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One of main attractions in Corpus Christi, the Texas State Aquarium is a sought-after favorite in this part of Texas. Located on Corpus Christi Bay right next to the entrance to the USS Lexington, the aquarium is a cool refuge away from the sweltering summer heat. The exhibits feature local sea life as well as exotic animals from all parts of the world. One of the other highlights is the dolphin training demonstration, it is held at varying times throughout the day.
The USS Lex was once used in military expeditions throughout the world, but today it functions as a floating museum. It is docked pleasantly on the Corpus Christi Bay, and it's quite impressive to see from any angle. To board, you are whisked away in a free shuttle that takes you right to the ship's hangar entrance. The tour allows visitors to see the flight deck, the control and navigation rooms and even the captain's quarters. There is also a mega-theater on board as well as a flight simulator and an interactive exhibit entitled 'Virtual Battle Stations'.
Peacefully residing on the North Padre Island, the Padre Island National Seashore is essentially famed for its untouched beaches, dunes, sea turtles, migratory birds, and other endangered species. This seashore divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre and has a few hypersaline lagoons which are very rare in the world. The National Seashore opened its doors in 1962 and is one of the few nesting places of the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle. A wonderland for birders, the entrancing seashore harbors more than 380 varieties of birds any day of the week on its freshwater ponds and lagoons. Some species include herons, egrets, terns and skimmers which inhabit this shore, a stirring amalgam of land and sea. A stunning natural as well as a geological marvel, this invigorating seashore represents marine biodiversity at its very best.
Originally built in 1877, this magnificent 29-room house shows the opulence and grandeur in which the Fulton Family lived. The mansion has been renovated over the years and guided tours are available Wednesday through Sunday. As you walk through the home, you can see why construction took years to complete. With palm trees and an impressive facade, it is hard to imagine that the final cost of the house was a mere 55K in Victorian Era dollars. The house is run under the auspices of the Texas Historical Commission and it's a great place to visit if you enjoy history, especially Texan history.
This nature center in southwest Corpus Christi houses more than 180-acres of exotic and native plants. The site features an Orchid House, Bromeliad Sanctuary, a Rose Garden and many other designated flower areas. Another benefit to the gardens, include the fact that the center works as a conservationist for exotic and abandoned animals. The botanical gardens house reptiles, birds and fish all in their respective exhibits and habitats. Don't forget to take a walk down the Bird & Butterfly Trail which overlooks Gator Lake! Moreover, the gardens often host special events, educational classes and tours.
A coastal paradise par excellence, Mustang Island State Park is a stunning jewel embedded on the Gulf of Mexico. Believed to have been formed by sedimentary deposits, this state park features swathes of sand dunes intermingled with pristine stretches of beaches. The park's name comes from mustang horses that the Spaniards brought over when the land was first settled, hundreds of years ago. What was once a habitat of the indigenous Karankawa Indians, is now an idyllic sanctum which is a treasure trove of activities like swimming, kayaking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and more. Open to the public since 1979, the state park harbors a variety of wildlife like raccoons, hawks, jackrabbits, and coyotes, as well as plenty of waterbirds, shorebirds, and songbirds.
For an educational day out with the kids, visit the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History located in Bayfront Park. What really draws visitors to this museum are the replicas of the Pinta, Niña and Santa Maria; the ships that Christopher Columbus sailed upon when he arrived in the Americas. Guided tours of the ships are available every hour and are included in the price of admission. Aside from the ships, the museum has a number of exhibits that highlight the region. From paleontology and ecology to agronomy and the history of Corpus Christi, this museum is a veritable treasure trove of education in the region.
Just steps from the museums of Bayfront Park, visitors will find a collection of homes surrounded by beautiful greenery on North Chaparral Street. Visitors who walk through this neighborhood will feel as if they have stepped into the Victorian era and visiting one of the twelve homes will only enhance that sentiment. It is recommended to take the guided tour of these homes in order to better understand the full history of these architectural gems. The Galvan House is the yellow center house from which all tours depart and there is a fee when you take a tour, however if you wish to walk around the neighborhood, that is free.
Quite possibly the most famous musician to come out of Corpus Christi, Selena Quintanilla life journey can be seen through this museum. Her family built the museum after receiving letters from fans expressing their interest in a museum to commemorate the legendary Tejano singer. On display you will find several of Selena's stage costumes, most of which she designed herself, awards and other memorabilia. The museum even has Selena's red Porsche for visitors to see. All admission revenue goes to the Selena Foundation, which helps to aid children in need and provides scholarships to promising students.
This building was designed by the renowned architect Philip Johnson, where he used a material called 'shellcrete', which is a combination of shells and concrete. The tri-level structure stands majestically by the bay and it houses an interesting permanent collection as well as constant temporary exhibitions. Most pieces are American contemporary and include paintings and sculptures from renowned artists like Georgia O'Keefe and Jackson Pollock. For the little ones there is a children's play area located downstairs and if art makes you hungry, step into the elegant Dobson Cafe for a light lunch.