Mustang Island State Park, Corpus Christi, TX

When we were plotting our visit to Corpus Christi this past winter, we had a really hard time deciding where to camp. The region has several options, but many of the spots weren’t quite what we were looking for. The possibilities included: the inexpensive but primitive camping on Padre Island National Seashore, the more expensive resort style camping at a variety of private campgrounds, or the relatively spartan accommodations at Mustang Island State Park. After our epic boondocking fail at Padre Island National Seashore we decided to pull out and head over to Mustang Island for a few nights.This campground offers electric and water hook-ups, and served as our base camp from which to explore the Corpus Christi region.

Campground: Probably the best way to describe this campground is to imagine an older 1/2 mile airstrip. Add a line of campsites on each side and that is Mustang Island campground. The campsites on both sides are oddly arranged in our opinion. They have placed the sites so that you have two camper spots then two sheltered picnic tables, then two camper spots again and two more sheltered picnic tables, and repeat. What this means is that if everyone backs their camper in, only half of the sites have the picnic table and shade pavilion on the door-side of their camper. The other half have to walk around their camper to get to their picnic table. I am not sure why the campground was arranged in this manner; perhaps it was so motorhomes could pull into a site and have their front window pointing toward the beach (which really isn’t visible from the campground)?

The good news is each site has electric and water, but no sewer hook-ups. For some reason I found it a bit difficult to back into our site and I came close to clipping the shade pavilion. I still can’t figure out why this was so tough since it is a HUGE open paved area that I should have been able to put the van and camper in easily. I’ll blame it on the lack of sleep we had the night before at Padre Island. 🙂

The sites were almost perfectly level and while the road (i.e., airstrip) was paved, each site is sandy gravel. Both the gulf and bay side have a great deal of space behind the campers, and we estimated that the beach side had more grassy areas. There was a consistent breeze off the Gulf that would be quite refreshing in the summer.

If you have the equipment to do it, Mustang Island also offers primitive camping on the beach like Padre Island. Literal beach camping–how awesome would that be?

Bathrooms: These would rank as some of the roughest we have seen to date (not the worst, but I would say a close second)! Not only were they in need of some serious updating, they were open air! This may be ok in the hot Texas summers but in January when it was in the mid 20-30’s even using the toilet was a refreshing frigid experience.

The first day of our stay I noticed I was getting a few strange looks as I carried my towel and toiletry bag all the way down to the shower house thinking I was going to take a shower. When I discovered the bathrooms were open air I did an about-face and walked back to the camper for a quick but hot shower. (We had to really conserve water during our stay since everyone had to use the camper bathroom.)

Amenities: Much like our stay at Padre Island National Seashore the main attraction at Mustang Island is the beach. The beach at Mustang Island seemed to have less trash pushed ashore compared to what we saw at Padre Island National Seashore. The kiddos loved walking Mustang Island beach looking for shells, even though we still had to wear winter coats and gloves because the temperatures were so cold! We found quite a few different shell types–and discovered we have quite a knack for picking up shells that are still occupied. Don’t worry: We left those behind where they belonged.

Touring: Mustang Island State Park makes a great place to base camp as you explore nearby Corpus Christi and Rockport, Texas. Kristin will be putting together a family fun guide to Corpus Christi–as well as other regions of our Texas trip–but I will highlight a few items here.

To visit Rockport, we hopped on Texas 361 north to Port Aransas where we took the free car ferry across to Aransas Pass. The ferry was probably the highlight of the day for the kiddos–who had never been on a ferry before.

As many of you already know, Kristin and I really enjoy historic home tours and the Fulton Mansion State Historic Site did not disappoint. We used the QR code cell phone audio tour (which runs off of the home’s free WiFi service) and the kiddos did a scavenger hunt to keep them busy. The small visitor center has some great kid-friendly displays, as well as a very nice gift shop. Our whole family really enjoyed learning about the Fultons and their cutting edge 1870s home.

We also made a stop at The Shell Shoppe, which first opened in 1946 and is considered the oldest running gift shop in Rockport. It is a fun place to explore just about any type, color, and size of shell you can imagine. Flash was in his glory identifying all the varieties. Shop owner Deborah also shared some wonderful tips for finding shells in the area.

Dates of stay: 1/7-9/2017

Cost per night: $20 per night. Because we had the Texas State Park Pass our second night was 1/2 price, plus we didn’t have to pay the $5 per person fee. So what would have been a $60 two-night bill was only $30.

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