Corpus Christi's balmy weather, white-sand beaches, deep-sea fishing and proximity to Padre Island National Seashore lure thousands of visitors every year. Thousands more go to visit the Texas State Aquarium, the only first-class aquarium in the state. Its exhibits explore the sea life of the Gulf of Mexico, including a re-creation of the Flower Gardens Coral Reef and an artificial reef similar to those that have grown around the Gulf's many offshore oil rigs. The aquarium also has outdoor exhibits featuring Texas river otters and the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle, as well as a number of interactive and hands-on instructional exhibits. http://www.texasstateaquarium.org.
Within walking distance of the aquarium is the USS Lexington, a retired aircraft carrier and floating museum. Take a self-guided tour and admire the old planes. (Our favorite part was squeezing through the ship's narrow hallways and climbing its steep stairs.) http://www.usslexington.com.
Just across the Harbor Bridge is the Bayfront complex, which includes the convention center, a water garden and three museums—the Art Museum of South Texas (designed by Philip Johnson; http://www.stia.org), the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History (http://www.ccmuseum.com) and the Asian Cultures Museum (http://www.asianculturesmuseum.org).
Other Corpus Christi attractions include Water Street Market (restaurants and shops) and the greyhound track. Anglers should take advantage of the numerous charter and deep-sea fishing excursions departing the area daily.
Only 130 mi/210 km southeast of San Antonio, Corpus Christi offers easy access by car to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Corpus Christi Beach, McGee Beach, Mustang Island, Padre Island National Seashore and Port Aransas. Annual events include Bayfest (arts and food—September), the Texas Jazz Festival (late July) and Buccaneer Days (late April).
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