When I was visiting Port Aransas during spring break in March, the first one post-Harvey, I kept hearing the same thing as I talked to locals and business owners across the island—“We need people to come and support us right now.” I grew up in Corpus Christi, so Port Aransas was the place we went for a quick escape, a walk on the beach when my mom and I needed to talk something out in those tumultuous teen years. There was never anything that couldn’t be settled over shrimp burgers on the Snoopy’s Pier, on our way back to town. But it seems every Texan has a Port Aransas story, as Tiana Worsham, the chef-owner of the Phoenix, shared when we chatted on the porch of her new location since the other one was destroyed in Harvey—“Port Aransas is the state’s playground.” Almost immediately after my time in Port A in March, I rallied a group of friends to book a trip for a summer weekend with all ten of our kids in tow, to help support the island’s passionate local business owners. Here’s what’s on our itinerary.
While I love Cinnamon Shore for its large homes with chic, beachy interiors that accommodate families and big groups, not everyone has time for the five-night minimum that many of the homes require. The neighboring Palmilla Beach Resort, where you can rent a condo or stand-alone house, with some boasting as many as eight bedrooms, has comparable amenities. One added bonus for golf lovers is the property’s recently redesigned and renamed Palmilla Beach Golf. Once all of the bags (and YETIs) are unloaded, take one of the property’s golf carts across the Whispering Dunes Crossover bridge to the beach, where the hotel has beach chairs and umbrellas set up. After enough shell collecting and sandcastle building has ensued, it’s back to the swimming pool, where live music will be happening most Saturday nights. Kids will be enthralled by Red Dragon Pirate Cruises, which involve an interactive two-hour tour around the bay led by pirates in costume (and in character) aboard a 100-passenger sailboat that involves sword fighting, water gun fights, a treasure hunt, and face painting. Day cruises run 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 3 to 5:30 p.m., or an evening option, which sets sail at 6:30 p.m. Prices start at $27 for children ages 3–12 and $38 for adults. Pirates not your thing? Hop aboard the Scarlet Lady, a dolphin-watching cruise down the Lydia Ann Channel. Tours leave at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For a casual dinner out with kids, we like La Playa (they will also drop off preordered catering orders or send a chef over to your rental).