College Station, Texas, is a city I love to visit. What’s not to love with a Presidential library, impressive food scene, and stellar SEC school? Neighboring Bryan is often used synonymously with College Station as the lines sometimes get blurred. Bryan is chock full of fun things to do, too, including a charming historic downtown area and the famous Messina Hof winery. Here are some fun things in College Station and Bryan that you may want to experience.
Go Grape Picking and Smashing at Messina Hof
Can you think of anything better than sampling 98 wines? That is how many types of wines Messina Hof Vineyard makes annually. The brand has won thousands of international awards, and after tasting them for yourself, you’ll see why. Attend grape picking during harvest season, where you get to jump barefoot into a vat of grapes for stomping. It is all in great fun, plus the grapes are cold and feel so odd squishing between your toes.
The fantastic team at Messina Hof will teach you a few things about wine picking and making. They will show you fun vineyard photo-ops, and pour the wine for you to sample when the work is done. If it’s not picking season, you can still visit the tasting room, dine at Vintage House Restaurant, or stay in the Villa B&B at Messina Hof. This is one well-rounded brand with incredible wines.
Visit the Bush Presidential Library
There is something to be said for touring a Presidential Library. Creators of these time capturing institutions have a real knack for making displays and exhibits come to life. They literally encourage you to get lost in American history.
The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum offers interactive museum exhibits and displays. My favorites were the Camp David replica, Persian Gulf War relics, and family artifacts depicting our 41st President’s life. You can even sit in the President’s Chair in the mock Oval Office.
Purchase timed tickets online. Save time to wander the immaculate grounds. I was surprised to know that both Barbara and George are buried here, and their baby daughter Pauline. The lovely memorial pays great tribute to our outstanding President and first family.
Sample the Local Brews
Visit Blackwater Draw and try delicious local craft beer made locally since 2015, sourcing from the Brazos River Valley. Enjoy a flight to sample a good selection of Blackwater Draw’s offerings. My recommendations are the Timber Snake IPA or Border Town Mexican-style lager.
A second great place for both beer and a cool locale is The Dixie Chicken at Northgate. You are guaranteed a good time in a honky-tonk like setting that is a hot spot for marriage proposals amongst Texas A&M grads. Don’t miss the hangout’s mascot in his cage in the back. The Dixie Chicken also serves food, has live music, and is home to the ultimate nightlife in College Station, Texas.
Pro Tip: Grab a selfie at Bottlecap Alley on your way in.
Try a Redneck Dessert at Proudest Monkey
Proudest Monkey features two signature desserts that you are sure to get a kick out off. The Red-Neck Shortcake with Twinkies, strawberries, and whipped cream, and the Ice Cream Sandwich Sundae. Or, if you prefer to drink your dessert, the retro Dreamsicle martini. This freaking epic concoction is made with Absolut vanilla vodka, OJ, cream, and ice cream.
Experience Ronin Farm Cooking
My first time in College Station and Bryan was six years ago. The dynamic duo behind Ronin Farm Cooking did not have a full-service restaurant, so they hosted specialty full-moon dinners. The dinners were spectacular, orchestrated down to the nine courses served in the forest (which I was lucky to participate in).
Picture yourself in the forest under twinkling lights while being served mouthwatering small plates such as wild boar, quail, and tender Wagyu beef. The impeccable table settings, attention to ambiance, and an all-around great time were all runners-up to the delicious cuisine.
Visitors today can dine Wednesday through Sunday (winter hours) at Ronin on N Main Street in Bryan. Menu items that caught my eye were Raclette cheese toast with tomato bacon jam, Texas Wagyu chicken fried steak, and seared diver scallops.
Shop Downtown Bryan
You’ll find a wide array of shopping in the downtown blocks of nearby Bryan. Texas Rose Boutique, Bird’s Nest Gifts and Antiques, and The Chocolate Gallery are a few to browse. There are also admirable sculptures around town that deserve a look and photo. Step into the historic 1928 LaSalle Hotel (which also has a restaurant) to see its lovely facelift or sip a hand-crafted cocktail.
Fun Fact: The Lasalle is a Texas landmark.
There are also several good restaurants in town, so come hungry. For pizza, RX Pizza has gourmet handmade pies that are unbelievably good. Try the Urban Cowboy with steak, caramelized onions, pesto, mushrooms, and blue cheese.
Try Caffe Capri, one of Bryan’s first and finest restaurants if you crave Italian fare. You can’t go wrong with any homemade pasta dishes, but the signature dish—Tortellini Alla Capri—and Cajun Tortellini are fantastic. Pair your meal with an Italian raspberry cream soda. Yum!
The Village and 3rd on Main Kitchen
Feast on sandwiches, soup, or salads from 3rd on Main Kitchen or The Village, where the Greek Salad and Chicken Pesto Panini are stellar choices. The Village also has a tempting breakfast menu. At 3rd on Main, the Main Event is outrageous–with pulled pork, queso, and pineapple salsa over savory cornbread pancakes.
Save room for a classic chocolate malt from the Corner of Time antique mall’s soda fountain.
If your visit coincides with a performance date, the Queen Theatre shows current movies, while across the street, the open-air Palace Theater often has free live music and seasonal events.
Tour Royalty Pecan Farm
Pecans are a hot commodity in Texas, partially thanks to the fertile land around the Brazos River. Royalty Pecan Farms, a sustainable family farm, has grown these favorite nuts for over 35 years. Join them for a tractor and passenger wagon tour across the pecan tree groves to learn how the delicious crops are grown and the tree-to-table process.
Then, sample the heart-healthy goodies at the gift shop, with over a dozen choices. Venture out from the basic pecans and try the Cinnapecan or Royalty Pecans® Praline.
Fun Fact: Texas produces 50,000 pounds of these delicious nuts per year.
Wander Kyle Field at Texas A&M
Kyle Field is home to the Aggies, Texas A&M University awesome SEC football team. It sets the standard for college football stadiums. The Aggies bring out football fans in droves to this state-of-the-art sports facility.
Kyle Field is so impressive that several of their suites sell for 12 million dollars per year, without parking or food. Others start at $50,000, with no food or game tickets. The Jumbotron at Kyle Field is 47 feet wide and shoots out fireworks when the team scores. Gig ’em!
Not everything at Texas A&M is happy. I knew nothing about the “12th Man” until my visit and tour of Kyle Field. This unfortunate event is memorialized at the Bonfire Memorial, a beautifully designed place to pay respects to those who lost their lives in the 1999 tragic bonfire accident.
Stones representing the years the bonfire has taken place, a history walk, and a spirit ring representing the students injured in the accidental collapse are the key elements of the somber memorial.
Check Out the Museum of the American GI
The Museum of the American GI is an unassuming living history museum with excellent exhibits and collections of military vehicles, weaponry, and equipment. Their sole mission is to preserve military relics, which includes military vehicles from current back to World War I. Join them in March for the Living History Weekend, a family-friendly event that the town really rallies around.
My favorite part of the museum was the uniform collection. It really gave you a visual firsthand look at the diverse clothing used by different service branches. The Museum of the American GI also has one of the most extensive women’s uniform collections I’ve ever seen.
FYI: The museum is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Eating Around College Station
Though a chain restaurant, Another Broken Egg Cafe is one we can always make an exception for. Breakfast is fantastic from this chic eatery, and the menu is filled with omelets, pancakes, Benedicts, and trendy food items. Consider sharing a meal if you are dining with someone, as the portions are substantial.
Feast on all your Cajun Louisiana favorites at Razzoo’s, where the vibrant restaurant decor alone is worth visiting. This is as close to New Orleans as it gets in Texas. Pair up your crawfish Étouffée, shrimp creole, or Po’Boy with a hurricane rum drink and “laissez les bon temps rouler.”
We loved the scratch-made lunch offerings and quick service at Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen, serving California-inspired cuisine. The Palo Alto Dip is a must! This creamy skilled baked concoction of artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and green onions with cream cheese and ricotta is sinfully delicious. It’s a toss-up between what’s best; the pizza or flats, so you decide.
Celebrate a Special Occasion at Vintage House
The Vintage House Restaurant (mentioned above) pairs farm-fresh produce and delicious Messina Hof wines to create an exceptional dining experience. Visit Thursday through Sunday for lunch or dinner to sample the palate-pleasing dishes. My recommendations are the Stuffed Gorgonzola Chicken with rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables, or the pan-seared salmon.
You will want to come to Vintage House hungry so you can nibble on the Paulo Antipasto Platter, then enjoy tableside Caesar salads.
Want an even elevated experience? Try the Chateaubriand, serving two. It includes salads and a flambéed dessert of your choice: Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee (10/10 amazing!), or Strawberries Romanov.
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