You came to Port A this holiday season for Texas warmth, fun, and the sand and water at the beach along the Gulf of Mexico. There is an array of indoor and outdoor activities, as well as year-round top things to do in Port Aransas and special events for the holidays and winter season. You’ll find something that fits everyone’s vacation activity needs and style – and it’ll be just moments away from your vacation rental provided by Sandcastle Condos!
Lighted Boat Parade
Presented by the Port Aransas/Mustang Island Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce, the parade lights up the water around Port A! The annual event features boats decked out in their holiday best from bow to stern. The parade starts at Fisherman’s Wharf. You can watch from the pavilion bulkhead, along dock walkways, or get great views from local bars and restaurants with waterfront locations. The 2023 event is December 9, 6-8 p.m.
Holiday Golf Cart Parade
Watch a land-based parade, too. Starting at The Gaff on Beach Street, the golf cart parade features golf carts decked out in their holiday best, just like the boats. The event supports the Port Aransas EMS Toy Round-Up. You are asked to bring a gift to donate to the cause. Santa may be making a visit as well! The 2023 parade is December 9 as well, but no time has been set as of now.
When planning an island vacation this winter holiday season, plan plenty of beach time. Spread out your blanket, then plant your beach umbrella to lounge on the sand with a book. Sunbathe, swim, help the kids build sandcastles, or get some exercise with a walk or run on the beach.
Go up, up, and away this holiday season! Take off from the deck of a specially designed and USCG-approved parasailing boat to fly high above the waters of the Gulf. Keep watch on the water from your bird’s eye view for sea life. Bring your waterproof or disposable camera to capture the memories from your perspective. Contact your company of choice for more information.
When you feel “the need for speed” and adventure, an adrenaline-pumping good time can always be hand when you rent a jet ski and slice through the waters of the Gulf around Port A. Charter a jet ski excursion or tour of the area so you want to get comfortable with the craft or see some of the best places around the island for your own exploration later. Anyone born after September 1, 1993 must acquire a Texas boating license before taking the helm of any vessel over 15 hp.
A beach buggy golf cart is a great way to experience the beaches of Port A. Most carts are street-legal and can get you from place to place quickly. Just make sure everyone and all your things are secure before cruising down the sand.
Rent a powerboat, canoe, or kayak from one of the many companies in the area and strike out on a water adventure. Set sail for a favorite fishing destination, drop anchor and go for a swim, or hook up for water sports that involve toys like tubes, skis, wakeboards, and more. You’ll want to make sure the captain or captains have valid Texas boating licenses, if necessary, before heading out.
The easy, year-round activity is one visitors of all ages and skill levels can enjoy in Port A. Charter a tour, or rent some gear and strike out on your own. Check out the bays and shallow waters, piers, and jetties in the Fishing Capital of Texas. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush with your catch of the day, charter a deep sea trip in search of kingfish, marlin, tuna, and others who lurk in the deeper waters of the Gulf.
Glowing Kayak Tour
Enjoy a different kind of kayak tour – one that takes place during nighttime hours! Board a clear kayak lit up by special underwater LED lights. The clear boat allows you to see not only the multiple colors of LED light settings you can choose, but the majesty of the underwater world beneath you, too. Set the lights to your favorite color and pattern, then paddle along as your tour guide points out landmarks and fills you in on the history of the area on the 1.5-hour adventure.
Red Dragon Pirate Cruise
If your winter holiday vacation includes kids, book a cruise and sail the high seas like the pirates of old! Cruise the waters of the Lydia Ann Channel for dolphin watching, sword fighting, treasure hunting, cannon fire, and plenty of pirate fun! Enjoy soft drinks and snacks, as well as beer, wine, pina coladas, rum, tequila, and whiskey-based drinks for the adult pirates.
Book a snorkeling or SCUBA diving tour and plunge under the water to see a side of Port A and the Gulf of Mexico you can’t see from inside a tour boat. Many companies offer SCUBA certification before the trip, so if you want to rent gear to dive later, you’ll need to be certified.
Pile everyone into the car for a sightseeing tour. Exploring the area by rental car is a great way to make notes about where you want to explore further. Make sure to include places like Chapel on the Dunes, the Mexican War Fort, and the WWII Coastal Defenses – where a temporary artillery field was set up to defend the country from enemy forces during the war. Capture a glance at the Lydia Ann Lighthouse, as its not accessible by road but can be seen in a cruise past it by boat or from Roberts Point Park.
Port Aransas Museum & Farley’s Historic Boat Shop
The museum resides in a 1900s kit house donated to the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association. Explore a myriad of exhibits, including special rotating exhibits – meaning no two visits are likely the same! Farley’s historic boat house and shop pays homage to the Farley family of boat builders that started building tarpon fishing boats in Port A in 1914. The museum depicts the evolution of the business, from its various locations around Port A to its first closing in 1973 and eventual reopening. The current location was opened in 2011 and houses the company’s working boat-building facility.
Port Aransas Community Theater
While you may want to visit a movie theater to catch the latest holiday season film offerings, change things up with a live theater performance. The Port Aransas Community Theater, located at 2327 State Highway 361 in Port A, offers educational theater experiences for all ages, as well a variety of stage performances produced by the residents of Port A. You can check their website for more information on shows for the holiday season.
If it’s before the man winter gift-giving holidays, you’ll want to take a pause from all the fun to get in some last-minute shopping. Search for the perfect souvenir, beachwear, or piece of Port A bling for a loved one’s holiday gift.
Throughout the year, the Port Aransas/Mustang Island Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce host an array of live music acts. These events are definitely something to add to your winter holiday itinerary in Port A. Port A’s website has a list of performers and dates so you can plan out which performances will be included during your visit. Many of the performances are located at Third Coast Theater, a 150-seat venue located at 502 E. Avenue G in Port A.
The Tarpon Inn
Constructed from surplus lumber from Civil War barracks in 1886, the inn was originally used to house workers constructing Mansfield Jetty. When the jetty was completed, the building became a hotel. After a major hurricane and tidal wave in 1919, the structure was rebuilt with reinforcements against future damage and reopened. Since then, it has been used as a headquarters for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, several military units, and has also housed area residents during disasters. In 1979, the inn was honored with a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and also became a Texas Historic Landmark. The inn today is an operating hotel that boasts a restaurant, 24 active guest rooms, and event space.
Whether it’s to fuel up before heading out for a day of fun, to refuel along the way, or enjoy a delicious dinner or nightcap, there are many Port A restaurants with delicious offerings to choose from. Offerings range from authentic Italian or Mexican dishes, the freshest seafood caught from local waters, and more. You can choose to dine inside in the air conditioning or take in the beautiful Port A winter weather on an outdoor patio.
Port Aransas Art Center
The center is a home for artists and art lovers to share in the creation and appreciation of art in Port A. Since the center’s beginning in 1995, it has grown to include educational programs and events for all ages. Gather your loved ones to take classes in ceramics, drawing, mixed media, photography, painting, and more. Check their website for a full calendar of classes and events that may fit into the schedule of your ultimate holiday getaway to Port A. They are located at 104 N. Alister Street in Port A.
Winton’s Candy Company
Score some holiday sweets along with their regular offerings. Whether you’re a kid or kid at heart, a visit to Winton’s Candy Co. during your Port A winter holiday escape is a must-do. Satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth when you stop in and choose your favorite candy or try some of their caramel or creamy fudge. Bring it back to your rental to enjoy after a long day, for dessert after a home-cooked meal prepared right in your unit, or just because.
The cooler winter waters of the Gulf may have some visitors shying away from in-water activities. But many of the adventures in and around Port A have to do with the water, and surfing is no exception. Learn how to catch the perfect wave on a traditional surfboard, windsurfing, or both. Professional instructors will take you from an on-land introduction to the board all the way up to catching your first wave and riding it back to shore. Many companies also rent gear outside of the lesson, so when you’re comfortable with your new skills, you can enjoy the adrenaline-pumping activity with just you and your traveling companions.
Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trails
Take a calming adventure this winter holiday in Port A. The trail was established in 1999 by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is the first paddling trail on the Texas coast. It’s located on North Harbor Island, nestled between Aransas Pass and Port A, with several launch points off State Highway 361. The area is named for the historic Lydia Ann Channel and is mostly shallow, perfect for a quiet and solitary paddle full of adventure along the coast. You’ll paddle through mangroves that line the channels and the open flats, or “lakes.” The trail is made up of a series of four loops, with the shortest at 1.25 miles and the longest at 6.8 miles. Follow the signs painted with numbers corresponding to GPS coordinates or download a map of the trails: there are several places where a trail may split to offer a different experience on each trip.
Winter Holiday Fun in Port A
When you stay in a vacation rental this winter holiday in Port A provided by Sandcastle Condos, you’ll enjoy easy access to the beach and the crashing waves of the Gulf. We’re close to many area attractions, tours, shopping, dining, and activities the area has to offer. Choose from efficiency-style units all the way up to three-bedroom units for your larger group. Prepare a delicious home-cooked meal in the fully equipped kitchen, retreat to a private bedroom, or spread out in an open living space and just relax. Enjoy the view from the private balcony or patio or spend some time meeting the neighbors near the community pool.
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