Texas Beach Vacation: Where to Stay, Eat & Play

It had been a few years since we took a trip down to the Texas Coast.  Jeff and I started our tradition of visiting Texas beaches years ago when we were in high school. We were part of that Spring Break crew who lived it up on South Padre Island. As the years passed, we moved up to Port Aransas. And now that we have kids, that's the beach that calls us back. Some people question Texas beaches. After all, Texas is not the first place you think of when it comes to 'beach life'. But those who have been know.... Port A is once of the best kept secrets among Southerners. Want to know what makes Port Aransas so special? Keep reading!

From the DFW metroplex, Port Aransas is about a 6.5-7 hour drive. Which is reason #1 why we like to go there! Sure you can trek all the way to Florida to see the ocean, but you don't need to commit to all those hours on the road when you head South to Port A. Upon arriving, load up your car on the ferry. As you travel across the water, get out of your car to feel that warm ocean air and maybe even spy a dolphin or two.

Riding the ferry to Port Aransas

Our favorite place to stay in Port Aransas is Cinnamon Shore. It is exactly as the name describes- a beautiful beach with cinnamon colored sand. The beach is flat and packed- making it easy for little ones to play, for early morning runs on the beach, and for cruising around on your golf cart.

We arrived just as the sun was setting and had to run down to the beach. 
The girls couldn't wait to play in the ocean. 

Cinnamon Shore is a resort community with designer homes, condos and tons of amenities. Pools, restaurants, a playground, fishing pond, and outdoor gazebo set the scene for organized activities and entertainment. The resort provides a daily calendar of fun- everything from yoga on the beach, to surf lessons, to sand castle building, s'more making, movies, live music and more.

Playing in Kiera's Pool! 
The infinity edge pool overlooks Lake Gavin. This pool has a great restaurant, the "C Bar". 
We like to grab lunch there while swimming.  My girls love the burgers and strawberry drinks. 

Chair service at the beach. So nice to have a reserved spot each day. 

Another great Cinnamon Shore amenity- "Dune Pool". 
This is also where new playground is located as well as the fitness center. 

Free surf lessons at Cinnamon Shore

The new Cinnamon Shore Playground- located at the Dune Pool

Live music on the grass at Cinnamon Shore

For our family of 4, we like to rent a condo. All of the homes and condos are decorated with a designer's touch. They tend to book up early, so be sure to plan in advance to get the size and location you desire.

Condo at Cinnamon Shore

One of our favorite parts of Cinnamon Shore is the golf cart. We rent one every time we visit. It's a fun way to get around the property and cruise up and down the beach. On the last evening of our vacation, we drove it down the beach, all the way into town for dinner and shopping. The girls loved it! We like to rent from Texas Red Golf Carts, they have great pricing and free delivery.

Our golf cart from Texas Red Golf Carts

Since I first posted about Cinnamon Shore in 2015, I have gotten so much positive feedback. So many of my friends and readers have booked trips to stay there. And when they get back home, I always get the sweetest comments about the great memories they made.

View of Cinnamon Shore from the Ocean 

One of the most common questions I hear is... where should we eat while in Port Aransas? To answer that question, I have compiled a list to serve as guide. It's made up of my favorite places, plus others that some of my friends have shared with me since they made the trip down South. I hope it helps you with planning your trip.

Playing in the water at Cinnamon Shore

Places to Eat:
-Your condo/house! We always make breakfast at 'home' and then pack a lunch for the beach. The local IGA has a great selection of Boar's Head deli meats, fresh fruits/veggies and everything else you need to eat well when you choose stay in.

-If you are an HEB fan, you have two options on your way into Cinnamon Shore. One is located right before crossing the bridge over to Mustang Island-- or you can visit the HEB in Port Aransas Pass before catching the ferry. It's an easy way to stock your rental on the way in. 

-Cinnamon Shore has just added a new option for grocery shopping, The Market. You can pick up meats and cheeses at "The Market" as well as and other items needed to cook meals in your rental home or condo. Super convenient! 

-Our favorite 'feeds a big group- make at home meals' include - Taco Bar, Homemade Pizza, Nacho Bar, Burgers, Surf/Turf, and Appetizer/Snacky Foods.

-Domino's Pizza also delivers and there is a Whataburger with a drive-thru for nights when you are too tired too cook or go out.

Breakfast in our condo!

Homemade Nacho Night

If you are wanting to go out, just know that it takes longer to accommodate large groups. Port A is a little fishing town, so most restaurants are on the small side. Try to make reservations when possible.

-Trout St - fresh seafood and it overlooks the marina. So pretty at sunset.

-Virgina’s On the Bay-overlooks the marina. My kids love to see the boats coming and going.

-LaPlaya - great Mexican food and tasty margaritas. Favorite entree- fajitas or seafood enchiladas.

-Kodys- Known for seafood and steaks. Bonus- they have a Putt Putt Golf course.

-Fin’s - Angus burgers, island specials, located right near the ferry.

-Tortugas Saltwater Grill- ahi tuna nachos, red snapper, best brunch on Sundays.

-Lisabella's - fine dining at Cinnamon Shore, candle-lit ambiance, delicious food. 

-Dylan's Coal Oven Pizza- is a new addition to Cinnamon Shore. The restaurant specializes in fresh pizza, with a great wine selection. Perfect for a date or bring the family! 

Dinner at Virginia's 

Watching the boats at dinner

Lisabella's at Cinnamon Shore

Things to Do (Outside of the pool and beach) :
-Shop for Souvenirs- visit the Islander to create your own tshirt, most start at 10.99 and they have the Comfort Colors brand.

-Visit the Ragg Doll Boutique, Coastal Closet and Third Coast Surf Shop for unique clothing and gifts. (We came home with two hermit crabs from the surf shop!)

-Take a lesson from the Sandcastle Guy. You can book him for a private lesson or if you are staying at CS, it's included in the activity schedule for no charge.

-Red Dragon Pirate Cruise- pirate adventures that the kids will love, adult drinks are served ;)

-Fish off the jetties- located where the beach ends. Walk out and watch the tankers come in. Other popular fishing sites are Bob Hall Pier, Packers Channel, Mustang Island State Park, and Indian Point Pier

-Wintons Candy Co.- located across from the Shark. It has buckets, bins and barrels of candy. You will literally feel like a kid in a candy shop.

-Visit the Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary to learn more about the wildlife on the island.

-Fire It Ceramics is a great activity to do on a rainy day in Port A.

-Get a treat from Bron’s Shaved Ice and To-Go-Bar- fun for adults and kids!

-Visit the new coffee/wine bar in Cinnamon Shore - called Solace . It's a coffee bar in the morning and then a wine bar at night. 

-Pop into the "Bottle Shop", which is coming soon to Cinnamon Shore. This on-site liquor store will add to the convenience and fun of staying at Cinnamon Shore. Like The Market, Solace and Dylan's Pizzeria -- the Bottle Shop also be open to the public so anyone in Port A can come and enjoy. 

-Pick an activity from the Cinnamon Shore activity calendar- yoga, movie night, kids club and more.

Shopping time! 

Getting a custom t-shirt made at the Islander

Our new pets- hermit crabs! 

The candy store makes everyone smile

The Sandcastle Guy built these and taught us his tricks! He is a regular visitor to Cinnamon Shore.

Where is your favorite family beach to visit? What is your best beach memory?

We are best-selves at the beach! 

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