There’s only so much beach time one can handle, right?
Okay, maybe some of us never tire of the beach, but there is lots to do in and around Mustang Island aside from beach time!
Since I work Monday to Friday and the occasional weekend, it’s challenging for me to do everything that’s offered in an area that I travel to. The same was true of my trip to Mustang Island because there is a two-week maximum stay (14 consecutive days) at this park.
Here are my recommendations on what to eat & do near Mustang Island…
I wish I had heard about King Ranch while at my previous location. It would have been easier to tour from there and from Mustang Island, I would have visited the Botanical Gardens in Corpus Christi instead.
I didn’t know anything about King Ranch, other than I might see a Texas Longhorn, so one weekend I headed that direction.
Tours are available throughout the day, and for approximately $20 you too can tour the property in an airconditioned bus! Guests hear all about the history of the ranch beginning with its founder Richard King. Richard had quite an exciting and adventurous life after growing up in New York City. At sixteen years old he escaped indentured servitude, moved south and worked his way to Riverboat Captain. Using the Rincon de Santa Gertrudis land grant, Captain King acquired the first land for his ranch. After buying all the cattle from a poor Mexican town in the throes of a drought, he offered the residents housing and food if they returned to Texas with him to work on his ranch. Many of those original families stayed on King Ranch for generations. By 1865, King had amassed 146,000 acres and thousands of cattle.
The Ford King Ranch Truck is named for this prestigious spread of land whose keepers have created many innovative products and breeds throughout its long history. I found this piece of history the most interesting of all. They have racked up many accolades and first, including but not limited to
- Being the historical birthplace of the finest Quarter Horses in America,
- Creating a new breed of cattle, Santa Gertrudis (able to withstand the hot arid climate in South Texas), then the Santa Cruz breed
- Drilled the first artesian well in the area, allowing them to better survive and thrive in the desert climate. Communities sprung up as a result.
- Credited with creating the first dipping vats that helped combat the Texas fever tick,
- The first to develop and use net wire fencing to keep the animals contained.
- Researched & developed food pellets that provide complete micro-nutrition for the cattle.
Today the ranch is larger than the state of Rhode Island and encompasses 825,000 acres. King Ranch also owns a significant piece of farmland with orange groves between Miami and Tampa, Florida.
The BEST part of my visit to King Ranch? I got to see a javelina in the wild for the first time!
Javelinas are only found in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico in the United States but they do live south from there well into Northern Argentina. They are funny looking mammals with their pig-like nose, and weighty front ends. They range from 2 to 4 feet long and 35 to 55 pounds. They’re also called collared peccaries.
Packery Flats Coastal Habitat
I had passed the parking lot for this location every time I traveled from the state park south on Mustang Island. Even though it was late in the day, I decided to stop since my 2-week time limit was waning and I wanted to experience the Corpus Christi-facing side of the island. I was so glad I stopped.
The number of shorebirds wading and fishing was more than I’d seen in my entire trip to date. And the light was golden. It was a beautiful evening for a walk down a short trail into the barrier island habitat; I spent most of the time in awe of nature.
Packery Flats was devoid of any other visitors although I saw proof in the muddy footprints that others to do visit.
This 1000 acre area was initially called, and may still be known as, Mollie Beattie Flats. Protected in 1996, Mollie Beattie Flats was named for the first female US Fish & Wildlife Service Director.
Where I Ate & Drank
I don’t often eat out since I have a super sensitive digestive system, but occasionally, I test fate and try something anyway.
Doc’s Seafood Restaurant
13309 S Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
Seafood is a favorite, and since I was by the sea, a visit to a local restaurant was a given. My preference is a restaurant with a view. I got both when I stopped at Doc’s Seafood & Steaks for dinner one night as the sunset. The food was delicious, the service was good, and the view was spectacular. Once dark, the underwater lights brought seagulls hoping to catch fish in their glow, which made for interesting dining entertainment.
14493 S Padre Island Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
Being gluten-free, pizza is something I rarely get to eat anymore. Padre Pizzeria makes a gluten-free crust pizza I purchased to-go a couple of times during my visit. They make many types of gourmet pizzas, plus you can create your own. They weren’t inexpensive, but they were delicious, and I ate one pizza for multiple meals. The service was friendly and helpful.
Solo Travel Challenges
Since I travel alone, every once in awhile, I want to socialize with others. I don’t chat up fellow campers since often people don’t understand or respect that I work all day. It also puts me in an uncomfortable position of saying “no” to hours of socializing around a campfire. I would rather sight-see after work and on weekends since my time to play tourist is limited.
So, on the rare occasion, I want to talk to new people, I’ll head to a bar. I bartended during college, so it’s a comfortable space for me, and I have no second thoughts about pulling up a chair to a bar when I’m alone. I did this twice in two weeks while I was at Mustang Island, as I have many times in other locations. Never have I ever felt like a leper as I did here. Bartenders and patrons were polite but not even remotely friendly.
Seafood & Spaghetti Works
910 TX-361, Port Aransas, TX 78373
The only time I wandered into Port Aransas was to fill up my tank and have dinner at the Seafood & Spaghetti Works in town. It looked like a relatively large restaurant, and the existence of a store suggested it was a busy tourist location, so I wandered in and sat at the bar. The restaurant was less than half full, and there were only two customers at the bar, including me. It was past the dinner hour, but I ordered my meal and sat there in silence. My attempts at conversation only received monosyllabic answers from the bartender and the other patron. It was apparent they weren’t in the mood to chat. I did not go back.
Mikel May’s Beachside Bar & Grill
15820 Park Rd, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
Bob Hall Pier, Padre Island, Texas
After driving around I came across this location by surprise and decided to wander up, check out the view and have a drink. I only had one since I was driving but I would not have stayed for another anyway. The view is very nice and I’m sure the atmosphere would be enjoyable with a group of friends, but as a solo female, I felt shunned.
Again, people were polite, but after answering they would turn away, making it quite obvious, they were not interested in any further conversation. I probably would have been better received had I walked in with the plague. I enjoy striking up a conversation with strangers in the locations I visit because I learn details about their town, including off-the-beaten-trail gems. These people were not interested in welcoming curious tourists in the off-season.
There were many restaurants to dine in and places to visit then what I listed here. My two-week limit made it impossible to experience more of the area, but quite frankly, I was tired of the rain and ready to move on.
Let me know where your favorite place to stay nearby is. What do you like to do and eat when you’re in the area? If I ever get back there, I’d like to check them out.