Island Time

Beach alternative: Where to eat, play and relax on "island time" in Port Aransas

Beach alternative: Where to eat, play and relax in Port Aransas

Chute Em Up Parasailing Port Aransas Gulf of Mexico boat
Chute 'Em Up Parasailing will give you an extreme view of Port Aransas. Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce/Facebook
Irie's Island Food Port Aransas restaurant seared tuna dish 2015
Dishes like seared yellowfin tuna in convenient to-go containers make Irie's Island Food a must for lunch. Irie's Island Food/Facebook
Balinese Wellness Spa Port Aransas retreat yoga deck
The Balinese Wellness Spa's outdoor yoga deck is a peaceful way to start your day. The Balinese Wellness Spa & Yoga Retreat/Facebook
Chute Em Up Parasailing Port Aransas Gulf of Mexico boat
Irie's Island Food Port Aransas restaurant seared tuna dish 2015
Balinese Wellness Spa Port Aransas retreat yoga deck

Looking for an alternative to Galveston? Soak up the sun with a quick escape to Port Aransas, which was named the second-best beach in the nation for a family vacation by tripping.com. The Gulf of Mexico is always churning out fun — and fishing and swimming aren't the only things to do in Port A, located about a four-hour drive from Houston. Here's a quick guide to some of our favorite things to do on "island time."

Play
Schedule a trip with Handsome Sailor Yacht Charters or Kohootz Etc. and get up close and personal with dolphins and native Gulf wildlife. Closer to shore you'll find more outdoorsy fun, such as kayaking, parasailing, and a wide variety of extreme activities. To get even more in touch with your wild side, try horseback riding at Coquat Ranch in Aransas Pass or with Horses on the Beach in nearby Corpus Christi.

Relax
If you're looking to treat yourself during your Port A vacation, the Balinese Wellness Spa offers a wide variety of services, including massages, facials, manicures, and more. This coastal gem also hosts several fitness classes, including a must-try yoga session on the beautiful outdoor deck.

Discover
Step out of the sun to explore the many art galleries of Port A. Port Aransas has a colorful arts scene with an array of cute markets. In addition to the arts, the ferry between Port A and Aransas Pass is an absolute must, so we suggest traveling across the water to check out the Rialto Theater, which hosts a bevy of entertaining plays and cool events.

Shop
Interspersed among the beachy trinket shops you'll find some wonderful fashion havens. For a mix of cute gifts and hot trends, we suggest Coastal Closet, Stephanie's Stuff, Saltwater Gypsies, and Raggdoll Boutique. If you're looking to bring the coast back to your home, Susan Castor Collection is a great stop for that seaside-inspired interior design, while A Mano will give you a taste of Mexico with its selection of handmade goods.

Eat
Seafood is the name of the game in Port A. Beach & Station St. Grill is a best bet for seafood, while Fins Grill & Icehouse and Castaways Seafood and Grill will cook your catch. Delicious dishes like seared yellowfin tuna in convenient, picnic-ready containers make Irie's Island Food a must for lunch (or brunch). For fine dining, try Roosevelt's at the Tarpon Inn or Venetian Hot Plate. Coffee Waves is a prime spot for morning coffee or a late-night gelato treat. Stop by The Back Porch Bar for a cold beer (or two) and some live music. 

Smile
It wouldn't be Port A visit without a dose of your typical tourist attractions. Go by Winton's Candy Co. to get your sweet tooth fix as well as a close-up chat with a real, live rattlesnake. Make a detour to Destination Beach & Surf for some great cheesy gifts and snap a pic in front of the iconic giant shark.