Six great things to see in Rockport

Goose Island State Park, where we camped in Rockport, was excellent, and we did enjoy our stay there. However, there is much more to the Fulton – Rockport area than this State Park. These are the six great things to see in Rockport that we enjoyed most.

I can remember not many years ago when Rockport was a sleepy little fishing village. Today this sleepy little fishing village has grown into a fun-filled, exciting, and relaxing vacation destination.

We discovered beaches, fishing piers, B&B’s, Airbnbs, family-friendly hotels, many RV parks, museums, restaurants, and bars during our visit to Rockport. Rockport is also host to multiple guided birding and fishing tours and multiple festivals throughout the year.

The Big Tree

Six great things to see in Rockport

This legendary tree is believed to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old, has a circumference of thirty-five feet, and is about forty-four feet tall. I expect it is one of Rockport’s more unusual attractions. Between 1969 and 2003, this tree was the Texas State Champion Virginia Live Oak.

The Big Tree was a meeting place for the Karankawa Indians in its early years and was used as a hanging tree. This historic tree miraculously survived the winds from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Quite a big life for a tree, huh?

Six great things to see in Rockport

The tree was beautiful to see since it keeps its leaves and green color throughout the winter. We were able to ride over from our campsite at Goose Island State Park to see this majestic old tree – over two miles on our e-bikes!

The tree is easy to find as signs are posted at Goose Island Park to direct you.

Whooping cranes

These magnificent birds are the tallest in North America and have a seven-foot wingspan. They can be as tall as I am – five feet! I was hoping to see at least one of these beautiful creatures during our visit to Rockport, but no luck this year.

Six great things to see in Rockport

No whooping cranes – just a crazy seagull sitting in the middle of the road!

From mid-November until early March, they migrate from northern Canada to Texas and are visible in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the Rockport area. During our recent visit, I read reports that birders saw a few whooping cranes at a pond near the Big Tree.

We rode the e-bikes over to take a look, but even though we made the trip three times, we did not ever see whooping cranes. Several sandhill cranes, also large and magnificent birds, were feeding at the pond, but that was all.

We didn’t have time to take a guided tour, but maybe that is for our next winter trip to Rockport?

A Whooping Crane Festival is just one of the annual fun celebrations held in this area. The Aransas 25th Annual Festival will take place February 24-27.

Fulton Mansion State Historic Site

Six great things to see in Rockport

I love the surprises we find wandering around. This grand and beautiful historic 150-year-old Mansion was one of those surprises. It is a brief drive across the relatively new Copano Bay bridge and into the community of Fulton.

Six great things to see in Rockport

The Fulton Mansion State Historic Site is a lovely sight. Magnificent oak trees surround the Mansion, and Aransas Bay is its backyard.

Six great things to see in Rockport

I was amazed to discover that Mr. Fulton built this house to include central heating, indoor gaslighting, running hot and cold water, and flush toilets in 1877! The Mansion was George W. Fulton and his wife Harriet Fulton’s dream home, and they lived out their retirement lives in their luxurious Mansion.

Harriet sold the Mansion in 1907 after Fulton’s death. The Mansion had a few other owners before the State of Texas purchased it, restored it, and opened it to the public in 1983.

Fulton Mansion was transferred to the Texas Historical Commission in 2008 and then began operation as the Fulton Mansion State Historic Site. Another extensive renovation took place between 2013 and 2015.

There are so many very unique elements to this house. It has a full basement which is a nearly unheard thing on the Texas coast. The kitchen, laundry room, and water cisterns are all located here.

I was fascinated to learn that none of the fireplaces throughout the house were wood-burning. Instead, they served as heat registers for the central heating! The furnace is also in the basement.

This incredible piece of historical architecture has survived four major hurricanes. It took over two and a half years to repair damage from the latest hurricane, Hurricane Harvey, in 2017.

Texas Maritime Museum

Six great things to see in Rockport

The Texas Maritime Museum opened in 1989 but began in the 70s as the Rockport annual Seafair Festival. This Museum is not state or federally funded, however. It is a non-profit and relies on patrons, members, and fundraisers for its funding operations.

Six great things to see in Rockport

The Museum contains artifacts, exhibits, and displays relating to maritime history in Texas. Its focus is to preserve maritime history in Texas and encourage appreciation of the enormous maritime history the State of Texas has experienced.

Six great things to see in Rockport

We were most fascinated by the antique outboard motors on display. A few of them were very similar to the outboard motor Steve has repurposed to be our mailbox at our house. He would love to get his hands on one of these at the Museum, I expect.

Six great things to see in Rockport

Bay Education Center

Six great things to see in Rockport

We have never come across an education center like this before. It is part museum, education center, and visitor’s Center. The sea life habitat and ecological exhibits, although informative to us, probably would interest school-aged children most. The Center is free and open to the public.

The unusual exhibit that most fascinated us is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science On a Sphere display. This Sphere is a six-foot globe suspended from the ceiling by cables. Live and animated data displays project onto the Sphere from different projectors.

Six great things to see in Rockport

The Center educator uses a tablet to select different displays on the Sphere. Some of the images projected are images of hurricanes from the past, different weather patterns, or icons indicating the location of all ships on all the bodies of water at one time.

This fantastic educational tool is like a three-dimensional Google Earth on steroids. We only saw the Sphere projected as Earth, but it can also display images of other planets.

This Center offers a full schedule of educational presentations and hands-on activities throughout the year. It is a fantastic resource for the Rockport community.

Schoenstatt Shrine

Six great things to see in Rockport

We discovered this Schoenstatt Shrine at a Catholic church retreat near Goose Island State Park. It was dedicated in 1959 and is based on the original Schoenstatt Shrine in Vallendar, Germany. It is a lovely little chapel where people can go for prayer or inspiration.

Fulton – Rockport are communities we plan to visit again. We will most definitely plan a boat tour to see the whooping cranes next year. Goose Island State Park turned out to be one of our favorite RV parks we’ve stayed at so far. I love to have trips already planned and ready and waiting to take!

Six great things to see in RockportSix great things to see in RockportSix great things to see in Rockport

4 thoughts on “Six great things to see in Rockport

    1. The Fulton Mansion website states that it overlooks Arkansas Bay and I believed that was the case. What body of water is it, if not Aransas Bay? I want the post to be accurate and thank you for calling this to my attention.

      1. I think she meant that Aransas Bay is in front of the mansion, not behind it.

        1. Oh! You are right. I missed that. The home tour enters from the other side, which I guess was originally the back door and not the front door. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

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