We finally had a family vacation!
The back story to this is, we have busy lives. When I say busy, what I mean is, we own a business, we have two children under five, we are always on the go or doing something and time is very limited.
When I planned this trip in January it was all still waaayyy up in the air, because the family owned business had taken priority one, from day one. And since the summer months are our busiest, we typically forgo any holiday vacations. But it being four years in, I said hell with it (so did my hubs) and we booked it!
Best decision we could have made! We have been really pushing our goals this year and we went above and beyond #goalsmade, plus my husband has been putting in like twelve hour days and he needed this...bad.
Ok...more backstory... (sorry) Last year we did take like a very-mini vaca over the weekend ( I can't remember what dates (also sorry). Anyway, we rented a house through VRBO and it was a hit with the family!
Sooooo, there is the behind the scenes reason why we choose it again.
I don't know if y'all remember but about two or so years ago the Texas Gulf Coast was hit my hurricane Harvey, and it devastated the area. So the main reason we decided to VRBO again is because most of the hotels and condos are still under construction/ renovation. We actually spoke with some of the locals and shop owners about the whole ordeal and man were the stories #tearworthy.
I just wanted to put in here that there are still a lot of people recovering, even years later, they are all #portastrong and it makes me feel so proud that we still have strong communities that come together in times like these.
On the Way:
We live about 3 hours (give or take) from #portaransas and the drive is pretty much a straight highway shot. Which makes it nice for a good car nap for the kids. There is limited gas stations but the Loves that we stopped at mid-way was fairly decent and had some food options. We are a snack family, so we par-took in the candy section.
We booked through VRBO.com, and the rental we decided on was close to beach access, so that was a win for us. The company that we delt with was called Life in Paradise. What I assume happens is a person buys or builds a home (second home), and hires a rental company such as the one we stayed in to manage it. It was an overall good experience, they call us on the way there to verify a time that we would be arriving, and to let us know that it would be available at the scheduled time of check-in (3 pm).
The house was pretty stellar! And the kids loved it. They had games (board and a Foosball table) , Netflix, Roku in the kids bedroom, and cable. Not that, that really mattered. Most of our time was spent either at the beach or out, but still it was nice at night when we needed to wind the kids down before bed.
But my fav, was the kitchen (pictured above). It came with all the amenities, and pots and pans to cook, so most of the time you weren't spending a fortune on food places. And you could still enjoy a down home cooked meal at night.
The beds were cozy, and they really did make it feel like a homey place. Home away from home situation.
Last year when we went, we found the cutest little ice cream spot, and man did it not disappoint this year either!!
Desserted Ice Cream (check out my stories on IG) was so good, I think we went everyday. Each person that we encountered that was working was so dang welcoming, and each time the ice cream was so fresh and ya'll.... the inside was like a dang freezer. They keep the temps extremely cold to make sure that nothing melts!!!
We went, like I said, practically everyday after our beach trip every morning. And boy did it hit the spot!
I think I ordered everything I could think of. The first day I got a strawberry/banana smoothie, then a brownie sunday, then a banana split. The kids got the same everytime, vanilla with extra extra sprinkles lol!
Let's just say this is one spot you want to hit up when you are there!!!
This place was also a hit, we got to go once for the week, just because it was after dinner and #yolo beach week. It is just a small food truck (snow cone truck?) in the midst of all the beach shops but it was delicious!
I don't know about ya'll but I am super picky with my ice. It has to be cold enough so the syrup doesn't melt it before taking your first bite, and this did it!!!
If you know Dustin and I, ya'll know our coffee habit is out of this world. Not just for Starbucks but for local shops as well. We needed an afternoon pick me up mid-week, so we headed to a place we found called Coffee Waves.
The place smelled like fresh coffee grounds in the morning, and boy was it packed. You ever hear the saying never go to a place that has no one in the parking lot, well that is the complete opposite of this place. Not only was the parking lot full, the drive-thru was stacked!
So little to say, we were pretty excited about it!
I feel kind of ridiculous, but we always walk into these places and order our usual caramel flavored coffee (we are so predictable), but to our surprise they were a full blown eatery, desert, and coffee spot. They made fresh pressed panini's and had gelato!!!
Unfortunately, we did not partake has we had just hit up the other local ice cream spot earlier with the kids, and we had just eaten lunch or else we would have barrage that place.
BUUUTT the coffee was ON TIME! If not the biggest competitor with Starbucks. No wonder there is no Starbucks on the Island!!!!
We actually hit it up one more time prior to leaving and it was still as fresh as the first time we came. We will definitely be back every time we visit.
I have always been a huge fan of sushi, if not a general fan of seafood, especially on Island time. I kept seeing a little ( what some would call "whole in the wall") place on a corner every time we would head back to the house. So, I convinced Dustin to order lunch one day. The name of the place is called Shell's. Yes, typical name. The place could probably sit about ten people and only allowed for a majority of 15 people tops! When I say small, it was tiny!
That, however, negate the fact that the seafood was fresh caught, and if I didn't know any better caught that day! I went with the Ahi Poke, which has been a popular item on the food scene lately, and a small salad.
First, let me just say that the tuna was so well flavored, that if you weren't a fish type person, you would have no idea you were even eating it! It was flavored that well. Second, the dressing on the salad was so good... mmmmm. Like I have said.... it was to die for!
For my meal alone, it was about $25, which is on the pricey-er side, but overall I was not disappointed with how well everything was put together!
Honestly, this part about food could go on and on. Here is a list of other spots we hit up while we were on the Island:
We never physically went in and ate, but we ordered once we we got there, and once when the night before we left.... The pizza was still piping hot on delivery!!! That I can say was a win for me.
- Local IGA (grocery store)
This is going to sound so tourist-y but we stopped at an H-E-B in Corpus Christi before heading to the house, because we weren't sure how the local stores stock would be, and boy... were we wrong!!! The local grocery (IGA) had the freshiest stuff I have seen, and the meat and seafood was amazing! If you think you have to go to a better known place, think again, this IGA will do it for you!
I was only able to go to a select few boutiques in town, because #kids and also because a lot of them were closed. I assume they were all gearing up for the upcoming holiday weekend. But the spots I hit up were amazing, and the shop owners were oh so sweet!
I was told by @portaransas that this was the spot to check out, and so I did. This is the cutest clothing/ knick-knack/ jewelry place!!! It even comes equipped with a waving Santa in the front... It really doesn't get any better than Santa in the Summer!
They had the boutique style clothes that make your heart go boom boom. I bought the cutest duster that can also double as a swimsuit cover or even a cover up for after showers!
I even invested in some arm candy (i.e bracelets). I mixed an matched the options she had, and they are the perfect addition to date nights or casual wear!
There what even and extension of @roamporta with Roam Home! My mother-in-law had a field day in this place!! They have the cutest home decor/ everyday use kind of things. They even had those awesome wine bottom holders that keep it cold after it's been -uncorked!
We bought the softest (I mean, I'm pretty sure these shorts are part butter) pajama bottoms, and some darn cute socks for the kids. She even got a few "funny saying" dish towels for the kitchen!
If you are in the Port Aransas area I highly recommend these two little places. They would be perfect for some retail therapy, or a nice take home present for the family!
I swear last year that this place wasn't here, but the owner told us she has been here for a while! So to my surprise this place was popping!! She had so many people in and out when i was there, so this place must be popular.
One thing that blew my mind was how busy this shop owner was, and not just patrons coming in and out, but the owner was literally picking pieces and sizes for people, while tending to new people walking through the door! Service at it's finest!
I found these two pieces that are perfect for transition into fall! She had way more stuff, but I know me, and plus my hubs was with me and he was like "uhm we need to run out of here".
She had shoes, and jewelry options and even some cute bags!
If you are in the area check here out or follow here on Facebook here!
As I mentioned a lot of the shops we stopped at were not open. Again, it is kind of the off season, and they were probably gearing up for the Labor Day weekend. I hope that on another trip we can check out more they have to offer!
When I was a kid, I remember driving down and seeing nothing but seaweed, and panicking over the sand flies. But this experience was completely different. After Harvey, I'm sure that clean-up was major, and the reconstruction of the beaches took months. But I will hand it to all the volunteers and locals, they did a really great job.
Even though many of the visitor centers, and public restrooms are still condemn, they have literally cleaned the beach of all debris. On the last day there they were preparing for the holiday weekend by shoving sand into dunes and putting up tents for beach-goers.
I will say though, parking is not free. It is a $12 dollar fee for parking, but it does last a year. Also the peer I remember so fondly, as a child, is also not free. It is a $3 a person fee, even if you just want to walk you kids to the end. But I can understand, this area was hit really hard. Even though I don't know the statistics, I'm sure that tourist may not know it is "okay" to come back yet.
Anyway, other than that, the beach was beautiful and there was nobody!!! We practically had the beach to ourselves, which was awesome because our kids are insane (not really, but like they are loud). It was clean, and the water was amazing! It was warm, and not as sandy as I remember, again, it was perfect!
My kids had a blast running after all the little crabs, especially at night. I think we practically went every night. Purely a catch and release scenario but still, they had a blast!!!
There isn't much more to say about the beach besides this... There are designated areas where you can't drive up to the beach, which made it nice to not have to worry about drivers coming up close to the kids. The area that were not roped off allowed drivers to park closer to the shoreline and pop-up tents for beach camping.
Again, such a relief with someone that has children who sprint at a seconds notice.
Here are some more photos of our escapades!!
Overall, the trip was amazing, and much needed. We haven't spent time as a family in such a long time, I think we almost forgot how bad it was actually needed.
This is definitely a family friendly place, and on top of that, they were so nice. Each place we went all the locals were willing to talk to us about their businesses and how the hurricane affected them.
Until Next Time,