At the height of World War II, Japanese propagandists gave the Lexington its nickname “The Blue Ghost.” (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)
Visitors to Port Aransas sometimes skip past the area’s biggest city, Corpus Christi—and that’s a shame. Together, Port A and Corpus Christi offer an unusual mix of barefooted island attitude and cosmopolitan attractions. If your schedule allows, budget a few extra days to explore Corpus Christi (springtime rates at luxury bayfront hotels start around $120 per night).
History buffs will want to explore 11 decks of the imposing USS Lexington, which was commissioned in 1943. Now moored in Corpus Christi Bay, the Lexington offers five self-guided tours. Nearby, the Texas State Aquarium provides insight into the creatures inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico and oceans beyond. Its conservation and rehabilitation programs for turtles and dolphins, in particular, earn the aquarium nationwide respect. Also on the bay, the Art Museum of South Texas surprises first-time visitors with its combination of modern architecture and the art and craft of the Americas. And on the south side of town, the 180-acre South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center allows visitors to meander a network of walking trails along Oso Creek and then take in the center’s gardens, which focus on bromeliads, roses, orchids, palms, and other native and foreign species. There’s even a new butterfly house.
Meet you at the beach.