Bryan, Texas

Photo: The Stella Hotel

College towns are deserted right now. Students were sent home in March. Classes moved online. Performances, sports, and studying abroad were canceled. While administrators are trying to determine if it’s possible to return in the fall. So in states that are starting to reopen, this summer could be a great chance to visit cities that are usually focused on their schools.

Life in the Brazos Valley is normally centered around a college. Texas A&M University to be exact. The school is technically in College Station, a city in the Texas Triangle (a megaregion that includes Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin). College Station’s twin city is Bryan. Together, they’re known as Aggieland, and students are called Aggies for the school’s agricultural origins. Aggies won’t return to campus until the end of August. So Bryan is a possible long-weekend getaway as Texas begins to restart its economy.

Bryan was established in the late-19th century when the Houston & Texas Central Railway reached the area. Texas A&M University and the Grand Stafford Theater soon followed. In addition to football games, the interactive Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum now keep visitors entertained. Lake Walk Town Center—a recreation area surrounded by trails, restaurants, shops, and an observation tower—does, too.

Photo: The Stella Hotel

At the start of Lake Walk, you’ll find the perfect urban retreat. The Stella Hotel is relatively new. It opened three years ago and quickly became a favorite local hang-out spot. It’s easy to see why. POV, a cute coffeehouse, is just outside the front door. Fruit-filled kolaches and pre-made sandwiches are ready to grab during your caffeine break. Campfire, a farm-to-fork restaurant, has a smokey aroma. That’s thanks to the beef and the seafood being slow-cooked in the kitchen.

There are two bars near the restaurant, as well. The Watershed serves fruity drinks by the pool during the day. Hershel’s has a living-room vibe with intimate seating areas and small-batch bourbons. A live band plays on Friday and Saturday nights. Plus there’s a fire pit on the patio. You’ll be recounting your own college memories in no time.

Luckily, you don’t have to stay in the dorms anymore. When you decide to call it quits at the end of the night, you’ll have a luxurious room awaiting you upstairs. Floor-to-ceiling windows, upholstered headboards, and Frette linens are in the bedrooms. USB ports are strategically placed around the rooms. Glass walk-in showers, mirrors with integrated lighting, and LATHER products are in the bathrooms. Everything overlooks Lake Atlas or Kyle Field, which is silently waiting for the football season to begin. You’ll never see the Aggies’ home quite like this again.

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