If you are looking for the best things to do in Port Aransas, Texas, then you are in the right place!
As native Texans, we have visiting Port Aransas all of our lives and absolutely love all that this coastal city has to offer!
Located on the Texas coastline, Port Aransas boasts great sandy beaches, deep sea fishing, and a fun, laid-back atmosphere.
Visitors to this Texas coast city can enjoy dolphin watching, hiking trails, and load of other fun things!
Located on Mustang Island, just south of Corpus Christi, this small Texas town might be small in size, but it has plenty to offer.
The close proximity to South Padre Island and Corpus makes it easily accessible from Texas cities like San Antonio and Austin, making this one of the fun Texas road trips.
If you don’t want to drive, then you can fly into the local Mustang Beach Airport instead.
The close location to Corpus Christi means that you can also head back over to the mainland to explore some of the things to do in Corpus as well.
Let’s dive into all of the fun things to do in Port Aransas.
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Best Things To Do In Port Aransas
1. Port Aransas Beach
Port Aransas Beach is one of the best beaches in Texas and once you visit, you will see why.
This public beach is wide and sandy, the perfect place to spend the day lounging in the sun, bird watching, shallow water fishing, or just playing in the Gulf of Mexico waters.
This beach is also where the annual Texas Sand Fest (mentioned below) takes place each year.
A visit to Port Aransas beach means you are at the perfect place to enjoy the the warm gulf breezes while you bask in the Texas sun.
If you rent a golf cart, which we recommend below, then you can also drive your golf cart on Port Aransas beach.
This makes lugging your beach necessities around a breeze!
2. Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park is a beautiful state park which is actually a barrier island off the the coast of Texas and one of the reasons that Port Aransas is considered one of the romantic getaways in Texas!
Named after the wild mustangs that used to be found on the island, the park offers more than 5 miles of beach and outdoor recreations area.
Visitors to Mustang Island State Park can enjoy fishing, swimming, mountain biking, building sandcastles, or just lounging on the beach.
Mustang Island is also a a popular place for bird watching as over 300 bird species call Mustang Island home.
Birds aren’t the only species that call Mustang Island home though.
The island is also home to the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and whooping cranes.
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3. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Speaking of whooping cranes, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, is the perfect place to see this endangered species.
In addition to the cranes, the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is also home to alligators, lizards, turtles, waterfowl, and other species.
The preserve also boasts a gorgeous landscape with beaches, sand dunes, and grasslands.
Here you can partake in wildlife watching, hiking, fishing, and more.
4. Visit Texas Sandfest
One of our favorite things to do in Port Aransas, TX is to visit during the annual Texas Sandfest.
Texas Sandfest is an incredible world-famous sand castle building competition that is held each year in Port Aransas.
Just head down to Port Aransas beach to see the sandcastles lining the shores.
The artistry of the sand castles are incredible and it is truly worth visiting Port Aransas during the festival.
We love seeing both the national and local artists create their sand masterpieces, and the vendors with their tasty treats is just an added bonus!
Of course, you can always try your hand at building your own sandcastle as well!
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5. Go Kayaking
There are several places in Port Aransas to hit the water and enjoy some time kayaking.
There are over 20-miles of paddling trails on the Mustang Island Paddling Trail.
The trails here are well-marked and easy to follow.
Another paddling trail in Port Aransas is the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail located in Aransas Pass.
This trail allows paddlers to see several different habitats.
These habitats include tidal flats, salt marshes, and mangrove forests.
Both paddling trails are part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife System so you can be assures that they are definitely worth visiting while in Port Aransas.
If you own a kayak, then you are ready to go. If you don’t, then there are several places around Port Aransas, TX that you can rent one.
6. Try Your Hand At Deep Sea Fishing
One of the best things to do in Port Aransas is to go deep sea fishing.
There are loads of fishing charters available from Port Aransas that would love to take you out fishing for the day.
Anglers are known to catch all sorts of fish species from the Gulf of Mexico.
I guess that is why this is the fishing capital of Texas.
Once you have your catch, some of the local restaurants are happy to cook up the catch of the day for you.
You can participate in a group tour, or elect to rent your own private charter during you time in Port Aransas.
A private tour allows you the flexibility to create the experience that you want!
Catching and eating your dinner tops the list of things to do in Port Aransas, TX.
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7. Roberts Point Park
For a fun day filled with outdoor activities, then be sure to add Roberts Point Park to your Port Aransas, TX list.
The location of the park, close to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel means that this is a great place to see boats.
The granite jetties and lighted piers of the park ensure that you have the perfect areas for fishing as well.
Here you can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, and more.
Of course, with the Gulf of Mexico at your doorstep, then you can be sure that there are many birds and other wildlife species to watch while at Roberts Point Park.
8. Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center
The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center is considered one of the top birding destinations in the United States.
Of course, this can be attributed to the fact that numerous migrating birds make their way here.
This great Texas birding trail welcomes species like ospreys, peregrine falcons, and spoonbills.
When you visit, be sure to visit the observation tower.
The Leonabelle observation tower allow you to see great views of the marshland and Aransas Bay.
9. Port Aransas Museum
Head to the Port Aransas Museum to not only explore the museum, but to also see the historic home in which the museum is housed.
The early 20th century kit house was on the state’s list as one of the most endangered structures before it was donated to the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Society in 2007.
The historical society renovated and restored the historic home and made it the home of the Port Aransas Museum.
Today, you can visit the museum to learn more about the history of Port Aransas, TX.
Explore the artifacts, photographs, and documents that are housed here.
10. Farley Boat Works
If you want to see true craftsmanship, head to Farley Boat Works in Port Aransas, Texas to watch boats being built.
The boat building process is long so you won’t be able to see a boat completed in one visit, but you can still observe the craftsmanship involved in creating one of the vessels.
Farley Boat Works is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving this type of craftsmanship in Port Aransas, TX.
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11. Port Aransas Nature Preserve
Thanks to the boardwalk constructed at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve, visitors have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the local wildlife.
Photographers visiting Port Aransas, Texas will love that the boardwalk at the nature preserve allows you walk over a small patch of wetland preserve to see the birds and animals here.
The best part is, this is one of the many free things to do in Port Aransas also!
12. Rent a Golf Cart
One of the things I loved about Port Aransas was the fact that golf cart could be seen scooting all over the island.
During your time in Port Aransas, Texas, why not join the locals and make a golf cart your choice for transportation also.
I loved seeing all of the fun carts all over the island.
There were golf carts of all makes and sizes cruising the streets and beaches of Port Aransas.
My favorite part of this was seeing the personality that people added to their carts.
We saw carts decorated like old timey cars, carts that looked like sharks, and carts sporting college insignia and colors.
There are several companies on the island that rent golf carts, so just shop around to find a perfect fit for you.
The best part is, you can take them on the street and the beach!
Just remember, that you need to still obey the traffic laws when operating a golf cart.
Always be mindful of pedestrians and other vehicles, and NEVER drink and drive your golf cart!
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13. Sail on a Pirate Ship
Yes, you read that correctly. You can sail on a pirate ship during your Port Aransas vacation.
Red Dragon cruises has been entertaining kids for years with their pirate adventures.
Their tour takes you around the bays in Port Aransas helping you to spot all sorts of aquatic wildlife.
While kids are partaking in the pirate adventure, adults can enjoy some fun, signature cocktails from the onboard bar.
Just belly up and say “ahoy matey” to the bartender!
Of course, costumes are encouraged to make the voyage more memorable.
14. Take a Dolphin Watching Cruise
One of our favorite things to do in Port Aransas, and really any beach town, is to take a dolphin watching cruise.
Seeing marine life in their natural environment is such a fabulous experience, and I love that the Lone Star State has so many opportunities to do this!
The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico attract the dolphins, making Port Aransas a great area to spot them in.
There are several businesses in the area that offer tours, but one our favorite things to do is to participate in the private tours.
The private charters allow you to interact with the dolphins and have the attention of the boat crew to ensure that you have a great time.
Most tours will take you into the Lydia Ann Channel where you will see dolphins, birds, and more.
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15. Ferry Ride To Corpus Christi
Another way to spend some time on the water is to take the ferry from Port Aransas, TX over to Corpus Christi.
The free ferry ride only takes about 10 minutes and you can even put your car on the ferry to take over with you.
There are load of fun things to do in Corpus Christi, one of the most popular being the Texas State Aquarium.
Major attractions at the aquarium include Dolphin Bay, Otter Creek, and Stingray Lagoon, all sure to please kids of all ages.
For information on the aquarium, be sure to visit their website.
16. Go Horseback Riding
If you have never been horseback riding on the beach, then you are missing out!
One of our favorite places to experience this fun activity is on Padre Island National Seashore.
Located a short drive from Port Aransas, TX, Padre Island National Seashore is one of the best beaches in Texas, and the perfect place to enjoy a horseback ride.
The beaches here are expansive and the waves coming in create the perfect atmosphere for a nice, evening ride.
17. Whooping Crane Boat Tour
Hop on a whooping crane boat tour and head to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge to learn all about the beautiful birds, the whooping cranes.
November through April, guests can hop on board the Wharf Cat to enjoy a narrated trip by Texas Master Nationalist and Ornithologist Ray Little.
The excursion is best enjoyed from the observation deck to ensure that you get a great view of the endangered species that is native to the Port Aransas area.
The boat offers concessions for sale throughout the tour to ensure that all of your needs are accounted for.
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18. Visit San Jose Island
San Jose Island is a short boat ride away from Port Aransas, TX, and a popular place to visit if you are a sea shell lover.
The privately owned island offers pristine beaches that are usually full of sea shells all surrounded by the blue waters of the Gulf.
As many people make the trip over from Port Aransas, San Jose Island can get crowded, so if you want to find the best shells, plan to visit early in the morning!
19. The University of Texas Marine Science Institute
Founded in 1892, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute is one of the oldest and most prestigious marine research facilities in the country.
Today, the Institute serves as the institute’s public education museum.
Here you can check out the aquarium exhibits that house marine life from varied Texas ecosystems.
The varied educational outreach programs help to teach visitors about the wide variety of aquatic flora and fauna throughout the state.
20. Aransas Pass (Lydia Ann) Lighthouse
The Aransas Pass lighthouse, aka the Lydia Ann Lighthouse, in Port Aransas, TX is one of several 19th-century lighthouse along the Texas coastline.
The lighthouse is located in Aransas Pass, an area west of Port Aransas.
21. Port Aransas Community Theatre
If you are searching for some indoor activities during your time in Port Aransas, then check you the Port Aransas Community Theatre.
The community theatre was created over 25 years ago and has been going strong in this community ever since.
Offering up live performances of all kinds, the theatre hosts musicians and theatrical performance throughout the year.
In the summer they even offer live, interactive performances.
On occasion, they even host escape rooms in the theatre. This is fun for all ages!
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22. Balinese Wellness Spa
Who doesn’t love a little pampering during vacation?
Well, if you desire some pampering during your time in Port Aransas, TX, then the Balinese Wellness Spa is the place for you!
Schedule any of their fabulous services to enjoy a day of pampering in their calm, stress-free environment.
Services that we love include full-body massages and relaxing facials.
When you combine this with the fact that you can enjoy nice wine and snacks during your time at the spa, this is a win-win!
23. Coffee Waves
Coffee lovers will definitely want to visit the local coffee shop, Coffee Waves.
This coffee shop serves up delicious, gourmet coffee drinks that are sure to please even the most discerning coffee addict.
Offering both hot and cold drinks in a variety of flavors, you could visit Coffee Waves every day for a week and not have the same drink (unless you choose to).
In addition to coffee, they also offer pastries, smoothies, paninis, and my personal favorite, gelato.
Come on Friday and Saturday evening and enjoy your treat with live music performed by local musicians.
24. Irie’s Island Food
Another local hot spot is Irie’s Island Food. Opened since 2013, Irie’s offers up some delicious island-style food in a laid back, chill atmosphere.
The menu offers up a variety of appetizers, tacos, bowls, and more, so you are sure to find something to please everyone.
The seafood dishes are made from fresh-caught Gulf seafood and they offer several vegan and vegetarian options.
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.