20 Fun Things To Do In Port Aransas Texas
We have been coming to Port Aransas since hurricane Harvey in 2017. It quickly became one of our favorite beach destinations in Texas. It is only a 4 hour drive from Austin. And, there are so many fun things to do in Port Aransas, Texas.
We used to come in the summer and stay a week or two but now that we are full-timing and have more flexibility we stay a month from mid September to mid October. The gulf is still warm around 80 degrees, the weather is great and a lot less crowded. Also, you get a better RV rate when staying a month.
Port Aransas is a barrier island with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Corpus Christi Bay on the other. The town of Port Aransas has a population of about 3000 people.
There several campgrounds in Port Aransas. We stayed at Pioneer RV (park 1 mile down the road from Gulf Waters) and Gulf Waters Beach Front RV Resort, which is our favorite.
Gulf Waters Beach Front RV Resort – this is an upscale RV resort where the sites are individually owned. There are different tiers of sites- Deluxe, Premium and Executive (most expensive).
-Average site size is 40 x 80 feet (most all are back in).
-All sites have level concrete RV pads, parking for your tow vehicle, and a picnic area; and many have beautiful paver patios
-Each site is unique – many include lush tropical vegetation, pond-view patios, a palapa or pergola, fire pits, wet bars, and grill surrounds
-Every site is fully serviced with 30/50 amp power, water, sewer, and free Cable TV and WiFi
-Large heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi spa
-Restrooms with private showers
-Activity Center with many scheduled events
-Scenic ponds & palm trees
-600 ft beach front on the Gulf of Mexico
-Boardwalk over the dunes onto the beach
-Golf cart access onto the beach and into Port Aransas
After you check in they escort you to your site. This place is very popular and hard to get a reservation.
The main attractions in Port Aransas are the beaches, birding, fishing, and eating fish & seafood at local restaurants. But there are also many other things to do in Port Aransas, Texas. Here are 20 fun things to do in Port Aransas:
1. Port Aransas Beach
The Port Aransas Beach is a wide, sandy beach that stretches for about two miles. It is a great place to relax, sunbathe, and build sandcastles. Sometimes you get lucky and spot a nesting turtle. You can drive on the beach, and there are also restrooms and showers. Dogs are allowed on the beach too!
You can park and stay with your RV right on the beach for three nights but you need to get a beach parking permit ($12 good for the year). RV Camping, tent camping and other non-self contained camping is permitted anywhere on the beach. We always buy our permit at the stripes gas station in town but you can buy them in grocery stores and other stores in town.
One time during the hot Texas summer we stayed right on the beach for 2 nights, it was great but we had to keep running our generator to stay cool. The rest of the trip we stayed at an RV park. The beach’s sunsets and sunrises are stunning.
2. Port Aransas Ferry System
Is free of charge. They operate 24 hours a day. The route runs between two and six ferries a day and connects travelers on SH 361 a link across the Corpus Christi Channel between Aransas Pass, on the mainland, and Port Aransas, on Mustang Island. The quarter-mile route typically takes less than ten minutes, although peak summer hours may require drivers to wait longer. Each ferry can carry up to 20 regular passenger vehicles. Ferries run every 20 – 30 minutes but always check before going because they do occasionally go down due to bad weather and high winds.
3. Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center
Is free of charge. The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center is a boardwalk that leads you through the wetlands and beach dunes to an observation deck on the bay side. It is great for bird watching, photographers and exercise. Sometimes you can spot alligators too.
It’s an amazing experience to see different types of birds and to get close up shots of them. We usually bring our cameras with a zoom lens, binoculars and a hat so we can see the different birds that are in their natural environment.
There is also an observation deck right on the beach which overlooks the Port Aransas Beach where you can observe shorebirds feeding along the water’s edge as well as beautiful sunsets over Corpus Christi Bay. You might even see dolphins playing in the bay or perhaps some whooping cranes heading south for winter migration!
The boardwalk is about a half-mile long, its an easy walk but they do warn you to watch out for poisonous snakes (we have never seen any). There are benches every 100 feet if you need to rest. There are also free telescopes on the observation decks.
4. Visit the USS Lexington Museum
Admission is $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for children. The USS Lexington Museum On The Bay, or “The Blue Ghost”, as it became known during World War II, is the last remaining fleet aircraft carrier of the United States Navy that served in World War II.
A visit to this museum will take you back to 1942 when many young men had their first experience on an aircraft carrier and learned what our navy was all about. You can tour the ship and see where thousands of people lived through some very difficult times at sea.. Many of these young men were just like us today only they didn’t have cell phones, computers or even televisions but they made do with a deck of cards or a game of chess.
You can also watch a movie in the IMAX theater (Admission is $12.95 for adults and $11.95 for children) about the history of aircraft carriers or go shopping in the gift shop.
5. Take a dolphin cruise
Admission is $25 for adults and $15 for children. One of our favorite things to do in Port Aransas is go on a dolphin cruise. The captain always seems to find dolphins and we have seen them playing, jumping and swimming right next to the boat.
It’s an amazing experience to see these beautiful creatures up close and it’s definitely worth the price of admission. Make sure you bring your camera because you will want to take pictures!
6. Rent a kayak, paddle board or a wave-runner
7. Take a fishing charter, or go fishing off the pier.
Fishing is a big deal in Port Aransas and there are plenty of places to go fishing. You can charter a boat, go out on the pier or rent a kayak or paddle board and head out into the bay.
We have had some great luck fishing off the pier and we always bring our tackle box with us just in case. We usually try to fish for redfish, trout or flounder but we have caught other types of fish too.
If you want to catch some really big fish, then I would recommend going on a fishing charter. The captain will take you out into deeper water where the bigger fish live and help you reel them in. It’s definitely an experience that you will never forget!
8. Visit the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi
Admission is $39.95 for adults and $29.95 for kids. The Texas State Aquarium is a fun place to visit for the whole family. You can see all kinds of fish, sharks and stingrays up close and personal at the touch tanks or take an educational tour through their exhibits on marine life conservation efforts around the world!
9. Play mini golf, putt putt golf at Magic Carpet Golf on Padre Island
10. Rent a golf cart and drive around the island and on the beach
11. Take surfing lessons
At Port A Surf Company or enjoy stand up paddle boarding. They teach kids too! And, they offer kayak tours as well.
12. Visit the island’s two lighthouses
Port Aransas Lighthouse and Aransas Pass Light Station. The lighthouse is no longer active but it is open for tours on weekends (and more often during special events). The light station was built in 1852 as a way to navigate ships through the treacherous waters of Redfish Bay. It operated until 1915.
13. Ride an e-bike or a bike on the beach
Riding e-bikes on the beach is Aaron’s favorite besides swimming. We always bring our DJ e-bikes and ride them on the beach. The beach is wide so there is plenty of room to ride.
14. Look for dolphins
You can usually see at least one or two dolphins swimming around in the water and playing with each other by the ferry. There are also many birds that you will see including pelicans, seagulls, cormorants, terns and more!
15. Go sand crabbing at night
This is a fun activity to do with your family or friends. All you need is a flashlight and a bucket.
16. Visit the Port Aransas Museum
Admission is free but donations are happily accepted. Learn about the history of this town and how it came to be what it is today. The museum features historical artifacts, photos and other exhibits that showcase life in early 1900s America when Port A was first settled as a fishing village on Mustang Island off Texas’ Gulf Coast.
17. Eat at a local restaurant
There are many good local restaurants in Port Aransas and Corpus Christi. Here are some of our favorites.
Irie’s Island Food has great tacos.
Dylan’s Coal Oven Pizza, very good NY style pizza with outdoor seating.
The Crazy Cajun great for a spicy seafood boil.
Snoopy’s Pier is right on the bay with incredible views.
Black Diamond Oyster Bar is our favorite. Located in Corpus Christi but definitely worth the drive. They have fresh oysters, fresh fish and seafood, patio with live music.
17a. Get a craft beer or a whiskey cocktail
Lorelei Brewing is in Corpus Christi. Have a drink or two at Lorelei Brewing. They are family & pet friendly with outdoor seating. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a cold beer after a long day of fun in the sun!
Aerodrome Distilling also in Corpus Christi. Aerodrome Distilling is the result of Nathan’s (26 year Navy Veteran) vision to bring craft spirits to Corpus Christi. Nathan makes the best hand made craft cocktails. They are amazing especially the old fashioned (my favorite). You can also try the whiskey flights. Family & pet friendly with outdoor patio.
18. Visit Rockport, TX
Rockport is a quaint coastal town with galleries, antique stores and great food! The best time of year is fall when all the leaves change color but any season will do; there are always good things happening here no matter what month it happens to be in…and yes I did say “happens” because you never know what might happen next!
19. Visit the Port Aransas Nature Preserve
The nature preserve has walking trails, an observation tower, a butterfly garden and education center. It’s a great place to go for a nature walk or just to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature!
20. Eat local ice-cream or gelato
The island has so many great ice cream shops to choose from. It’s hard not to find something delicious on Port Aransas. Our favorite local ice cream shop is Desserted Island ice-cream (cash only). We also love Espresso Gelato, located 1007 TX-361, Port Aransas, TX 78373.
We have done most of these things and can attest that they are all fun. If you are looking for a great beach vacation, Port Aransas is definitely worth checking out. And, if you happen to live in Austin, it makes for an easy weekend getaway.