Reinvent your days in this Gulf-front community where affordable housing makes living on the water an easy—and exciting—possibility
Writer: Jeff Book
1 of 6Photographer: Michael Hanson
Snowbirds from all over—fondly known as winter Texans—have long flocked to the Lone Star State’s Gulf Coast. Rockport, located about 30 miles north of bustling Corpus Christi, is a choice haven for them to alight. Bounded by bays and sheltered by barrier islands, the harbor at Rockport Beach is serene, with fisherman quietly minding their bobbing lures off the wooden pier. Downtown on Austin Street, brightly colored shops and restaurants are full of friendly conversation and laughter. Locals say Rockport is the sweet spot of Texas: easygoing every day, yet close to big-city attractions.
2 of 6Photographer: Michael Hanson
Rockport is home to several hundred artists, scads of galleries, and the 40-year-old Rockport Center for the Arts, a community hub offering classes, exhibitions, a sculpture garden, and the popular Rockport Art Festival (held in July).
Birding is also big, thanks in part to nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, which hosts the largest wild flock of endangered whooping cranes in the United States.
3 of 6Photographer: Michael Hanson
Rockport Beach Everyone loves Rockport Beach, a long crescent of sand with calm shallows, picnic pavilions, and volleyball courts certified by the Clean Beaches Coalition.
4 of 6Photo courtesy of Latitude 28°02'
Where to Eat & Drink
Latitude 28°02' (left) Specializing in fine dining coastal cuisine, Latitude is known for its tasty dishes such as duck in a shallot and raspberry red wine reduction. 105 N Austin St.; 361/727-9009 or latituderockport.com.
Charlotte Plummers This seafare restaurant serves mouthwatering fresh seafood—try the catch of the day topped with crab and pico de gallo. 202 North Fulton Beach Road; 361/729-1185 or charlotteplummers.com.
Jama’s Kitchen and Famous Cheesecake Still hungry? Head over to Jama’s to indulge in a slice of homemade sweetness. 415 S Austin St. #7; 361/727-2229.
5 of 6Photographer: Michael Hanson
What to Do
Grab your fishing pole and cast from one of the wooden piers at Rockport Beach or Goose Island State Park. To get on the water, contact Rockport Birding and Kayaking Adventures. At night, cheer on the Dallas Cowboys at the Pickled Pelican sports bar; on the weekends, check out events celebrating art, gardens, and angling.
Inviting shops are also found on and around Austin Street downtown. Buy fine art at the Austin Street Gallery and acrylic paintings and pottery in Coastal Creations, and then head north to pick out fashion and home décor finds at The Bay Window (left), one block off the water.
6 of 6Photo courtesy of The Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay
Where to Stay
The Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay (left) This inn features comfortable rooms, a large pool, and a gazebo-topped fishing pier. Rates start at $109; 866/790-8439 orlighthousetexas.com.
Pelican Bay Resort At the Pelican Bay Resort, the vintage tourist court gets a serious update with kitchen-equipped cottages and suites. Rates start at $119; 866/729-7177 orpelicanbayresort.com.