There is much more to Corpus Christi than its signature sandy shores and whirling winds. The vibrant port city has a long history with the Navy, as evidenced by its naval base and its safe harbor for the USS Lexington, the oldest United States aircraft carrier on view today. The city is also home to a burgeoning food scene, a landmark art museum, and a world-class aquarium. For your next visit, here are a few things to do and see:
The Art Museum of South Texas
Every year more than 100,000 people view the diverse collection of American art at this fifty-year-old institution on the edge of Corpus Christi Bay. The architecture alone is worthy of a visit; the landmark building was designed by Philip Johnson and expanded in 2006 under the tutelage of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, who incorporated thirteen rooftop pyramids into the design. The on-site restaurant, Elizabeth’s, serves up fresh, Mediterranean-inspired cocktails and cuisine. (The Art Center in Corpus’s bayfront district is another popular attraction, featuring regional artists and art classes, an in-house clay studio, and a Wednesday farmers’ market.)
Corpus Christi Marina
Every Wednesday evening, the Corpus Christi Marina comes to life during its weekly sailing regatta. Watch the sun set as you walk along the “T-heads” and admire the boats.
Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi is the only university in the nation located on its own island. The “Island University,” as it’s known, is home to around eleven thousand students; after you explore its palm-lined pathways, picturesque hike-and-bike trails, and nearby wetlands, you’ll understand why.
The USS Lexington
Step foot on a piece of living history at the USS Lexington, CV-16, a World War II vintage Essex-class ship that constitutes the world’s oldest and longest-serving aircraft carrier. Today, it’s a state-of-the-art naval aviation museum and educational facility. During World War II, the Lex participated in nearly every major operation in the Pacific Theater, leading the propagandist Tokyo Rose to nickname her “the Blue Ghost.”
Water Street Oyster Bar
Celebrating forty years in 2023, the Water Street Oyster Bar is a Corpus Christi classic. Located in what was once an old transmission shop, the restaurant serves up delicious po’boys, fried seafood, and oysters, of course. The Lomax family owns other popular concepts in town, including Central Kitchen and a local-favorite music venue called Executive Surf Club.
Texas State Aquarium
Visitors of all ages will enjoy the underwater world that awaits mere minutes from downtown. The institution is home to thousands of animals from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, along with the largest coastal wildlife rescue facility in Texas, where visitors can watch as shorebirds, raptors, marine mammals, and sea turtles undergo treatment and rehabilitation.
We’re not talking flora here but rather a lovely home-and-garden boutique that’s full of curated European antiques, pretty plants, and handmade pottery by local artist Nathaneal Huffman. It’s a great spot to pick up a souvenir before heading home.
This waterfront park in the center of Corpus is a hub for the community, drawing families, runners, and cyclists. It’s also home to a ten-thousand-square-foot concrete skatepark beside the beach. Every summer, the onsite amphitheater hosts the Bay Jammin Concert & Cinema Series.
With more than one hundred miles of beaches between the Gulf of Mexico and the Corpus Christi Bay, the city’s coastline is a sandy sanctuary. Check out Padre Balli Beach or North Packery Beach—aka J.P.Luby—where watersports and shore fishing abound. The surfing conditions at J.P. Luby are most optimal thanks to the offshore winds blowing in from the northwest.
The Corpus Christi Hooks
Baseball enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a day at the ballpark with this double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The Hooks play at Whataburger Field, named for the iconic Texas burger franchise that started here in town in 1950.