If the oil rig worker rally song "Corpus Christi Bay" doesn't inspire you to visit one of Texas' best bay towns, allow us to give you that extra push. When San Antonio is hot, humid, and frustratingly bound in concrete construction, try an escape south. The beer, salt water, and fresh seafood will definitely convince you to stay a couple extra nights. Here's what you should do while you're down on the Texas Riviera.
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Try spam fried rice at Z-Counter
After a day at the beach, make sure to get your sunburned body inside Z-Counter's air-conditioned walls and try one of its creative dishes. Spam gets a bad rap, but when it's fried and stuffed lovingly alongside pineapple and rice, it should be universally loved. When in doubt, add a couple fried eggs and some spam musubi.
Drive through the middle of nowhere to drink at Texas SouthWind Winery
Venture a couple miles north of the bay and you'll find a family-run winery worthy of the drive. All of the wines are aged in stainless steel or glass barrels, and the staff is happy to help you taste the stuff. Known for the scenery, Texas SouthWind Winery will let you taste all of its wines -- and keep the glass -- for $6.
Make conversation with strangers at Tapology Texas Pub
Sometimes it's difficult to find hoppy, well-crafted beers when you're not in San Antonio or Austin or Houston, but Tapology has you covered in Corpus. Choose from a healthy menu of tap and bottle beers while you make new beach friends. We've never seen a patron in Tapology who wasn't willing to show someone new the ropes.
Fish, eat, and drink on Oso Pier
Easily the best view in Corpus is at Oso Pier, where you can catch trout, drink cold ones, and eat fresh tuna. It's surprising Robert Earl Keen hasn't written about this place yet -- it deserves to be immortalized in a famous country song. Best time to visit is during crawfish season when delicious boils manned by the owners are common.
Cool off at the Corpus Christi Ride-In Theater
Strap some camping chairs to your back, ride your bike to the Art Museum of South Texas' front lawn, and catch some great flicks outdoors. Don't worry about filling up on food and drink beforehand -- the drive-in is well-equipped with food trucks and a full cash bar.
Watch dolphins swim and otters fight at the Texas State Aquarium
Odds are if you grew up in Texas, you paid a visit to the Texas State Aquarium on a school-funded trip. Don't worry, it's not as lame as you thought it was in middle school. Some exhibits allow customers to touch the animals -- just ask one of the aquarium's employees first. Who knew otters were so quick, pissed off, and energetic? Try visiting during weekdays when the crowd is smaller.
Watch the Corpus Christi Hooks crack some wood
Verified fact: nothing is better than salty air, hot dogs, and a baseball game. So, check out the San Antonio Missions' archenemy and 2006 Double-A league champions play their hearts out at Whataburger Field. One time Roger Clemens struck out 11 batters in six innings for the Hooks, and the team has searched for lightning in a bottle ever since. About once a month, the park will sell $1 hotdogs and sodas -- check the team's calendar for updates.
Learn about beautiful Texas horticulture at the South Texas Botanical Gardens
Wander through the botanical gardens in awe. The Plumeria Garden showcases more than 100 of the species variety and is one of the largest public displays in the United States. Make sure to attend one of their expert classes. On June 25th, expert Debbie Pinkerton will teach you how to landscape your lawn for Texas' unbearably hot summers.
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1. Z Counter1220 Airline Rd #155, Corpus Christi
2. Texas SouthWind Winery16375 US-183, Refugio, TX 78377, Refugio
3. Tapology Texas Pub4334 S Staples St, Corpus Christi
4. Oso Pier6124 Ocean Dr, Corpus Christi
5. Corpus Christi Ride In Theater1900 N. Chaparral St. , Corpus Christi
6. Texas State Aquarium2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi
7. South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Centre8545 S Staples St, Corpus Christi
Conveniently located near the beach, Z Counter offers Asian food taking inspiration from street food all over Asia. For something a little different, try adding spam into one of your rice bowls. Noodle bowls and Bahn Mi sandwiches are also on the menu, and practically anything can have a fried egg added on top of it. Don't worry about dressing up at Z Counter; the no-frills counter-service atmosphere is welcoming for everyone, no matter how much sand you carry with you from the beach.
A few miles north of Corpus Christi lies Texas SouthWind Winery, and in addition to the wine tasting, you'll want to head there for the expansive scenery on the 145 acres of land. The wines are aged in stainless steel barrels, and red wines are also aged in French oak. The winery offers both tours and tastings six days a week, and the family-owned operation encourages you to keep the glass after your tasting.
Sometimes it's difficult to find hoppy, well-crafted beers when you're not in San Antonio or Austin or Houston, but Tapology has you covered in Corpus. There are 40 beers on tap and a huge variety of bottles to choose from. The space itself is wood-paneled and displays various taps that have gone out of current rotation. The staff is known for being incredibly friendly and knowledgable when it comes to the beers available.
The best views in the city are to be had here at the Oso Pier. Sitting right on the dock is this legacy restaurant, which has been serving fresh caught seafood and shellfish to locals for decades. Catch your own fish off the dock and the chefs will cook it up, or wait for their famous crawfish boil, served with lots and lots of butter. A very no frills kids of place, this family-friendly seafood joint welcomes large groups and children into its salty, briny, fishing gear-full interior.
Strap some camping chairs to your back, ride your bike to the Art Museum of South Texas' front lawn, and catch some great flicks outdoors. You can catch these movies once a month in the summer, and you don't need to worry about bringing a picnic for under the stars. The outdoor theatre has you covered with food trucks and a cash bar on-site.
This nonprofit aquarium in Corpus Christi formally dedicated to preserving the Gulf of Mexico's wildlife gives visitors a close look at sea wildlife both familiar and foreign, like the Tortuga Cay, Stingray Lagoon, and everyone's favorite dolphin. And while the space can get packed on the weekend, a trip during the weekday will let you breeze through the flower gardens and otter creeks, and onto the Hawn Wild Flight Theater, where you'll get to witness trained birds in an entertaining setting.
This sprawling 100+ acre nature center and holding space for all things flora features all the most picture-worthy orchids, hibiscus, plumeria, and roses, as well as a butterfly house and grand rose garden. For a site-unique experience, visit the Plumeria Garden, which showcases more than 100 of the species variety and is one of the largest public displays in the United States.