One of my favorite vacation home destinations is Cinnamon Shore on Mustang Island in southern Texas, just about an hour south of Corpus Christi, and maybe five miles west of the charming fishing village of Port Aransas. It’s a budding beach community development and poster child for New Urbanism. CS captured my heart when I visited last March. If you’ve ever been to Seaside, Florida, or the St. Joe clone of Watercolor, you will see that Cinnamon Shore is a Seaside clone in Texas. And there is nothing wrong with cloning something that works! Seaside was a planned beachfront community that remains one of the biggest second home real estate and New Urbanism success stories in the U.S. If you’ve ever driven down Route 30A outside of Panama City Beach, you will see a stretch of Gulf shore developed from my hearthrob Alys Beach to Rosemary Beach, Seaside to Watercolor. Cinnamon Shore brings the same flavor, style and quality of construction to the Texas coast.
Here’s what intrigues me, however. The Florida gulf coast is a three hour flight, or a good 12 hour drive. Cinnamon Shore has great accessibility from Dallas via Continental or Southwest Air Lines (from Love Field) in about ONE HOUR, or an eight hour drive by car. That’s do-able in one day.
We visited last March. I found a utopia filled with parks, ponds, and a surprisingly great beach. No sugar white sands like you find on the Florida panhandle, but a very long, broad beach with great waves. And CLEAN! Having summered in Maine almost every year of my married life, I am a total beach snob but Mustang Island beaches are easy on the feet, clean as a whistle and have great surf.
And here’s what you cannot do anywhere else but in Texas: take a golf cart to the beach!
Cinnamon Shore is a 62 acre Master Planned Community. There are others around, not as nice. You drive in off the main drag, Highway 361, on Mustang Island and enter a cloistered paradise of paver sidewalks, beautiful lakes, parks, multiple pools, a pool house, a fitness center, 2 Dune Crossovers accessing the beach and a Town Center (almost complete and again, very similar to Seaside) which will feature shops and restaurants.
Like Seaside and Watercolor, everything is a five minute walk or zippy bike ride. This is a place where you can park your car and never touch your keys the whole time you are visiting. When my children were young, I used to beg for car-free vacations, since my entire middle life was spent chauffeuring children.
Cinnamon Shore is still under construction. Once complete, it will encompass about 200 single family homes and 56 condos. Phase 1 is fully developed with construction under way for homes and amenities. Home-site prices, that is raw land, range from $125,000-$650,000, the less expensive lots further away from the water, the higher prices skirting the dunes. The developer allows a 2 year timeframe in which to begin construction. Prices for completed homes begin at $379,900 to over $1 million for gulf front properties. And I found a 600 square foot, one bedroom condo on the first floor for $206,000! In any other Gulf Front community that would be a fractional!
The developer is the Sea Oats Group, from Atlanta. In this day and age you want to buy from a developer that has kicked a few cans, so to speak, and invested in the community. Sea Oats is an investment private equity fund that has stakes in not just real estate but electronic medical records for physicians as well as second home communities across South Texas, luxury homes in Atlanta and vacation homes in Cabo San Lucas.
Last July, CS christened Lisabella’s, a Port Aransas fixture since 2005. The restaurant moved from its former home in the city of Port A right to Cinnamon Shore to bring homeowners and visitors fresh Gulf seafood. Owned by Kris and Lisa Amundsen, Lisabella’s is a casual dining establishment that serves fine coastal cuisine for three meals a day plus daily gourmet coffees and fresh pastries and desserts baked by an in-house pastry chef. The restaurant also features the C Bar offering microbrewery beer, an extensive wine list and super premium liquor.
Lisabella’s will have it all and make it quite possible to never leave your perfect beachfront community. But if you don’t have stranger danger, Port Aransas is a mere 3 miles away. Try Coffee Waves Port Aransas, where we grabbed breakfast during our stay. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of restaurants both in Port A (as the locals call it) including the Venetian Hot Plate, one of the best Italian meals I recall, fish places and new fusion place closer to Corpus that was owned by a darling young couple with excellent food. We also loved the prices: if you’ve been to Carmel, Calistoga or Hawaii, you will get great meals in this area for what you pay for a California latte. LisaBellas, for example, right on property, offers a boxed lunch including a sandwich, chips, pastry and drink for approximately $8—great for a picnic on the beach or to accompany a game of golf on the neighboring Newport Dunes Links course.
I found a home at Cinnamon Shore that made me consider selling my Dallas home and moving there FULL TIME: 4,000 square ft with five bedrooms, a bunk room, five and a half baths and two master suites — so two couples could share ownership and even be there at the same time. The interiors are spectacular by Mustang Island designer interior Susan Castor. Oh. My. God. Shiplap siding, tongue and groove all whitewashed or painted white; white oak plank hardwood floors; what they call “morning kitchens” and I call “beverage bars” in both masters — ha maybe that’s a phrase Southern Baptists prefer! There is an elevator and two laundry rooms, and scads of outdoor porches to catch the Gulf sea breeze where folks never shut the windows so they can hear the surf. And hear the surf you will from this property because it overlooks the dunes with a view full of the beach from every single room. Really, $2.2 million for a giant, brand spanking new beachfront house? SOLD!
But here’s what’s so great about Cinnamon Shore: you can also have a great house for $400,000. Pricing is so reasonable, and many homeowners here tell me they not only cover cash flow they actually MAKE money when they put their home in the rental pool. I know it’s a popular spot come spring and summer: we tried getting down there for three or four weekends — Cinnamon Shore was PACKED!