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Folks will tell you that being a football fan extends way beyond the 50-yard line. It's a feeling and a lifestyle, and here in Texas, it's especially defined by hard work and team pride that runs deep. The towns of College Station and nearby Bryan merge as a joint epicenter of college football action, and it has been hailed as the bar capital of the world. We're here to help you plan a trip that puts you in the center of the action and sends you home with a Lone Star State swagger.
Where to stay
Even if you’re cheering for the other guys, don’t plan on schlepping it with the steers. There are plenty of hotels in this college town. Stay close to Texas A&M at the family-friendly Hilton College Station & Conference Center, which features a restaurant, outdoor pool, sauna and fitness center, or the comfortable but less-frills Holiday Inn for the football fan who likes his coffee black. You’ll always find a great room rate through Expedia at LaSalle Hotel in nearby Bryan.
Where to eat/drink
It’s hard to forget family vacations, especially when they involve driving through Texas. Slicing across the heftier middle “half” of the state, billboards entice your appetite with pictures of perfectly scored steaks the size of your head, fringed by mounds of side dishes. Texas sure doesn’t shy away from meat. Even in small College Station, you’ll find a decent steak dinner at The Republic Steakhouse. It’s also the state’s smallest microbrewery, so don’t leave without trying a pint of its famous Moonshine Blonde Ale—to pair with a perfectly grilled T-bone.
Skip just down the street and post-game, you’ll find locals filling seats at the famed Dixie Chicken. This College Station institution offers juicy fried chicken, favorite country tunes and enough games of pool to go ‘round. If you’re looking for the same hole-in-the-wall vibe and this place feels a bit too rowdy, try your luck at another favorite, The Tap. For the perfect meal involving a grilled tower of meat topped with moldering cheddar and all the fixings, Burger Boy will treat you right. The Hammer 3.0 is a hefty, three-pounder and a full order of fries, sure to satisfy the biggest appetite or perfect to share. And could you leave without at least poking your head in one of the local BBQ joints? Try C&J’s, (official barbeque headquarters for the SEC), Rudy’s Barbeque or Dickey’s. Around these parts, it’s hard to run out of tasty options.
Game day tips
There are a few handy, site-specific rules you’ll want to keep in your back pocket as you plan the perfect pre-game festivities. The stadium opens two hours before kickoff, with the Corps of Cadets marching into the stadium one hour before game time. Time your BBQ, drinking and socializing accordingly and note that once you enter the stadium, you’re going to have to stay put. There is no reentry on game days.
This year, the university inked a sweet deal with the Tailgate Guys, a season staple at Auburn games. If you’re looking for help setting up the perfect tailgate party, especially if you’re traveling from out of town, these guys will look out for you. They’re setting up locations at Simpson Drill Field, a prime spot just north of the stadium, and Duncan Drill Field by the president’s house.
What to do
George H.W. Bush (yes, THAT 41st President) was once quoted saying, “Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called ‘walking.’” If you’re looking for hip-swaying confidence, the Texas World Speedway is your place. It became the world’s fastest speedway in 1973 when Mario Andretti set a world closed-course speed record and is one of only seven Super Speedways in the United States (the only one in the Southwest). If you want to keep up the game day high, here’s your chance to satiate the adrenaline rush.
Speaking of presidents, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M is a must- visit ,especially if you’re an American H istory buff. Opened in 1997, the museum boasts more than 100,000 artifacts and plays host to interesting events all year long as well as exhibits that range from the informational to the exploratory, perfect for a variety of ages.
When you think of wine tasting, Texas may not be the first state to pop into your head. But the Lone Star State spirit has proved us wrong, demonstrating that with hard work and dedication, you can get almost anything to grow in this state. Venture out to the Messina Hof Winery and Resort for a $10 hour-long vineyard tour and wine tasting. It’s open daily and will certainly appease the discerning palate of the more cultured folks in your group.