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Port Aransas

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Port Aransas is a town in Texas, situated on the northern tip of Mustang Island on the Gulf of Mexico about 30 minutes drive north from Corpus Christi.

Understand

  • Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce/Tourist Bureau 403 W. Cotter. (361) 749-5919 or 1-800-45-COAST. Stop by and peruse the visitor's info.

It is permissible to drive on the beach on Mustang Island. The sand is mostly packed but sometimes the winds builds loose drifts and it is easy to get stuck. If you do get stuck, don't panic. Stand outside your car looking dumbfounded by the situation and usually a few burly, macho, half-drunk guys will show up in a few minutes to help push you out. Be sure to shake their hands, thank them and offer them a beer if you've got it.

To park on the beach requires a beach parking permit available at the Chamber of Commerce and most stores around town. The police patrol the beach looking for problems as well as cars without parking permits.

Get in

By plane

The closest major airport is Corpus Christi International Airport [1]

By car

Port Aransas is accessible from the north by ferry across the ship channel. As of May 2008, the ferries are free but there is talk of adding a toll. Between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day the wait for the ferry can be up to 2 hours from Friday evening through Sunday evening to get on or off the island. During the week during the summer months the wait can still be 45 minutes to an hour during the day. After Labor Day, the waits are usually less then 30 minutes.

There is a causeway across the ship channel from Corpus Christi to Padre Island that makes getting to Port Aransas easier from the south, especially during the summer. The causeway is part of Park Road 22. The major highway to get there is IH-37 from San Antonio. US Hwy 77, which runs from the Mexico border to Waco (where it joins IH-35) intersects IH-37 just west of Corpus Christi.

Get around

Port Aransas is very accessible by car, although the main street through town can get very congested on summer weekends. Businesses provide ample free parking for customers and it is possible to park and walk to most shops and restaurants although the heat in the summer can be uncomfortable if you are not used to it.

Port Aransas provides a trolley [2] that runs the length of town from the marina to the outlying RV parks for just 25 cents.

See

  • The University of Texas Marine Science Institute Visitor Center [3] Cotter Street. 749-6729. 8PM - 5PM M-F.
  • Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center [4] Located at the south end of Ross Avenue behind the Trolley Stop. Includes a long boardwalk extending out over shallow brackish water. The birding is fantastic and includes pelicans, egrets, herons, gulls, terns, cormorants, and many more. Turtles abound. And occasionally you can spot the resident alligator.

Do

16th annual Whooping Crane Festival, February 23-26 2012. [www.whoopingcranefestival.org]

  • Deep Sea Roundup, 800-45-COAST, [5]. July 7-10, 2011 "The Granddaddy of all Texas Tournaments"


Buy

Eat

Budget

  • Dairy Queen 325 W. Cotter. 749-5283. Burgers, tacos, shakes, and ice cream. A Texas favorite

Splurge

  • Crazy Cajun 303 Beach Street. 749-5069. Cajun style seafood, gumbo, red beans and rice, dirty rice, shrimp, stone crab claws, crawfish and baby-back ribs served on butcher paper family style. Live entertainment on weekends. Enjoy a drink outside in the beer garden before dinner. Unusual place to eat as the food is dumped on the butcher paper tablecloth. Over the years, the prices have gone up and the portions have gotten smaller.

Drink

Sleep

  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites--Port Aransas, 727 S 11th St, 361-749-5222, [6]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. $89-$259.

Budget

Mid-range

  • The Commons at Seashell Townhomes (Commons), 2120 South 11th Street (on 11th Street between Anchor Drive & Island Retreat), 1-361-288-2519 (), [7]. checkin: 4:00pm; checkout: 11:00am. The Commons Townhomes are fully furnished 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath Townhomes a short walk from the beach. Each Townhome is fully furnished and has a fully stocked full-size kitchen with dishwasher, stove, oven full-size fridge, and microwave. Just steps outside the front door is the Common area with pool, cabanas, picnic tables, grills, and our Island Famous hammocks. Free wifi is available and most units are pet friendly. Currently there are 7 Commons Townhomes available for rent with another 7 planned to be built in Phase II. Summer/Peak Season: $295/night; Fall/Spring Mid Season: $250/night, Winter: $200/night or $1,500 - $1,800/month.
  • The Courtyard Condominiums (Courtyard Condos), 622 Access Road 1A (on Access Road 1A between the beach and highway 361), 1-800-749-1315 (), [8]. checkin: 4:00pm; checkout: 11:00am. The Courtyard Condominiums are fully furnished apartments within walking distance of the beach. The "courtyard" includes a swimming pool, picnic tables, and barbeque grills. Outside the courtyard are a basketball court, a fish-cleaning house, outdoor showers, and lots of parking for cars and/or boats. Each apartment has a full-size kitchen with full-size appliances (stove/oven, microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator) and are fully stocked with dishes, cookware, and utensils. Wireless internet is included in the price but it can be sporadic. The office is open daily - in other words, it's not open 24/7. Keep that in mind if you think you will be checking in later in the evening. It's a great place for families (except the family pet) especially since you can prepare your own meals right in the unit. Efficiency (2 people): $69 to $130/night; One Bedroom (4 people): $89 to $160/night; Combo Unit (6 people): $138 to $270/night.
  • Pioneer Beach Resort [9] 120 Gulfwind Drive. (361) 749-6248 or (888)480-3246. Fun RV park with 361 full hook-up sites including cable TV and free wireless Internet. The roads and sites are all concrete and level. There are also a half dozen or so rental cottages. Amenities include a convenience store, recreation hall with coin operated pool tables and video games, 2 swimming pools, hot tub, coin laundry and a boardwalk to the beach. On peak holidays weekends, the park organizes horseshoe tournaments and other activities, a free dance with live music, door prizes, complimentary sodas and beer and hot dogs or chopped beef sandwiches. A great family place.
  • On The Beach RV Park, 907 Access Rd 1A (The center of town is 1 1/2 miles away, there is a trolley every forty minutes for twenty five cents), (361)-749-4909, [10]. Beautiful recreational vehicle park a minute away from the waters edge. All 58 sites are full hook-up, and there is a tent area available as well. Activities in the park occur every week. Coin laundry machines, wifi internet, and bathrooms are available.

Splurge

  • Port Royal Ocean Resort and Conference Center [11] 6317 St. Hwy 361. (361) 749-5011 or 800-242-1034. One of the nicest and most expensive condominiums on Mustang Island, located about eight miles from the towns center. It has the largest pool in Texas, actually several pools interconnected by waterfalls. There is also a water slide to the pool. Other amenities include hot tubs, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and a boardwalk to the beach. Two and three bedroom condos are available. Restaurant on-site.

Stay safe

Port Aransas is a tourist town and fairly safe from violent crime. The police and sheriff patrol constantly, especially on the beach. One of the main problems is public intoxication, mainly on the beach.

Get out

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