Corpus Christi, Texas, might be beloved by travelers for its in-city broad sandy beaches and proximity to even more sand-dusted shore. But as nature lovers can attest, there’s more to the great outdoors in these parts than just frothing surf and beach-side sunsets.
For one, any ornithologist worth their salt can tell you that the birding is superb along much of the Texas coast. In fact, the official Central Texas Coast Wildlife Trail even has a Corpus Christi Bay loop, which includes stops at places like Hazel Bazemore County Park, Pollywog Pond and Fred Jones Nature Sanctuary.
Also on the birder’s list, but a worthwhile stop even if you don’t give a hoot for Long-billed Thrashers, is the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center. Wander from wetlands to desert via roses, plumeria, butterflies and of course, birds, before calling yourself well-versed in local flora.
Another don’t miss nature stop is Padre Island National Seashore, a protected stretch of barrier island that takes in more than 65 miles of undeveloped beach. In addition to long walks, sun bathing, birding, swimming and fishing, there’s also primitive camping, beach driving (with the appropriate vehicle), cycling and in season, sea turtle spotting. For winds, try Laguna Madre, on the west side of the island, a popular windsurfing spot. Walk a ways from the end of the paved road and Park Headquarters to make your escape from the development of downtown complete.
And finally, it’s about an hour’s drive out of Corpus Christi, Texas, to reach the visitor center but expansive King Ranch deserves inclusion in our Mother Nature category. Wildlife restoration efforts have made this historic, 825,000 acre spread a fine destination for wildlife or bird watching tours (as well as history tours).
But really, let’s be honest: no one will really blame you even if the extent of your natural interlude means staying within arm’s reach of your towel on McGee Beach. Sand and sea do count for something, after all.