When you think about Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, Houstonians often think of the damage their city sustained. It hits home for us. But did you know the devastation hit a lot harder directly south of H-town?
It wasn’t the flooding that affected the town of Rockport — it was the 130 mph winds that knocked roofs off and tore down structures. Reports found that 2.5 million pounds of debris were cleared from the small town. Houston, obviously much larger, cleared 3 million. Even now, 2.5 years later, businesses are still yet to reopen, but the bulk of the city has recovered and is ready for its summer season.
I got to visit Rockport-Fulton last weekend, and coming from a city that was also wrecked by Harvey, it meant a lot to me to get to patronize a city that’s worked so hard to get back to normal.
Just about 3 hours south of Houston, it’s a quick trip that takes you to a cute, small town with amazing sunsets and sunrises, beach views, and, of course, fresh seafood!
When to Go
Seasonally, I think spring makes for a perfect time to visit Rockport. The weather was a bit chilly and windy for February, but March should be idyllic. Summer is of course popular, and you can enjoy the bay views through the fall even.
As far as good weekends to go, Rockport hosts so many themed weekends that make for great reasons to visit! The Chamber of Commerce, which hosted my trip, has a full list on its website, but I highly recommend:
- Fulton Oysterfest (March)
- Rockport Festival of Wine and Food (May)
- July 4th Boat Parade (July)
- Little Bay Labor Day Music Festival (August)
- Christmas in the District (December)
What to Do
One way to start your day in Rockport is by getting to know the residents of Aransas Bay — and I don’t mean the human ones. Just off the coast is the Aransas Bay Wildlife Refuge thats a protected barrier island that is the winter home to 500 Whooping Cranes that are an endangered species. Overhunting and loss of habitat put these homies in trouble and now experts are keeping track and seeing numbers slowly but surly creep up for these birds.
You can catch a 3-hour boat tour that’ll show you the cranes and some other birds and even some dolphins! There are different tours per season and range from $30 to $85. We did the crane one and boy do people love birds. We were on the tour with a bunch of self-proclaimed “bird nerds” and apparently were very lucky to see three cranes searching for a lunch of blue crabs.
A visit the Fulton House is the No. 1 thing on the list of 51 things to do in Rockport-Fulton! The house was built by George W. Fulton — who would then be the namesake of the city next door to Rockport — in the late 1800s. Fulton was pretty rich — and pretty innovative.
The house is super unique. It had running water — in the freaking 1800s! Fulton designed a rain water collection device in his basement, which was synced up with a windmill (that was later blown off in a hurricane) that sucked the water up to the top floor and flowed down through the bathrooms.
Fulton House has survived 4 major hurricanes, the last of which was Harvey. The house has only just recently been renovated and reopened. Fulton built his house to flood and the structure is made up of more wood than an entire subdivision would have today. Nevertheless, Harvey took parts of the roof with it, and rain water damaged the artifacts from the top.
It’s only $7 to go in — highly recommend a tour and a picnic on the grounds outside.
An afternoon not at Rockport Beach is an afternoon wasted, in my opinion. It’s only $5 to drive in and park — and you have access to shady palapas and bathrooms. It’s a bay beach, so you won’t see many waves. Sand is pretty rocky but, even in the winter, the water feels pretty mild since it’s shallower than most beaches.
Shopping is definitely a pastime in Rockport, and there are tons of shops in the downtown area. But pick out an outfit and a pick-me-up at Bella la Rue and Bella la Brew! This charming store was among the establishments that, while not sustaining any major physical damages, suffered from loss of business following the storm. No one is looking for cute clothes, kitchen trinkets, and smell–good items when in recovery mode. So was born Bella la Brew, an adjacent coffee shop with frappes and snacks. I loved the Sammie — an iced coconut dream with espresso and caramel.
Really, I’m a fan of pretty much any type of wine, and lucky for everyone involved, the Winery on the Bay has SO MANY WINES for you to choose from. From a more traditional Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé to sangria and watermelon-infused.
Fair warning, some are incredibly sweet — but you can do a tasting of four for just $4 and pick your fave bottle — which will only cost you around $15. You have no excuse not to visit because WOTB also has a brewery component so there’s literally something for everyone.
Where to Eat + Drink
The people of Rockport-Fulton are extremely proud of their dining scene, and I can’t blame them. There are tons of options for a small town. If you want martinis and a bit of a fancier bite, LATITUDE 28°02′ serves both up with a side of local art pieces for sale.
Meanwhile, there’s Charlotte Plummers right on the bay with fresh seafood and an amazing porch. Fresh oysters, tacos, and the best shrimp and crab dip I’ve ever had — the $4 mimosas hit the spot too.
Apple Dumpling Deli is your best bet for lunch. One observation I’ve had was that a lot of restaurants are only open for dinner and hours are a bit questionable. But Apple Dumpling does not disappoint with their large sandwiches and side soups and salads! Get it to-go for a beach or park lunch!
The Crab-N is another spot that’s only recently reopened since Harvey. We had to wait a bit as the locals flocked to its first weekend back open. Paradise Key is another can’t-miss dinner spot, and Cheryl’s Restaurant is your best bet for brunch, but I personally wouldn’t leave town without a taco from Jalisco’s. Another victim of the storm, Jalisco’s is not yet reopened but has a food truck you can order from every morning until 2 pm.
Where to Stay
Love love loved staying at the Pelican Bay Resort. The property has cute little cottages that make you feel like you’re driving through a fictional town where buildings are pink and yellow.
All visitors get the code to Pelican’s pier — and whether you want to fish or not, I highly recommend going out on it! It’s LONG and faces west so you can see the sunrise from what feels like the middle of the bay.
I also would not recommend missing out on the pool and hot tub — both are open until 10 pm for you night swimmers and tubbers!
I honestly had such the best time visiting Rockport-Fulton! If you’re looking to mix up your quick beach weekends from Galveston, you can seriously feel like you’re in another world in just three short hours of a drive. I mean… look at the sunset you’d get to enjoy….