Located on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll find many incredibly fun things to do in Port Aransas. As one of the best beach towns in Texas, it is a popular vacation destination for Texans and visitors from all over the world – and for good reason!
Lovingly called Port A by locals, we have fallen in love with this area and return every chance we get! Just three hours from home, means that many long weekends here are treasured memories.
One of the main draws of Port Aransas is its stunning beaches. With miles of pristine coastline, visitors can spend their days soaking up the sun, swimming in the clear waters, and building sandcastles with their kids. Hint* Head down the island a few miles and you will find the best beaches! Whitecap Beach tops our family favorite list .
In addition to the beaches, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to enjoy, such as fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching. There are also several golf courses in the area, as well as opportunities to rent a golf cart in Port Aransas and explore the town (a super popular activity here!).
And the best part? Many of the activities in Port Aransas are free, making it the perfect place to visit for a vacation that won’t break the bank.
Port Aransas Things do on Beaches
When it comes to things to do in Port Aransas, visiting the beaches is practically a requirement. With 18 miles of wide, sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, there are so many amazing ways to dive into the water during your Port Aransas vacation.
Here are some of the best beaches to put on your (loose) itinerary:
1. Watch the Sunset at Padre Balli Park
The pier provides a beautiful backdrop for a sunset picnic and post dinner swim. Located on North Padre Island, just minutes from town, this beach can get busy on peak days but is a less crowded spot for spreading our your blanket in the sand.
2. Build a Sandcastle at IB Magee Beach Park
Port Aransas is known for its beautiful, sandy beaches. The sand is soft and white, and perfect for building sandcastles or just lounging in the sun. You can even book a sandcastle lesson with a pro!
3. Boogie Board at Whitecap Beach
I put this at the top of the list because it is a personal favorite. We stayed just one block from here in an adorable beachy condo and spent many hours on this beach on our last trip.
The waves are great for boogie boarding, or just splashing around in the water. The wind can be strong at times, making it a popular spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing.
4. Visit Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a more secluded beach experience especially during a peak travel season such as spring break on Texas. The park has five miles of beachfront, and offers a variety of activities such as swimming, fishing, and birdwatching. There are also campsites available if you want to spend the night.
5. Watersports at Port Aransas Beach
Port Aransas Beach is a public beach that is clean, but can get crowded and has a lifeguard on duty. It’s a popular spot for families, as there are car-free locations available. You can also drive your vehicle right onto the beach by investing in a beach parking permit.
There are plenty of activities to do here, including parasailing, jet skiing, and boogie boarding.
6. Relax on the Beach at Padre Island National Seashore
Located just a half hour from downtown Port Aransas, this gem is not hidden, yet it tends to draw smaller crowds. This peaceful beach is a beautiful spot for a more serene beach day. Malaquite Beach is a perfect spot to set up camp for the day.
Keep an eye out for sea turtles laying eggs on the sand!
7. Build a Bonfire on the Beach
This was a top requested activities for one of my children on our last visit to Port A, but the wind didn’t cooperate this time and it was too windy for a campfire. But if you end up luckier than us, a beach bonfire is the perfect activity for s’mores or hot dogs on a stick!
Pro tip* No worries if you forget to plan ahead. The grocery stores carry firewood and collapsible sticks with prongs for roasting!
Beach bonfires are allowed at I.B. Magee Beach. Padre Balli Park, North Beach, and Mustang Island Beach. Just make sure to follow the posted rules for staying within the size restrictions, putting out your fire completely, and cleaning up afterward.
Fishing Activities in Port Aransas
Port Aransas is known as the “Fishing Capital of Texas” for a reason. With its pristine waters and diverse marine life, it’s no wonder that fishing is one of the top activities to do in the area. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a first-timer, there’s also an opportunity to try it out.
8. Fishing Tournaments
Competitive fishing is a big part of Port Aransas culture. Throughout the year, the town hosts several fishing tournaments, such as the Deep Sea Roundup and the Texas Legends Billfish Tournament. These events attract anglers from all over the world to compete for cash prizes (and bragging rights!). Even if you’re not participating, they can be really fun to watch!
9. Deep Sea Fishing
For those looking for an amazing adventure, deep sea fishing is a must-try activity in Port Aransas. With a variety of fish available, you are likely to catch something great!
You can hire a private charter or join a group tour and head out to the deep blue waters for a day of fishing. Most charters provide all the necessary equipment and offer guidance from experienced captains which makes it possible for even beginners.
Activities in Port Aransas
Port Aransas is a great place to enjoy a variety of activities and attractions. If you need a break from the sun, there are plenty of indoor options too.
10. Explore Port Aransas via Beach Cart
11. Take a Pirate Cruise – Ahoy!
You can also take a pirate cruise on the Red Dragon Pirate Cruise which will delight your little pirates as you take in the views of the coastline, dolphins, and sunset.
12. Admire the Art Galleries
If you’re interested in art, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore your creative side in Port Aransas. The Port Aransas Art Center is a great place to start, with a variety of exhibits and classes available. You can also check out the local galleries and shops, which feature a wide range of artwork from local artists.
13. Take a Dolphin Watching Tour
Hop on the Scarlet Lady for a dolphin watching tour along with up to 47 other passengers. This cruise takes an hour and a half and is a comfortable ride aboard the catamaran.
14. Set Sail at Sunset
I personally think that the only things better than a sunset over the ocean, is a sunset while you are on the ocean! If you agree, then book a sunset sail with Sail Wild or Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventures.
15. Explore the Farley Boat Works Exhibits
Step into the exhibits at Farley Boat Works and you’ll be transported back in time, where weathered wooden hulls have stories to tell. you can observe the artistry of master boat builders and check out the interactive displays. Try your hand at tying intricate knots or steer a virtual ship through treacherous waves.
Kayaking is a popular activity in Port Aransas, with plenty of opportunities to explore the local beaches and waterways. You can rent a kayak and explore on your own, or take a guided tour to learn more about the local ecosystem. Some popular spots for kayaking include San Jose Island (head here for remote beach with SO many seashells!) and the Lydia Ann Lighthouse.
For the more adventurous, you can even take a glow kayaking tour at night!
18. Hit the Green at a Golf Course
Port Aransas offers a variety of golf courses that cater to different preferences and skill levels. Some of the golf courses in the area that you might want to check out include:
- Palmilla Beach Golf Club: This premier golf course features stunning coastal views and challenging fairways. Its beautiful design and oceanfront location makes for a beautiful spot to spend the morning.
- Newport Dunes Golf Club: This course offers a mix of open fairways and water hazards. It provides a relaxed atmosphere and is suitable for players of all levels.
- Oso Beach Municipal Golf Course: Located in nearby Corpus Christi, this public course offers affordable rates and a family-friendly environment. It features well-maintained greens and fairways, making it a popular choice.
19. Check out the Live Music Scene
Start your evening at beachfront bars and restaurants like The Back Porch and The Gaff, where you can listen to talented local musicians while enjoying stunning ocean views. For a more intimate and cozy atmosphere, head to venues like Shorty’s Place, which often features acoustic performances by skilled artists. If you’re seeking a larger concert experience, check out the Port Aransas Community Theatre, where you might catch a live band or a theatrical production with a musical twist.
20. Take a Hike
One popular trail is the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center Boardwalk, a serene and scenic path that winds through marshes and offers excellent bird-watching opportunities. Another great option is the Port Aransas Nature Preserve, which has several interconnected trails that meander through dunes, marshes, and coastal prairies. This preserve is a haven for wildlife (see more detailes below).
For a unique hiking experience, head to the Port Aransas Jetty, where you can traverse the rocks along the coast and enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico
Birdwatchers, sea turtle lovers, and fans of whooping cranes, will all love the opportunities to experience the natural beauty of the area.
21. Watch a Sea Turtle Release
Port Aransas is home to five of the seven species of sea turtles, including the endangered Kemp’s Ridley. You can learn more about these fascinating creatures and their conservation efforts at the Padre Island National Seashore.
During the summer months, you might even be lucky enough to witness a sea turtle nesting or hatching! Follow their Facebook page for turtle release dates. We visited just a couple weeks too early this year and missed this, but it is on our Texas bucket list for sure!
22. Bring your Binoculars for Birding
Port Aransas is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in birding. The center has a boardwalk that takes visitors through a variety of habitats, including freshwater ponds, saltwater marshes, and oak mottes. You can spot a wide variety of birds – herons, egrets, pelicans, and spoonbills to name a few.
23. Observe the Whooping Cranes
The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of the endangered whooping crane. You can take a guided tour of the refuge to see these magnificent birds up close. The refuge is also a great place to spot other wildlife, including alligators, deer, and coyotes.
Port Aransas is also part of the Great Texas Birding Trail, which includes more than 300 birding sites throughout the state.
Things to Do in Port Aransas: Restaurants
When it comes to dining in Port Aransas, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for seafood, local cuisine, or a classic seafood boil, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your taste buds. Here are a few of our favorites:
24. Munch on Fresh Seafood
Port Aransas is known for its fresh seafood, and there are plenty of restaurants that specialize in tasty dishes. From grilled shrimp to fried oysters, you can find a variety of seafood options on menus across the city. Some popular seafood restaurants include:
- Venetian Hot Plate: This Italian restaurant is known for its seafood dishes, including lobster ravioli and shrimp scampi.
- Tortuga’s Saltwater Grill: This restaurant serves up fresh seafood dishes like crab cakes and grilled fish.
- Black Marlin Bar & Grill: With a focus on Gulf Coast cuisine, this restaurant offers a variety of seafood dishes, including shrimp and grits and fish tacos.
25. Try Out Local Restaurants
If you’re looking for a taste of local cuisine, Port Aransas has plenty of options to choose from. Local restaurants offer a variety of dishes that are unique to the area, including:
- Surfside Sandwich Shoppe: This North Padre Island eatery offers an extensive menu from shrimp tacos to Philly cheese steaks. The burgers were also delicious.
- Coffee Waves: This coffee shop serves up breakfast sandwiches and pastries that are perfect for a quick bite.
- Irie’s Island Food: This Jamaican restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including jerk chicken and curry goat.
- Grumbles Seafood: This seafood restaurant serves up classic dishes like fish and chips and shrimp po’boys.
26. Experience a Seafood Boil
A seafood boil is a classic Port Aransas dining experience. These meals typically include a variety of seafood, such as shrimp, crab, and crawfish, along with vegetables and potatoes. Some popular seafood boil restaurants include:
- Rollin’ Tide Boil Co.: If you don’t want to leave the beach for dinner, then don’t! Roll Tide brings a beach front shrimp boil to you!
- Shell’s Pasta & Seafood: This restaurant offers a variety of seafood boils, including a classic shrimp boil and a crab boil.
- The Boiling Pot: This restaurant is known for its seafood boils, which come in a variety of sizes and include options like crab and shrimp.
- Crazy Cajun Seafood Restaurant: This restaurant offers a variety of seafood boils, including a crawfish boil and a shrimp boil.
Ready to plan fun things to do in Port Aransas?
There is no shortage of things to do in Port Aransas!
One of the main draws is its beautiful beaches, but there are plenty of other things to do in Port Aransas too. For those who love golf carts, Port Aransas is the place to be! Local restaurants are another highlight of Port Aransas, and there are plenty of options to choose from.
We highly recommend that you pack your bags, grab your sunscreen (seriously, don’ t forget your sunscreen), and get ready for a fun trip in Port Aransas!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top attractions in Port Aransas?
Port Aransas has many exciting attractions including the Port Aransas Beach, Mustang Island State Park, and the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. The Port Aransas Art Center and the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center are also great places to visit for art and wildlife.
Where can I find the best seafood in Port Aransas?
Everywhere! No, but seriously, Port Aransas is known for its fresh seafood. Some of the best places to find seafood include the Black Marlin Bar and Grill, Irie’s Island Food, and the Shells Pasta & Seafood. Virginia’s on the Bay and Trout Street Bar & Grill are also popular favorites.
What are some fun activities to do in Port Aransas?
Port Aransas offers many fun activities to enjoy in all seasons. You can go fishing, kayaking, surfing, or paddle boarding. You can also take a dolphin watching tour, go on a sunset cruise, or visit the Port Aransas Nature Preserve. The Port Aransas Museum and Farley Boat Works are also great places to check out.
What events are happening in Port Aransas?
Port Aransas hosts many events throughout the year. Some of the popular events include the SandFest, Deep Sea Roundup, and the Texas Super Chef Throwdown. The Port Aransas Artfest, the Whooping Crane Festival, and the Port Aransas Boat Parade are also worth checking out.
Where can I go on a dolphin tour in Port Aransas?
There are many places to go on a dolphin tour in Port Aransas. Some of the popular options include the Dolphin Watch Nature Tours, Red Dragon Pirate Cruises, and the Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventures. You can also take a sunset dolphin cruise with the Kohootz Dolphin Encounters.
What are some good hotel options in Port Aransas?
Port Aransas offers a variety of hotel options to suit different budgets and preferences. Some of the popular hotels include the Port Royal Ocean Resort & Conference Center, the Island Hotel Port Aransas, and the Hampton Inn & Suites Port Aransas. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites, the Best Western Port Aransas, and the Sea Breeze Suites are also great options.