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Daytripper: Corpus Christi

On Deck in Corpus Christi

75 Lex

There’s no denying that Corpus Christi is one of the most beloved destinations in Texas, and for good reason. However, among the well-known
ways to pass a day on the bay, Corpus Christi is packed with plenty of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path surprises.

I headed to this bay-front city in search of my own day-trip adventure.

8:30 a.m. I kicked things off at Nano’s Taco Run with a couple of steaming breakfast tacos—the most important taco of the day. The flour tortillas were fresh off the griddle, with the chorizo and eggs delivering the spicy protein punch I needed to jump-start my trip.

10:00 a.m. To learn about the origins of the city, I explored the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. Starting with the native Karankawas up to modern-day citizens, the museum traces the people and cultures that have shaped the Coastal Bend of Texas. I walked among displays spotlighting Spanish and French shipwrecks and stagecoaches, and eventually found myself staring at full-size replicas of two of Christopher Columbus’ ships, which also sailed from Spain … in 1992.

11:00 a.m. I crossed the Harbor Bridge to experience another era of nautical travel aboard the USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier turned floating museum. The self-guided tour is packed with 100,000 square feet of incredible information and displays. After exploring the top, I decided to go deeper—literally—grabbing a flashlight and appropriate head protection for a guided Hard Hat Tour.
We descended into the belly of the beast, down narrow staircases and into dimly lit corners, including #1 Engine Room and the Evaporator Room, which could produce 180,000 gallons of fresh water a day.

1:00 p.m. I was hungry enough to eat a dozen MRE’s, but opted instead for the Executive Surf Club, a restaurant allowing everyone to get a small taste of the city’s surf culture. I grabbed a seat at a table made of old surfboards and ordered a shrimp wrap filled with fried shrimp, fresh vegetables, and homemade dressing. Cowabunga, it was good!

2:00 p.m. While traditional surfing is hit-or-miss in Texas, Corpus Christi is one of the best places in the world to kite surf. I arranged a private lesson from Prokitesurf and hit the water. The wind was consistent and strong, but sadly, my skills at capturing the wind were erratic and weak. I spent most of my lesson getting dragged through the water and tossed around like a rag doll. However, some small successes, and an awesome instructor, made me eager to come back and try again.

4:00 p.m. To enjoy the water in a much more relaxing fashion, I headed to McGee Beach, right next to the heart of downtown along Corpus Christi Bay. After a few hours of splashing around, I was ready to cash in my chips and spend the rest of my life wearing flip-flops and listening to old Jimmy Buffett records.

6:00 p.m. Margaritaville sounded pretty nice, but sno-ball-ville sounded even better, so I headed to Sno-Ball, Too, which keeps Corpus Christi iced-in. This local snowcone shop has more than 60 flavors, but upon a recommendation, I got a strawberry sno-ball with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I can’t imagine a more perfect treat on a hot summer day.

7:00 p.m. I may have eaten dessert first, but I was still hungry for dinner. Luckily, it was game night for the Corpus Christi Hooks at Whataburger Field. I grabbed a last-minute ticket from the box office and a Whataburger with fries on the way to my seat. It was a fitting meal to end a day in Corpus Christi, as Whataburger started here in 1950.

The Star Spangled Banner played as the teams took the field, and I savored a day well-spent exploring this city by the bay. So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.

Contact the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800/766-2322.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS.

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