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Get ready for a weekend of deep-sea fishing and dolphin watching. Port Aransas, Texas, is one of the South's most low-key beach towns to explore the outdoors. Located on Mustang Island, a barrier island on Texas's Gulf Coast, Port Aransas is the South Texas destination you've been dreaming of. This undiscovered gem boasts uncrowded beaches and plenty of serene spots for fishing and birding. Outdoors enthusiasts will love Port Aransas's relaxed spirit and wide variety of family-friendly activities.

One of the best ways to explore Mustang Island is by kayak. The island even has its own designated paddling trails, ranging from 5 to 8 miles long. "All of the trails follow the western shoreline of Mustang Island in Corpus Christi Bay, and pass through some of the best shallow-water fishing areas in Texas," writes Texas Parks & Wildlife. Rent your kayak and get ready to hit the water.

Make like the locals and cruise the island in style in your very own golf cart. Access the island's 18-mile stretch of beaches in your land cruiser or venture off the beaten path to a fishing hole or birding point. You can't miss the open-air Texas Red Golf Carts cruising down Port Aransas's quiet streets and beachside pathways.

At the northernmost tip of the island, you'll find Roberts Point Park, a pleasant green space with pavilions perfect for a casual lunch. This spot will entertain the whole family with sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and granite jetties that double as fishing points. If you're lucky, you might just catch a free concert at the Patsy Jones Amphitheater.

This beloved family beach town on Mustang Island known affectionately and proudly as Port “A” has done a remarkable job of recovering in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and its 6.3 miles of broad, flat sands remain a great place t
Credit: Olga Melhiser / Getty Images

Venture to the observation tower at Roberts Point Park, where you'll discover a sweeping view of the bay—you might just even catch a pod of dolphins swimming by. Since South Texas's offshore climate is so temperate, there's no need for the dolphins to migrate; you'll find these friendly mammals here year-round.

For an afternoon of birding, head out to Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, a lush wetland escape with a long stretch of boardwalk and viewing tower. Look out for alligators, endangered whooping cranes, and pink roseate spoonbills, the official bird of Port Aransas. The idyllic nature preserve is free to the public and open from sunrise to sunset.

Grab a bite at Irie's Island Food, a breezy, spirited local joint that captures this Texas city's quirky vibe. Tacos stuffed with fresh fish arrive on house-made flour tortillas—expect creative flavors, like Curried Coconut Shrimp, Grilled Wahoo, and Panko Mahi. Pair your tacos with one of 13 sauce options (the Red Dragon is a customer favorite). During the busier summer months, be sure to arrive early—this popular lunch spot might just sell out by 3 PM.