to soak in the beautiful views. 

Here are some beautiful beaches that we visited: Padre Island National Seashore, White cap beach, Rockport Beach, and Melquite beach.

Here are some Beach essentials not to forget:

Sunscreen (Water resistant)

Beach Hat

Sand toys


Love this design :-)

Padre Island National Seashore:

Padre Island National Seashore is spread across 66 miles of coastline and it separates the gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre (One of a few hypersaline lagoons in the world).

The beach is very clean, it has a visitor center with a gift shop, restrooms, and showers. The Park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle for 1 day. This is also the best place to drive a 4-wheeler on the sand along the coastline.

We spent an evening on the beach watching the magnificent Sunset and the colors in the sky. 

Whitecap beach is very nearer to Padre Island National sea shore, but it's crowded. 

Mustang Island State park:

Mustang Island State Park with 5 miles of coastline is also a great place that is less crowded. We can swim, surf on the beach, camp/picnic, fish/ kayak and enjoy bird watching. 

Unfortunately, they said we need to get a reservation ahead to enter the park. So, we couldn't get in. The entrance fee is $5 per adult. Kids get in free.

Packery Channel:

We asked the ranger in Padre Island National sea shore if we can see 'Sea Turtles' anywhere around. He guided us to visit the Packery channel. 

Packery Channel is a dividing line between Mustang Island and Padre Island. Near its jetties, we saw many sea turtles. They are so cute to watch. We are so grateful to the ranger for suggesting this place. Else, we would have missed a great experience.

Aransas Wildlife National Refuge:

This is best known as home to endangered whooping cranes. It has a 16-mile scenic drive, hiking trails, and observation decks to enjoy. 

Corpus Christie:

The next day we spent most of our day at USS Lexington. This visit is completely worth the entry fee and our time.

USS Lexington:

USS Lexington is a World war 2 aircraft carrier that now houses the Naval Aviation museum. It took some time to get parking here. This is nearer to North Beach, which is also a great place for an evening stroll. This is just steps away from Texas State Aquarium as well.

Admission for adults is $18.95 and for kids below 12 yrs, it's $13.95. 

The flight deck showcases around 20 aircraft from the National Museum of Naval Aviation. This is the most interesting part for us to see the different types of aircraft in closeup.

3D Mega theater has regular shows on National aviation and details about how aircraft are landed or managed at the aircraft carrier. This show is free with admission.

There are escape rooms for an extra charge to whoever is interested. The Virtual battle stations and simulators are a fun experience. There is a lot to take in about the information on the history, details of aircraft carriers, different types, the technology inside battleships, the life in a carrier etc., 

Texas State Aquarium:

We couldn't visit this but if you have time, you can include it in your itinerary. It is a nonprofit aquarium promoting environmental conservation and rehabilitation of wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. It seemed a bit expensive though.

North Beach :

This is a popular beach in Corpus Christie. Jet ski rental is around $60 for 30 mins / $100 for 1hr. Canopy rental is $30. There are boat tours available for dolphin watching. 

Other places to visit:

  • The water garden has a nice view of Harbor bridge and it's beautiful to watch with the lighting in the evening. 
  • Waterfront and Mirador de la - Selena Perez's memorial is a good stop.
  • The beaches here are famous for kite surfing and windsurfing.
  • Port Aransas is a touristy town and so, many restaurants have some photo opportunities. If you have kids, don't miss the Giant Shark before a store 'Destination'.

Where to Eat?

Here is a list of places suggested by a majority of friends in both Port Aransas and Corpus Christie:

  • Snoopy's Pier - Pizza, burger, seafood
  • Doc's Seafood and Steaks
  • Republic of Texas Bar and grill - Steak and Seafood
  • Andy's Country Kitchen - Breakfast, home-cooked
  • Hester's Cafe and coffee shop 
  • Harrison's Landing - Burgers, Sandwiches 
  • Black Sheep Bistro 
  • Iries Island Food 

Hope you liked our travelogue and photos! Do let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

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