Bryan-College Station was not a place that appeared at the top of my list of Texas destinations. Actually, it didn’t appear anywhere on my list. I equated it with the A&M University campus, so it didn’t seem like a place that would interest me. Now that I’ve been there, I’m surprised it escaped my attention for so long.
During one of my frequent satellite map searches, I noticed that Bryan’s downtown area consists of much more than the single Main Street I would have expected. I saw wide tree-lined streets and, more importantly, my view from above seemed to indicate that the buildings were older. A search of the internet soon confirmed my impression.
Researching destinations online is a necessary part of deciding whether or not a trip will be worth it. You gain a serviceable impression of what you’ll experience, although that doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be what you expected. When we arrive in Bryan, I immediately know it’s what I expected, and probably a bit more.
There’s a newness to the town, despite the buildings being older. While so many other small towns across Texas continue their slow decline, the work to restore Bryan, which began in the 1990s, continues today. The exterior renovation on the Queen Theater was completed a couple of years ago, but the interior work is ongoing.
If you’re familiar with this blog, you’ll know that I don’t often end up inside the buildings I like to admire. Unless of course, there’s a good cup of coffee to be had, or a light meal when necessary. Rather than loitering on the sidewalk while we try to orient ourselves, we decide to stop at Harvest Coffee Bar.
It’s a welcome little space, clearly popular with college students, which will also provide a caffeinated kick-start for our walk around town. I ask the baristas if they have any suggestions for what to do while we’re in Bryan-College Station. They suggest shopping. When I say that I’m not much of a shopper, they seem a little at a loss. They do let me know that there’s a football game going on at A&M, and that we should try to avoid getting caught in the traffic chaos after the game.
The next block over from the coffee shop we notice Catalena Hatters. I’ve read about this place in Texas Highways Magazine, although I wasn’t aware it was located here in Bryan. They have a nice store front that we enjoy, but we don’t go in. Thinking back on it, we should have. This tendency to observe rather than interact does get in the way sometimes.
We continue to make our way along most of the downtown streets. It’s nice having the chance to see these buildings the way they must have looked when they were first built. Of course, back then, the streets would have been either covered in dust or a muddy mess.
Our next stop is the A&M campus. Considering how beautiful UT’s campus is, I hope to find something similar at A&M. This part of our visit is not to be. We drive around looking for a place to park but the lots are full due to the game. Even if they weren’t, all the lots require a permit.
We decide instead to pay a visit to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum. We arrive just in time to watch the movie about George and Barbara Bush, which is always a good way to gain a general frame of reference for the the various exhibits. The museum is interesting, well laid out and absolutely worth a visit.
We were told on arrival that there is a pond and a garden behind the museum, so that’s where we go after exiting the museum. If you enjoy flower gardens even slightly, this area is a really nice surprise. We were told by museum staff that President Bush enjoys coming here to spend time fishing.
After leaving the museum, we make another attempt at seeing A&M but after turning on to several streets blocked by a guard gate, we give up on the idea. If you’re interested in visiting, there is a parking garage intended for visitors, it’s just not easy to get to.
I wouldn’t say that there’s a lot to see I Bryan-College Station, but what there is is really nice. Next time you’re in the area, stop and see what you think.