What you should know
Rockport and Fulton are coastal communities known for fresh seafood, fishing and entertainment on the Texas Coastal Bend. They’re within a three-hour drive of Houston, San Antonio and Austin, and 30 minutes from Corpus Christi. Rockport is surrounded by water on three sides and has been a favorite vacation spot for wealthy Texans since the 1800s. Fulton, just east over the Key Allegro Bridge, is home to some of the finest restaurants and accommodations in the area. Together, they offer plenty of group activities and beachfront meeting venues along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. The closest airports are Aransas County Airport (charter) and Corpus Christi International (CRP). Rockport-Fulton caters to small groups, especially those with tight budgets, and has some of Texas’ most unusual waterfront meeting venues. The area has chain hotels, but planners may prefer to choose from an assortment of luxury beach resorts, cabanas, vacation homes, beachside condos and bed-and-breakfast inns. For more information or planning assistance, contact the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce.
- 14,000+ square feet in three main venues
- 1,500 guest rooms
- 300+ resident artists
- Best values: October-February
Where to meet
The ADA-compliant Paws and Taws Fulton Convention & Meeting Center is named for the club that once used the facility as its dance hall. It has 7,608 square feet of Wi-Fi-enabled indoor space and a 1,488-sq. ft. covered patio overlooking Aransas Bay. The building holds up to 400 people for seminars, meetings, banquets, receptions and dances, and is within walking distance of the harbor, restaurants and accommodations. The Fulton Fishing Pier next door rents poles and sells bait and tackle. Rockport Beach Park is a Blue Wave-certified beach, which means it’s litter-free, handicap accessible, has public restrooms, picnic and play areas, and is a bird sanctuary. It also has a public boat ramp, swimming, fishing and two event pavilions. The 3,800-sq. ft. Saltwater Pavilion (capacity: 250) and the 1,000-sq. ft. Beachfront Pavilion both have catering kitchens, AV packages and Wi-Fi. The enclosed pavilions, also ADA compliant, are steps from the water. Other beachfront venues include the Rockport Beach Band Shell and gazebos at Triangle and Zachary Taylor parks. Fulton Mansion State Historic Site (circa 1877) offers group tours; to meet there, contact the Texas Historical Commission. Picnic areas and boat rentals are available at the Big Tree of Lamar in Goose Island State Park, estimated at more than 1,000 years old.
Where to eat
New catches are hauled from the gulf daily. Local favorite Charlotte Plummer’s Seafare Restaurant is affiliated with the Inn at Fulton Harbor, so it also provides room service for overnight guests. The Boiling Pot specializes in seafood boils, gumbos and oysters on the half-shell. Latitude 28º 02′, a restaurant/art gallery, has private dining for groups of 10 to 50. Recommended ethnic eateries include the Vietnamese Fai Foo Café and Mexican restaurant Las Camales.
Where to play
Get help planning golf tournaments, menus and theme parties at the Rockport Country Club. The 18-hole championship golf course features clusters of coastal live oaks, 65 acres of interconnecting lakes and ponds, grassy knolls and sand dunes. Lessons are available. The Rockport Center for the Arts has two classrooms that can be used for seminars or craft workshops. The backyard has a 10,000-sq. ft. sculpture garden, featuring granite sculpture by Rockport resident Jesus Bautista Moroles and award-winning wildlife sculpture by Leo Osborne. The center also hosts performances, concerts and festivals.
Where to find nature
Rockport-Fulton is a year-round home to many species of gulls, brown pelicans, shorebirds and wading birds. Tour boats can take groups to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to see endangered whooping cranes (late October to mid-April) and other wildlife. The refuge also has an alligator viewing area, a 40-ft. observation area, seven walking trails and the Claude F. Lard Visitor Center, with an auditorium and exhibit space. Other birding hot spots include Little Bay (also known as the Connie Hagar Wildlife Sanctuary) and the Compano Bay State Causeway and Fishing Pier.
Where to go for the view
The Texas Maritime Museum began as an annual fall festival, exhibiting antique outboard motors, fishing equipment and mounted fish. In 2008, NBC Media named it the “Official Best” Maritime Museum in Texas. In addition to the main museum building, there’s a lighthouse gallery space, which has a 48-ft. high observation deck with panoramic views of Rockport Harbor, Aransas Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. Group tours and educational programs for children and teens are available.