The Coastal Bend Region of Texas is known for its sandy shorelines and sunny climate, but it draws visitors to the area for much more than its coastal climate. The 12-county region, anchored by Corpus Christi, offers an increasingly diverse array of options, from inviting beaches, resorts and waterfront attractions to top-tier arts, entertainment and cuisine. “Our area has emerged as a true travel destination, one of the top destinations in Texas,” says Ashley Higson, director of communications for the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau. During the most recent fiscal year, Corpus Christi hosted some 8.1 million visitors, she says. The reasons for the area’s vitality as a go-to vacation spot include “exciting developments such as Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi Waterpark & Resort, additions to our wonderful existing attractions, as well as our natural assets that provide an abundance of activities year round for leisure travelers.” By Land or by Sea The region's growing list of attractions include multiple museums and indoor draws such as the Texas State Aquarium, historic military sites like the USS Lexington, the new Schlitterbahn water park set to open in summer 2014 on Upper Padre Island, and more than enough outdoor activities to fill a weeklong getaway itinerary. Even as new resorts and restaurants open, the region’s natural landscape continues to shine thanks to smart, eco-friendly development. Take Port Aransas; this once sleepy fishing village recently landed a spread in Texas Highway magazine and was listed among the state’s Top 40 Travel Destinations. Small wonder: The city has remained laid-back, while adding top-notch accommodations, fine-dining fare, a golf course and a bevy of activities for outdoor lovers, from biking and birding to kayaking and dolphin tours. Visitors can also hop a free ferry that runs from the town to Mustang Island. Scenery, Seafood and More “This area is unique, because we’re not far from large cities but we’re quiet and laid-back,” says Sandy Jumper, director of tourism and events for the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, which includes Aransas County. “We are booming, but we’re growing in a good way, with more natural and eco-friendly options for visitors to enjoy.” The draws include simple, awe-inspiring wonders, such as the chance to gaze at an oceanfront sunrise and then watch that evening’s sunset from the opposite side of a peninsula. Along with “an abundance of attractions, shops and restaurants," Jumper says. "The seafood is especially amazing." What’s more, the vibrant arts scene has drawn an array of artists, musicians and other creative people to the community. Enhancing Assets One of the goals of tourism leaders in the Coastal Bend is cohesion: drawing diverse features into a portfolio of appealing attractions. Case in point is a program called Aransas Pathways, which is connecting birding, historic sites, hiking and biking trails, and kayaking routes throughout Aransas County. The addition of a new span to replace the Harbor Bridge, along with tentative plans to make the city a port-of-call for cruise ships, will only serve to buoy the region’s attractiveness. Yet even with all the current and planned growth, Coastal Bend leaders are committed to ensuring that their communities preserve quiet, relaxing nooks that visitors can enjoy whether they're playing on the water, strolling along the beach or relaxing at inland hot spots. Find out what it's like to live in the Coastal Bend Region.