North Padre IslandWelcome to Corpus Christi, where you can experience Texas with a tropical twist! Located in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico coastline, Corpus Christi is the gateway to Padre Island National Seashore, which features over 130 miles of top-ranked beaches, and is only a 15-minute drive from downtown. In addition to the beaches, the National Seashore features the Grasslands Nature Trail, which is a two-mile paved walk among native plants and wildflowers. Big Shell and Little Shell beaches, famous for great shelling, and Seagull Park, perfect for picnicking families, are also on Padre Island.
Corpus Christi boasts truly singular attractions which include the USS Lexington, Texas State Aquarium, and the Ships of Christopher Columbus, replicas of Christopher Columbus' ships. The USS Lexington Museum on the Bay is an acclaimed naval aircraft carrier which was decommissioned on November 26, 1991, and served longer and set more records than any carrier in U.S. Naval history. Visitors have their choice of five tour routes, educational exhibits, restored aircraft and a collection of historical memorabilia. Tours include the Hangar Deck, Flight Deck/Bridge, CO/Admiral's Quarters, Foc'sle and Engineroom/Sick Bay.
Other not-to-miss exhibits are the "Above and Beyond" Kamikaze Exhibit; Victory Row, a pictorial history depicting daily activity aboard the Lexington during World War II; VB-19 Ready Room Exhibit in honor of Bombing Squadron 19 stationed aboard the Lex In WWII; various vintage aircraft displays and the high-tech Flight Simulator. The Museum now offers visitors a wider, more comprehensive range of aircraft with the arrival of a fully restored AH-1 Cobra gunship. Admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and military (with I.D.), $4 for children 4-12 years and children 3 years and younger are free. The Flight Simulator and helicopter ride charge an additional admission. The USS Lexington is open daily year 'round (except Christmas Day) from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Until 8:00 p.m. in the summer). For more information, call (800) LADY-LEX.
The Texas State Aquarium is an interpretive center focusing on the plants and animals native to the Gulf of Mexico. The visitor is taken on an undersea journey that begins at the shore and continues deeper and deeper into the waters of the Gulf. Along your journey, you will encounter large groupers, nurse sharks and sand tiger sharks which are found in the Islands of Steel exhibit.
This 132,000-gallon exhibit is a replica of the oil and gas platforms found in the Gulf and features the Aquarium's predators. Experience the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico in the Flower Gardens exhibit, a reproduction of the coral reef found 115 miles off the coast of Galveston. Come face to face with the fearless green moray eels, graceful cow-nose rays and delicate angelfish. End your journey downstairs at Turtle Bend, home to Kemp's Ridley and green sea turtles. Turtle Bend opened In 1995 to honor the Aquarium's 5th Anniversary. New exhibits include Otter Space which serves as a permanent residence for the Texas River otters and Octopus Garden, a playscape for additional fun. The fun doesn't stop there, make sure to catch one of the dive shows, Creature Features, Animal Interviews and the shark and ray touch times. Admission is $8 for adults, $5.75 for senior citizens and military (with l.D.), $5.75 for youth 4-17 years; children 3 years and younger are free.
The Texas State Aquarium is open year 'round (except Christmas Day) from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. During the summer, the Aquarium stays open every night until 6:00 p.m. For more information, call (800) 477-GULF.
Since their arrival in Corpus Christi in July of 1993, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria have been open for tours while docked on Corpus Christi Bay. However, as the Pinta and Santa Maria were in need of repair, they were permanently moved on May 1, 1995 adjacent to the Santa Maria Plaza to a shipyard repair facility, which is open to the public. This move allows visitors to see the ships below the "water line," and to observe 15th century shipwright repairs as they are made. Long-term plans for the ships include the construction of a new dock for the Nina adjacent to the shipyard. Visitors can learn more about the Columbus Fleet at the newly completed permanent exhibit and video theater located inside the Museum. The display tells the story of the ships, the sailors and the voyages and a selection of videos gives background on the ships and exploration. Also, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History features the "Seeds of Change" exhibit, the Columbus Quicentenary exhibit from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Other exhibits at the Corpus Christi Museum include "Shipwreck," an award-winning story of a 1554 shipwreck; "Reptiles of South Texas," featuring a live alligator; the "Hurricane/Weather Station" exhibit which is centered around a computer, which records and stores visible and infrared earth images. These images are transmitted by four weather satellites circling the earth every 100 minutes. An interactive weather reporting computer station, a Geochron World Clock and a video on hurricanes are additional displays relating to weather. New exhibits at the museum include a Triceratops-shaped multimedia CD-ROM computer station which helps young visitors learn all about dinosaurs; this exhibit is located near the DinoScape, an explorable dinosaur environment. The newly-completed Photo Wall in the Children's Wharf hands-on area challenges young children to match similar scenes from different time periods, and features a take-home activity sheet for parents and children.
The Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History and the Ships of Christopher Columbus are open daily. Admission to both (combination tickets only) are $8 for adults, $6.50 for senior citizens and military (with ID), $7 for children ages 13-17 and $4 for children ages 5-12. Children through age 4 are admitted free. Discounts available for groups of 10 or more. For more Information call (512) 886-4492.
Another must-see attraction is the Heritage Park, where history comes to life in these beautifully restored homes from turn-of-the-century Corpus Christi. Visit the tea room and gift shop. Many offer tours and social events. Located next to Heritage Park is the Asian Cultures Museum, where the treasured legacy of the orient is celebrated in this colorful museum. Exhibits change frequently. The Asian Cultures Museum houses the largest U.S. collection of Hakata dolls. Museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 - 5:00 p.m. For more information call: (512) 883-0639.
For a colorful adventure, stroll the quaint, Cottage Gardens, the lush Orchid Greenhouse and fourplex Exhibit House at the Corpus Christi Botanical Gardens. Or investigate nature trails leading to the Gator Lake or 0so Creek. Enjoy the children's garden, shaded picnic area and playground. Check out exhibits under construction for your next trip. Visitors Center houses gallery and unique gift shop, where Craft Guild displays delightful gift items handmade from dried, natural materials. Free parking. Docent tours with advance notice, September through May. Admission: Visitor's Center-free. Gardens: $2 Adults, $1.50 senior citizens, $1 children 5-12, children 4 and under are admitted free.
Ongoing monthly events include Wednesday Evening Sailboat Races starting at the Corpus Christi Marina at 5:30 p.m; Treasure Hunt, a children's seek-and-find game of the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, every Saturday at 1:30 p.m.; Tales of Columbus, the adventures of Columbus told by a guide in 15th century costume; Dive Shows and Fish Feedings In the Island of Steel Gallery at the Texas State Aquarium at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Outdoor Marsh Exhibit at 3:30 p.m.; Waterfront Art Market at the Peoples Street T-Head, first and third Sunday of each month from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.