Port Aransas is a city in Texas that, by its own admission, is ‘Always in Season.’
This could refer to the year-round wildlife activity or welcoming beaches with waters teeming with all kinds of sea life.
You can find this fishing city across the top 10 lists for the best fishing in Texas and the U.S.
Although Port Aransas is quite small, there are many fun, interesting and unforgettable things to do that will have you running out of space in your itinerary.
Whether you want to enjoy tantalizing seafood, bask in the glory of breathtaking sights, or just laze around and watch shimmering sunsets, Port Aransas has something for everyone.
Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, here’s a destination that’ll keep you coming back for more!
So, pack your bags and be prepared to make memories of a lifetime with these fun Port Aransas attractions!
1. Port Aransas Beach
Port Aransas beach calls all tourists and residents to behold its tidal marshes, sandy beaches, mangrove-covered areas, and many bays, estuaries, and lagoons.
These features bloom, impose and thrive as the crowning jewels of the Mexican gulf.
Port Aransas beach is the city’s main beach, a 6.3-mile slender stretch of sand in between the rich marshy vegetation and the blue-green waters, hosting a variety of fun stuff to do all in one spot.
There’s lots of things to do along Port Aransas beach, from dining with the ocean blue in view to roaming down the piers in a beach cart.
If you’d like to explore the beach, you can rent a beach cart from one of the many rental services like Port A Beach Buggies or Bron’s Beach Carts, which charge up to $150 a day.
Unlicensed drivers over the age of 16 can cruise down Horace Caldwell Pier at any time of the day and catch an awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset.
Another reason why this beach is among the top places to visit is the rewarding fishing spots along the South Jetty.
Fishing is among the top tourist attractions in Port Aransas, and if you visit between June and August, you’ll be in time for the peak of red snapper season.
If you’d prefer not to catch your seafood, you can enjoy the freshly caught fish served by popular restaurants near the beach.
Other amenities on the beach include; public restrooms and showers, parking space nearby including RV parking, sunbeds, and beach chairs, as well as pet-friendly spaces.
Glass bottles and containers are prohibited on the beach, and the beach curfew is from 9 pm to 6 am.
Address: 1023 State Highway 361 Ste C, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
2. University Of Texas Marine Science Institute
Founded in 1941, The University Of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) is Port Aransas’ first and most prominent marine laboratory.
It is part of The University of Texas at Austin and has been ranked among the top 20 universities in the world for marine sciences.
Relative to Texas, the institute has established close ties with the Texas State Legislature who has funded a number of its groundbreaking research endeavors.
Out of its 15 faculties, the University takes pride in its Fisheries and Mariculture Laboratory, which specializes in spawning marine fish and developing land-based aquaculture systems in order to better manage fish populations.
Local conservationists and sport-fishing groups especially support this area of research.
Tourist attractions on the marine institute’s campus include the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is among the major estuaries in Texas, the third largest estuarine reserve in the U.S., and the only one in the western Gulf of Mexico.
The reserve has hosted policy-makers, renowned research groups, and tourists alike with the mission of enhancing coastal decision-making through an integrated education, research, and stewardship program.
You can head down to 750 Channel View drive in Port Aransas for a tour of the reserve’s three fascinating facilities, which are renowned for being fun and informative places to visit.
Address: 750 Channel View Dr, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
3. Amos Rehabilitation Keep
Stylized as the ‘ARK,’ this rehabilitation at the Marine Science Institute houses injured or stranded marine birds and turtles from local beaches around Port Aransas and neighboring islands of the state of Texas.
The ARK is not open to the public.
However, you can make reservations for a guided tour which includes viewing endangered species of sea turtles and birds.
On average, the tour is 45 minutes long and is limited to 15 people, with all participants above the age of three paying a fee of $7.
Address: 750 Channel View Dr, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
4. Chapel On The Dunes
Visiting the Chapel On The Dunes is described by tourists and residents as one of the most peaceful things to do in Port Aransas.
The white chapel sits resolutely atop a low dune of sand overgrown with beach flora.
It features a zigzag staircase that leads to a palm tree by its entrance.
The chapel was built in the late 1930s by Aline Carter, an astronomer, artist, and the sixth woman to be appointed poet laureate of the State of Texas.
A deeply spiritual and philanthropic woman, Carter reserved the chapel for the Sunday school she taught, which would often be followed by sharing cakes and ice cream with the local children.
Following her passing in 1972, the white interior of the chapel was painted with elaborative religious murals with the Biblical Old Testament illustrated on the south Wall, and the New Testament illustrated on the north wall.
Today the Chapel On The Dunes is as inviting as it was around Carter’s time; it is open for a free guided tour through the Port Aransas museum and can be booked for private services like weddings and memorials.
Address: 203 S 11th St, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
5. Port Aransas Preservation & Historical Association
The Port Aransas Preservation & Historical Association (PAPHA) is an organization that is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the fishing town through its two institutions, namely, the Port Aransas Museum and Farley Boat Works.
The Port Aransas Museum was established in 2002 through a collaboration between the Historical Association and the City of Port Aransas.
Along with the goal of conserving the town’s history, the museum has also taken inventory of many historical sites around Port Aransas.
The museum has registered eight historical sites, eight things to see, and places to go, including; the Aransas Pass Lighthouse and the Chapel on the Dunes.
One of the most notable features of the museum is its archive of 25,500 photos and documents which regard Port Aransas’ history.
This collection also includes films of Port Aransas in the 1920s and 1930s and interviews with locals and people on neighboring islands, all of which are available to the public through a database.
Regarding tours of historical sites, they are conducted by volunteer docents every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Address: 101 E Brundrett Ave, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
6. Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center
The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding center is known as “A Birders Paradise” for its panoramic vantage points.
Catch a glimpse of local and migratory waterfowl like Herons, Ibises, Egrets, and the flaming pink Roseate Spoonbills, Port Aransas’s bird.
Ducks, pelicans, wading birds, and songbirds also reside in the center and thrive off the pollinator gardens and bird feeders which you can view as you stroll down the boardwalk.
To add a little contrast to your visit, you can also check out Boots, the resident Alligator who runs the show at the birding center from his pond under an elevated walkway.
On Wednesdays, at 9 am, the center hosts a free Birding on the Boardwalk program, which shows visitors all the best spots to get amazing views of the scenery.
With respect to amenities, there is parking available and restrooms on-site.
The center is open 7 days a week from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 1 pm on weekends.
Address: 1356 Ross Ave, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
7. Roberts Point Park
You can find fleets of sea vessels charting the channel, many of which are ferry boats that offer rides from the main turf to Mustang Island.
Other means of touring Roberts Point Park include driving, bike riding, walking, or taking the free B-Bus, which runs as an hour-long loop through Port Aransas.
Throughout the year, the park hosts a number of activities for all ages to partake in, such as the Glow Ride, which is a casual five-mile bike ride.
There are restaurants near Roberts Point; however, an outdoor picnic area and restrooms are available.
Address: 301 J C Barr Blvd, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
8. Aransas Pass Lydia Ann Lighthouse
Along the state of Texas’ coastline, there are a number of barrier islands and peninsulas with only a few openings and passes that give access to the bays and harbors.
Aransas Pass is one such opening between Mustang Island and St Joseph Island.
In 1851, the construction of the Aransas Pass Lydia Ann Lighthouse began with its purpose being to shine a light on Aransas Pass at night.
It is the oldest surviving structure in the Aransas Pass and Corpus Christi area.
Around the 1950s, the Aransas Pass had shifted, which meant that the lighthouse no longer had any use, and by 1955, its light had been extinguished, and it was sold in an auction.
In 1988 the lighthouse was refurbished, including the light being restored.
Whilst the lighthouse remains as private property, visits are possible through tours by Kohootz so long as you specify that you’d want to see the lighthouse.
Address: Harbor Island Road, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
9. Mustang Island State Park
Home to a five-mile stretch of beach, Mustang Island State Park is a tourist hotspot on Mustang Island and a few miles from Port Aransas.
The name ‘Mustang Island’ is said to have been inspired by the wild horses that roamed the area for hundreds of years, seemingly brought by Spaniards in the 19th century.
Presently, the state park is a prized beach location for a variety of fun beach activities to take part in.
Regarding what to do at Mustang Island Park, you can have an exhilarating and serene time on the beach, from swimming and surfing to bird watching and kite flying.
It is important to note that Mustang Island also has the most shark-infested waters among its neighbors; however, past shark attacks have not been fatal.
With amenities like picnic areas, nearby restaurants, showers, portable restrooms, electric campsites, and ranger programs, you can plan to spend a day enjoying Mustang State Park’s lively atmosphere.
Address: 9394 TX-361, Corpus Christi, TX 78418, United States
10. Texan Warbird Adventures
The Texan Warbird Adventures is a family-owned and operated aviation center whose desire to share aviation is founded on an 80-year legacy.
The aviation center is best known for its vintage naval aircraft, whose make dates back to World War II.
The Hayden family, who run Warbird Adventures, are led by Trey Hayden, who has been a licensed pilot for 37 years and a Naval Aviator for 29 years.
You can relish the experience of flying in these historic aircraft around the Fortworth area in Port Aransas, Texas, either taking off from Decatur, Denton, or Fairview Airports.
Specific to their flight services, Warbird Adventures offers; Warbird flights, Aerial Photography, and flyovers.
The Warbird flights are probably the most memorable as they are meant to pay tribute to war veterans of the Second World War.
This flight reels in the best deal for First Responders, Active duty military, and Veterans as they are viable for a discount, and it also comes with a gift certificate.
If you’re a photographer and looking for unique things to see and capture, the adventurous aerial photographer flight is for you.
Warbird Adventures can even fly over specific buildings or locations you’d like photos of in the Port Aransas area.
All their services are a call or a few clicks away on their website, with their operating hours being 8 am to 5 pm.
Address: 3141 FM3512, Aransas Pass, TX 78336, United States
11. Texas State Aquarium
If you’re looking for fun Port Aransas attractions, you can’t go wrong with the Texas State Aquarium.
Engage with sea creatures, get valuable insight into the sea and ocean life, and have tons of fun in one place.
The Texas State Aquarium is a non-profit association and, foremostly, an educational and environmental steward for sea and wildlife conservation.
Their efforts are mainly directed at the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, which are realized as mesmerizing exhibits detailing various qualities about the ecosystems and life underwater.
If you’re visiting in the summer, beat the Texas heat at the H-E-B Splash Park thereafter, dig out the 13,000-year-old fossilized remains of saber-toothed tigers and giant ground sloths at Owen’s Paleo Park.
The H-E-B Splash Park is a marine-themed water park equipped with the best water spray jets and interactive accessories like water guns and cannons.
The Splash park and Paleo Park entry fees are included in the admission price, changing rooms are available, and you can rent a locker for your visit for $2 dollars with a $5 refundable deposit.
Alternative to the water activities, you can enjoy a thrilling experience in the Aquarium’s Whataburger 4D Theater which screens 4-dimensional films from BBC Earth and other major animation houses.
The 4D Theater fees are also included in your admission fees and are screened every 30 minutes throughout the day.
Other amenities at the Aquarium include its food court, which hosts a variety of restaurants and food stalls.
Address: 2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402, United States
Looking for more thrill? Why not check out San Marcos, San Antonio, and Lubbock? If you plan the trip, here are some of the best things to do in San Marcos, TX, some top things to do in San Antonio, and some fun things to do in Lubbock!
12. Deep-Sea Fishing And Sportfishing
With over 600,000 people fishing its vibrant waters every summer, it’s no wonder that Port Aransas is also known as the fishing capital of the state of Texas.
Whether you’re a first-timer or more experienced, the Port Aransas waters respond with some of the best fish species around.
You can expect to catch flounder, marlin or shark, redfish, tuna, or the state fish, a red snapper.
One of the reasons why fishing is among the fun things to do in Port Aransas is its fishing guides and lively party boats, which serve as ushers into the bountiful waters.
Fishing guides like the Deep sea headquarters offer to take you out on a 5 to 12-hour bay fishing trip about 20 to 30 miles out for $125.
When organizing your fishing trip, ensure that you obtain a fishing license with a saltwater stamp, there are local vendors available for this, or you can order it online.
Address: Port Aransas, TX, United States
13. Skydive South Texas
The scenic coast in view and the adrenaline rush through your body makes Skydiving among the most exhilarating things to do in Port Aransas.
If you’re looking for cool things to do, be sure to have this on your itinerary.
Feel your senses come alive when you drop from one of Texas’ greatest heights.
Skydive South Texas is the state’s only skydiving destination, with its drop zone being around Mustang Island.
You’ll have a breathtaking view of the island and neighboring Corpus Christi from the drop.
Tandem (meaning two people) skydiving costs $240; on Fridays, the price is reduced to $209.
Along with a beach landing, gift certificate, and $25 t-shirt, you wouldn’t want to miss this weekend special.
Operations during the week are by appointment, but it is between 10 am and 5 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 am to 5 pm on Sundays.
Address: 139 Piper Blvd, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
14. Texas SandFest
Come rain or shine, the towering sand masterpieces on display at Texas SandFest are definitely high on the list of things to see in Port Aransas.
This is the only community event in the city that is held on the beach, and it draws locals and tourists to its stunning exhibits every year.
The SandFest began as a modest competition in 1997 and grew into a three-day festival recognized worldwide.
The feats of artistry illustrated through the beach sand are a sight to behold, and the sculptures competing are guarded in the Masters’ Gallery.
Over the course of the three days, visitors can watch the sculptor or team of sculptors create their work of art which often takes months to plan.
Secondary to the Masters’ Gallery is the Amateurs competition, which is just as engaging.
Overall, watching the various artists at work is just as engrossing as their final piece.
If you’re planning on going to SandFest, ideally, book your accommodation and a golf cart to trek the long coastline in advance.
Remember that this is an extended event that happens regardless of the weather, so you can plan other activities around quick pop-ins by the SandFest.
Address: Port Aransas, TX, United States
15. Irie’s Island Food
Irie’s Island Food graces a number of top 10 lists for top restaurants in Port Aransas.
Regarding food, it is one of the best Port Aransas attractions because it serves American and Mexican classics with an ambiance for the whole family to enjoy.
From delectable burgers and Po’ boy sandwiches with an assortment of sauces to savory tacos made with homemade tortillas, Irie’s Island Food places great emphasis on using fresh ingredients and adding a little twist to their dishes.
The indoor dining experience is lively, with bright colors and wallpapers all around; however, since the place often fills up quite fast, there is an outdoor picnic option or takeaways.
Address: 200 W Avenue G, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
16. USS Lexington Museum
Located 45 minutes from Port Aransas in Corpus Christi is the USS Lexington Museum, a historical and military museum with lots of fun things to do.
Neighboring the Texas State Aquarium, the USS Lexington is the name of a World War II aircraft carrier that is the most valiant of Port Aransas’ attractions that now serves as the naval aviation museum.
“The Blue Ghost” is open from 9 am to 5 pm and boasts a number of classical military artifacts that complement the more modern activities available to visitors.
These activities include; five tour routes, the “LOCKDOWN ON THE LEX” Escape Rooms, a 3-D mega theater, overnight camping, a mess deck eatery, and a flight simulator.
Children aged 4 to 12 pay an admission fee of $13.95, youth aged 13 to 17 and senior citizens, 60 and over, pay $16.95, and adults 18 and over pay $18.95.
Address: 2914 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402, United States
17. Try Parasailing
Take off for the big blue skies and delight in the best aerial view of the Mexican Gulf and Port Aransas with the city’s parasailing activities.
This fun activity involves gliding in the air in a parachute while being propelled by a speedboat.
Port Aransas’ parasailing is best serviced by Chute ‘Em Up Parasail, which charges $84 for flyers and $42 for observers in the motorboat.
The flight time is between 7 to 10 minutes, about 250 to 300 feet in the air, and the trip out to the sea lasts around an hour and a half; flyers should be at least 7 years old.
The trip encompasses famous sites like Aransas bay and the Pass Lighthouse, shipwreck sites, and St Joseph’s Island.
Chute ‘Em Up is closed during the winter seasons and only provides services through reservations which you can make well in advance for the summer.
Address: 154 W Cotter Ave, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
18. Third Coast Theater
Home to the city’s live music scene, Third Coast Theater is one of Port Aransas’ attractions in the realm of culture.
The 150-seat theater draws modest crowds for live premier performances by some of Texas’ greatest musical acts.
Even if you aren’t familiar with Billy Snipes, Keith Sykes, Kelly Willis, Cody Canada, and Susan Gibson, you are guaranteed an enthralling performance and the chance to interact with them due to the intimate setting.
For couples looking for romantic things to do, you can bring along a picnic and sit back to enjoy the evening serenade.
The Theatre usually has one to two performances per month, with all events and ticket sales available on their website.
Address: 502 E Avenue G, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
19. Dolphin Watching
Dolphin Tours in Port Aransas are a fun activity for the whole family to take part in.
Three main dolphin tours operate from the Dennis Dryer Municipal Harbor and chart across the Lydia Ann Channel, Aransas Bay, and Aransas Pass.
The Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventure is described as the “dolphin party tour” and is the youngest touring vessel that has quickly earned an impressive reputation.
The Scarlet Lady hosts a 90-minute dolphin adventure tour which costs $33 per passenger, tickets are available for booking online.
The tour launches at 11 am and again at 2:30 pm, which is the best time to catch the poised bottlenose dolphins in their element.
Other dolphin tours include Dolphin Watch Nature Tours, which adds an informative talk on the history of nearby Mustang Island, and you can watch a shrimp trawl in real time as it collects crabs, stingrays, and shrimp.
Captain Kirk’s Tiki Cruises is another dolphin tour provider in Port Aransas, this time for a more mature audience.
Most notable is the cruise ”Booze Cruise ”, which is a two-hour ‘Bring Your Own Booze’ dolphin viewing experience that costs $50 and is a favorite activity for bachelors and bachelorettes.
Address: Port Aransas, TX, United States
20. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem among Port Aransas’ attractions.
Located ‘off the beaten path’ by the coastline of San Antonio Bay, the refuge is one of the more discreet places to go around town; however, directions through its neighboring farm fields and the GPS coordinates for its entrance are available on its website.
The refuge was established in 1937 for migratory wildlife, particularly a wintering home for waterfowl.
Today it is a vast area of 115,000 acres along the Texas Gulf coast with a diverse biosphere.
Among the species that reside in the refuge are the endangered Whooping Cranes which have been wintering from Canada in record numbers in the refuge over the past few years.
Upon arrival at the refuge, you can visit the Alligator viewing area, drive down to the observation tower, and admire the lush landscape along the way.
If you’re planning on spending half a day or more at the refuge, you can take a walk down one of the scenic trails, have a picnic by the picnic area, or do some fishing by the pier.
Visitors under the age of 18 can enter for free, while the price range for adults is a once-off fee from $3 to $50, depending on how many they are in a group.
Address: 1 Wildlife Cir, Austwell, TX 77950, United States
21. Coffee Waves
Coffee waves is the top delicatessen in Port Aransas, serving up delectable sandwiches, pastries, homemade gelato, and of course, especially roasted coffee.
The restaurant opened its doors in 2008 and has three locations; in Port Aransas, it is located on 1007 State Highway.
The quaint coffee shop is open from 7 am until 8 pm and serves breakfast and lunch.
Their selection of Nordaggio and Driftwood coffee beans are freshly roasted and delivered each morning, ensuring that each cup they serve is a quality brew.
Delight yourself in one of their paninis or pair the fresh brew with a rich pound cake, not to mention their 200-flavor rotational assortment of gelato made in-house every week.
Address: 1007 TX-361, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
22. Port Aransas Community Theatre
Port Aransas Community Theatre, also known as PACT, is the epicenter for all the drama in Port Aransas.
The community theater’s mission is to educate, entertain and inform through its productions, which is why attending their performances is one of the most culturally-enriching things to do in Port Aransas.
Audiences of all ages are invited to watch and participate in live performances, which include comedic and sentimental theatrical works that will have you laughing, crying, and at the edge of your seat.
There are usually one or two productions a month, and tickets and dates are available on their website.
Address: 2327 TX-361, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
23. Virginia’s On The Bay
If you’re by Port Aransas Harbour and wondering what to do, consider dining at Virginia’s on the Bay, which serves up fresh catches of fish from the gulf.
The seafood and grill restaurant is celebrated for the duality of its menu, which includes; juicy seared steaks, succulent gulf fish and shrimp, and a variety of platters, as well as the Cajun boil, which is a tourist favorite.
Each portion of meat comes with a family-sized portion of sides and is available for takeout.
If you opt for a sit-down meal, you can dine indoors or outdoors with the sky and ocean in view.
The restaurant’s other niceties include a full bar, pet-friendly porches, a smoking area, and private rooms.
Address: 815 Trout St, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
24. Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail
The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail is a network of bird sanctuaries, nature preserves, and trails designed by the state of Texas.
The birding trail comprises the entire length of the Texas Gulf coast, which is 2,100 miles.
The trail is unique because Texas hosts more bird species than anywhere else in the U.S., which makes for a special bird-watching experience.
This extensive trail can be divided into the upper, central, and lower coast.
Port Aransas and Corpus Christi make up half of the central coast, with the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge being the largest section of the entire birding trail.
Because the trail systems lie within many communities, they usually have local ecotourist events.
However, Port Aransas is one of a few cities in the birding trail that hosts the annual nature festival.
Address: Port Aransas, TX, United States
25. Red Dragon Pirate Cruise
If you’re a family wondering what to do in Port Aransas, try a pirate cruise.
The Red Dragon Pirate Cruise is one of many unique things in the city that sticks out.
The pirate vessel, located on 440 West Cotter Avenue, was designed to look like ships of the past down to the last detail but is equipped ‘for the high seas’ with the latest technology and amenities.
Bring your family for a day of fun alongside the pirate crew for a pre-cruise show at the start of the tour.
Once everyone is on board, the ship sets sail for a high-seas adventure, charting the Lydia Ann Channel with cannon firings, treasure hunting, and sword fighting to partake in.
Also on board the Red Dragon is the ‘Slurp N Burp Pub,’ which serves alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages with snacks that are served during the cruise.
During the summer, there are two cruises a day at 12 pm and 3:30 pm, which you can book in advance during their off-season.
Address: 440 W Cotter Ave, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
26. Port Aransas Art Centre
The Port Aransas Art Center is one of the places to go for artists and art patrons to be part of the production, presentation, and purchasing of the finest art in the city.
As part of its mission to encourage and support local artistry, the art center offers art classes for all ages and exclusive events like the happy weekend, held every Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm.
This weekend event is also known as a sip and shop where visitors can sip on a glass of wine whilst taking a relaxing stroll through the gallery.
The art center also lists free things to do in the city with their Fundamentals of Art class, held on Mondays, being free of charge.
You can use their studio and meet fellow artists and aficionados, and with the beauty of Port Aransas as your muse, who knows what masterpieces you could create!
Address: 104 N Alister St, Port Aransas, TX 78373, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To Port Aransas
Port Aransas is a lively sliver of Texas.
There are many fun Port Aransas attractions and experiences to immerse yourself in.
The city continues to make great strides in numerous areas, as evidenced by its renowned conservationist work, research institutes, and impactful museums.
On the other side of its informative efforts is the wild, free-spirited side of Port Aransas which offers skydiving, dolphin tours, and boat cruises on a pirate ship!
And somehow, the city harmonizes these aspects into an unforgettable tourist destination.