The small Gulf Coast town of Port Aransas, Texas is truly a hidden gem. Located on Mustang Island near the bustling city of Corpus Christi, Port Aransas is known for its delicious seafood, beautiful beaches, and most of all, its laid-back, friendly vibe. Port Aransas has a way of making you feel at home while offering numerous fun and unique experiences to enjoy.
Of course, the star attraction of Port Aransas is the 18 miles of beaches that hug the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This proximity to the ocean means that water sports take center stage in this small Texas town. Whether you are interested in sand castle competitions or booking a deep-sea fishing charter, Port A has you covered.
Of course, if the weather isn’t cooperating or you just need a break from the outdoors, Port Aransas has you covered there as well. You can explore the fun boutique shops around town, check out a museum, or spend the day sipping coffee at a local coffee shop. No matter what you choose, I bet you will fall in love with this Texas beach town!
As a native of Texas, I have been visiting Port A most of my life. We love to rent a beach house (and beach buggy) and spend our days lounging around in the Texas sun. With that in mind, let me help you plan your trip by highlighting all of the things to do in Port Aransas, Texas.
1. Port Aransas Beach
Port Aransas Beach is the main beach in Port Aransas and is located right in front of the majority of the resorts on the island. This 6-mile stretch of sand is the perfect place to spend a day having fun in the sun.
During the summer months, Port Aransas Beach is full of life as locals and tourists flock to the ocean to escape the Texas heat. This is also the time when you can easily enjoy some fun activities while visiting the beach. Vendors seem to be everywhere offering up parasailing, boogie boards, and jet skis for rent.
In the fall, the beach is the perfect place to hunt for seashells or enjoy a day reading a book while the ocean breeze blows through your hair. While the vendors are more scarce this time of year, you can still catch the occasional offer for parasailing or jet skiing.
One of the best things about Port Aransas Beach is the fact that you can drive your vehicle right onto the beach. Just be sure to purchase a beach parking permit from City Hall before doing so!
2. Texas Sandfest
Texas Sandfest is an annual event in Port Aransas, Texas, and is well worth being on your list of things to do in Port Aransas. The event, which is held each spring, is the largest native-sand sculpture competition in the United States. Texas Sandfest brings together nationally recognized sand sculptors in an incredible sand sculpting competition.
In addition to the sand sculptures, you can also enjoy live music, local food vendors, and more during this three-day festival.
Port Aransas can get quite crowded during Sandfest, so you can probably save some money by choosing to stay in or closer to Corpus Christi.
Please note that Texas Sandfest takes place directly on the beach. Visiting requires walking in the sand for several miles to see the entire festival.
3. Mustang Island State Park
Wildlife lovers will want to visit Mustang Island State Park during their time in Port Aransas, Texas. This state park, which is a barrier island, is a haven for wildlife. While Mustang Island State Park is home to over 300 species of birds, the whooping cranes that visit this area are a crowd favorite.
The 5 miles of beach are also the nesting grounds for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, the smallest and rarest breed of sea turtle in the world. If you’re lucky you might catch some nesting on the island during your visit!
4. Deep Sea Fishing
Since Port Aransas is the “Fishing Capital of Texas” it only makes sense that you do some fishing during your time in the city. Anglers in this area are said to have pulled all sorts of species of fish from the gulf waters.
For an awesome deep-sea fishing experience in Port Aransas, be sure to charter a group or private tour. This will allow you to set out with a local guide and enjoy a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
When you’re finished for the day, be sure to take your daily catch with you as many local restaurants in Port Aransas are happy to cook it up for you!
5. The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center
Port Aransas, Texas, is home to one of the top birding centers in the United States, the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. With countless numbers of migrating birds making their way through this region, you have a good chance of spotting some unique species during your visit.
Make your way to the Leonabelle Observation Tower and see if you can spot the osprey, spoonbills, or peregrine falcons that frequent the center.
6. The Port Aransas Museum
The Port Aransas Museum is the perfect place to learn about the local history of the Port Aransas area. Take time to explore the photographs, artifacts, and documents that are housed in this early 20th-century kit house. The house itself was on the state’s list of most endangered structures before it became the Port Aransas Museum!
Visit their website for more information.
7. Rent A Golf Cart
One of my favorite things to do in Port Aransas, Texas, is to ride around town in a golf cart and I am not the only one. You will see golf carts all over the island and constantly in use by both locals and tourists.
Several companies on the island rent golf carts, so it is easy to find the perfect one for you and your travel companions. The best part is seeing all of the personality that is displayed on the carts. You will see carts decked out with sound systems and carts fully themed out to match the owner’s personality.
Be sure you check local guidance and know where you can and can’t take your golf cart. We don’t want to see anyone get hurt or in trouble!
8. Dolphin-Watching Cruise
The warm gulf waters naturally attract marine life, especially dolphins. This makes Port Aransas the perfect place to enjoy a dolphin cruise. There is just something about cruising around the Lydia Ann Channel and seeing the dolphins in their natural environment that is so thrilling.
There are several companies on the island that offer both group and private cruises, so check around to find the one that best suits your needs.
9. San José Island
A short boat ride from Port Aransas brings you to the beautiful San José Island. People love to visit San José Island to not only see the pristine beaches but to also comb them for seashells. Plan to arrive early in the morning so that you can get the first pick of the seashells that have washed ashore overnight.
10. The Aransas Pass Lighthouse
The Aransas Pass Lighthouse, also called the Lydia Ann Lighthouse, can be found in Port Aransas, Texas. This 19th-century lighthouse was one of many lighthouses built along the Texas coastline to provide navigational aid along the 400 miles of the Texas coastline.
The lighthouse is privately owned today, so you can’t go inside, but you can view it from the water while on your dolphin cruise.
11. The Port Aransas Nature Preserve
The Port Aransas Nature Preserve is the perfect place to go if you want to get up close and personal with some of the area’s local wildlife. The preserve is about 1,000 acres of land that is dedicated to providing a natural habitat for the different species in the area.
Visitors can enjoy three miles of hiking and biking trails in addition to the preserve’s boardwalk which allows you to walk over the wetland marsh to get up close to the species that call the preserve home.
12. The Port Aransas Art Center
Another great indoor activity to enjoy during your time in Port Aransas, Texas, is to visit the Port Aransas Art Center. Port Aransas is home to a thriving art community and there is no better place to experience this than the art center.
The permanent collection at the center houses numerous mixed media works. You truly get to see the personality of the community when viewing their permanent exhibit. Of course, the art center also has rotating exhibits, so you are sure to see something different every time you visit.
The Port Aransas Art Center also prides itself on bringing people to art. To achieve this, they consistently host classes and special events on-site.
Visit their website for information on exhibits and operating hours.
Pro Tip: Port Aransas is a small community that can get extremely crowded during the summer months. If you want to experience the charm of the island without all of the crowds, consider visiting during the spring or fall. This will allow you to enjoy the restaurants, shops, and attractions without the headache of dealing with crowds of people.
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