Top Texas State Parks by the Coast

Took a trip with my daughter to explore Texas State Parks by the Coast. See which are my favorite and what you can expect at each place

Texas State Park Road Trip

These coastal state parks made for a great daddy/daughter road trip

The Texas Coast

Two days after my store closed for quarantine I decided that I couldn’t really sit around the house and do nothing, so I decided that I was going to take my daughter on a trip to the beach and check out some Texas State Parks by the coast.

The original plan was to stay away from the beach because we figured that it would be crowded with people that still wanted to go down to the coast for spring break, so we opted to go somewhere with water and decided on Lake Corpus Christi state park.

Little did we know, well I kinda knew, but we would traverse the Texas coast line and visit two more state parks along the way.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park

Lake Corpus Christi state park is not on the beach. As the name states it’s a lake, but it features a ton of water and is a pretty legit fishing spot. It has camping and hiking opportunities, but I’ll say that the trails are limited according to the map. We went for relaxation and fishing during this trip; I didn’t hike any trails.

This state park is also a CCC state park, so be on the lookout for the pavilion that is tucked away above the lake. Its views are spectacular, but if you venture closer towards the water you follow a path way down some steps and the edge of the park. It’s really quite remarkable. This is also the site where I found my first survey marker shockingly.

We stayed near the water, and it was really pretty, BUT the wind blowing off of the water directly into the tent was almost unbearable. Keep that in mind if you’re a light sleeper.

This park has a ton of water so there are a ton of places to camp. Very reminiscent of Inks Lake SP. There are also group and screened shelters as well. Entrance to this park for day use is $5/adults. and children 12 and younger free.

Campsites are as follows:

  • Full Hookup; 26 sites, $25/night
  • Campsites w/ electricity; 23 sites; $20/night
  • Campsites w/water; 59 sites; $10/night

There are also 10 cabins ($50/night) that can fit eight people per. They have A/C units, grills, water and electricity.


Mustang Island State Park

Mustang Island SP was a bit of an accident. The whole original, original plan was to go to the beach, but we settled for the lake because of the whole spring break thing, BUT we did want to spend some time in Port Aransas.

If you go to Port A on the southern side, where you skip the ferry, you actually pass right next to the entrance to Mustang Island SP. I didn’t actually notice this until we were at the light and saw the sign.(It opened up my eyes when I saw the sign) Figured what the heck, let’s just stop along the way.

Mustang Island is beautiful for a state park. It feels way more beach-y than, say, Galveston Island SP. There was a front section dedicated to RV’s on the water side, and like Galveston, the bay side had more sections for paddling and trails.

This was the first park with Covid-19 restrictions in place. This is where it started to get a bit eerie and why I waited almost two months after the trip to write this post.

The restrictions were starting to give me the anxious paranoia. I had already decided to bring a thermometer along with us, but I had it packed away. That is until this day. The ranger was in her station taking payments and checking reservations, ( Thankfully since I have the park pass I was able to reserve a day-pass while waiting in line), and I dug it out of my bag and had it ready.

The crowd was limited on the beach, but we drove along where the campsites were and all of those were packed. No one was wearing a mask on the beach yet, but people were definitely spread out.

Camping

  • Campsites w/ electricity; 48 total; $20/night (not on the beach)
  • Primitive Campsites; 50 total; $10/nightly

Fees

Entry Fee: Adult: $5, Children 12 and younger: Free

Paddling Trail

The paddling trail is on the bay side. It Takes from the east flat section to Fish Pass.


Goose Island State Park

Gooooooose! Goooooose!

That’s all I can think of when I hear the word ‘Goose’. That’s a Top Gun movie reference for the youngsters that stumbled onto this page.

Goose Island is a bit different compared to Mustang Island. Where previously I was greeted with sand dunes, and open coastal air, at Goose Island you’re greeted with fantastic oak trees and you drive through a neighborhood to get back there.

I wasn’t really planning on going to Goose Island originally. (If you haven’t noticed I’m not really good at keeping plans), we were actually on the road to go visit the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, but after being in the car for a couple days, for a 10 year old- getting home was looking much better than camping out with ol’ dad.

After a bit of driving on highway 35 I saw the sign for Goose Island S.P. and decided it was at least on the way, and when would I be back here to visit this park that felt a bit out of the way for a coastal park, but I’m really glad we stopped.

Back to the oak trees. It turns out they’re pretty popular here, and one in particular has its own visitor center! Here’s the thing though; it’s not actually at the park- you need to hook a left and drive down a bit and eventually you’ll come to the Big Tree. Yup. The big tree is called, Big Tree. It’s really big though- check it out:

Well that’s just the entrance.

Here’s the tree:

Now THAT’s a ‘Big Tree’.

Seriously. This was gigantic. It was all braced by the beams, and you couldn’t get super close, but there were a few benches. It didn’t look like people had been there for a while despite it starting to feel really quiet on the road.

Because this is a separate section of the park you don’t have to pay to see this, but there is a donation box to help contribute to keeping the tree safe and maintained. There are also additional trees here that are pretty magnificent if you just have to touch one.

Back to the park

Goose island is really woodsy, but there is water here. Unfortunately this park got slammed by recent hurricanes and the recovery project is taking a while to be completed. There were chunks of this already small park that could not be accessed, but the boat ramp here seemed to be the main draw. Tons of trucks were in the parking lot and when we were there a line of folks were waiting to put their boats in.

We decided to explore the campsites and bit and enjoy the lovely stroll through the oak trees. Empty campsites everywhere, but really nice spaces. I’d love to come back and camp in my hammock. Bet the sounds from the ocean are really nice at night without the direct humidity you’d experience from Mustang.

This is also a C.C.C. park, but in terms of structures there isn’t much with the exception of the recreation hall using a technique that utilized oyster shells.

The were here to clear out brush and prepare the land, but the structure here is fun to scratch off of the CCC list if you’re a fan like I am.

I’d definitely come back to this park once it’s back to fully operational. I don’t own a boat, so the main draw for this place, besides the camping, would be fishing; and there are a ton of options to fish around here.

Camping

  • Campsites w/electricity, Bayfront; 44 sites; $22/night (closed as of this post)
  • Campsites w/ electricity; 57 wooded sites; $18/night
  • Campsites w/ water, Walk-in; 25 sites; $10/night
  • Group Camp; 64/site, Only sponsored, nonprofit groups; $64/night
  • Overflow Campsites; late arrivals camp in the parking lot; $10/night and non-reservable

One last thing…

We stayed one night in Port Aransas, and while trying to chase down a great spot to take a sunset picture we stumbled upon a nature park that’s tucked away by the water. As it was dusk we decided to make a note and visit another time. From what I could tell though it looked really well maintained and if you’re ever in the area I recommend y’all checking out the Port Aransas Nature Preserve.

Check out the gallery for some other shots from that trip:

I had a great time exploring Texas State parks by the coast, and I hope y’all get a chance go do down and check out some of these amazing places. They each offered something so different, but very fun nonetheless.

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