13 Vintage Gulf Coast Vacation Memories That Make Us Want to Head to the Beach

You may return from those glorious family beach vacations with flashy souvenirs, gorgeous photos, and a bronze glow…but (as cheesy as it sounds), the memories you make are truly your most valuable takeaway. Years later, as you reminisce on watching golden sunsets on the pier, casting a fishing line into the salty bay, and chasing the surf on North Beach, these sensory snippets of “the good old days” offer a certain sense of childlike joy and wild freedom.And so, in the spirit of nostalgia, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite vintage postcards and retro vacation shots to recreate that Gulf Coast “glow” from the past. Let us know what you think, and feel free to send in your own old school memories!

1. If Instagram were around in the mid-20th century, this photo would have been the perfect skyline shot. Above, two vacationers are sunbathing on a grassy knoll overlooking the downtown views.

2. If you had to guess where this guy was enjoying his vacation, what would you say?  If you said Port Royal, you are correct. 

Since the 80’s (when both these pics were taken), Port Royal’s iconic green roof and abundance of swimming pools (adorned with swim-up bars) have been hosting family vacations that create memories to last a lifetime!  And of course, if the kids (now grown) remember anything about Port Royal, it’s the epic journeys down that massive water slide!

3. Golly, that seaside sunset! This vintage 1940’s postcard shows off an evening scene of the bay. We can’t help but revel in the fact that it looks just as gorgeous these days as it did back then.

4. The Gulf Coast has long been known as a destination fishing hot-spot. Proof? Shown above, one proud lady is showing off her gorgeous catch in Port Aransas!

5. Remember the Princess Louise Hotel? This opulent resort, built in the 1920’s, boasted elegant architecture and lush cedars on the bay. What is it now? In the mid-1960’s the hotel was converted to apartments, which remain today as the Princess Apartments.

6. Swoon! These sweet little Port Aransas beachgoers were busy soaking up the sun and playing in the surf.


7. The 1960’s held a particularly retro vacation appeal. Above, a sailboat in the bay is offset by the Sea Wall, shoreline hotels, and lush palm trees.

8. This dreamy photo features two young girls admiring the area’s gorgeous year-round bougainvillea blooms. The bay area’s incredible weather and diverse plant life add a unique sort of richness to the city’s vibes!

9. A couple of 1940’s babes watching the tides ebb and flow on the newly completed Downtown Sea Wall. Located along Shoreline Blvd, this impressive 1.5-mile waterfront wall and promenade was made for everything from biking to sightseeing.

10. This vintage color postcard from the 1950’s shows off a classic vacation spot: The Tally-Ho Motor Hotel off of Highway 9. We love the 1956 Oldsmobile by the pool!

11. Home to some of the area’s most popular attractions, North Beach has been a vacation attraction for years! 

These vintage postcards show off beachgoers dipping their toes in the surf and enjoying the gorgeous South Texas weather.
12. As a local favorite ice cream shop, Borden’s Ice Cream Parlor was home to plenty of vacation memories. One frequent vacationer reminisced: “I had ice cream and shakes there with our family almost every Saturday nite in the 1960’s.”

13. In one of the city’s most coveted locations, Ocean Drive has been a favorite tourist (and local) spot for a leisurely stroll or sunset drive. Featuring architecture that varies from modern condos to opulent estates, Ocean Drive also boasts some of the most pristine palms and landscaping (as shown in this 1940’s postcard).

Looking to rekindle your love with the Gulf Coast? It welcomes you with open arms!  Check out the long-term rentals in the area, or buy your very own place to call (vacation) home.  And when you are ready for that vaction home, our agents and lenders will be here.

Photo Sources: Only In Your State, My San Antonio, Free Shop Manual, Vintage Everyday, and Texas Water Towers