MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
Kick off to the Summer Season
Every holiday is special in one way or another. But Memorial Day seems to be extra special. First, it is a great day we set aside each year to remember and tribute the many men and women who have selflessly given us their time and service by serving in our nation's military.
It's also symbolic of the beginning of the summer travel season! For many, especially our youth, it means a summer break. For many more it is the start to the summer season. So load up and get ready to celebrate!
For millions of Americans, Memorial Day weekend is generally celebrated with a road trip to the nearest beach destination. The salt and the sand and the sun have long been an annual tribute Americans have joyfully paid to the beginning of the summer travel season.
While the beach is a far reach for many Americans, Texans--who generally are accustomed to long drives (even for short trips) are not intimidated by a few hours drive down the Interstate of State Highway, especially when the call of the Texas surf and sun are calling.
Already Texans from Wink to Weslaco are packing up bags, blowing up floats and inner tubes and checking for leaks, grabbing up sun protection products and buying treats and staples for a beach barbecue as the big weekend approaches. But for many, the biggest challenge is picking just the right beach!
That where we come in! We've been quietly making the rounds to various Texas beach locations and checking out the latest amenities and advantages each have to offer. Regardless which beach destination you choose to spend your weekend in Texas, you are still going to enjoy yourself, of this we are certain. But some destinations are better suited for your particular needs than others, so we tried to keep those in mind as traveled near and far to provide you with out picks for the best Memorial Day Beach Getaways for the start of the 2017 travel season.
With that said, here we go with our Five Best Texas Beach and Road Trip Destination picks for summer:
North Padre Island/Corpus Christi
Located in the growing Coastal Bend of Texas, North Padre has grown from a sleepy real estate development to a popular beach favorite for Texas beach lovers. Part of the reason is the addition of an entire slew of new restaurants and the addition of Schlitterbahn Waterpark's newest theme park offering. In addition, you'll find plenty of hotel and motel rooms available plus ample camping opportunities in designated state and national park facilities nearby.
One of the biggest draws to North Padre however are the well maintained Nueces County beaches! Beautifully maintained, the white sands of North Padre give a perfect drive-on-the-beach experience with trash-free stretches of blue water gulf perfect for playing, swimming and even surfing. In addition, North Padre is just minutes away from the more remote beaches of Mustang Island and miles and miles of pristine beaches and facilities at Padre island national Seashore. Texas favorite beach town, Port Aransas, is just 20 minutes away, offering plenty of unique shopping and dining opportunities.
Rounding out the amenities and reasons to visit North Padre Memorial Day weekend is it proximity to the many cultural and musical entertainment opportunities in nearby Corpus Christi. North Padre is officially within the City of Corpus Christi city limits these days and a short drive away visitors will find plenty of theaters, clubs, restaurants, museums and other attractions that are hard to beat.
South Padre Island
On the southern tip of Texas near the mouth of the Rio Grande River visitors will find one of the very best beaches in Texas offering beautiful blue gulf waters in the most tropical reaches of the Lone State State. While the geographic location represents one of the more distant beaches to reach from most areas of Texas (about a 565 mile trip from Dallas), it also offers many advantages you won't find in other Texas beach destinations. Not far away is the Texas Mexican border, full of culture and - at least at one time - a popular place for shopping and dining. because of increased violence along the border, travel across the border these days is not as safe as it once was, putting travelers at risk.
But in spite of that setback, the southern reaches of the state are still full of culture, and South Padre Island is reminiscent of beach destinations in Mexico in terms of blue water and tropical environment. There are also a good number of hotels, lodges, condos and restaurants that offer good choices for your visit, plus a Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark.
City beaches are well maintained though there is a shortage of lifeguard stations. But the beach patrol, offered by the city, are generally close at hand to help deal with emergencies and to maintain civil laws. The beaches are clean with easy access from a number of beach front hotels. There is, however, a shortage of organized parking and no driving allowed on city beaches, both a pro and a con depending on your needs.
Cameron County parks and beaches are not far away both north and south on the island. The beaches are pristine but not well maintained, again a pro or con depending on what you are looking for in a beach destination. For us, we believe South Padre island is a great beach destination for those willing to drive the extra hours to reach their destination.
Be advised, North Padre Island and South Padre Island are separated by a bout 150 mile drive (80-90 miles down the coast) and there is no direct route down the coastline. Do not be confused by the names. Padre island is the longest barrier island in the United States.
Considered one of if not the favorite beach town in Texas, Port Aransas is full of history, coastal beauty, and has long represented the virtual playground of Texas travelers. With it's coastal culture and architecture, Port Aransas is everything you would expect in a beach destination, including great beach and surf shops, restaurants featuring fresh Texas seafood, plenty of clubs and night spots, beach rentals, and hotels, motels and condos of every size and description, an all around perfect place to spend a weekend, a week or a summer on the coast.
Recreational opportunities range from swimming, sunbathing, sailboarding, windsurfing, boating, sailing, fishing, parasailing and helicopter rides. Other recreational activities include golfing, miniature golf, beach carts, and pleasure cruises. Also located on the island is the University of Texas marine Research Institute and Center offering tours during select hours.
Port Aransas is a close-knit community that thrives off opening its shores to visitors from across Texas and beyond. You will find friendly faces, great service and plenty of things to do and see. From world-class birding and fishing to outdoor dining opportunities, enjoy the welcoming spirit of the best beach town of the Lone Star State.
Island access is available from Aransas pass via auto ferry or from the south via park road from North padre Island.
Full of Texas history, grand architecture, great attractions and fun beaches, Galveston Island is a great holiday getaway destination, regardless the length of your stay. Once a major Gulf port and receiving station for immigrants arriving to settle the wild west, Galveston was the first for many things in Texas history...the first library, first newspaper, first courthouse, first harbor, first radio station. Once recognized as the seat of territorial government, the city is a model of success -- and tragedy. In the early 1900s a hurricane nearly wiped the island community off the map. But Galveston is resilient, and today it is stronger than ever before.
From a visitor's standpoint, Galveston has some of the best restaurants in Texas, great hotels and lodges, and fun times on island beaches. There is also a Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark, Moody Gardens offer a look at the world from within their "city of Pyramids," great museums, super shopping and plenty of water and beach-related activities. You'll also find lots of clubs and bars where you can enjoy your tropical evenings.
Visit Galveston Island and enjoy the history, the mystery and the fun it affords visitors from near and far.
Rockport-Fulton is another one of the small coastal cities of Texas that offers a great experience for visitors because of its charm, coastal beauty, windswept oaks that line the bay front, and plenty of coastal culture that will provide days of fun for visitors. If you enjoy fresh-caught Gulf seafood, the community offers up plenty of fare at dozens of great restaurants. Visit Fulton Harbor and watch them unload fresh shrimp, oysters and fish. Take in the charm of the city, a unique blend of coastal resort, fishing Mecca, and home to about 10,000 permanent residents.
Fishing is king along this section of coast. Abundant bays offer great fishing for redfish, trout, drum and other fish varieties. There are plenty of piers to fish from if you don't have a boat, and also there are fishing and party boat trips available. Also, take a special bird watching tour by boat and visit areas you can't reach any other way.
Rockport Beach is actually located on Aransas Bay and not the Gulf of Mexico, but it still offers water sport activities. In spite of being a smaller beach, it offers plenty of family fun. Beach volleyball is a favorite each weekend as local teams welcome weekend visitors to join in the fun. Also take time to visit Fulton mansion, an historic museum offering tours and special events regularly. Nearby is Goose island State Park and Big Tree, a Texas landmark, where a 1,000 year-olf oak tree is the center of attraction, not far from where pirate Jean Lafitte hid one of his many treasures according to local legend. Enjoy Rockport and take home plenty of memories.