Yippee-kai-yay, military mama, you’re going to NAS Corpus Christi in the great state! You might start your PCS prep by checking your WTForecast app to see what this Texas heat and humidity are all about. You figure the initial forecast must be wrong, so you keep refreshing, but they all look grim:
- “So friggin’ hot. Like way too much.”
- “Black yoga pants and a hot day like today equals swamp butt that we all can see.”
- “At least creepy clowns aren’t hiding in your bedroom.”
After you post all your black yoga pants as FREE Porch Pickup, you’re ready for this Corpus Christi native to teach you how to live like a local.
Living off base is the most common choice. Narrow your housing search to a few preferable areas around NAS Corpus Christi. Your best bets are North Padre Island (just call it The Island so the locals don’t give you funny looks), the southside, pockets of the northside, and pockets of Flour Bluff.
The Island is a popular choice for Naval aviation students and instructors because of the abundance of rentals, but it’s an excellent choice for families too. The beach is right down the road, and there are plenty of places to launch a boat if you’re into that. It’s the laid-back living you might expect. The drawback is convenience. For public school and grocery shopping, you’ll head into Flour Bluff (where NAS Corpus Christi is actually located). The drive is roughly 15 minutes, but to get into other areas of Corpus Christi, you’ll be looking at closer to 30 minutes each way.
The southside of Corpus (this is what the locals call it, so we’re working it into your vocabulary) is booming. Here you’ll find new construction, several new schools, plenty of shopping, and restaurants (mostly chains in this area).
The northside has the city’s most affluent street, Ocean Drive, it’s lined with mansions just a little outside your BAH. You might luck out and find a rental on one of the streets a block or two in, though. Ocean Drive also dead ends into NAS Corpus Christi’s back gate, which makes it an easy commute to base.
Food and Drinks
All you need to concern yourself with is Texas BBQ, Mexican food, seafood, and the local legend, Whataburger. Eating anything else is not taking full advantage of your time in Corpus.
There is a Whataburger nearly every block, so if you miss one, just catch the next one. To order like a pro, you can get your burger any way you like it — go on and throw jalapenos on there. Switch it up and order chicken strips with country gravy. Get the strawberry milkshake once in a while, but under no circumstances should you ever order a large drink — it’s nearly a half-gallon.
The best seafood is on The Island, downtown, or North Beach. Stop in Snoopy’s Pier for some Mahi Mahi while you watch the sun go down on the water. Mexican restaurants may be the only thing more abundant than Whataburger in Corpus. There are taquerias everywhere. You can grab a breakfast taco at a drive-thru or head inside a larger one for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can decide for yourself which taqueria is the best, but do yourself a favor and pull into Taqueria Almeida #1 in Flour Bluff at the corner of Waldron Road and Glenoak.
Like craft beer? The southside hangout, Lazy Beach Brewery, is a perfect afternoon hangout. Food trucks roll up some days and you can play foosball all you want. You can bring your kids here, but no one would blame you for leaving them with a sitter.
What to Do
Water is everywhere. Get a boat or a friend with a boat. Get to know the best family beaches. Try Bob Hall Pier, Whitecap Beach, J.P. Luby, Port Aransas, and Padre Island National Seashore. You can drive on many Corpus beaches as long as you purchase the annual beach parking permit and you know how to drive on sand. This keeps you from hauling stuff from the car to your beach spot, making it ideal for families. Roll the doors open on the minivan or drop the tailgate on your truck and hang out for the day.
For being the unofficial capital of heat, humidity, and — good heavens — mosquitoes, Corpus doesn’t have many indoor options. Plan your activities early in the day or after the peak heat of the day. Mix up the typical park playdates with an annual membership to the Texas State Aquarium; bring your swimsuits and hit the splash park after staring at the fish for a while. While it’s hotter than sin in the summer heat, the USS Lexington is another kid favorite. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take the kids to Cole Park. It’s massive and right on the water, so use this place with caution if your kid tends to go AWOL. During baseball season, you can catch a Corpus Christi Hooks game at Whataburger Field.
- You can’t buy alcohol before noon on Sunday because, you know, it’s the Lord’s day.
- Locals will stop at every single yield sign. Be ready so you don’t rear-end anyone.
- Homeless people panhandle at many major intersections.
- Corpus gets plenty of tropical activity during hurricane season. Make sure you have preparations in place in case a hurricane aims at the area (boards for the windows, an evacuation plan, etc.).
- Texas Country and regular country music are not the same. If you’ve never been to a Texas Country concert, give it a shot!
- If you don’t like crowds, avoid the beaches on any major holiday and basically the entire month of March when Texas students are on spring break.
- Selena, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Farah Fawcett are Corpus legends.
- Fall revolves around high school football games.
- Halloween is the most unpredictable weather day of the year. It will either be freezing or your little tiger will sweat through his fleece costume.
- Thanksgiving is always warm.
- You can spot the locals easily when the weather does dip below 60 degrees. They break out the winter boots, scarves, and coats before the week of winter is over.
- The only grocery store you need is H-E-B. They have 25 different varieties of every food known to man (and some we don’t know about yet). Their shopping carts are wide enough for two kids to ride. You’ll miss this more than Whataburger when you leave.
- Order tamales every December. Even if you don’t know what they are or if you’ll like them, find a dealer and order them.
Corpus Christi might not end up being your favorite duty station, but by the end of it, you might find yourself wearing flipflops a little more frequently, chatting it up with total strangers, and saying y’all like you’ve been there your whole life.
Photo Credits: MKB Photography | Kristi Stolzenberg