Thursday, September 11, 2014

Things to Do In Bryan/College Station

We're getting ready for a big move, to another college town. When we visited our new city, I asked the hotel concierge/college student what people in Blacksburg like to do for fun. And while he threw out a couple of ideas, he admitted:

There's not much to do here.

That was the same answer I got when I first moved to College Station and asked what people did for fun. People said that other than the movie theaters, there was nothing to do. And, after five years of living here, to that I say:

YOU'RE NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH!

There is SO MUCH to do in this town, if you just look around once in a while. (Yes, movies are $4.50 with a student ID*, so yes, that is a good option. But it is by no means the only option.)

*Hint: It doesn't have to be an A&M student ID. And it doesn't matter if you were 18 in the photo and are … definitely closer to 30 than 18 now.

So I'm going to share a few things we've done and tried and experienced during the last five years of living in this college town. And I'll even share my secret weapon for finding things to do.

Fountain outside the Memorial Student Center (MSC).

Things to Do On Campus
There are tons of musical and theatrical performances on campus, especially near the end of each semester. We've watched (and Matt has performed in) dozens of Percussion Studio shows. We've watched a cappella singing groups The Femmatas and Hardchord Dynamix. We've gone to dance performances. We've been to lectures, including one by an Apollo astronaut. We saw the '80s band Chicago in concert. We saw the Blue Man Group when the MSC OPAS brought them to town. We've seen free outdoor movies and one-act plays. Look at the campus and city calendars to see what's going on!


Things to Do If You Like Drinking
There are several wineries and microbreweries in town. Messina Hof is probably the most famous — they do wine tastings and tours, and their restaurant is great — but don't overlook Perrine Winery, a little winery storefront that just opened a few years ago. They do a lot of custom fruity wines and pairings. Their tastings are fun; we used to have book club here all the time.

There's also the New Republic Brewery, which is kind of off the beaten path — they only have three or four of their beers on tap at a time, but they have live bands and food trucks come out on Friday nights. It's worth overlooking the fact that they're located in a storage shed.

There's always Northgate as well, but if you're not a college student you can sometimes feel a little out of place; but if you insist, hang out at O'Bannon's. The Proudest Monkey in Downtown Bryan is better than most of Northgate for young professionals; trust me, you need to eat something, because their mixed drinks are STRONG. Their yuppie fries are covered in Parmesan and are amazing, and they have pretty good tacos too.

Grab some friends and head to Painting With a Twist, and you can drink wine while you get a painting lesson and get to keep the masterpiece you create. (Bring your own wine and snacks.)

Teaching my sister to two-step at Hurricane Harry's.

Places to Go If You Like to Dance
If you want to dance on a weekend, Hurricane Harry's is great for country dancing and two-stepping. They often have famous country bands performing, so check who's playing.

Salsa dancing? Go to the Village Cafe on Wednesday and Saturday nights. If you go at 8 p.m., they have a lesson followed by an open dance floor, and tickets are cheap. Plus, they have a good selection of beer, and it doesn't matter if you have a date or not.

If you're looking for something like weekly dance classes, check out Dance Centre CS for tap, belly dancing, burlesque and ballet.


Things to Do at Your Local Church
Get involved in a local place of worship! Many of the churches have events at least every couple of months, especially on holidays. Ours does holiday events like the Easter Eggstravaganza and Trunk or Treat, in addition to hosting an annual 42 Tournament and Chili Cookoff, and plenty of small group activities and studies. Plus, more musical performances!


Things to Do If You Like Museums
The George H.W. Bush Library is excellent. There are two art galleries in the Memorial Student Center (MSC) on campus, and they are always rotating their collections; once, the Forsyth Gallery had a collection of Degas sketches, and another time, they had a selection of intricate quilts. Sometimes the galleries also have student art. The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History is pretty good as well. (Though their butterfly releases are not as exciting as you think they're going to be, unless you have kids — they don't release all the butterflies all at the same time. I was expecting a swarm of them, and was disappointed.)

At Texas Reds 2012

Things to Do If You Like Live Performances
Go downtown to the Grand Stafford for live music of every genre. They have performances several nights per week. Downtown Bryan also has First Friday every month, where they have various groups performing throughout downtown, including local musicians and dancers. They also offer free movies and performances at the Palace Theater downtown. If you like theater, check out the 3rd Floor Theater, also downtown. And of course, there is live music all weekend at the Texas Reds Grape and Steak Festival that happens every fall.


Things to Do If You Like Sports
Obviously, go see some Aggie football! The Powers That Be have spent the last year revamping Kyle Field to make the experience even more epic, and I've heard they're not done yet. We can now hear the announcers from our house, so that's happening. Basketball games at Reed Arena are quite fun too. We've also seen the Harlem Globetrotters there. Oh, and don't forget to check out the Brazos Valley Bombers minor-league baseball team. On certain days during the summer they have dollar beer nights or cheap margaritas, and they serve Blue Bell ice cream.


Other Activities
Go to a rodeo at the Brazos County Expo — they have events all year, including some non-horse ones (the first bridal show I ever attended was also at the Expo). Get involved in your community with  Citizen's Police Academy or Citizen's Fire Academy (both Bryan and College Station offer fire academy, and I've heard that College Station's program is better). Volunteer with Keep Brazos Beautiful. Play laser-tag or go mini-golfing at Grand Station.

"France," at 7F Lodge

Places to Sleep
There are a couple of nice bed and breakfasts that I didn't know about until I'd lived in College Station for several years. The first I've talked about before, 7F Lodge. Can't recommend them highly enough! The second is The Nest B&B; I haven't actually stayed there, but I attended a baby shower in the main lobby area, and it was a very cute, remote bed and breakfast that looked well cared for.

Need more help finding things to do? Hint: I regularly look at community calendars to find out what's going on. Some of the best ones are Visit Aggieland, Downtown Bryan and Maroon Weekly.

I'll probably do a second post about my favorite places to eat here, as well. I pride myself on having tried most of the local restaurants in town. :)

Anything that you love to do in this area that I've missed? (Sorry I don't have a section for family-friendly fun, but … I don't have kids so I don't have many suggestions on that front.)

6 comments

  1. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvSeptember 11, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    I always like reading about people's home towns from their point of view - Never been to any part of Texas!

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  2. Well, College Station isn't really where I'd suggest going on your first trip to Texas … (I'd recommend Austin!) But I seem to know a lot of people who followed their significant others to this area, or people who go to the university and then just never left, and I didn't want to be one of those people who hated it here because I never put myself out there and found fun things to do! And now I'm going to be kind of sad to go.

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  3. This is such a great post and I've always admired your willingness to put yourself out there and try anything, like the Fire Academy. I grew up in San Antonio, which is a beautiful city to visit, but there is nothing for teenagers to do while growing up. I think that's why it has such a high crime and teen pregnancy rate. You can only visit the Alamo so many times. :P

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  4. This sounds like such a fun town!! I love that the theatre doesn't care how old your id is haha. I should have kept my student id card for movie discounts...I wasn't thinking! :-)

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  5. Haha, the ticket people are college students themselves, they don't care what ID you show them! Plus, we have a fairly large grad student population, so it's pretty easy to pretend you're one. :)

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  6. Aw, thanks! I do try to get out of my comfort zone a lot, and I totally had the same mindset in high school about there being nothing to do in my hometown either. I do wonder what kinds of things I missed out on by just assuming there was nothing.

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