Texas Gulf Coast
The Texas Gulf Coast has miles of beaches, state parks, historic sites, Wildlife Refuges, NASA’s Space Center and even tales of pirate treasure. There something for everyone from water sports and fishing, shopping to bird watching and cultural events. Warm tropical waters, delightful seaside communities and numerous venues make the Texas Gulf Coast a perfect place for a fun vacation.
From the Sabine river to the Rio Grande river valley, there are over 600 miles of beaches, bays, harbors, bayous and a chain of barrier islands that forms the Inter-Coastal Waterway. For those who love fishing and water sports of all kinds, the Gulf Coast is perfect for exploring the warm waters, tidal dunes and pristine beaches.
Galveston Island is full of fun things to do and see. Play on the beach or go running, cycling or walking along the beach front and seawall. Take a leisurely ride in a horse drawn carriage or trolley to the numerous shop on The Strand and tour the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa. Attractions include the Moody Gardens Aquarium and Rain Forest Pyramid, Lone Star Flight Museum and Rail Road Museum, etc. There are beautiful homes to tour – 1859 Ashton Villa, 1886 The Bishops Palace, 1895 Moody Mansion and more.
Further inland is the home of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Visitors can see astronauts train for missions, touch a real moon rock, land a shuttle, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA.
Port Lavaca marks the center point of the Texas Gulf Coast. Favorite area attractions are the Half Moon Reef Lighthouse and beach, Formosa Wetlands Waterway and Matagorda Island State Park. Indianola is the town site of a fort built by French explorer, Robert LaSalle. It is here that he shipwrecked in 1684 and artifacts from on of his ships, La Belle, can be seen at The Calhoun County Museum in Port Lavaca.
Corpus Christi has many visitors attractions including the USS Lexington Museum, the Texas State Aquarium & Dolphin Bay, Museum of Science and History, South Texas Institute for the Arts, Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, and more.
Nearby Padre Island and Mustang Island State Park boasts 113 miles of beautiful beaches. South Padre Island was named one of the top ten best beaches in the world and as as a top fishing destination. Padre Island was home to pirate Jean La Fitte and it is rumored he may have buried gold and treasure there.
The Texas Gulf Coast is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Swampy bayous, hardwood forests, coastal prairies, marshy wetlands, mud flats and sandy beaches makes a perfect habitat for many species. There are bobcats and coyotes, mink, nutria, raccoon, rabbit, opossum, skunks, river otter, muskrat and even alligators.
Bird watching is a favorite activity year round due to the numerous local birds as well as migratory visitors. Species of waterbirds such as the Whooping crane, whistling duck and roseate spoonbill – birds of the prairies include the Atwater prairie chicken, White Tailed Hawks and Crested Caracara – shore birds along the beach, gulls and more.
For wildlife viewing on the upper Gulf Coast visit Big Thicket National Preserve, Sea Rim State Park and Anhuac National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors to the lower Gulf Coast are will want to visit Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Matagorda Island, Padre Island and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in the Rio Grande area.