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Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip To Corpus Christi

September 15, 2012 1:00 PM

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Photo credit: ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

Photo credit: ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

About six and a half hours to the southeast of DFW lies a gem on the Gulf of Mexico: the city of Corpus Christi. Hugged by the bay and gazing directly across from North Padre Island, Corpus Christi was also the recipient of the All-America City Award in 2003, and has also won the Best Restored Beach Award in 2012, making it one of the region’s top spots to visit, play and revel in. With a population of a little over 300,000, this eighth largest city in Texas is waving in visitors as one of the friendliest cities along the beach.

Getting thereFrom both Dallas and Fort Worth, this road trip is about seven hours and mainly follows I-35 South to I-37 south. About four hours into the journey reside the cities of Austin and San Antonio. Because San Antonio is the first excursion off of I-35 South (before getting onto Hwy 410 and then Hwy 37 to finish the trip), it would be the most convenient place to stop. Although you could spend several days exploring San Antonio, in the midst of a road trip, you might want to stretch your legs somewhere open, free, and relaxing. In this case, the Japanese Tea Garden in Brackenridge Park.

Along the wayJapanese Tea Garden (San Antonio)
3853 N. St. Mary’s St.
San Antonio, TX 78212
(210) 212-4814
saparksfoundation.org/japaneseteagarden.html

After a good four hours of driving, San Antonio overflows with things to do to break up the journey. However, at this point along the way, stretching the legs, breathing fresh air and eating a light snack could be the perfect solace from the boredom of the highway. The Japanese Tea Garden in Brackenridge Park brings all the requirements for peace together. With its gorgeous floral displays, waterfall and aquatic plants, this historic landmark brings the serenity of a Japanese garden to Central Texas. A walk up and down the winding paths surrounded by water and quarry rocks will work up an appetite to be satisfied by a picnic or a trip the restored Jingu House Café near the pagoda.

Where to StayLike other cities, hotels and well-known chains are available around the city and along the beach. Here are a few excellent options for those who prefer a more residential feel when they are far from home.

George Blucher House Bed & Breakfast Inn
211 N Carrizo
Corpus Christi, Texas 78401
(361) 884-4884
georgeblucherhouse.comPrice: $119-$189/night

Named one of the “Best Bed & Breakfasts in Texas” by Frommer’s Texas for 10 years, this Victorian mansion was built by the George Blucher family nearly a century ago. Guests will enjoy the garden adorned with elm, pecan and oak trees, as well as access to the library, living room and foyer areas of this classic home. The six guest rooms are colorful and comfortable, named after the family’s six children: Arthur, Pearl, Jasper, Annie, Nellie, and Julius. On the weekends, guests will indulge in a three course breakfast, and during the week, an expanded continental breakfast will be available from. A short distance from both the city of Corpus Christi and the beach, the George Blucher house feels like home, not a hotel.

El Constante Beachfront Condominiums
14802 Windward Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78418
(800) 365-7693
elconstante.comPrice: $200/night in the summer

For those who want to look out from their balcony and find the beach as their horizon, sundown and sunrise, El Constante Beachfront Condominiums provides this heavenly vista and the conveniences of home. With amenities like fully-equipped kitchens, one and two bedroom units, barbecue grills, an activity room with pool and hot tub access and the space to enjoy family time, renting a condo could be the best option for groups and families. El Constante offers stays as short as a few days to longer term stays as well.

What to DoMore than just a place to shop, see art, and walk on the beach, nature lovers, water athletes and fans of Texas culture will all find their niche in Corpus Christi. You’ll find the beach and U.S.S. Lexington on your own, but these sights deserve your time, too.

Padre Island National Seashore
20420 Park Road 22
Corpus Christi, TX 78418
(361) 949-8068
nps.govPrice: $10 entrance fee per car, other activities may have additional costs

Padre Island National Seashore boasts the world’s longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island. Out and about are up to 400 bird species to observe as well as fishing, combing the sandy beach and taking a dip in the cool water. Fishing will require a license and permit, allowing sportsman to catch red and black drum, trout, catfish and other species. Lucky visitors might even spot a rare Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, who come to the shore to breed. A visit to the Padre Island National Seashore Visitors Center and Observation Tower tops the trip off with both natural and cultural exhibits from the area.

Related: Getaway Guide: Roadtrip To San Antonio

Texas Surf Museum
309 N. Water St.
Corpus Christi, TX
(361) 888-7873
texassurfmuseum.comlPrice: Free

The Texas Surf Museum, motivated by the need to share the history of surfing and also to demonstrate Texas’ part in surfing’s past and present, opened its doors in 2005. Surfing has been part of life in coastal Texas since the 1950s, and this museum has the photos, videos and artifacts to prove it. A free museum, there is also plenty of surf merchandise to pick up if you feel inspired to catch some waves yourself.

The Selena Museum
5410 Leopard St.
Corpus Christi, TX 78408
(361) 289-9013
q-productions.comPrice: $3 adults/$1 children under 5/babies enter for free

For many, Selena Quintanilla broke down cultural and musical barricades. After being shot and killed at the age of 23 in Corpus Christi in 1995, the “Queen of Tejano” music’s legacy still thrives. Her legions of fans praise her and continue to buy and promote her music. This museum was created out of respect for Selena and to preserve her memory. From her albums to personal items to her elaborate stage wear, the story of her life continues here.

What to Eat
Water Street Restaurants (Oyster Bar & Seafood)
309 N. Water St.
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
(361) 881-9448
waterstreetrestaurants.comIt wouldn’t be a trip to the coast without savoring fresh, local seafood. Started locally in Corpus Christi back in 1983, Water Street Restaurants have always been committed to bringing the sea to the plate. From oysters and crawfish to stuffed chicken and shrimp enchiladas, the variety at Water Street Restaurants is impressive. If tilapia, salmon and yellow fin tuna don’t sound savory, maybe seafood is not for you. Not to worry––the city offers plenty of other options!

Hester’s Café & Coffee Bar
1714 S. Alameda St.
Corpus Christi, TX 78404
(361) 885-0558
hesterscafe.comFor early birds, Hester’s Café & Coffee Bar is a colorful local restaurant specializing sunrise meals. Their coffees include an unforgettable Texas Pecan flavored coffee to be sipped slowly over breakfast or lunch. Specialty sandwiches like the Texas Wave, made with roasted turkey breast, avocado, roma tomatoes, monterrey jack cheese and leaf lettuce on ciabatta; or The Raging Bull, made with Down on the Range roast beef, caramelized onions and roasted-garlic gorgonzola spread on challah with roma tomatoes and spring mix, lead to full and happy customers.

La Playa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina
7118 S Padre Island Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78412
(361) 980-3909
www.laplaya.cc
La Playa Mexican Restaurant and Cantina serves mouth-watering Mexican food just a few hours from the border. Some Mexican food lovers do not realize that seafood is a huge part of this culture’s cuisine, making Corpus Christi the perfect setting for a true demonstration of quality South of the Border meals. Several shrimp dishes like the spicy shrimp diabla are cooked up here alongside fresh fish platters. For those who prefer turf to surf, the staple fajita, steak and enchilada dishes, as well as tortilla soup, are also on the menu and get rave reviews from new customers and regulars.

Related: Scenic Drives Within 60 Miles Of DFWKena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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