Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
What do Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett have to do with this rustic saloon-style restaurant? It’s where the two, as former Texas A&M students, used to swap songs and perform impromptu concerts on the back porch. Today, it’s a Texas A&M icon, specializing in burgers, tacos, fried chicken, and quirky Texas A&M drinking traditions (ask them about the “ring dunk”).
Museum of the American GI
Located 10 miles southeast of the heart of College Station, this museum specializing in World War I, World War II, and later-era American military vehicles may be small, but it’s unlike any other because all the vehicles are fully operational. That means, during any given visit, you can expect to see jeeps, armored cars, and tanks crawling the grounds, as well as a WWII drone and a Bell helicopter circling overhead.
Revolution Cafe and Bar
Follow the little sign on Bryan’s Main Street that says “down the alley and turn right” to find this quirky hidden restaurant and bar that is a breath of fresh air among the town’s many rowdy college bars. Set in the back of the old Hotel Bryan, the small, dark, moody space features an eclectic selection of local art that you can buy right off the wall. In the summer, the outdoor patio hosts entertainers, from stand-up comedy to rock and reggae to poetry, against a Van Gogh Starry Night–inspired mural.
Lick Creek Park
Located in the southeastern corner of College Station, this little-known park boasts 500 acres of hardwood forest, open marshland, meadows, and sandy prairies. Several miles of trails provide plenty of opportunity for hiking, cycling, bird watching, and nature study (there’s often deer), while a brand-new 2,400-square-foot Nature Center offers an amphitheater, native plant displays, and a monarch butterfly garden.
Ronin’s Full Moon Dinners
Each month, under a full Texas moon, Ronin Cooking Farm hosts a spectacular nine-course tasting menu outdoors amid the forested setting of its 15-acre family farm in Bryan. Guests find their seats under a canopy of trees located next to the property’s barn, which is outfitted with a commercial kitchen from where servers bring out each dish. At the end of the feast, guests take a candle-lit walk through the woods to a garden to finish off the night with coffee and dessert in the company of moonlit flowers.
How to spend 36 hours in College Station and Bryan, with Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center as your base camp.
7 p.m. | Bryan First Friday
If you’re here on the first Friday of the month, check out downtown Bryan for this street fair-style celebration, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. Expect shopping specials in boutiques and galleries, food trucks, and street performers. At 8 p.m., the Palace Theatre also hosts a live local band on its open-air stage for free.
10 p.m. | Ice Cream Martini Nightcap
Tucked between the Queen Theatre and the old Stafford building on Bryan’s Main Street, Proudest Monkey is a fun and funky late-night spot serving up a sweet twist on the nightcap. Try one of their ice cream martinis, like the Creamsicle, which mixes Absolut Vanilla, Triple Sec, orange juice, and a splash of cream, poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a giant martini glass.
9 a.m. | Breakfast at Kolache Rolf’s
Brazos Valley has been a hotspot for Czech cuisine since the 1800s when Bohemian immigrants first began to settle into the area. Of all the Czech dishes still popular in this part of Texas, the Kolache – a puffy pastry filled with fruit or savory eggs and sausage – reigns supreme, and you’ll find no one that does them better than this in-and-out breakfast stop with no fewer than five locations around Bryan and College Station.
10 a.m. | Brazos Valley Farmers Market
From 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, Bryan’s Main Street closes off for this farmers market, where you can find your usual fare, like corn and tomatoes, as well as vendors who hawk duck eggs, olive oil imported straight from Italy, wooden fountain pens, locally made pickles, chutneys, salsas, and more.
1 p.m. | Stroll through the George Bush Presidential Library
While this research institution is famous for its fascinating collection of personal papers and memorabilia from the life and career of George H.W. Bush, it also brings in other exhibits, including one there for the duration of 2018: Leonardo da Vinci’s Machines in Motion. Here, replicas of full-scale machines have been brought to life from da Vinci’s sketches, which visitors may touch and set in motion.
6 p.m. | Dinner at Cafe Eccell
This upscale restaurant and lounge specializes in a globally inspired menu that presents fun takes on standard fare, like their Tex-Mex Pizza with black beans, jalapeños, salsa, fajita steak, and a cilantro-lime sour cream. If you’re not sold yet, they also offer four signature crème brulees and nine Texas-brewed beers.
9 p.m. | Drinks at Rough Draught Whiskey Bar
A mixture of chic and rustic, this whiskey bar serves up more than just Old Fashioneds, but also an artful amalgam of exposed brick, chandeliers, and mismatched furniture. The knowledgeable staff can help you select from 90 whiskeys and scotches adorning the back wall of the bar, any of their 30 beers on tap, as well as the occasional tequila or vodka.
7 a.m. | Sunrise at Sugarloaf
At a meager 500 feet, Sugarloaf Mountain – affectionately referred to as “Sugar Daddy” by locals – isn’t a real mountain per se, but it’s still one of the best places to take in a sunrise in the area at just a quick 20-minute drive northwest of College Station. It’s just a quick one-mile hike to the summit, where the views seemingly go on forever over the surrounding plains.
10 a.m.| See West 31st Street Murals
After stopping for breakfast tacos at Pepe’s Mexican Café, wander down West 31st Street in Bryan to soak up a little local color. On the side of the Conlee-Garrett Moving and Storage building, five artists have created a collection of murals celebrating the unique culture of Bryan.
The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
Aggieland Micro District
What’s better than sampling locally made wine, beer, or whiskey? Being able to sample all three within 100 feet of each other at Perrine Winery, New Republic Brewing, and Rio Brazos Distillery. At this miniature micro district, located in the industrialized part of College Station, weekends include behind-the-scenes tours of all three locations, food trucks, and live music.
Texas Popcorn Company
Posted up in the Post Oak Mall, this gourmet popcorn stand makes fresh popcorn all day and douses it in one of their 22 daily flavors that range from old favorites like caramel kettle and cheddar to some creative takes, like Texas dill pickle and cotton candy. The best part? All of their flavors and seasonings are prepared fresh in-house.
Rosenthal Meat Center
Producing high-quality cuts of meat is a Texas tradition, but getting said meat from the Rosenthal Meat Center is an Aggie tradition. Located on the west side of campus, this store works in conjunction with A&M’s meat science program and sells beef, lamb, pork, sausage, and special Texas Aggie-branded jerky that were all farm raised, butchered, and cured by students in the Agriculture and Life Sciences department.
These colorful works of art are almost to pretty to eat. Each little chocolate is bursting with flavor, from the key lime to the crème brulee. Stop by their College Station storefront to pick your own assorted box and learn about the three-day process to hand-make each perfect candy.
This small-batch bakery uses Old World traditions to create breads from flours that are unbleached, un-bromated, and have no additives or artificial anything. It takes three days to make each loaf of bread and pastry, which is why certain items are only available one or two days of the week. Be sure to call ahead to one of their three College Station locations if you’re looking for something particular.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Mountain Bike the East Loop at Lake Bryan | Aggieland Cycling
This counter-clockwise nine-mile route takes riders for a full tour down the eastern side of Lake Bryan and includes climbs, dips, fast sections, and a handful of rooty areas that require a little technical skill to clear. A bonus: The trail ends right by the Lakeside Icehouse & Grill for a hard-earned beer.
Air Adventures | College Station Hot Air Balloon Rides
During these hour-long tours, you’ll see College Station from a whole new perspective – a couple thousand feet up. Brazos Valley landmarks include the the Bonfire Memorial and Kyle Field from above.
Ride into the Rodeo | Brazos Valley Fair
No Texas trip is complete without a trip to the rodeo, and while there are several held in the area, the most popular is the Brazos Valley Fair. From barrel racing to bull riding to roping, this rodeo rounds up every kind of cowboy competition. The fair also has rides and games and music from popular artists like Kevin Fowler and Sabrina Carpenter.
Grape Smashing | Massina Hof Harvest Festival
It might not be jumping out of a plane, but it will still get your heart rate going. For the past 40 years, the communities of Bryan and College Station have come together every August for this festival, where participants help pick grapes in the morning, then hop into barrels to smash the fruit into a pulp that will become wine. The day concludes with a wine tasting followed by a special dinner.
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A Benchmark Resort & Hotel
Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center, 177 Joe Routt Boulevard, College Station, Texas 77840