Bryan, TX, USA July 7th – 9th, 2017 | Weekend Getaway
Summertime in Texas… A long-overdue visit to see my best friend brought me to this southern state – without a set schedule for the weekend, we were ready to explore the quaint southern town of Bryan, Texas.
As my plane landed in Houston, the flight crew asked us to close the shades and open our air vents to help “keep the aircraft cool for the next passengers.” Under my breath I couldn’t help but whisper, Welcome to Texas!
I grabbed the giant tote that was stuffed to the max with my clothes, makeup, and other necessities for the weekend. No way am I going to pay $35 for a carry-on, Frontier Airlines!
Frontier Airlines will allow one personal item (such as a purse) without charging extra. From there it’s $35+ for carry-on or checked bags. For a weekend trip I decided it was better to cram everything into my tote and use my bestie’s shampoo. If it was a longer trip, I probably would have ponied up and paid….probably.
After making my way down to the passenger pick-up area (thank you to the amazing help desk at Houston Airport!), I jumped into her blue Ford Escape and we quickly hugged before the traffic conductor blew his whistle at us, keep it moving! Zooming away, we realized that both of our stomachs were grumbling. My 4:30AM airport wake up call and her two-hour drive to Houston meant neither of us had eaten yet that day. First stop? Brunch!
A quick Google search led us to Down House, a hipster-y coffee bar restaurant near downtown Houston. Greeted by a beautiful smiling woman in a crisp white shirt, we were seated in a comfortable leather sofa corner booth. The round table was lit by the large windows surrounding us, thankfully shaded by the giant trees out front. Two chipper young men were our servers; extremely attentive, knowledgeable about their menu and dishes, and happy to make recommendations, the boys made the place come to life. The decor was antique-modern with a giant periodic table hung on the wall. At once both “southern farm house” and “steampunk”. I loved it.
If you make your way to Down House, be sure to try the breakfast tacos! They were incredible and overflowing with fresh veggies. A guilty pleasure, I had the chicken and waffles. They were superb!
Tummies full and sufficiently caffeinated, we began our drive northwest to Bryan, TX – home of Texas A&M University. As the miles whizzed by, my perception of this corner of the USA quickly changed. Yes, it was hot and it was mildly humid, but it was also green, growing, and had blue skies that rivaled Colorado’s. With each passing town (including the “North Pole” roadside Santa Village!) Texas seemed more and more appealing.
As soon as we flopped down onto the couch in her air-conditioned apartment, a brief escape from that heat, I knew it was time to find some water. We threw on swimsuits and jumped back into the car to go cool off at Lake Bryan.
Pulling into Lake Bryan Park, we laughed at the sign by the entrance that reads “No Motorcycles, ATVs, or Mules” – only in Texas. An affordable $5 park entry fee was paid to the attendant and we made our way down to the beach area. Just days after the mayhem of Independence Day, there was a decent amount of fireworks trash strewn about, but otherwise the park was very well maintained and all but two campsites were occupied in a shady grove of trees.
A quiet Friday afternoon, we had the swim beach to ourselves – one group of friends played football in the shade while a separate group of several older folks lounged on a picnic blanket under a tree nearby. We slathered on our sunscreen, grabbed hats, and made our way to the water.
The water was HOT! Being Colorado girls, we expected to be instantly refreshed by the cool lake water…but apparently not so at Lake Bryan! The shallows of the lake were extensive, giving the sun plenty of time to turn this lake into a giant bathtub. Desperate to cool off, we walked until our toes started to reach cool water, finally bobbing in the “cold spots” and beginning to feel refreshed. Floating, chatting, laughing, and remembering all of the great adventures we’ve had in our 17+ year friendship, the afternoon quickly flew by.
Now, what were two twenty-something girls to do on a Friday night in small town Texas? Another quick Google search told us it was Bryan’s First Friday – promising live music and yummy food, we were sold and made our way downtown. Choosing to sit outside at LaSalle Hotel’s cafe, The 120 Kitchen & Spirits we enjoyed the fresh breeze and live music in the air with our delicious Italian meal. Paired with a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio (my personal summer go-to wine) it was the perfect setting. A local country-rock band stole the stage and we danced our wannabe-Texan butts off.
Saturday morning came with another crystal clear day and that oh-so-ridiculous heat of Texas in July. Making our way back to historic downtown Bryan, we were ready to search for treasure in the many antique shops and neat southern-style boutiques. To fuel our adventures, we popped into a delightful coffee shop, The Village. Full of academics, visiting relatives, and locals, I knew this was my kind of place.
If you visit The Village, be sure to take a look at the clocks on the wall…really look at them. I couldn’t help but giggle when I realized they are for Texas towns within a 30 mile radius!
The Village has two pastry cases stocked with goodies made in-house by their French pastry chef. Bonus? One of the cases is entirely gluten free!!
Did I mention that there is an antique shop every ten feet in downtown Bryan? Because there is. We popped in here and there until we found our very own buried treasure – an entire wall of Madame Alexander dolls circa 1960 in their original boxes. For those who may not understand just how INCREDIBLY EXCITING this discovery was, Madam Alexander dolls are beautiful, collectible dolls that saw their hay-day in the 1950s & 1960s. The dolls are impeccably dressed in traditional garb from countries around the globe, each with her own story and carefully stitched costumes. To the daughters of two collectors, it was the treasure to end all treasures.
Later that evening, a return trip to the lake began to sound more and more appealing…so we made our way back out into the countryside, this time for live music at the Lakeside Ice House. Nothing could have prepared us for the beauty waiting.
As the sun slowly sank over the horizon, the sky was filled with shocking pink clouds, the bright orange sun casting a long shining reflection on the water, the dark silhouettes of the trees stark against the brilliant light.
Local musicians played a mix of John Meyer and Jack Johnson, the mellow rock n’ roll sound floating out across the water. The atmosphere was calm, relaxed, happy. Sitting with our feet up, kicked back in comfortable deck chairs, every worry melted away. Right then I knew that Texas was something special. Here the sun kissed the earth.
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*Note: Down House photo owned by Down House Coffee Bar Restaurant. Because She Can – Travel Blog is not sponsored by any of the companies or destinations mentioned in this article. I happened to like them and hope you will too!