Though many visitors choose to sip their cocktails on the beach  or in the hotel bar, there are options available for the adventurous souls who want to see some live music or perhaps even mingle with the locals.
The best place to soak up the local scene without feeling like an outsider is the downtown Executive Surf Club (309 N. Water St., 361/884-2364, www.executivesurfclub.com ). Located adjacent to the Water Street Seafood Co., the Surf Club’s décor reflects its name, with vintage surfboards on the walls and refurbished as tables. The scene is lively yet casual, with live music most nights (mainly Texas rock and blues acts, often with a cover charge), more than 30 beers on tap, and a kitchen serving up tasty grub.
Another visitor-friendly spot is the decidedly more upscale Republic of Texas Bar & Grill (900 N. Shoreline Blvd., 361/886-3515). Sitting atop the 20th floor of the Omni Bayfront hotel, the Republic of Texas bar is dimly lit and heavily wooded in a welcoming way. The views of the bay and city are outstanding, the drinks are expertly made, and the pianist provides a perfect soundtrack. Grab a Scotch, margarita, or a draft beer and soak up the surrounding scenery.
Veering in a local direction is the younger and more boisterous Dr. Rockit’s Blues Bar (709 N. Chaparral St., 361/884-7634, www.drrockitsbluesbar.com ). Located along a formerly vibrant stretch of Chaparral Street in the heart of downtown, Dr. Rockit’s is still thriving, and it’s still all about the blues. Live bands from Corpus and across the state play here nightly, and the place can get pretty rockin’ when the bands get rollin’. Check the website for a live music schedule and cover charges.
Just down the street is another laid-back locale, Bourbon Street Bar and Grill (313 N. Chaparral St., 361/882-2082), a New Orleans–style establishment with Cajun food and free-flowing drinks. The activity kicks up a notch in Bourbon Street’s Voodoo Lounge as well as next door at Porky’s Saloon.