27 Must-Do Activities in Vibrant Corpus Christi

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Head to Corpus Christi, a lively Gulf town with tons of fantastic activities for travelers ranging from an underrated art scene to lively seaside adventures.

Visit Corpus Christi invited me to explore this fun-filled Sparkling City by the Sea, and I’m bringing you the best of this stunning coastal bend destination.

Fresh Seafood on a Floating Pier

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Head down to Harrison’s Landing, where you can enjoy fresh seafood on a floating barge and hand-crafted cocktails from a tiki bar.Start with a savory lobster bisque, then enjoy any of the mouth-watering entrées like the redfish casino, a fillet topped with divine hollandaise sauce, pico de gallo, and avocado, or the shrimp boil, a fan favorite.

After dinner, visit Cathy’s boutique next to the restaurant for the perfect token from your trip.

Art Museum of South Texas

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Your eye can’t help but catch the fascinating architectural design of Corpus Christi’s fabulous art museum, located on the southeast corner of downtown, right before the Harbor Bridge.

Begin your art journey outside, where you’ll be greeted by a spectacular display of moving art in the water gardens. Inside, you’ll find an exquisite array of special exhibitions and articles from the permanent collection.

The museum makes fantastic use of space, allowing viewers to experience the scale of the massive works from varying perspectives. The onsight restaurant, Elizabeth’s at the Art Museum, offers fresh Mediterranean-inspired fare at a gorgeous seaside cafe, making it the ideal place to stop for a bite after viewing the impressive collection.

USS Lexington Museum

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Explore a treasured piece of US Naval history onboard the USS Lexington Museum. Commissioned in 1943, the USS Lexington was the oldest operating carrier upon its retirement in 1991.

The ship patrolled the Pacific theater in World War II, participating in nearly every major operation and assisting the Allies in their victory at sea.

Now, the ship calls Corpus Christi home, allowing visitors to take self-guided tours through her halls. The flight deck, featuring a wide array of military aircraft, is the most popular level, but don’t forget to check out the navigation room and the plank!

Corpus Christi Art Trail

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Corpus Christi bursts with public art, from seaside sculptures to giant murals. When in town, take a self-guided tour to visit these iconic works.

Visit Corpus Christi offers a free downloadable art trail map, allowing you to find and admire the works sprinkled around the city at your own pace.

Texas State Aquarium

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Head to the Texas State Aquarium for a peek behind the curtain at the abundance of life living just off Corpus Christi’s coast. Hundreds of creatures call the aquarium home, from the elusive and highly endangered ocelot to the playful dolphins.

The Texas State Aquarium features animals from a variety of biomes. You’ll discover the rich species diversity in marshy swamps, coastal shores, coral reefs, and deep underwater caverns. It’s one of the top places to visit in all of Texas.

Visit the Padre Island National Seashore

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Padres Island serves as a barrier island resting between mainland Corpus Christi and the greater Gulf. While visiting Corpus Christi, explore the island’s lush shoreline ecosystem filled with rolling hills, marshland, and gorgeous beaches.

Although you’ll be tempted to swim, you must proceed cautiously. The tides wash up exotic sea life, from blue button jellies to Portuguese man o’ wars. Seeing these majestic creatures in the wild is worth the trip, but keep a safe distance.

The First Friday Art Walk

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If you’re planning a trip to Corpus Christi, try to visit during the first Friday of the month, when the downtown area morphs into a giant party celebrating the arts.

The city closes off six blocks downtown, hosting block parties, live music, and hundreds of vendors selling everything from T-shirts to unique artistic creations. Businesses welcome local artists to showcase their work and sponsor stages at the end of every major street.

The massive art walk is a monthly party you won’t want to miss.

South Texas Botanical Garden & Nature Center

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The South Texas Botanical Garden & Nature Center showcases the region’s natural flora. It features a lovely garden and nature trail, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature despite the city setting.

The nature center also features an array of birds and reptiles and offers regular programs to educate the public on these keystone species. During your visit, you’ll see iguanas, snakes, hummingbirds, and massive tortoises and learn about conserving these majestic creatures.

Texas Museum of Asian Cultures

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If you want to do something different while in Corpus, check out the Texas Museum of Asian Cultures. The museum is a labor of love, founded by Mrs. Billie Trimble Chandler in 1974 to celebrate Japanese culture after a stint teaching there.

While in Japan, she collected a vast array of artworks, including paintings, figures, pottery, and dolls. When she returned to Corpus Christi, she founded the museum and donated her entire collection, hoping to connect the cultures and share her love.

Since its founding, the museum has collected artworks from other Asian countries, including Vietnam, China, and the Philippines. It also hosts numerous cultural events and workshops throughout the year in its mission to spread cultural awareness.

Sunset Island

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On your drive from mainland Corpus Christi to Padre Island, you must stop at Sunset Island, a small islet filled with events and dining.

The island is one of the top launch locations for boating in the city, but even those who aren’t heading out to sea can enjoy the island’s lively offerings. Sit down to a meal at Doc’s Seafood Restaurant to enjoy the catch of the day, or head to Snoopys and Scoopys for casual seafood and ice cream.

During the day, you can play games like volleyball and shuffleboard, but the island really comes to life on Friday nights when the local restaurants host live music.

Watch the Sunrise at a Park

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Corpus Christi features miles of east-facing shoreline, so it’s the perfect place to watch a sunrise over the water. In the morning, drive along Ocean Dr. to enjoy the show at one of the small coastal parks sprinkled throughout the city.

Many parks have east-facing parking, so you don’t need to leave your car for a spectacular view, but you’ll want to.

Sit in the grass near the water. Feel the cool blades on your skin while listening to the waves break just below. Immerse your senses in nature’s glory as you watch the spectacular sunrise.

Oso Bay Wetlands Reserve

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Corpus Christie’s unique geography provides a variety of niche ecosystems, from coastal shores to marshes to wetlands. The city protects 162 acres of its crucial wetlands at Oso Bay Wetlands Reserve.

The reserve features nature trails, a learning center, and special events dedicated to preserving some of our planet’s most precious natural areas. Visitors can glimpse rare species of plants and animals while learning why it is vital to protect these unique lands.

Pay Respects to Selena

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Selena Quintanilla-Perez may have been born in Lake Jackson, but she called Corpus Christi home. Unfortunately, her life was also cut short in the city when a crazed fan shot her.

The city honors its fallen star, allowing fans to pay respects at a life-sized statue installed near the entrance to People’s Street T Head (one of the downtown piers). Visitors can see the statue anytime, day or night, but if they want to learn more about the iconic singer, they can visit the Selena Museum, which her family established in 1998.

Enjoy a Beach Day

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With four different beaches (excluding the national park!) Corpus Christi is the perfect place to enjoy some fun in the sun.

Start with North Beach, just over the bridge near the heart of the city. The beach features shops, restaurants, a bike path, and everything you could possibly need for a day of fun and sun.

Those who prefer a quieter beachfront should head to Whitecap Beach, featuring white sand beaches in a more undisturbed setting. Though the beach has fewer amenities, it’s perfect for those who want to relax in peace.

Play in the Water

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Corpus Christi is a hotspot for water sports enthusiasts. North Packery Beach is ideal for surfing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, and all your favorite water activities.

The city also has terrific spots for kayaking, boating, paddle boarding, and everything else you can do on the water. However, pay attention to the city’s warnings; some areas see dangerous sea life washing ashore.

Scoot along the Shore

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Most cities have scooter rental companies allowing residents and tourists to zip through the downtown areas with ease, but Corpus Christi has something special: 1.5 miles of seawall promenade.

Tourists can rent scooters and fly along the waterfront, stopping to enjoy the views or dip into a shop along the way. If they get hungry, they can scoot downtown for a snack and then hop back on to continue their ride.

Take a Fishing Trip

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Battle monsters of the deep with a fishing trip from Corpus Christi. Sports anglers can charter a boat out to the depths to catch various fish, calling the warm offshore waters home. Though there’s no guarantee, you could catch anything from red snapper to hammerhead shark.

Fishing trips aren’t limited to the deep sea. Charters also head to the nearby lagoons and coastal waters, offering anglers a wide variety of potential catches.

Scenic Boat Tours

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If fishing isn’t your style, you can take a scenic boat ride. The city features numerous tour companies offering a wide range of boat rides tailored to your tastes.

Tour Padre Island by sea or embark on a cruise to see the bay’s dolphins frolicking in the wild. Some tours even explore the city from the water, showcasing Corpus Christi’s most iconic landmarks from a different perspective.

Pirate Cruise

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For a more lively boating adventure, embark on a pirate cruise. Enjoy swordfights, treasure hunts, cannon fire, and scallywags as the roguish swashbucklers sail the mighty seas.

Book with Red Dragon Pirate Cruises, setting sail from Port Aransas or the Black Dragon embarking out of Port Isabel for a jolly good time discovering if the “the pirate’s life for me.”

Enjoy a Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt

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A scavenger hunt is an ideal way to explore an unknown city at your own pace. Numerous companies offer unique scavenger hunts in and around Corpus Christi, allowing tourists to visit the most famous landmarks while solving puzzles.

You can join the hunt with your smartphone and follow the clues at your own pace.

Support Local Theater

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Corpus Christi boasts the longest-running community theater organization in Texas. The Harbor Playhouse brings community talent to the forefront with plays, musicals, and a summer camp program for kids.

While enjoying your stay, show your support for the welcoming community by enjoying a show. The schedule constantly changes, so check while planning your trip.


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Corpus Christi earned the “birdiest city in America” moniker for its fantastic bird-spotting opportunities. Over 200 wild bird species live in the region’s vast wetlands, marshes, and coastal plains, making it the ideal location to fill your bird bingo card.

While enjoying your stay in the beachside town, see if you can spot the American white pelican, great egret, or endangered whooping crane.

Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History

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The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History features a wide range of exhibits for explorers of all ages.

The museum features numerous displays highlighting the coastal bend area’s legendary history, including the city’s growth, most prominent players, and early inhabitants. It also features exhibits on paleontology, geology, and coastal ecology.

Stroll Heritage Park Neighborhood

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Corpus Christi’s Heritage Park neighborhood is filled with stunning historical homes that showcase the best of Southern architecture. Take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood to admire the gorgeous craftsmanship.

While there, be sure to check out the ten historical Corpus Christi homes, many of which are registered as Texas historic landmarks. Many antique homes now serve as cultural centers and meeting spaces, but some are still occupied, so please treat the neighborhood with respect while visiting.

Beachside Horseback Riding

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Your romantic dream of riding a horse along a moonlight beach path can be a reality in Corpus Christi. Horses on the Beach, located on Padre Island, offers daytime and sunset horseback riding along the pristine seashore.

Visit a Local Gallery

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If you can’t visit Corpus during a First Friday art walk, you can still explore the local art scene by visiting a local gallery or art center.

The Art Center, featuring two galleries, rotating exhibitions, and educational programs, aims to promote regional artists. K-space Contemporary in downtown Corpus offers between 18 and 20 exhibitions each year, featuring both regional and national artists. Visitors can find numerous small and independent galleries sprinkled throughout the city.

Texas Maritime Museum

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Though the Texas Maritime Museum isn’t technically in Corpus Christi, it’s only a short drive to the north and well worth the trip.

The maritime industry is crucial to Corpus Christi’s history and development, and the maritime museum tells the story. It features exhibits on how the area’s first residents used the land, the horrors of early shipwrecks, and modern industry, including shipbuilding and offshore oil and gas exploration.

Enjoy the Sparkling City by the Sea

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Corpus Christi features miles of pristine waterfront, acres of protected natural areas, and many exciting activities.

Plan your trip and discover why the Sparkling City by the Sea holds its title.

The content and images provided by Melanie Allen from Partners In Fire


Anika is a CPA and founder of What Anika Says. She shares simple and actionable frugal living, money management and money-saving tips to live a debt-free financially independent life. She has been featured on popular websites like Bankrate, Forbes, Mint ,and Authority Magazine. Byline: MSN