Touring the Texas Gulf Coast

With more than 300 miles of coastline, the Texas Gulf Coast offers a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Birding, fishing, shell collecting, beachcombing, sunbathing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling - you name it, if it can be done on a beach or coastal waterway, it can be done along the Texas Gulf Coast. Since its coastline stretches from Louisiana to Mexico, the Texas Gulf Coast also encompasses a number of geographic and cultural differences. And, those heading to the coast will be amazed at the numerous attractions found there.

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    ••• Galveston Pleasure Pier. GalleryHip.com

    One of the most historic towns in Texas, Galveston's storied past includes tales of pirates such as the infamous Jean LaFitte, natural disasters such as the 1900 Hurricane, and engineering marvels like the Galveston Seawall. Today, many of the island's historical attractions are among the top draws for visitors. Of course, like any coastal communities, Galveston's many beaches also attract a good number of visitors, as does its numerous shops and restaurants. Galveston also offers visitors a number of first class hotels, condominiums and bed-and-breakfast accommodations to choose from.

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    Corpus Christi

    Texas's "Sparkling City by the Bay," Corpus Christi has long been a top tourist draw for the Lone Star State. And, with good reason. After all, there are plenty of things to do in Corpus Christi. Among the most popular attractions are the Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington. Luckily, these two major attractions are situated right next to each other. Corpus also has some excellent dining establishments, many of which are on the water. On the island side of Corpus, the Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of uninhabited beach in Texas - stretching some 70 miles to the south. There are also a number of good museums, shops and hotels in Corpus.

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    This semi-tropical island, which lies just a few miles of the US/Mexico border, is without a doubt the crown jewel of the Texas coast. From its clean, clear waters to its white sand beaches, South Padre Island earns its reputation as the 'Texas Carribean.' Although summer is the most popular time to visit South Padre Island, this southern stretch of sand remains a year around destination. But, during the summer, visitors are able to take full advantage of the beach as well as popular atttractions such as Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark.

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    Located just across the Laguna Madre bay from South Padre Island, Port Isabel is almost its polar opposite. Whereas South Padre is new and modern, Port Isabel is historic and charming. In fact, Port Isabel is one of the oldest towns in Texas and its historical charm is undeniable. But, the two sister cities work well as compliments to each other. Visiting Port Isabel's historic lighthouse, touring its museums or shopping around the Lighthouse Square, offer a nice change of pace from a busy beach vacation.

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    Rockport

    Quaint is the essence of Rockport. Situated in the heart of the Texas Coastal Bend, Rockport has become a mecca for artists. As a result, visitors to Rockport are treated to a full compliment of art galleries, shows and festivals. Like other Texas coastal communities, Rockport also offers excellent outdoor recreational opportunties - including the opportunity to view the rare whooping crane.

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    Known affectionately as "Port A," Port Aransas is situated on the northern tip of Mustang Island - which is essentially an extention of Padre Island. Port Aransas is known for its laid-back lifestyle, great restaurants and wonderful stretches of beach - all the ingredients necessary for a first rate vacation.