The first thing that comes to mind about the Gulf Coast region is precisely that; the coast along the Gulf of Mexico. And no wonder, since there are more than 624 miles of coastline stretching southward from the Louisiana border to the Mexican border near Brownsville.
The warm water of the Gulf beckons visitors who want to swim, fish, sail, sunbathe, build sand castles, surf or just take a relaxing stroll on the beach.
Searching for some solitude? Look no further than the North Padre National Seashore - which has the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier-island beach in the world - or, if you prefer to be where the action is, join the crowds and party-like atmosphere up and down the coast during Spring Break, or in Galveston and Port Arthur during Mardi Gras.
Get up early in the morning to cast lines off a pier or head into the Gulf for some deep-sea fishing. Spend the afternoon lying on a beach enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the lulling sound of the waves breaking on the sand. Take a walk along the sand as the sun sets, enjoying the peace of day’s end as sunbeams make their final plays across the water. In the evening, head out to a local waterside restaurant to enjoy fresh seafood and the dark ripple of the waves at night.
However, the Gulf Coast is not just about the sand and surf. From the sun-kissed valley near the Texas-Mexico border to the swamps in Orange, and everything in between, the region has something that appeals to every kind of traveler.
If you enjoy wildlife watching, you’ve definitely come to the right place. The Rio Grande Valley is the nation’s number one bird-watching destination, and most of the Texas Coastal Birding Trail stops fall within this portion of the state. Some of the birding opportunities include seeing tropical birds in Harlingen, stopping at the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center, Paradise Pond Birding Habitat or Los Ebanos Nature Preserve, catching glimpses of the endangered whooping crane that winter at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and visiting Rockport-Fulton in September for the Hummer/Bird Celebration to see the migrating hummingbirds.
For history buffs, travel back to a different time in Texas with a visit to one of many sites of profound historical importance. Visit the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Deer Park, where Texas avenged its Alamo defeat and won its independence from Mexico. See Spindletop in Beaumont, which set off the oil boom in Texas in 1901 and brought in the modern era of petroleum production.
For museum lovers, the region is rich with art museums, heritage museums, and historic homes and buildings that preserve history. Tour homes, mansions and plantations, and see examples of everyday life and culture in the 1800s and early 1900s. Houston’s museum district is ranked among the five best in the nation, and its Museum of Fine Arts is the sixth largest in the country.
With Texas’ largest city, Houston, and its surrounding metropolitan area, along with Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Harlingen, Port Arthur, Beaumont, the Brazosport Area and Bay Area Houston, there are plenty of opportunities for people who want for modern day activities like shopping, visiting art museums, attending theatrical performances, splashing around at water parks, and enjoying rides at amusement parks. For a truly out-of-this-world experience, visit NASA/ Space Center Houston and have some fun learning about our nation’s space program.
With so much to see and do here, it might be hard to decide where to start, but you don’t want to miss a thing. So, whether you are a beach or water fan, history buff or living for the present, urbanite or nature-lover, the Gulf Coast has something for you to enjoy!