Corpus Christi might only be 137 miles from Harlingen, in the Rio Grande Valley, but with so much to do, if you are considering a day trip, it is best to start as early as possible. Frequent travelers to Corpus, as the city is often referred to, recommend taking the Bishop exit from Highway US- 77-N to Chapman Ranch on FM 70 S. From there, turn east on FM 2444 / South Staples St., which will take you straight to the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center for a walk on the wild side!
Kids love the weekend “Parrot Talks,” but a 2600 square-foot screened Butterfly House, a Bromeliad Conservatory, Orchid Conservatory, and the Rose Pavilion are sites to behold. The park booms with activity for the entire family. Environmental education is presented in its horticultural design, natural wetlands, bridged ravines, and exotic parrots.
After this stop, your growling stomach will beckon you to find a place for lunch, and you are 3.9 miles from Brewster Street Icehouse’s new southside location on Holly Road. Brewster’s is synonymous with a great time in Corpus. Their affordable menu includes seafood, burgers, steaks, tacos, salads, and more. The family-friendly atmosphere is spacious inside with a cool outdoor deck and playground outside.
For die-hard fans of Whataburger, Corpus is the place to be. Lunch at its Shoreline Boulevard location is a must. For fun selfies and social media pictures, head to the original Whataburger replica located at the Whataburger on 4126 S. Staples St.
Tejano singer Selena fans enjoy hanging out around Shoreline Boulevard, visiting the Selena Memorial Statue, surrounded by a multitude of dining options with incredible views of the marina. After visiting the statue, walk the scale model solar system along the waterfront. The Sun and inner Solar System are found at the Peoples Street T-Head.
Do not leave Corpus without a stop at the Selena Museum, on 5410 Leopard St., but keep in mind the museum is closed on weekends. The collection includes stage costumes, memorabilia, and her red Porsche, among other personal items.
For decades, Valley families have headed to the legendary USS Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium, where new summer programs and exhibits are scheduled often, but if you are looking for a different experience, Corpus’ SEA District has a lot to offer.
The Sports, Entertainment, and Arts (SEA) District on the bay features the Museum of Science and History with an indoor planetarium, fun shows for kids, and engaging exhibitions. The kid-tested and family-approved Hurricane Alley Waterpark is a family favorite for its twin serpentine slides and six-story slide complex unique to Texas. Nonstop thrills can keep the family entertained for the entire day!
Nestled by the bay, surrounded by fountains and green lawns is the Art Museum of South Texas. Admire legendary architects Phillip Johnson and Ricardo Legorreta’s buildings housing important art collections throughout the year. Some galleries bestow views of the bay, but it is hard to rival the view of the ship channel, USS Lexington, and Aquarium at the café, which is scheduled to reopen this summer with a full bar under the name of Elizabeth’s at the Museum. The featured menu will include tapas-style dining with a Pan-Mediterranean flare.
Continuing the SEA District and across the street from Whataburger Field is the original Brewster’s Street Icehouse, housed in a Union Pacific building from 1932. Brewster’s original location is known for live music, appetizing meals, and family fun.
Plan an overnight stay or catch an early afternoon game to experience the amazing Whataburger Field, home to the Hooks, a Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Houston Astros. The stadium offers incredible views of the 1959 iconic, and soon-to-be-demolished Harbor Bridge, which looks fabulous after dark. Watch tugboat-led vessels navigate the ship channel while cheering for the Hooks with a Whataburger and a cold drink. Games are scheduled through September. Visit their website to purchase tickets. They have family days, pet days, firework Fridays, and more – check before you go. On Wednesday’s home games, the team sports orange and white striped Whataburger uniforms and plays as the Honey Butter Biscuits, the restaurant’s popular breakfast sandwich.
The Harbor Bridge will be replaced by a much taller, modern cable span bridge. The deeper, wider channel and taller bridge are expected to position the port as the largest crude exporter in the nation. There is also a buzz about cruise ships, and we will keep our fingers crossed for now.
Wrap up the SEA District by visiting the peaceful Watergardens circle of 150 fountains and Heritage Park with historic homes and weekend markets and events.
Corpus is all about its beautiful bay and strolling along the waterfront. Cole Park offers incredible views of the city’s skyline. Water’s Edge Park, Sherrill Park, Bayfront Park, McCaughan Park, and Vishal Bhagat Dog Park offer spectacular views of the bay. All have paved hike and bike trails and scooter rentals, in addition to loads of playground fun. For a refreshing swim, visit McGee Beach off Shoreline Boulevard.
So much to do and so close to home, better start planning for summertime fun. Happy and safe travels to all.