By Yvonne Vasquez
Trying to plan a summer vacation that will appeal to the entire family is always a challenge. Fortunately, the Texas coast offers plenty of thrilling options to choose from. Here are some of the most appealing prospects for vacationing along the Texas coast.
A visit the Galveston area just would not be complete without a trip to Moody Gardens. In the multi-level Rainforest Pyramid, visitors can walk amid free-roaming birds and animals set against exotic plants and invigorating waterfalls. The stunning Aquarium Pyramid soars 12
stories high and features thousands of marine creatures from the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean oceans. New for Summer 2015 is the wild and wacky SpongeBob SubPants 3-D submarine voyage in the Discovery Pyramid. Another new attraction, the exciting racetrack-style exhibit, SPEED: Science in Motion in the Discovery Museum that features thrilling hands-on demonstrations. Park visitors will also be able to enjoy animatronic adventure Dinos Alive, which returns to the park this summer. Last but not least, adventure enthusiasts will love the
challenge of the new Sky Trail Ropes Course, the tallest Steel Ropes Course on the Gulf Coast, or the exhilarating Zip Line course that glides 60-feet high over Moody Gardens. Amusement park fans seeking a splash of adventure need look no further than Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark where guests of all ages can find a place to have some refreshing fun. The thrills continue at Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier where a rollercoaster and other exciting rides soar above the Gulf of Mexico. History buffs will love to explore the intriguing past of this coastal town. Check out Seawolf Park, Texas Seaport Museum and Pier 21 Theatre to learn more about its history. Another unique stop in Galveston is the Ocean Shore Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum which gives visitors a fascinating look at the world of offshore drilling. The popular three-story attraction offers a wealth of educational information including several 3-D exhibits that highlight
the many phases of oil exploration and production.
CORPUS CHRISTI AND PORT ARANSAS
The attractive lure of the Gulf Coast is a familiar one for most Texans. But now there are even more fun-filled reasons to plan a visit there.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Upper Padre is the fourth and newest addition to this famous waterpark family. When it opens in summer 2015, the park will have the longest inter-connected river system in the park’s history. Already open for business on Padre Island in Corpus Christi is the Schlitterbahn Beach Country Club which features a nine-hole course, tennis courts and heated pool plus Schlitterbahn’s Veranda Restaurant and Bar.
One of the most popular destinations in Corpus Christi is the Texas State Aquarium. In 2014, the Aquarium introduced Nearshore Experience, a completely renovated indoor exhibit that depicts life at the shoreline, and allows visitors to stroll directly beneath shorebirds, like the roseate spoonbill and white ibis. Dolphin Bay and Dolphin Bay Underwater Room offer close-up experiences with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The chance to touch and hand-feed stingrays is what still draws so many visitors to the ever-amazing Stingray Lagoon. Eagle Pass and the Hawn Wild Flight Theater both feature trained birds and small mammals that provide plenty of entertainment while promoting conservation. Kids can dig for fossils at Owen’s Paleo Park or enjoy interactive water play at HEB’s Splash Park. The underwater habitat formed around an oil platform is the focus of Islands of Steel, the largest indoor exhibit at the Aquarium. Sharks, moray eels, groupers and barracudas are just a few of the many fascinating marine animals that can be viewed here. On the horizon is the final phase of Campaign Caribbean, an exciting new exhibit which will double the size of the Aquarium when it is completed in 2017. The greatest expansion in the Aquarium’s 24-year history will showcase a brilliant array of plants and wildlife of the Western Caribbean. When completed, it will make the Texas Aquarium one of the top aquariums in the nation.
History springs to life when visitors come aboard the USS Lexington WWII naval aircraft carrier and museum. In addition to touring the eleven decks on this enthralling ship, the Virtual Battle Stations and Flight Simulators are not to be missed. Yet another coastal treasure is the South Texas Botanical Gardens & Nature Center which boasts a Butterfly House, orchid, rose and hummingbird gardens. Exotic parrots and reptiles add a special charm to this beautiful garden paradise.
Opportunities abound for outdoor enthusiasts in Port Aransas and surrounding areas. Adventure-seekers will be drawn to sailing, windsurfing, kiteboarding and parasailing. And, fortunately, more relaxing sports can also be enjoyed in this area including fishing, kayaking and birdwatching.
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND
With 34 miles of attractive beaches next to sparkling blue water, it’s easy to see why South Padre Island is an ideal family vacation destination. The area is named after a Spanish priest named Padre Nicolas Balli who settled the area in 1804. He established a church and
intended to bring Christianity to the native Karankawa Indians. Prior to this, the island was mostly used for ranching. The tourism industry was developed in the early 1920s and since then, the charm of the Island has only grown. Each year, thousands of nature-lovers look forward to visiting Sea Turtle Inc. This world-renowned facility is dedicated to the rehabilitation and rescue of sea turtles. Many releases are
scheduled during the summer months, giving visitors plenty of chances to watch baby sea turtles find their way back to the ocean. New to South Padre Island is the recently opened Schlitterbahn Beach Resort, an indoor/outdoor water park with seven thrilling attractions and spectacular views. This 221-room beachfront resort is hard to beat when it comes to location. Excellent dining options combined with convenient access to popular beach activities makes this resort a great destination for families who prefer round-the-clock fun in the sun.
When it comes to enjoyment, it’s difficult to find a water activity that is not available on this island paradise. Kiteboarding, parasailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing and water bikes are among the recreational options from which beachgoers can choose. Other pursuits suitable for families are dolphin watch tours, deep sea fishing, surfing, horseback riding, sand castle lessons, snorkeling, skydiving, flyboarding and amphibious tours. Planning a memorable summer vacation can be a challengingtask. But fortunately, Texas has a lot of options for the average family to create many memories under the sun.