From families to spring breakers, retirees to young singles, Port Aransas is a town known for its non-stop outdoor fun, lively dining and nightlife scene, and jaw-dropping scenic vistas. Heaven is truly on the coast!
However, after Hurricane Harvey tore through in late summer 2017, this coastal gem was turned upside down and inside out.
Amazingly, within weeks of getting the wind knocked out of itself (quite literally), Port Aransas was up and taking steps towards restoration and repair. Now, just months after that devil of a storm hit, the town is back on its feet and excited to welcome visitors from San Antonio, Houston, and beyond!
To help plan your next trip to Port Aransas, we’ve compiled just a few of the many businesses that have reopened their doors in this truly unbreakable town. Because, between Harvey and Port A, we’re pretty sure Port A is the more impressive force of nature.
1. Shorty’s Place
Image courtesy of Shorty’s Place website.
Widely known as “the island’s oldest and friendliest” bar, Shorty’s Place is a longtime favorite among residents and vacationers. From the outside, the bar looks like a cross between an old-timey country store and a wild west saloon. Inside, patrons can enjoy a casual environment for grabbing drinks with friends or making some new ones, often against the backdrop of a live band…and for the future American Idols in your group, there’s karaoke, too!
2. Bernie’s Beach House
Port Aransas knows how to have a good time. So after a day of exploring or lounging at the beach, it’s time to “shake it like a Polaroid picture” on the dance floor at Bernie’s Beach House.
Bernie’s is one of Port A’s go-to nightlife spots – and with live bands, a late-night DJ, pool tournaments, and daily Texas Hold-’em, it’s easy to see why! There’s something for everyone (19+) at Bernie’s, so stop by at the end of your day. And don’t forget: this is a “beach house,” so feel free to wear your flip-flops.
Image courtesy of Get Dirty Play In The Sand’s Facebook page.
Harvey may have knocked around our homes and businesses, but he couldn’t destroy our traditions. Lo and behold, the annual Texas SandFest is on this year! In April, Port A will welcome visitors from all over Texas and beyond to “get dirty and play in the sand” during a three-day festival celebrating our gorgeous beaches. Local sand artists will compete to create the best sand sculptures, and proceeds from the event will benefit Port Aransas nonprofit organizations.
Bring friends and family for a day at the beach complete with music, beer and food vendors, local craft booths, and some of the most incredible sand art you’ll ever see!
When: April 27-29, 2018
Where: Port Aransas Beach
4. Winton’s Island Candy
Harvey put Winton’s Island Candy through the ringer, but this beloved candy shop was up and running just two months after the hurricane hit. Since 1995, Winton’s has been serving up sweet treats for residents and visitors alike. Whatever your fancy – be it caramels, candies, or fudge – Winton’s is sure to put a smile on your face.
5. Port A H2O
Image courtesy of Port A H2O Instagram page.
Life in an inland city can be woefully remiss of water sports. The good news is, a trip to Port Aransas can get you out on the waves in a jiffy! For all the adventurers and adrenaline junkies out there, we recommend a day (or every day) at Port A H2O, which offers everything from kayak rentals to kitesurfing lessons. This is truly an unforgettable way to take advantage of the picturesque Port Aransas coastline.
6. The Scarlet Lady Dolphin Adventures
The maritime industry is the lifeblood of Port Aransas, and many boats were displaced, hurt, or obliterated by Hurricane Harvey. With no little effort, many fishermen and captains have restored their boats to their former glory, and they are ready to set sail!
One such boat is The Scarlet Lady, which offers cruises through the waters of the Lydia Ann Channel. Seafarers can relax onboard this spacious catamaran while watching for dolphins, snapping Insta-worthy pics of the iconic Lydia Ann Lighthouse, and enjoying a beverage from the full bar. Both daytime and sunset cruises are available.
7. Fennessey Ranch
Image courtesy of Fennessey Ranch Facebook page.
Fennessey Ranch is an outdoor wonder the whole family will enjoy. As part of a renowned 75,000 acre Texas land empire, the Fennessey is teeming with wetlands, prairies, natural lakes, woods, and all the Texas wildlife that inhabit them. The ranch offers a bevy of recreational activities for families and groups, from educational programs, to world-class birding, to guided boar hunts.
8. Stingray’s Taphouse & Grill
Image courtesy of Stingray’s Taphouse & Grill website.
Port Aransas is famous for its small town and beach-casual charm… and vacationers travel from far and wide to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. But sometimes you still crave a little of that big-city feel in a small vacation town. Enter: Stingray’s Taphouse & Grill.
Named after the Stingray Corvette (two of which hang over the bar), this restaurant boasts 24 beers on tap, a wood-fired brick pizza oven, and live music Thursday-Saturday. Well-loved among residents, this is a big city sports bar right here in little ol’ Port A.
9. Port Aransas Art Center
Sharpen your pencils and prep your brushes! Artists and art lovers alike will delight in recently renovated Port Aransas Art Center with gorgeous classrooms and galleries. The center’s brand new doors are officially open!
Stop by for a drawing or painting class, tour the galleries of local art, or attend a First Friday Reception with featured artists and live music. Port Aransas abounds with artistic talent that you won’t want to miss!
10. Lisabella’s Bistro & Bar
Image courtesy of Lisabella’s Bistro & Bar Instagram page.
When it comes to meat and seafood, the Coastal Bend has the best of both worlds. And Port A is a fantastic place to celebrate our incredible cuisine! With its très-beachy-chic décor and upscale surf ‘n turf menu, Lisabella’s Bistro & Bar strikes the happy balance of refinement without formality.
On a nice day (and let’s be real, almost every day is a nice day in the Coastal Bend), guests can choose to sit on the outdoor patio and overlook the grassy commons of Cinnamon Shore. Pro tip: Treat your taste buds to the Mermaid Soup…as the menu says, it’s made with “lobster coconut broth, shrimp, curry spices…and secrets!”
11. Skydive South Texas
Port Aransas will give you wings! Experience the thrill of viewing this coastal gem from the sky with Skydive South Texas. After taking a hit from Harvey, this business soared into action and is ready to give you one of the best days of your life!
12. Massage In A Bottle
Image courtesy of the Massage In A Bottle Facebook page.
We believe in “Island Time” in Port Aransas. So if a slower, more relaxing vacation is more your style, let us suggest a trip to Massage In A Bottle. This boutique massage studio uses customized massage therapy, body treatments, and aromas to encourage you to unwind and escape from stress.
The vacationers and “Winter Texans” who travel to Port Aransas each year are as much a part of the town’s identity as the residents, businesses, and beaches.
With such an abundance of natural beauty and recreational opportunities, it’s no wonder so many out-of-towners end up falling in love with the city…. some eventually calling Port Aransas home. And if that’s the case, we’ve got you covered ;).