Tailgating in College Station, Texas (Texas A&M)
GatorTailgating.com is doing a series of articles on where and how to tailgate at all of the Gator Football away games. This is the next part of our series detailing where and what to look out for in College Station, Texas on the Texas A&M Aggies' Campus. Go Gators!
1. Where are the good areas of town to stay in the night before/after the big game?
Most of the best hotels for enjoying a gameday weekend should be reserved well in advance since they fill up quickly, like most college towns. Most of the concentration of hotels are along TX-6 at different exit with most hotel chains covered. In addition to the basic chains, the neighboring city has a lot of historic hotels in downtown Bryan. There are also a handful of Bed and Breakfasts and a couple winery lodges in the College Station area, if that is the type trip you're looking for.
Huntsville, Conroe, Franklin and Houston are also options with anywhere from a 45 minute to 1.5 hour drive to College Station, but you will want a DD if you plan on going out on the Friday before gameday or after the game.
2. What are some attractions in College Station that a visitor shouldn't miss?
Most of the attractions in College Station and the surrounding areas are within a 10 mile radius. The Texas A&M University campus offers several galleries, museums, and memorials; most famous being the Bonfire Memorial - where they have held a pre-game party before playing their rival the Texas Longhorns every year since 1909 (with two exceptions). In 1999, the bonfire collapsed killing 12 Aggies, and the memorial is in their honor.
The most famous museum on campus is the George Bush Sr. Presidential Library and Museum, where you can explore countless photos, news coverage and never-before-seen film footage documenting world-changing events such as the reunification of Germany, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the invasion of Panama, and the end of the Cold War.
Another attraction is the Messina Hof Winrery & Resort in neighboring Bryan. Established in 1977, this is a great place to enjoy wine-tasting, walking through the vineyards, and even checking out a local waterfall on the tour.
For those of you looking for nightlife attractions, there are no shortages in the Northgate area (similar to Gainesville's Midtown) - here is a quick list of the hot spots for gameday weekend: The Corner Bar is 3 stories and has a fun rooftop bar you won't want to miss. The Dixie Chicken is a staple of Northgate and sells a ton of beer per square foot. If you're a fan of shots, don't miss Dry Beans Saloon that as over 250 different shots on the menu. Daisey Dukes is very similar to Coyote Ugly with scantally-clad girls dancing on the bar. If you enjoy live music, don't miss Schotzi's, Zapatos, or Fitzwillys. OBannons is an Irish bar that you wont want to miss either.
There are also a couple bars in downtown Bryan if you're staying there and don't feel like driving into College Station.
3. Where should a visiting fan go to eat before leaving College Station?
Texas is mostly known for Barbeque and Tex-Mex, so you won't want to miss eating both of those on your trip. C&Js and Rudy's BBQ both have the famous Texas Barbeque that everyone hears about. The Tex-Mex is best found at Ninfa's or Papa Perez, unless you're in the mood for a trash can taco which can be found at Zapatos. If you enjoy sushi, try either Kyoto or Atami which are both great at what they do.Don't miss the Aggie Favorite, Freebirds before you leave town either for a great burrito.
4. Is there an area or a part of College Station that the visiting fans usually congregate/tailgate/park?
There typically isn't a visitor tailgating area. Here are some tips and a map (click to enlarge) to help you find the perfect spot though:
I suggest Reed Arena or Spence Park for a great gameday experience. You won't be able to park at Reed, but across the street is the WCG (West Campus Parking Garage). You can drop your stuff off on the curb at Reed and set up in the grass with everyone else, but you'll have to park in the garage. It is $15. Don't park in the green cash lots way out on West Campus. Its a long walk or shuttle and its for the few folks who come in and out.
To get you acclimated to campus, Main Campus is where Kyle Field is. West Campus is across Wellborn Road which is home to the bulk of tailgaters on Gameday. Spence Park is the park right next to the visitors section in the stadium and has thousands of tailgaters on gameday, so that probably is the most convenient spot for visitors to tailgate since it is closest to your seats.
West Campus has the Party Buses and larger tailgate spreads, bands, etc and is home to most of the RV Lots (Lot 100, Penberthy, Olsen RV lot, Lot 88, Lot 74 are the RV lots on West Campus). Lot 50 is another RV Lot on Main Campus.
Northgate is on University Drive across from campus lots 30a, 30c and Northgate Parking Garage... It spans about 4 blocks and has most of the bars listed prior in it.
Spence Park has a large concentration of tailgaters on the East side of Kyle Field. The are lots of fun and mostly a younger crowd. You cannot park there though, so it is like the UF Plaza of the Amercias where you must drop your stuff off and park elsewhere, which is difficult for visitors to do.
Duncan Field is where most of the alumni club tailgates of visiting fans are if that is what you're looking for. It is also the same place that the Fraternities and Sororities tailgate. It is also where the band marches in from the Corps Quad in through the East Side of Kyle Field by Spence Park. It starts 1.5 hours before gametime, and is great to see as a first time visitor.
Some of the GatorTailgating crew are planning to join the Bass Crew at their location, and they've extended our followers this invitation:
If you guys want to tailgate with us, we'd love to welcome you. We are a group of early 20-somethings all the way up to retirement age. It's a good mix. We have 3 smokers, 2 TVs, Full homemade liquor cabinet and all the young drinking games for those who partake. We've had groups from OU, Clemson, Miami, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska all set up and mesh with us and have a blast. We have been featured by Campus Crashers and a neighboring tailgate won the Tostitos National Championship Tailgate of the year a couple years back as well. Our crew usually arrives around 7 am (lots open at 630 am) and we tailgate in Lot 100 on the Southeast side of Reed Arena. Email Alan Bass at Alan.Bass@anixter.com for more info.
As of last contact, we already have about 20-30 planning on joining the Bass tailgate on Saturday, and they're still welcoming to any more. They didnt mention this, but we feel it might be neccessary. With so many people joining their tailgate, please make sure to BYOB and if you drink/eat their food, contribute monetarily to cover their costs. They have been very welcoming and inviting and we want to represent Gator Nation well. The travelling crew from GatorTailgating will be tailgating with them as well, so we look forward to seeing you.
5. How much should we expect to pay for a parking spot (preferrably unblocked so there's enough room to setup tents, tables, and a grill to tailgate) ?
The parking spots range from $15-25 depending on how close you get to the stadium. There is free parking, although the proverb of the early bird getting the worm holds true in this case just like every other campus.
6. Are there any special rules we should know about tailgating on or off campus, open-container policies we should be forewarned about, or anything of the sort?
The open container law doesn't apply on gamedays in College Station, so you don't need all of those solo cups, unless you're just attached (or need them for beer pong). It's actually a wet campus, but you can't drink inside the academic buildings. There is a bar being constructed in the Memorial Student Center right beside Kyle Stadium, but the completion date is unknown. It could be a possibility for the pansies who can't handle the Texas heat (teetering on 100 degrees most game days).
7. Are there any game day traditions we shouldn’t miss while in College Station?
- The 12th Man - Texas A&M is known by sports fans everywhere as the home of the 12th Man. In 1922 Texas A&M played Centre College, and the Aggies suffered so many injuries in the first half that they had only eleven players and called E. King Gill out of the stands to suit up and stand ready to play if needed.
Although Gill didn't play, he was the last man – the 12th man – standing on the sideline. He later said, "I simply stood by in case my team needed me." The Aggies won, and since that time, Aggies stand ready and willing to support their team to the point of actually entering the game.
Reveille - She is the first lady of Aggieland, is the official mascot of Texas A&M. As a five-star general, she is the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. She attends class with the cadet tasked with her care and attends football and other events on campus.
Midnight Yell - Aggies, never known to lack enthusiasm for their school and their team, don't have 'cheers' – they have 'yells' and yell leaders. The night before every home game, Aggies hold Midnight Yell at Kyle Field and it is regularly attended by more than 25,000 people. The yell leaders lead the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band and current and former students (known as the 12th Man) into the stadium.
Spirit Walk - Much like the Gator Walk, it occurs 3 hours prior to kickoff as the team walks down Houston Street to the Kyle Field.
8. Is there anything else we should know before heading to College Station to tailgate?
Expect to hear "Howdy" a lot. No, I'm not saying this because they're from Texas or making fun of their roots. Welcoming visitors to College Station with a polite "howdy" is a tradition that Aggies have had since anyone can remember. While the exact origin of this tradition is unknown, 'Howdy' has come to be a tradition that sets Texas A&M apart as one of the friendliest campuses in the world, where all are welcome. Enjoy your trip, and we hope to see you out there in Aggieland celebrating a GATOR VICTORY! GO GATORS!