Meet the Intern: Jane

Last week, the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau announced the addition of four interns to the work family! Our interns, all current Texas A&M students, will learn and work with different departments at the CVB during the semester. Throughout the month of February, we will be releasing a weekly blog to properly introduce our interns. Last week, we met Rachel, the Sports Intern.  Let’s kick off week 2 by meeting one of the two new Communication Interns, Jane Ha!11390255_10153416097534532_4696051697101815237_n

Jane is a junior at Texas A&M University and will be joining the Marketing/Communications department. Jane’s interest in marketing, communication, and social media platforms brought her to the CVB, where she will be assisting with various creative projects. Read on to find out what this Aggie had to say about her favorite place in BCS!

-Where are you from?

I’m from Plano, Texas, a city near Dallas

-What are you studying at Texas A&M?

I am majoring in Communication and minoring in Psychology

-What made you want to study Communication?

I’ve always been really interested in studying languages and how people communicate, but I’ve also always been interested in studying advertising and marketing. So, I went with my gut and picked Communication and I love it!

-Can you speak any other languages?

Yes! I grew up in a Korean-speaking household and have been studying Spanish since I was in middle school

-Top 5 favorite songs right now?

Fluorescent Adolescent by Arctic Monkeys, You Still Believe In Me by The Beach Boys, Space Song by Beach House, Nancy From Now On by Father John Misty, and i by Kendrick Lamar

-Where is your favorite place in BCS?

My favorite place in BCS is Downtown Bryan because it’s got a cool, vintage feel to it. There are also a lot of great events that go on downtown. But, of course, I also love Kyle Field

-Favorite place you’ve traveled to?

It would have to be a two-way tie between Korea and Italy. Italy was really pretty, but going to Korea made me feel closer to my roots

Keep up with Jane on Instagram @janeehaa

We’re halfway done with introducing our interns! Follow-up with us again next week to meet our Servicing Intern, Tori.

Valentine’s Day Itinerary

The calendar flips to February and suddenly the whole world is filled with pink and red hearts. It’s now your responsibility to plan a memorable, magical, and romantic Valentine’s Day weekend. Stressed yet? We know exactly how you’re feeling, so we’ve come up with a list of ideas for you and your special someone! Happy Valentine’s Day from The Bryan College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau.

ValentinesDay

If you’ve been dating 24 hours to 6 months:

  • Saturday, February 13th, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM: Wake up early, grab some coffee, and visit Downtown Bryan for the Brazos Valley Farmers’ Market in between Main and Bryan St. All produce is grown locally by your very own friends and neighbors!
    • Hit up Café Eccell for brunch afterwards! We recommend the mimosas.
  • Sunday, February 14th, 4:00 PM & 5 PM: If you and your main squeeze are feeling crafty this Valentine’s Day, there are a couple of options for you! On Sunday evening from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Painting With a Twist is offering a Bring Your Valentine before Dinner painting class. Go paint something cute with your cute date! Or at 5 p.m., visit Pinot’s Palette for their Hearts in Bloom Date Night painting class! Reservations recommended.
  • Sunday, February 14th, 10 PM: Finish the night off with a romantic trip to the movies. We suggest Deadpool. Treat your date to the large popcorn, obviously.
  • Sunday, 2:00pm, 7:00 PM: If Ryan Reynolds dressed in all red isn’t really how you pictured spending your Valentine’s Day, Cinemark 18 is showing Pretty in Pink in commemoration of its 30th anniversary. But definitely still splurge on that large popcorn!
  • If you want to grab dinner before the movie, we suggest some of these amazing, local places!

o   Proudest Monkey

o   40 Tempura Japanese Grill
o   Grub Burger Bar o   Caffé Capri
o   Luigi’s Patio Ristorante

o   Blackwater Draw Brewing Company

If you’ve been dating 6 months – 2 years:

  • Saturday, February 13th, 7:00 PM: We recommend visiting the Messina Hof Winery and Resort for their Ravenwood Masquerade Murder Mystery Dinner. There’s nothing wrong with a little mystery on Valentine’s Day, right?
  • Saturday, February 13th, 10:00 PM: End your Saturday night with a unique twist and visit The Village Café in Downtown Bryan at 10:00pm for Salsa Dancing!
  • Sunday, February 14th, 8:00 PM: Grab a table at Cenare Italian Restaurant for a delicious Italian meal. Anything on the menu is to die for!
  • Sunday, February 14th, late night: Afterwards, finish the night off with Karaoke Night at Rockies Night Club. Maybe dedicate a song to your date? Anything by Adele or Whitney Houston will do.

If you’ve been dating 2 years – 5 years:

  • Friday, February 12th, 6:00 PM & 7:30 PM: Grab your boo and visit Om Grown Yoga and Tea Bar for their Yoga, Chocolate, & Wine = LOVE class! Visit Downtown Uncorked afterwards and receive mountains of wine, cheese, and truffles.
  • Saturday, February 13th, 6:00 PM: Start your romantic weekend off with a classic take on “dinner and a movie.” StageCenter, located in Downtown Bryan, is featuring a Valentine’s Day Dinner & Show on Saturday at 6 p.m., complete with Buppy’s Catering!
  • Saturday, February 13th, 6:30 PM: Join The Village Café in Downtown Bryan on Friday or Saturday at 6:30pm for their Valentine’s Wine & Beer Pairing Dinner, a delicious four-course meal with live music. If you choose to go on Saturday, there’s salsa dancing right after the meal! Reservations required.
  • Sunday, February 14th, 8:30 PM: Head to Revolution Café and Bar for some coffee and desserts. Every Sunday at 8:30pm, Mic Check Poetry features an open-mic poetry night.

If you’ve been dating 5+ years:

  • Sunday, February 14th, 5:00 PM: Take a trip to Messina Hof Winery and Resort for their Romantic Cellar Tours! Get the chance to taste a variety of sparkling wines and delicious chocolates. Reservations recommended.
  • Sunday, February 14th, 6:30 PM: There’s nothing better than Italian food on Valentine’s Day. Luigi’s Patio Ristorante is featuring a special Valentine’s Day Entrées and Desserts menu. Reservations recommended.
  • And finally … put a ring on it if you haven’t already!

If you want to fly solo:

  • Saturday & Sunday, February 13th & 14th, 11 AM – 4 PM: Go ahead and give yourself a Valentine’s Day treat and order pizza from Gumby’s. They even have a weekend lunch special so you don’t have to worry about the price! Order more than your fair share. Nobody’s judging.
  • Sunday, February 14th, 8:00 PM: You’re in luck! The Walking Dead season 6 return date falls on Valentine’s Day this year. Curl up with some Gumby’s pizza rolls and turn your T.V. to AMC!

Galentine’s Day:

  • Get your single girlfriends together for some pampering. Bryan College Station has a bunch of great places for mani-pedis. Treat yourselves to a fancy spa day on Friday or Saturday, as well!

Bro out:

  • Call up your bros and head to New Republic Brewing Co. on Friday and Saturday for live concerts, food trucks, $4 beer, and games of corn-hole and washers. Bros + beer + bands = a great weekend.

For the family:

  • Sunday, February 14th, 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM: If you’re looking for something fun to do with the whole fam, the City of College Station is hosting a Sweetheart Family Formal at the Lincoln Recreation Center…and it’s free!

Meet the Intern: Rachel

The Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau is happy to announce that we added four interns to the work family last month! Our interns, all current Texas A&M students, will learn and work with different departments at the CVB during the semester. Throughout the month of February, we will be releasing a weekly blog to properly introduce our interns. To start us off, meet Rachel Pardes!

Rachel

Rachel Pardes is a senior at Texas A&M University and will be working as our Sports Intern. Her passion for sports made her the perfect candidate for the position. We had Rachel fill out a short questionnaire in order to get to know her better. Here are her answers!

-Where are you from?

I am from Norco, California (Southern California)

-What are you studying at Texas A&M?

I am majoring in Sports Management and minoring in Business Administration and Psychology

-What is your favorite sport?

Baseball (Anaheim Angels and Texas A&M) and Football (Denver Broncos and Texas A&M)

-What is your favorite sports memory?

I started playing baseball when I was 4 years old since I was too young for the softball league at that time. At my first game, I hit the ball and ran to 3rd base instead of 1st.

-Do you have any experience working in the sports industry?

Yes! I was enrolled in a sports sales class offered at Texas A&M and helped sell tickets for the San Antonio Spurs. I was also a game day intern for the Brazos Valley Bombers last summer where I worked at all of the home games in different areas of the ballpark.

-Favorite memory of BCS?

The best memories I have had while going to school at Texas A&M are all the football games at Kyle Field. The spirit at these games is indescribable, and standing with the 12th Man for four hours in the rain or heat is something I will always remember.

Are you involved in any on-campus organizations?

I have been involved in numerous on-campus organizations, but the one that lies nearest to my heart is CARPOOL. CARPOOL is a safe ride program for anyone that is in the Bryan-College Station area. CARPOOL provides free, safe, and non-judgmental rides home from anywhere in the BCS area every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10PM-3AM. Currently, I am the Deputy Director of Event Coordination where I help plan fundraisers, obtain sponsors, and plan different events.

-Favorite shows to binge watch?

Parks and Recreation, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, and One Tree Hill

Keep up with Rachel on Instagram @rachiee.2016

We are so excited to have this Aggie join our team!

Stay tuned for next week when we introduce our next intern!

 

Feeling like a visitor: George Bush Presidential Library & Museum

IMG_7126

Feel free to call me a bad Aggie after this admission – I won’t blame you. I went to Texas A&M from 2000 to 2004 and moved back for a job at the local newspaper, The Eagle, in 2008. But my first visit to the George Bush Library and Presidential Museum was in late July of 2015.

I can make all kinds of excuses. While I was in school, I was of course busy with my “studies.” My parents could definitely tell you that didn’t involve enough actual class attendance.

Then, when I moved back to Bryan College Station, I worked the night shift, so getting to a museum during the day would have been a stretch (although my days off work were on Thursdays and Fridays).

Also, my family and I have always leaned a little to the left (some more than others), so George H.W. Bush was never the most popular president in our house. I was also never particularly motivated to make it a stop for my parents when they were in town. I suggested it once to my dad and he was sure I was kidding.

Two days after I started my new job at the Bryan College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau, there was a visit to the museum planned for anyone at the office who could make it. Part of our jobs is keeping up with all that the area has to offer visitors and I couldn’t exactly turn down the trip since I had never been.

I was blown away.

I teared up at the introduction video, which talks about how George Bush came to love Aggieland so much that his daughter is buried here and that he and Barbara Bush plan to eventually join her in the same plot near the museum.

I looked up in wonder at the replica of the plane George Bush was shot down in when he served as a naval pilot.

I was reminded of many tidbits I had pushed to the back of my mind, like the fact that Bush was the director of the CIA and that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed during his tenure.

Unfortunately, we only had about an hour to go through all of the displays, which was definitely not enough to delve into everything.

I plan on going back, though. Hopefully in time to see the National Parks Photography Project, which is on display until March 21. And after I told my dad about my visit, he said he might even go the next time he’s in town.

 

If you want to go see the Bush Library for yourself – for the first or 41st time – check out our website, visitaggieland.com, or bushlibrary.tamu.edu for more information.

A taste of Bryan College Station: Queso

The debates can get heated. Ask 10 locals what their favorite is, and you’re likely to get 10 different responses.

Queso is a serious thing in Bryan College Station.

Even inside the Bryan College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau offices, the staff was divided when trying to name the best melted cheese dip in town.

Visitors who make a stop through Aggieland all discover one thing – Bryan College Station certainly has some of the best queso in Texas.

So to help out visitors and residents alike, the Visit Aggieland staff took on the terrible task of finding the best queso.

To create the best and most unbiased results, a testing system was devised. First, the restaurants were not informed ahead of time they were being sampled, so a “special” batch wasn’t made just for the judges. The queso was purchased around the same time each day – shortly after lunch. Only one person knew which queso was being purchased, and they were tasked with putting the queso in a plain bowl while hiding any bags or receipts from the judges. The judges – which had to be minimum four people per sample but was often closer to seven or eight judges – were given a standard score sheet. The scoring sheet only had rating boxes labeled “liked” or “did not like” with no number weight or score visible so the judges were scoring purely based on their taste. Even the quality of the chips factored into the overall score. Once the scoring was completed, the judges were informed which queso they had sampled.

The most interesting result? Of all the quesos sampled, judges incorrectly guessed which restaurant the queso came from 90% of the time. In other words, the scoring was truly blind.

As there are more than 200 restaurants in Bryan College Station, and the Visit Aggieland team’s estimate that a minimum 75 of those serve queso, the list had to be narrowed. A poll was conducted within the office, among residents, as well as on Visit Aggieland’s Facebook and Twitter to determine which 12 restaurants would be sampled. The competitors were narrowed down to:

Harvey Washbangers
Torchy’s Tacos
Chuy’s
Freebirds
Shipwreck Grill
Ozona Grill & Bar
Fuego Tortilla Grill
Pepe’s Mexican Café
Casa Rodriguez
The Corner Bar & Grill
Blackwater Draw
Mad Taco
Although the results may have defined a winner, it certainly wasn’t a runaway victory. While 20 points separated the top ranked queso from the bottom ranked, a mere 5.85 points separated number one from number six on the list. In fact, the overall winner only beat the second and third place quesos by just one measly point!

And because each restaurant in Aggieland is what makes Bryan College Station so unique, we won’t be publishing the scores or the final rankings in order. The scoring sheets have been shredded. A queso that ranked low on our judges’ list might rank higher on another person’s list – so we’ll leave it up to visitors and residents to decide what their favorite is!

We will, however, reveal the top three on our judges’ list, which were only separated by one point:

Harvey Washbangers
Ozona Grill & Bar
Fuego Tortilla Grill

Take a second to imagine a drumroll to add dramatic effect here … and the winner is, Fuego! Interestingly enough, when taking suggestions from locals about which restaurants to include, Fuego was on just about every person’s list. And from our investigations, it is pretty popular in Aggieland. When we chatted with the general manager for Fuego, he let us know that on average the restaurant will go through 60-65 gallons per week! That’s an average too – for gameday weekends, he said that number can go as high as 120-180 gallons.

So if stopping through Bryan College Station and looking for the best queso around, our judges say try Fuego first. But from our findings, if you try any of the 12 on the list, you won’t be disappointed. Because, as many locals already know, Aggieland has the best queso around.

 

Disclaimer: No restaurants paid to be a part of this blog, nor were informed ahead of time of their inclusion in this tasting. Rankings are based on judges’ ratings, and are not an official reflection of the Bryan College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau’s opinion. This blog is for entertainment and informative purposes for visitors and residents, and should not reflect an official endorsement by the Bryan College Station Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tastings were conducted in fall of 2015, and queso quality may have changed since the authoring of this blog.

BCS CVB’s (Informal) Guide To Bluebonnets

Bluebonnets Campus

They’re in full bloom across central Texas, and social media is full of new profile images of Texans posing with them.

So the traveler lucky enough to make a trip through parts of Texas near Bryan-College Station between April and May might wonder: what’s so special about the bluebonnet? And why do some locals say can’t you pick them?

Bluebonnets are up there as one of the most recognizable and iconic pieces of what defines Texas, right along side the cowboy hat and the Alamo. And rightly so – bluebonnets only grow naturally in central and southern parts of Texas.

Texans are so infatuated with the bluebonnet that hybrids have even been created, such as the maroon-bonnet seen here on Texas A&M’s campus.

Maroon Bonnet

So for those wanting to snap a few pictures, here are a few tips and facts we gathered on bluebonnets:

1) It’s not illegal to pick bluebonnets. That’s right – if you’re a Texan reading that sentence, you may be confused. But despite old Texas lore, it is perfectly legal to pick bluebonnets, with a few exceptions. First, don’t pick them if they are on private property. It can be considered trespassing or destruction of private property if the owner isn’t so pleased about you trampling through their yard. Second, you can’t pick them if the state planted them. Usually the state will put out signs if they are off limits (ex: the State Capitol grounds), but for bluebonnets growing naturally on the side of the road, there is no law against gathering a few and taking them home.

2) The state of Texas highly advises against taking pictures in the bluebonnets on the side of major highways. In fact, this is where you can earn yourself a ticket trying to take pictures; offenses could include not signaling to pull to a shoulder, not parking fully on a shoulder and out of lanes of traffic, or running across lanes of major traffic, along with the mentioned trespassing if it is private property. “There are not any laws prohibiting people from stopping on a shoulder to take pictures,” said Bob Colwell, Public Information Officer for TxDOT. “But safety is our top priority, and that’s why we discourage people from pulling over and getting out of their cars. A few recommendations include only stopping on a shoulder in a safe location. Drivers should park in locations where they can fully pull off the roadway and where approaching cars have good sight distance of the parked vehicle. Additionally, if passengers get out of the vehicle, they must be in a location where they can stay well away from the edge of the roadway.” In other words, if you don’t think it’s safe, it’s probably not!

Private Bluebonnets

(This patch of bluebonnets may look pretty, but the homeowner may not want strangers on their property…)

3) Did you know the state flower title was almost given to cotton or cactus before bluebonnets were selected in 1901? There would assuredly be significantly fewer Facebook pictures sitting among the cactus patches if that had passed legislature. (In 1971, Texas legislature also passed a resolution to cover all species of bluebonnets as the state flower – so even the maroon ones are still the state flower!)

4) If you want bluebonnets to pop up in your yard, you need to plant seeds in September or October. This is because heat is needed to germinate the seed, but cool weather is needed to develop the root system for the flower. Bluebonnets also prefer sunny elements – so if you seed under a giant oak tree, your chances of a massive patch growing are small.

5) For safest picture taking and admiring, we recommend places like Texas A&M’s campus that has many designated viewing places, near Veteran’s Park in College Station, or even spots around Messina Hof Winery in Bryan. Or take a trip to Independence, Texas which is only about a 30-minute drive from Bryan-College Station. In Independence you’ll find Old Baylor Park (the site of the first Baylor University), a public park where the bluebonnets typically take over entire stretches of the fields. A further drive to Washington on the Brazos near Brenham (about an hour drive) also is a great and safe public viewing area where you can also see where “Texas began” (the Texas declaration of Independence was signed here).

Viewing Area

(A safe place on A&M’s campus near Reed Arena to take pictures with the bluebonnets)

6) Other quick picture tips: Bringing a small blanket or towel is useful, especially if you want the kiddos to sit down among the bluebonnets. Wearing closed toe shoes or long pants is advised as typically you’ll have to walk through high grass to get to a good patch (and if it just rained, expect muddy conditions). Try to only walk on trampled parts where others have walked, and try not to pick giant patches of the bluebonnets so others can take great pictures.

Most importantly, enjoy them while they’re here!  Depending on weather conditions, the bluebonnets will start to disappear as early as the first week of May.  And if you’re contemplating a trip to Bryan-College Station in April or May, be sure to bring your camera and tripod – you won’t be disappointed by the beautiful display that you can only see in Texas.


Blog by Jordan Meserole, who works for the CVB and still is terrified to pick bluebonnets for fear of imprisonment. (The BCS CVB publishes blogs from time to time. The content is considered original, and is not paid advertising. While posted by the BCS CVB, the writer’s views or opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the BCS CVB as an organization.)

Aggieland’s Tips To The Best Valentine’s Day 2015

Valentine-Roses

2015 is well under way, and what does that mean?  Time to think about the next holiday! If you’ve been to some stores, you can most likely guess what’s around the corner – a day of love, chocolates, and flowers. That’s right folks, Valentine’s Day 2015 is already a couple of weeks away. With the heart-filled day landing on Saturday this year, it’s wise to start planning now! Here’s some ideas either for those looking for a romantic getaway to Aggieland or the townies that are sticking around to help make that someone special feel extra loved with something besides a gift certificate.

BOOK A HIDEAWAY
Sure Bryan-College Station features more than 30 hotels, but have you checked out our numerous bed and breakfasts?  Some are nestled away into houses built before the 1900’s, while others are newer models with all the amenities (and then some) you’d find in a hotel.  For example, tuck away in the woods at the 7F Lodge, where there are eight cabins but separated by beautiful trees and Texas land making it feel like you’re out on the ranch.  Wherever you choose, you’ll find the hosts at all these bed and breakfasts are some of the most hospitable around!

CATCH A SHOW
What’s the best way to cap a nice dinner?  With a stage show of course!  And all three stages will be full on Feb 13 or 14 with various shows.  Catch a musical at The Theater Company, or a romantic comedy at Stage Center, or a traveling show at Rudder Theater and MSC Opas.  Buy your tickets early – most typically sell out!  Not into the live version of shows?  Check out the IMAX theater in Bryan for a 72 foot wide display of the hottest movie out.

CHOCOLATE ART
Everyone of any gender loves a good box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  But why not give them something with a little more flare?  Truman Chocolates and the Chocolate Gallery have candies so pretty that many often say they feel bad eating them because it’s like eating art.  Decorations aside, the chocolates don’t last long once one is tasted – with unique flavors like mango and even bacon chocolate, there’s a reason both are popular across the state.  Order early though! Both regularly sale out the day of!

GET ACTIVE
For some, romantic can mean less of getting flowers and more of going on an adventure.  Try sliding on the skates at Spirit Ice Arena in College Station or go a little higher at the Lone Star Trapeze Academy in Bryan.  Both are sure to be memorable for those that are more athletic (and both most assuredly allow flowers to be brought in too). These are just a few ideas – of course, there are many great flower shops, wine tasting rooms, boutique shops, and high-end restaurants around town.  Whatever you pick, you can be assured that it’ll be a romantic time in n Aggieland!


Blog by Jordan Meserole, who works for the CVB and accepts all chocolates or flowers even if it’s not Valentine’s Day. (The BCS CVB publishes blogs from time to time. The content is considered original, and is not paid advertising. While posted by the BCS CVB, the writer’s views or opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the BCS CVB as an organization.)