I grew up in San Antonio and since Port Aransas is only 160 miles away from my hometown, I spent many family vacations in this quaint coastal town. In a few weeks, I will load up my family and head down to this familiar stretch of sand for the first time as a parent. Since I need a new perspective on an old favorite, I have been researching the best things to do in Port A with kids.

If you have never been to Port Aransas, you should know that this strip of the Gulf Coast isn’t home to white sand beaches or crystal blue waters you find in Florida. However, it is a charming community approximately 3.5 hours from Austin with enough sand, water and activities to make the whole family happy.

Here are some of the top attractions for families in Port Aransas.

  1. Red Dragon Pirate Cruises

This excursion is a 2.5 hour interactive tour around the Aransas Bay led by pirates in costume aboard a 70-foot sailboat made to look like a pirate ship. The adventure includes sword fighting, water gun fights, a treasure hunt, and dolphin watching.

  1. The Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventure

You can cruise the waters of the Lydia Ann Channel on The Scarlet Lady, a catamaran-style boat. The guides will teach you the history of Port Aransas while you search for wild dolphins.

  1. Woody’s Sports Center

Woody’s specializes in meeting all of your fishing needs – from bait and tackle to boat charters. They also have parasailing, dolphin watching tours, sunset tours and a tour where you get “attacked” by a band of pirates.

  1. Roberts Point Park

This 50 acre park is located off of the Ferry Landing and looks like a great place to take a picnic and look at the boats docked in the municipal harbor. You can enjoy your lunch under one of the covered picnic tables while Your kids can burn off some energy on the playscape.

  1. Souvenirs, shaved ice and a shark.

This trio of attractions is classic Port A adventure. I recommend starting at the Islander, a souvenir store filled with bright, ocean-themes paraphernalia. Warning if you stop into this gift store with kids in tow, you will likely end up purchasing an outrageous souvenir.

After that, walk over to Tropical Sno and grab a Hawaiian shaved ice or sundae. See who can come up with the wildest combination of their 36 syrup flavors.

End this excursion by heading over to another souvenir store, Destination Beach and Surf. One of the store entrances is a huge shark’s head, so you can walk into Jaws’ mouth. Be sure to snap the quintessential Port Aransas tourist photo to post on Instagram.

  1. Desserted Island Ice Cream

This vibrant ice cream shop is filled with whimsical decor and its menu includes sundaes, banana splits, smoothies, coffee shakes and more! Desserted Island also has games to play while you wait – foosball, checkers,darts and a pool table. Take note- this spot is cash only, but does have an ATM onsite.

  1. Texas State Aquarium

If you are willing to make the 45-minute drive to Corpus Christi, the Texas State Aquarium houses hundreds of aquariums filled with colorful fish. It also features exhibits separated by geographical region that showcase both life underwater and in the jungle. The site also has an H-E-B Splash Park and Owen’s Paleo Park where kids can dig for fossils.

  1. USS Lexington

The USS Lexington is a 16-deck, 33,000-ton aircraft carrier that participated in nearly every major operation in the Pacific Theater during World War II. This is another outing that requires you to make the trek over to Corpus, but the sight of this stunning ship should astound your kiddos. The ship also is home to a 3-D Mega Theater, a Flight Simulator and Virtual Battle Stations.

What are your favorite kid-friendly activities

in and around Port Aransas?


Born and raised in San Antonio, Liz is a UT grad who has called Austin home for 18 years. During the week she works full time in pharmaceutical sales, but otherwise can be found wrangling her two small boys, loading the dishwasher, trying to find time for a glass of wine with her husband and attempting to sleep. She also moonlights as a patient advocate for her younger son who was born with a rare syndrome. You can follow her family’s journey at www.happinesssyndrome.com and on Instagram @lizbarnettsmith.


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