Explore this university town at student prices.
Expect to see lots of maroon—the official color of Texas A&M University—as you approach this central Lone Star State city. At 40,000 strong, students dominate downtown life—most Texans call it Aggieland—but there’s a lot to explore off-campus, from top barbecue restaurants, independently owned shops, and 10 museums, including the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
There’s plenty of quirky finds to look out for at this Aggie institution, which originally opened in 1974 (and has original the wood-paneled walls). There’s a caged pet rattlesnake behind the bar and cheap eats like Tijuana cheese fries and Death Burgers topped with hot sauce.
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Over a million visitors have stopped in to visit exhibits on George Bush Senior’s life in and out of the White House. Among the permanent displays, don’t miss the World War II Avenger Torpedo Bomber, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and the replica of the Oval Office.
Martin's Place Barbecue
Try the brisket and jalapeño-cheddar sausage at this family-owned barbecue joint, known for its oak-smoked meats and friendly service.
Tagged with a historical marker, this central brick building was originally built in 1928 and now houses 55 polished rooms with large windows, flat-screen TVs, and plush robes. Head to the revamped lobby—decked out in warm woods and original art—to settle in with a book in hand, or to the bar for a cocktail.
Top off your Texas uniform with a cowboy hat from Catalena, which has been hand making felt hats in custom versions—Cattleman, Canadian, Ranger and Old West, among others—for over 30 years. If you’re keeping tabs on your wallet, opt for a less expensive straw version.
Stafford Theater Main Street
Stop by this historic theater (it originally opened in 1910) with exposed brick interiors to see bands ranging from up-and-coming indie groups to country music favorites.