For the sheer joy of blissful relaxation, I award the Peace Prize to Port Aransas. As much as the town has grown in recent years, there's still plenty of nothing to do. Our annual family trips (often during the uncrowded month of October) consist of delightfully dull Gulfside activities: beachcombing at sunrise, fishing near the ferry landing, devouring palm-sized fried shrimp (The Wharf gets my vote for the Island's best), and watching my kid dig at ocean's edge in the biggest sandbox ever. We always make a point to stop at the Art Center for the Island's gallery (how are we going to squeeze that painting and the boogie boards in the back of the car?). And we somehow never tire of browsing those surf shops fronted by giant shark heads.
On our last trip, we left our lounge chairs long enough to enjoy a "Dolphin Encounters" boat tour of Aransas Bay aboard the Kohootz. In between magnificent Flipper sightings, Captain Gary Bridges shared local history and sea-creature trivia, and cruised by historic sites like the 1850s Lydia Ann Lighthouse. Supposedly, the dolphins are attracted to the Jimmy Buffet tunes blaring from the boat. Mother, Mother Ocean.