No beach days ever have to look the same in Corpus Christi—you have 100 miles of sandy coastline to choose from. Near downtown Corpus Christi, you can’t go wrong with any of the scenic stops along Shoreline Boulevard and Ocean Drive, but a further trek across the John F. Kennedy Causeway is worth the drive to North Padre Island for a more-secluded spot. Except for entrance fees to the Padre Island National Seashore, all beaches below are free, but parking on the sand requires a $12 permit, available at local H-E-B and Stripes stores.

Sand Castle on the Beach

North Beach: One of Corpus Christi’s most popular, North Beach is a great place to dip your toes in the water before or after a visit to the USS Lexington and Texas State Aquarium. Enjoy scenic views and seafood on the patio at Pier 99, and end the day on a sweet note with a scoop of ice cream from Big Daddy’s.

McGee Beach: Situated near the heart of downtown, McGee Beach is one of the most convenient stretches of sand in the area. Splash in the waves or rent an electric scooter and ride along North Shoreline Drive and Water’s Edge Park.

Cole Park: For beach vibes without the sand, Cole Park is the perfect summer picnic spot to escape the crowds along Ocean Drive. Featuring walking trails, playgrounds, and a pier for scenic views of the Gulf and downtown Corpus Christi. In summer, the park’s amphitheater hosts the Bay Jammin’ Concert and Cinema Series.

On Padre Island:

Mustang Island: Also known as J.P. Luby Surf Park, North Packery Beach is vehicle friendly and appeals to surfers, wakeboarders, kite surfers. Pay an entrance fee at the Mustang Island State Park station for a slightly more exclusive beach experience and covered picnic tables.

Whitecap Beach: One of the prettiest beaches on Padre Island, Whitecap Beach is connected to South Packery Beach by a mile-long seawall and has restrooms and rinse-off showers.

Bob Hall Pier: Piers make ideal fishing spots, and their structures shift sandbar patterns to create the best waves for surfers. Bob Hall Pier near Padre Balli Park attracts both crowds, so you can rent fishing tackle, hang ten, and refuel at Mikel May’s Beachside Bar & Grill.

Padre Island National Seashore: For the most secluded beaches, drive to the  Padre Island National Seashore, home to more than 70 miles of beaches and dunes. Firmly packed sand on North and South Beach make them friendly for two-wheel-drive vehicles, but both Little and Big Shell Beaches are best accessed with an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Closed Beach—hence the name—is inaccessible by vehicle altogether. The remaining 34 miles of unmarked beach are yours to enjoy in solitude.