Corpus Christi Weekend Getaway: Comprehensive Guide to the Sparkling City by the Sea

Summer is just around the corner! Can you feel it? School is letting out, the temperatures are rising, and your kids may be asking, “What are we going to do this summer?! Whether you enjoy long vacations or a weekend getaway, Corpus Christi is a fun – and close – option. Perfect for family trips, or a girls (or guys) weekend, it really has something for everyone! Plus, you can’t beat that quick and easy two hour drive: if you time it right, you won’t even have to stop for extra snacks or a potty break! For those partial to Port Aransas, check out Taylor’s visitor’s guide here! As a someone who grew up just south of Corpus Christi, I’ve put together a comprehensive list of our favorite places to eat and things to do in the Sparkling City by the Sea.

Where to Stay

First, consider what you’ll be doing and where you’ll be going during your trip. Corpus may not be that big, but it’s a solid 30 minute drive from one end to the other. 

Going on a beach trip? You’ll probably want to stay closer to the island because  you may not want to drive far when you’re hot, sticky, and sandy. For a full beach/hotel experience, check out Wyndham – Corpus Christi Resort North Padre Island. We stayed here once, and loved the pool, the beach access, and the outdoor showers. 

If you’ll be mostly concentrated in downtown, there are several hotels with waterfront views, but my favorite is the Emerald Beach Hotel. A perfect couples staycation spot, it has a tiki bar on the beach plus beach access!

Where to Eat

  • Hester’s Cafe – serving great coffee/lattes, pastries, breakfast, lunch, and a kids menu.
  • S&J’s – only open during the week and located in Calallen, they have the BEST kolaches and cinnamon rolls. My favorite is the ham and cheese or sausage and cheese kolaches. They also have sandwiches, burgers, salads which are great lunch options.
  • Andy’s Country Kitchen – enjoy a classic diner style breakfast and lunch, plus a kids menu.
  • Lucy’s Snack Bar – a great pet friendly spot serving gourmet lattes and specialty breakfast/lunch/dinner.
  • Central Kitchen – another pet friendly spot serving pastries, sourdough bread, gourmet salads and sandwiches.
  • Sam and Louie’s Pizza – NY style pizza, calzones and wings; some gluten-free options.
  • El Comino serving dinner only, this is a great Tex-Mex spot with a late night menu and margaritas.
  • Harrison’s Landing – located on the pier in the Marina, they serve seafood and often have live music.
  • The Mariner – located above Harrison’s Landing, this upscale spot has food and drinks. It also only serves dinner.

For the Coffee Enthusiasts

If you’re a coffee connoisseur like me, hotel coffee just isn’t going to cut it! Whether you need fuel to get going or an afternoon pick me up, check out one of our favorite coffee shops!

  • Coffee Waves – multiple locations serving coffee/lattes, as well as panini and pastries for a quick breakfast.
  • Milky Coffee Bar – coffee/lattes, with some small bites.
  • Daily Fix Cafe – coffee/lattes, smoothies, tea – also serves salads, sandwiches, kolaches, pastries

For the Families

If you’re looking for family-friendly activities, there is plenty to do down in Corpus!

Texas State Aquarium

Family at Texas State Aquarium

The Texas State Aquarium is a popular destination for families. This was the only aquarium I went to growing up, and it set some pretty high expectations! Time your trip with a dolphin show, and if you have a membership to the San Antonio Zoo, you’ll get a substantial discount! Fair warning: the tickets are expensive, but it has so much to see and do, it is well worth it to experience it at least once.


If baseball is your thing, catch a minor league game with the Corpus Christi Hooks! Tickets are inexpensive and they offer lots of meal and alcohol deals on certain days as well.

Hurricane Alley

Cool off at the waterpark, Hurricane Alley! Between a wave pool, slides and rides, a lazy river, great splash pad for the littles, and a swim up bar for mom and dad, this park has something for the whole family. 

The USS Lexington

Whether you enjoy naval history or airplanes, or both, check out the USS Lexington! Tour the flight deck with 20 aircrafts, or venture into the lower decks to see what a U.S. warship is all about. 

For the Beach-Goers 

child digging in sandSome people prefer Galveston beaches, others like South Padre – but I’m a Corpus beach girl through and through. We’re talking Mustang Island and Port Aransas beaches; even the National Seashore! First and foremost, you can drive on the beach. Pick a spot you like and set up camp, with no parking and drudging through sand required. Keep in mind that seaweed washes up at certain times of the year, and don’t forget to stop at a gas station on the island to pick up your beach permit sticker!

For the younger crowd, check out North Packery Channel, or “North Pack” as the locals call it. This is where everyone goes to surf and hang out.

For families, my favorite spot is Beach Access Road 2. From here, you can drive all the way down the beach to Port Aransas. How cool is that – just drive on the beach until you find a spot you like! Be aware that it can be sandy here, so drive carefully and never drive through dry, deep sand without four-wheel drive. 

For those who like a little more convenience, consider Mustang Island State Park. They have outdoor showers and port-a-potties along the beach. You can also take a camper for the ultimate overnight experience. We grew up doing this every summer as a kid and it gave me some of my best memories! Keep in mind that you will just pay the state park entrance fee, and won’t need a beach permit to come to this beach. You will also want to make reservations for day use or camping in advance.

mother and son on the beach
Photo by Jaquelyn Maltby

It’s also a beautiful spot for family photos, maternity photos, etc. Check out Jacquelyn’s instagram for all your South Texas photo needs!

For the Tourists

One time in high school, my dad took us on a “staycation”. We stayed at the Best Western on the Island, went to the beach, the tourist shops, and played putt-putt at Treasure Island. We had the best time! Sometimes it’s fun to do all the touristy things, especially for the kids. So, be a tourist for a day and visit all the fun places on the Island, even if you know them well.

  • Island Joes – great spot for coffee/lattes/smoothies, and light bites.
photo from Visit Corpus Christi
  • You just can’t miss Third Coast Beach Co. – be sure to stop and take an iconic picture in the sharks mouth! Other options include Ocean Treasures and Agave Beach for a more boutique experience.
  • Stop in for a round of putt-putt at Treasure Island Golf & Games. Another iconic Island activity!
  • Visit the Texas Sealife Center. Make a reservation in advance to tour this donation-based rescue facility. This is a great activity for families with young kids!

For the Party Crowd

Corpus has a fun nightlife scene, with plenty of live music! Check out some of our favorite bars and concert venues – a must if you are taking a quick 48hr break to relax and reconnect with your other half.

No matter what activities you choose to do on your Corpus Christi weekend getaway, you’re sure to have a great time. Load up the kids, pack the sunscreen and enjoy your summer vacation!

Miranda Martin
A true south Texas native with a brief stint in Lubbock and DFW, Miranda is happily settled just outside of San Antonio. Not one to sit around at home, she is constantly on the go, with a coffee in hand! No matter where her daily activities take her, her two boys Nash (2019) and Lochlan (2022) are usually in tow. She is happily married to a wonderful, dad-joke-filled husband, who she runs a Landscape Architecture firm with. Miranda and her husband, Jordan, both have bachelors degrees in Landscape Architecture from Texas Tech University, go Red Raiders! When she is home, she spends her time tending to the small farm they’ve accumulated, coming up with more projects for the to do list, and all things homemaking. She lives for an evening escape to La Frite, loves the Floresville Peanut Festival, and is absolutely fascinated by the rich history of the San Antonio Missions.