30 miles NE of Corpus Christi; 155 miles S of San Antonio

Port Aransas is a funky Texas-style beach town located on the north end of Mustang Island. It has nearly 4,000 permanent residents, but at any given time at least a couple of thousand island condo dwellers descend on the town for groceries, a beer, and such. Unlike Corpus and Rockport, Port Aransas is situated on open water. (Actually, it's open water in one direction, and the bay in the other.) Hence you get big, broad, sandy beaches, and some watersports that the other destinations don't offer. The town is different from Rockport also in that Rockport has other economic activities besides tourism. That's not really true for Port A (as the locals call it), which depends on winter Texans, fishing enthusiasts, surfers, and sun worshipers for its existence. This is why the town has a little more party spirit, which you can easily discern if you go barhopping here. That said, the perfect time not to come here is during spring break, when college students fill the town and disrupt the calm, small-town feel of the place.