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18 Texas Coastal Bend tour guide Late Spring 2016 Corpus Christi with a population of about 300000 is the metropolitan center of the Coastal Bend and is home to the fifth-busiest port in the U.S. a prosperous and growing petrochemical industry Naval Air Station C.C. and the C.C. Army Depot and the ever-expand- ing Texas AM University C.C. Downtown Corpus Christi is located in the northeast end of the city along Cor- pus Christi Bay and is where youll find numerous hotels the seawall the Ameri- can Bank Center arena and convention center and the citys museums including Science and History Asian Cultures and the Art Museum of South Texas. The Harbor Bridge extends over the Port of Corpus Christi to North Beach and on to Portland and the North Bay Area. North Beach is where you find the U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier Museum and the Texas State Aquarium along with a full-service hotel and nu- merous motels and condominiums plus a mile-long stretch of pedestrian friendly beach on Corpus Christi Bay. On the South Side of Corpus Christi be sure to visit the South Texas Botanical Gardens Nature Center on S. Staples St. past Yorktown Blvd. The South Padre Island Drive SPID freeway takes you to North Padre Island The Island and to our Gulf of Mexico beaches. The Laguna Madre is the long large body of water that runs between Padre Island and the mainland Flour Bluff. Baffin Bay is lo- cated farther south along Laguna Madre and is accessible by land at Riviera Beach a few miles south of Kingsville. Padre Isles on North Padre Island is the largest waterfront community outside the state of Florida andThe Islandof- fers miles of beautiful beaches restau- rants shopping and the Padre Island National Seashore. Packery Channel separates North Padre and Mustang Islands and provides direct boating access to the Gulf of Mexico. Mustang Island is home to numerous beachfront condominiums and private homes and Knowing Your Way Around the Coastal Bend Welcome leads northward to Port Aransas Port A a fast growing fishing villagethat attracts affluent vacationers and second home owners sportfishing and nature enthusiasts golfers and beachgoers from across Texas and the US. Aransas Pass and Conn Brown Harbor are north of Port A across the ship channel via a 24-hour vehicle ferry and is home to a revitalized downtown area and excellent marina facilities. Just 2 12 hours south of San Antonio and east of Laredo 3 12 hours south of Austin and Houston and about a day south of DFW by car. Free Online Versions of every TCBM issue at www.thecoastalbend.com