Rockport, Corpus Christi and Mustang Island State Park
If I ask you “What does a small coastal town look like?”, and you’re from Texas, you’ll probably describe something like Rockport. If I then placed you in a small coastal town in Norway, you would find that your description is no longer accurate. I think our more ingrained expectations are often based on our earliest experiences. Place a Norwegian in Rockport and guess what happens? It wasn't what I expected.
No, it wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I ended up loving Rockport! It’s a sleepy little town without much action, at least not in December… There isn’t much there, but you’ll find that it still has plenty to offer those looking for a relaxing weekend.
The circular harbor filled with pleasure boats is the main attraction, not only for its very photo worthy views but also because of its small but enjoyable museum, gallery and aquarium.
The Texas Maritime Museum has some nice exhibits, but even more interesting, in my opinion, is its design. It’s a circular building, which lends it a bit of a cozy feel. There’s a circular gallery on the second floor that looks down on the ground floor displays. You can also continue up to the top of the lighthouse shaped area of the building where you can step outside and discover a full 360 degree view of the surroundings.
The Aquarium at Rockport Harbor is very small but has a wonderfully coastal vibe. Take your time here and enjoy the experience. I think I enjoyed it so much exactly because it is small, which lends more of a specialness to each of the display tanks.
The Rockport Center for the Arts has a small sculpture garden outside and inside a series of light filled, wood floored rooms which draw you through the gallery space. Galleries that feature the work of local artists have the benefit of showing you the area you’re visiting from a different perspective.
Along the beach road next to the harbor is a little shopping street where you’ll also find some eateries. Since shopping isn’t really my thing (online shopping is the greatest invention ever), we didn’t spend much time here. I’m quite certain though, that those looking forward to doing some shopping during their stay will find what they’re looking for here.
We also wanted a chance to watch the activity of a busy working harbor, so we drove down the road a bit, toward Fulton, and discovered the Moondog Seaside Eatery, which offers a great view of the fishing boats coming in and out of the harbor. We didn’t eat here, so I can’t speak for the food, but instead ordered some drinks and walked up to their second floor terrace.
If you arrive during the warmer months, Rockport has a really nice beach which nicely rounds out the selection of experiences that this little town has to offer.
We chose to return home by way of Corpus Christi. Driving across the Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge, the second tallest bridge in Texas, was quite an experience. The bridge itself is beautiful and carries you across the harbor at an elevation of 138 feet, giving you quite a view of the city! It seems construction has started on a new bridge which will allow larger ships to pass underneath it.
Not far from the bridge, we found the Texas State Aquarium. The facility seemed a bit dated but has an ideal location right on the bay. Many of the exhibits are outside, which I would have enjoyed immensely were it not for that fact that it was a very cold day and we had not thought to bring jackets. We did at least manage to shiver our way through a dolphin performance set against the backdrop of the bay and the city beyond.
While in Corpus Christi, we thought we might as well drive over and see Mustang Island State Park. On the way there, we drove along Corpus Christi's waterfront, which is really nice and will definitely be a place we'll revisit the next time we're in town.
The visitor center at Mustang Island State Park was one of the nicest I've come across. It also happened to be very warm, which might have affected my memories of it somewhat... The beach was spectacular but windblown, with a windchill factor that our jacket-less bodies were not prepared for. We held out as long as possible, because it really was that beautiful, and then ran back to the car.