The fifth-largest port city in the nation and the largest metropolis on the Texas coast, Corpus Christi (population 316,000) is a friendly and affordable city with several noteworthy attractions - the famed Texas State Aquarium and nearby USS Lexington World War II aircraft carrier, and downtown's Waterfront Cultural District, which is home to the Harbor Playhouse, Heritage Park, the Museum of Science and History, and the Art Museum of South Texas. The city is fringed by the barrier island vacation community of Port Aransas (on Padre Island), and just south of the lively seaside town of Rockport, which fronts Aransas Bay - it's a top area in the Gulf Coast for surfing, a heritage you can learn about at downtown's Texas Surf Museum.
Less than a three-hour drive from San Antonio and located along the Gulf Coast about midway between South Padre Island and Galveston Island, Corpus Christi and its neighboring coastal towns have long been popular weekend getaways. For so large a city, however, Corpus Christi has a fairly limited gay scene and a relatively small community - this is a pretty conservative area with a significant military presence, and the city's personality is less artsy than historic and funky Galveston, and a bit more corporate and button-down than free-spirited South Padre Island. If you're seeking a gay vacation spot on the Texas spot, this probably isn't a top choice, but if you're in town to visit some of the great attractions and enjoy some sunshine by the sea, and you are looking to venture out dancing, you will find a couple of easygoing, unpretentious gay bars.
A few minutes' drive south of downtown Corpus Christi, the most popular and long-running of the area's GLBT hangouts is the Hidden Door & Loft (802 S. Staples St., 361-882-5002). With a nice-size covered deck outside, the Hidden Door is an easy place to meet locals; inside is the main bar, while upstairs, the Loft is an attractively decorated piano cabaret that's a cozy spot for enjoying live piano music. A prominent supporter of local charitable organizations and GLBT events, the Hidden Door has an eclectic following - more men than women, but all are welcome.
If you're in downtown Corpus Christi seeking out good spots for dining and drinking, you'll find several notable restaurants - don't expect to encounter much of a gay scene, but places like the Water Street Seafood Company and Oyster Bar (309 N. Water St., 361-881-9448), and the Republic of Texas steakhouse at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel (900 N. Shoreline Blvd., 361-886-3515). Out on Padre Island, Dragonfly Restaurant & Curacao Blues (14701 S. Padre Island Dr., 361-949-2224) is a fun post-beach spot for globally inspired tapas and seafood.