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Port Aransas Beach stretches for six miles along Mustang Island, one of Texas's largest barrier islands. Island Hotel Port Aransas sits just a mile from the beach, and you can sense it in the hotel's decor: palm trees stand sentinel outside, and guest rooms feature bright colors and decorative starfish. It's a quick stroll to get to Port Aransas Beach, where fishing boats bob in the water and colorful boutiques line the boardwalk. You can also use the hotel's outdoor pool if you want to take a swim or make a large batch of Kool-Aid. In the morning, guests are treated to a complimentary breakfast. There are also barbecue pits and a picnic area outside if you want to have an impromptu cookout.

345 N Alister St
Port Aransas,
TX
US

Vera Auvil's passion in life has always been cultivating knick-knacks and odds-and-ends—her "sweet nothings," as her husband used to say—so when the opportunity to purchase her own store came her way, she knew she wanted to fill its shelves and aisles with her favorite little things: clothes, jewelry, home décor, and makeup. She christened the shop Auvil's Sweet Nothings and set to work cultivating local artisans and national vendors who proffer goods such as De Novo, Waterford crystal, and Yellow Box Shoes. The skilled staffers at her vendor-based store can even help clients brighten smiles with Beaming White teeth-whitening services, make-over mugs with Jane Iredale cosmetics, and learn to cheat during shopping-cart races.

517 Everhart Rd
Corpus Christi,
TX
US

A bloom of pastel sugar cookies sprouts from a foundation of peanut-butter and chocolate-chip cookies heaped at their base. This edible masterpiece, the BouTray, is one of Cookies by Design’s many inventive arrangements. For their creative displays, the bakers have been spotlighted on Home and Lifestyle TV. Once customers have selected their ideal cookie bouquet, cookie platter, or cookie house for displaced gingerbread men, pastry chefs personalize the fresh-baked treats with a written message or design.

4709 S Alameda St
Corpus Christi,
TX
US

Disc Go Round’s staff of music mavens maintains the CD emporium's vast collection of tunes, games, and DVDs while doling out well-informed advice on selections. Their inventory has practically everything, from game rental to Eric Clapton albums and Jimi Hendrix's never-released Practically Everything. Should something be missing the team happily fills requests.

5734 McArdle Rd
Corpus Christi,
TX
US

Trainer Ian Andracchio developed RowZone's unique blend of rowing exercises and full-body toning techniques to help students of all ages and abilities stave off the boredom and plateaus of other fitness regimens. During RZ Core workouts, instructors provide helpful pointers and encouragement to students as they shape up with body-toning ergometers.

Each structured session presents a total-body workout that incorporates rowing, resistance training, and fitness techniques that solidify cores and improve flexibility. Students learn proper rowing technique so that they can explode during the drive, stretch out during the reach, tighten the core during the finish, and flip through an issue of National Geographic during the recovery. Additionally, free-weight curls, crunches, lunges, and other rowing exercises work to provide an effective strength-endurance workout.

5625 Saratoga Blvd
Corpus Christi,
TX
US

The product creators at EcoSage Company prepare and package their all-natural items with the planet in mind, just as they have since 2008. The group’s sustainable practices extend to their entire inventory, such as their natural soap—the original product made by the company—that comes in scents such as basil-sage mint and cullowhee. Each item is also packaged using recyclable or reusable materials, from soy candles to baby products and body silk lotions. Originally a hobby that started in a modest college apartment, EcoSage’s soaps and other chemical-free products still reflect that initial passion for creating products that are both natural and pleasant-smelling. The EcoSage product makers are also members the Texas Soapmakers Association, a guild that unites its artisans for some of the best-smelling meet-ups this side of the Mississippi.

5875 Everhart Road
Corpus Christi,
TX
US