Texas is a state that’s full of fascinating places, and the city of Rockport is one of the best.
Located on the coast of Texas, it’s got plenty of history and activities to do with the sea, as well as loads of sightseeing spots, landmarks, restaurants and bars, and so much for you to try. If you’re visiting Rockport, TX, then you’ll be spoiled for choice!
In our handy guide below, we’ve got 14 essential activities to try in Rockport, Texas. With so many brilliant options to pick from, we know how hard it can be to narrow it all down to the best activities, so we did the work for you instead!
Whether you want a peaceful walk with gorgeous vistas, a great place to do some shopping, or any other fun activity, you’ll find plenty of choice in our list below. Read on!
14 Essential Activities To Try in Rockport, Texas
1. Learn All Things Sea At The Texas Maritime Museum
First on our list is the fantastic Texas Maritime Museum, a place that has been educating locals and visitors about all things sea since 1989.
The museum’s mission is to inform people about maritime history, but also the countless ways in which maritime has helped develop the livelihood of Texas.
There are all kinds of things to see when you visit the museum, and all of them are fascinating. They’re constantly acquiring new artifacts and updating their collection, which also holds important photographs, books, and documents.
A lot of its books are in a library which you can access, improving your knowledge even greater.
In terms of what you’ll be learning about through all these different formats, they revolve around four key areas.
One of these is the history of Texas’ seasports and its maritime commerce, while the others are about offshore gas and oil development, the history of Gulf Coast exploration, and the fishing and seafood industries of Texas.
If you have a meal at one of Rockport’s restaurants, you’ll probably end up experiencing Texas seafood first hand!
2. Take A Walk Through Goose Island State Park
Of course, if you’ve spent plenty of time indoors at the museum, you’ll probably want to unwind with an equally fascinating stroll through beautiful parkland. The Goose Island State Park is a great spot to do that, with its impressive 321.4 acres of land.
There is an enormous range of activities to do when in this State Park. For example, you can enjoy a bit of fishing, or even go out on a boat.
Besides that, you can also take part in some birdwatching, or even camp overnight. In fact, there are typically more than 60,000 overnight campers in the park each year.
On top of the range of activities, you’ll also want to see one of the famous sights that the park has to offer: the Big Tree. We’re going to cover this properly later on in the list, but we’re sure you can roughly guess what it is!
Suffice to say, it’s well worth looking at, and is just one of many reasons that a trip to the Goose Island State Park is essential.
3. Have A Meal At Rockport’s Best Restaurants
Like all the best cities, Rockport has plenty of fantastic restaurants for you to enjoy a high quality meal at. Better yet, there’s plenty of choice, so you can find exactly the kind of food you’re looking for.
Of course, trying out the city’s restaurants is a great way to get a taste for local culture and cuisine. This is certainly true when it comes to the seafood restaurants, which we mentioned earlier when discussing the Maritime Museum.
One of the best seafood spots here is the Paradise Key Dockside Bar and Grill, which offers a great range of fish, shrimp, and even their famous crab cakes. Another great seafood restaurant is The Boiling Pot.
It doesn’t have to just be seafood, though! There are places offering other styles, like American or Chinese cuisine.
4. Explore The Rockport Cultural Arts District
There are few better places to experience Rockport;s unique community than the Rockport Cultural Arts District.
This is an area that is dedicated to strengthening and promoting Rockport’s identity as an artistic community, showcasing the various talents that the city has to offer.
As a result, they have a handful of art galleries for you to enjoy the work of local artists, but also plenty of brilliant shops for you to buy souvenirs and gifts from.
The district is also home to regular events. These cover all kinds of things, from art exhibitions to food and wine festivals, as well as market days and film screenings.
5. Explore Rockport’s Downtown Area
On the theme of walking around a key Rockport district and soaking up the many events there are, a trip to Rockport’s Downtown area is another essential activity when visiting the city.
As you can expect, there are loads of shops, restaurants and eateries, and places to enjoy a drink in the area. These offer a great chance to take part in local culture, with local food and shops run by local sellers.
However, the area is also famous for its art galleries, much like the Cultural Arts District. As you can guess by now, Rockport is all about art!
This is because Rockport has the highest percentage of artists in all of Texas, and you can sample the work of lots of them when visiting downtown.
The area is pedestrian-friendly, so don’t be afraid to wander around slowly and familiarize yourself with every inch of this bustling, interesting area.
6. Rest And Play At Rockport Beach
That’s all been a lot of walking around! Why not take a rest at the beach?
As you can imagine, since Rockport is on the coastline, it’s got a pretty spectacular beach for you to enjoy. It runs an entire mile long and it’s sandy, giving you plenty of soft dunes to sit or run about it.
Even better, the beach is regularly kept very clean, so you’ll have a tidy time while you’re there. This cleanliness has given it the prestigious title of the first Blue Wave Beach in all of Texas!
As for activities, you’ll be happy to learn that you can go swimming. The water is pretty shallow, but be sure to be careful when swimming and never go out too far.
And always make sure there’s a lifeguard on duty! Besides swimming, you can play beach sports, rest in the dunes, and even look for sea life.
There’s a $10 parking fee, so keep that in mind if you’re bringing the car.
7. Visit The Schoenstatt Shrine
Next on our list is a trip to the Schoenstatt Shrine, which is a notable Catholic shrine that’s also part of the Apostilic movement. It was inspired by a similar shrine in Germany and you’ll find that there’s a beautiful, small chapel near it too.
This is the Stella Maris Chapel, which is also Catholic, and it’s got a very pleasing, minimalist architectural design. It’s small size makes it the perfect place for peaceful prayer, or just a quiet look around. You might even find a nun there!
Overall, if you want somewhere to practice your faith, or simply somewhere quiet and peaceful to unwind a bit, then this fascinating shrine and chapel in Rockport are essential visits.
8. Enjoy Rockport’s Best Coffee
Everybody likes to sit down in a café and enjoy a nice warm coffee every now and then, especially if you’ve been traveling all over Rockport taking in all the activities we’ve been looking at.
Thankfully, Rockport is full of fantastic cafés for you to enjoy a coffee at, meaning it won’t be difficult for you to find a great spot and relax.
For example, there’s the Bean & Leaf Café, which offers a small and peaceful space for you to enjoy a drink and something to eat.
They have all kinds of coffee for sale, and you can enjoy bite-sized treats like tarts along with the drink. It’s a good place for breakfast, brunch, or lunch.
Meanwhile, the Hula Moon Cafe has a beautiful view of the water that you can enjoy while you sip your coffee, offering you a gorgeous gaze of all the boats resting gently on the water.
They have plenty of drinks to choose from, as well as lots of great breakfast or lunch food. For example, they do great sausages and Belgian waffles!
9. Appreciate Wildlife At Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
Rockport is home to a wide variety of stunning animals, and the rarest and most fascinating of them reside in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
As you can imagine, this is a place that has been set up with the sole purpose of conversing, managing, and (when needed) restoring the wildlife, fish, and plant resources of the area, so that they can benefit future generations.
However, this particular refuge is specifically focused on protecting the wintering grounds of whatever wild whooping cranes still remain, as well as acting as a breeding ground for migrating birds and other creatures.
Needless to say, there’s plenty of activities you can take part in here. For example, you can do a bit of birdwatching.
This is a perfect spot for that, being a major migration route that has seen 405 different documented species. Additionally, you can do wildlife watching too.
You can also enjoy some biking here, as long as you follow the designated roads and rules. It’s a beautiful landscape that surrounds you, so a bike ride through it will be pretty serene.
10. See Local Artwork At Rockport Center For The Arts
We’ve covered a few times now how important art is to Rockport, with so many different places to see and appreciate the diverse range of artwork from local artists.
The Rockport Center for the Arts is another great place to visit for such things, with even more art to enjoy and be astonished (and astonished!) by.
There are all kinds of activities going on here, from fascinating exhibits, educational workshops for all ages, special events, sculpture displays, performing arts, and much more.
Art comes in many forms, and so many of them are available to enjoy at the Center. Even better, there’s free admission! There’s no excuse not to visit here when you’re in Rockport.
There is a constant stream of new art exhibitions at the Center. Better yet, you may even bump into the artists themselves, allowing you to ask them about their work.
The sculpture garden is packed with beautiful, creative, and impressive artistic sculptures as well. These range from sculptures of local animals, to ambiguous designs that can be interpreted in a hundred different ways.
11. Visit The Big Tree
When we were talking about Goose Island State Park earlier in our list, we mentioned that one of its most notable features is the Big Tree.
Well, it deserves its own entry in our guide, because it’s such an essential landmark to visit whenever you’re in Rockport.
This is one of the most famous “live oaks” in the entire world, which are certain trees of the same genus that share evergreen foliage as a characteristic. It’s also one of the largest live oak specimens in all of the United States, making it another rarity.
Fascinatingly, the Texas Forest Service has estimated that the Big Tree is more than 1000 years old. This really makes it a part of history.
When you’re walking up to it, try to imagine that the eyes of a person 1000 years ago were falling on exactly the same sight. It’s something that really connects you to the past!
On top of that, it might even be the oldest extant live oak in the entire world.
As for its size, it stands over 45 feet in height and has a circumference of more than 35 feet.
Upon reading that, you’ll have a pretty good image in your mind of roughly how big it is – just wait until you see it in person! It’s an impressive tree with a whole load of history behind it, making it an essential must-see when visiting Rockport.
12. Enjoy Rockport’s Best Birdwatching
Birdwatching has come up a couple of times during our article, because we’ve been covering great wildlife locations such as Goose Island State Park and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
However, these aren’t the only places that you can get in a good bit of birdwatching (or “birding”), since Rockport has plenty of other great spots for it on offer.
Birdwatching is a great activity, because it allows you to learn even more about the beauty and range of the world around us. There are so many different types of birds out there, especially in Rockport.
Each has their own unique appearances, feathers, beaks, wings, and so on. The whooping cranes protected at the Refuge are particularly astonishing to look at!
Besides the two key spots we mentioned, another great Rockport spot for birdwatching is the Aransas Woods. These are 140 acres big, with plenty of land to house all kinds of birds.
Simply follow the signs to the oak uplands and freshwater marsh, where you’ll also be able to find an observation platform to watch the birds from. It’s typically migrant birds you’ll see, with them using the woods as a pause for their journey.
The Rockport Beach is also a great place for birdwatching, where you’ll be able to see all kinds of gulls, herons, terns, and shorebirds. There’s a dedicated observation deck for you to sit and spot them from, too.
13. See Fulton Mansion State Historic Site
If you’re in Rockport, then an essential activity would be to visit the Fulton Mansion State Historic Site.
It’s always a good idea to visit historical buildings when stopping off somewhere new, because they help to give you an idea of the place’s storied history.
Originally finished in 1877, this is one of the earliest Texas buildings built in the Second Empire style, and it was also notable at the time for having all kinds of modern conveniences (gas lighting, multiple bathrooms, etc.)
Now it’s a fascinating piece of history for you to explore!
14. Visit The Bay Education Center
We’re finishing our list with another fascinating museum, this time focused around the ecological roles of Rockport’s estuaries.
It has all kinds of creative displays informing visitors about all aspects of this, with plenty of its informational videos being shown on a model globe.
Even better, admission is completely free and it’s all located right by the beach!
When visiting Rockport, Texas, make sure to visit the essential activities on our list. Whether it’s birdwatching, educational museums, or simply great coffee, you’ll have a great time!
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