The small-town community vibe is big on fun, and if you haven't given it any thought for your travel plans maybe it's time to add the beautiful and inclusive Corpus Christi, Texas to your post-pandemic bucket list.
Navigating the world right now is still a bit overwhelming. And if you're an LGBTQ traveler that feeling is even more profound because you have too many things to consider such as safety, acceptance, and above all else entertainment.
Texas often gets the reputation of being too conservative and that might be a little unfair. Being the second-largest state in the U.S., Texas has a lot to offer everyone including the queer community. You just have to know where to look. Of course, there is always the state's cultural hub, Dallas. But adventurous types most likely want to discover parts of the state that feel more laissez-faire.
Corpus Christi seems to check all the boxes. But is it a drive-by town?
Located in the southern coastal region of Texas, this modestly populated city is rich in history dating back to the 1500s. Some people may be thrown off by its Western Christian name which literally means "body of Christ," but it's definitely not holier-than-thou.
Director of Corpus Christi LGBTQ Public Relations, Brittany Andrews, explains that a common misconception about Corpus Christi is that there is nothing to do. On the contrary, it is the only municipality in Texas with a gulf and bay so there's plenty of aquatic fun to be had. In addition, the rivers, streams, and estuaries provide nature lovers with lots of time to hike through the flora and fauna.
"There are numerous beach parks for the public: city and county beaches," explains Andrews. "The Padre Island National Seashore, and Mustang Island State Park. We have Labonte Park on the Nueces River. You can go kayaking on Oso Creek. We have incredible fishing in both the bay and Gulf."
Also located close by are the Texas State Aquarium, USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, the Art Museum of South Texas, the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, and the Hurricane Alley water park.
For the LGBTQ crowd, don't sell this town short. Andrews says there are several LGBTQ bars within walking distance of each other: The Hidden Door, The Frat House, and Club Connect. "In addition to the three local gay bars, which have drag and/or diva shows on weekends, most establishments in Downtown Corpus Christi are supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community. You can listen to live music, have dinner, try local and Texas beers, dance with your sweetheart, or sing karaoke!"
"There is a growing acceptance, appreciation, respect, and understanding of the number of LGBTQIA+ population and the value they bring to the community," she adds.
She is not exaggerating. LGBTQ organizations are plentiful: There's the CCLGBT, the Texas Riviera Empire, the Mosaic Project of South Texas/PRIDE Corpus Christi, the Coastal Bend PRIDE Center and the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, Equality Texas Corpus Christi Steering Committee, and LULAC Para Todos. That's not including groups within Texas A&M University Kingsville and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
This year the Corpus Christi Pride Parade and block party happen on October 9.
As far as safety, the same common-sense rules of thumb apply here. Always park in well-lighted areas Andrews says. "Many Downtown establishments have parking lots. The City of Corpus Christi Police Department has a dedicated LGBQIA+ Liaison to enhance communication and improve public safety."
All of that exploring is going to make a traveler very hungry and being on the southern coast means lots of seafood and ethnic fare, from Mexican to Chinese to German and even Filipino.
Thankfully, due to its hot and humid climate, you can dress comfortably. Bring plenty of nice shorts, short-sleeved shirts, skirts, and comfy dresses. More importantly, hats and sunscreen should also be a part of your wardrobe.
"On average, we have 223 sunny days per year in Corpus Christi," Andrews says.
She explains that some families take advantage of the summer months when school is out, while others, "prefer between September and October when summer crowds have gone back and the weather is a little cooler. Many winter Texans come to Corpus Christi from November to February to enjoy our temperate climate."
It doesn't appear that Corpus Chisti is an LGBTQ drive-by town after all. This Texas city is filled with lots of nightlife, indoor and outdoor activities, and cultural fare coupled with plenty of community support.
"You can stay for a weekend, a week, several weeks or if you fall in love with our area, make it your home," Andrews says. "Come back often! There are no restrictions on short-term vacation rentals, so some people decide to invest in a weekend home or condominium close to the beach. Neighboring communities, like Port Aransas and Rockport, offer fun times as well."
Header Photo Credit: Charlie Swanson
Pictured in the Header is Christopher Winscott (aka Bam Bam Andrews) from PRIDE 2017. Christopher recently won Mr. Independence Day 2021.