Sports in Texas are huge. There’s nothing more fun than a Saturday college football game against rivals to bring you back to your old cheerleading days, but that’s not all these towns have to offer. Whether you’re visiting to help your student find their college home, looking for the youthful vibe in a city, or exploring presidential libraries on college campuses, Texas has its share of unique college towns. Here are seven Texas college towns that make for a perfect weekend getaway.
Note: Several cities hosted me, but all opinions are my own.
The University Of Texas In Austin
Over 51,000 students attend the University of Texas in Austin, home of the Texas Longhorns, where seas of burnt orange fill Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium on game day.
Things To Do In Austin
Located near the Texas State Capitol Building in downtown Austin, the campus hosts the LBJ Presidential Library, a must-see. For museum lovers seeking art and history, visit The Blanton Museum of Art, the Mexic-Arte Museum, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum.
Austin’s nickname is “The Live Music Capital of the World.” The Sixth Street Historic District showcases rock, jazz, and country music with secret speakeasies, hopping nightclubs, and opulent rooftop bars. See the Willie Nelson statue in front of Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Center, then check out Town Lake’s statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
In Southeast Austin, visit the tasting room at Fierce Whiskers Distillery, which produces small batches of craft gin, rum, and agave spirits. The distiller is currently aging straight rye and bourbon whiskey, set to premiere in the next 2 years.
Places To Stay And Eat In Austin
I love to stay in the historic luxury Driskill, 5 blocks south of the capital building on Sixth Street, boasting impeccable service, afternoon tea, drinks, and live music in the Driskill Bar. The Victorian-style 1886 Café & Bakery features daily breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
Just 10 minutes outside Austin, escape to Hotel Viata, on 38 acres of lush greenery. It has deluxe guest rooms, world-class Italian dining at Laurel, and the relaxing Spa Viata.
Texas A&M University
The twin cities of Bryan and College Station make up Aggieland. The maroon and white Aggies of Texas A&M University, with more than 74,000 students on the College Station campus, have professed Kyle Field as their home since 1905.
Things To Do In Bryan
I spent more time in charming Bryan, known for history, family, art, shopping, music, and hometown food. I strolled First Friday, a family-friendly event with music and activities sponsored by downtown shops and restaurants.
Don’t miss the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum at Texas A&M, boasting records and artifacts from President Bush’s historic term.
Places To Stay And Eat In Bryan
Messina Hof Winery & Resort has been a top-producing (and highly decorated) winery since 1977. It’s also one of the Texas wineries where you can stay the night. Enjoy the annual Harvest Festival with a tour, tasting, and dinner at Messina Hof, including premier wine pairings.
We enjoyed breakfast at Zeitman’s Grocery, a fine delicatessen and bakery with savory bagels, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches, and delicacies dating back four generations.
All The King’s Men is a world-renowned barbecue joint with mouthwatering barbecue and tasty sides.
I stayed at the vintage Milton Parker Home Bed & Breakfast, which is on four relaxing live oak–shaded acres. I was in one of five roomy, luxury bedrooms, each with a private bathroom.
3. Dallas (Park Cities)
Southern Methodist University
The college town within Dallas is the affluent Park Cities enclave: University Park, home to SMU, and Highland Park.
Southern Methodist University Mustang fans “Pony Up” and are known for “Boulevarding” on the tree-lined Bishop Boulevard before home football games, an excellent tailgating tradition.
Things To Do In Dallas
Visit the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the SMU Campus, promoting opportunity, accountability, compassion, and freedom. I love to visit the library during Christmastime and see elaborate holiday decorations from the White House.
Places To Stay And Eat In Dallas
Dine at the center’s Café 43, named for the 43rd president. It has a full-service menu touting Chef John Maas’s locally sourced, seasonal, and Texas-themed cuisine. The center’s Courtyard Café features salads, sandwiches, and Starbucks grab-and-go selections. Admission to the presidential center is not required to dine.
For food near the university, indulge at Milk & Cream — donuts stuffed with ice cream, would you believe? Twisted Root Burger Co. offers exclusive burgers made with wagyu, plus venison, elk, duck, and boar. Get delicious pizzas at Olivella’s Pizza.
I splurged at restaurant Bistro 31, with Maine lobster bisque, Mediterranean salad with shrimp (the chunk of feta cheese is huge), and key lime pie for dessert.
4. Fort Worth
Texas Christian University
Texas Christian University in Fort Worth is home to the TCU Horned Frogs, where they play Big 12 football in Amon Carter Stadium amid a sea of purple. New coach Sonny Dykes, in his first season, led the Horned Frogs to the national championship game in 2022–2023.
Things To Do In Fort Worth
For nearby events, the new Van Cliburn Concert Hall at TCU helps host the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, held every 4 years. Just a stone’s throw away, the Colonial Country Club hosts the annual Charles Schwab Challenge PGA Tour golf tournament. TCU students and alumni flock to this annual May event. Visit Bass Hall downtown for the symphony, the Cliburn, and concerts.
The Stockyards National Historic District hosts longhorn cattle drives twice daily. It has concert halls like Billy Bob’s and Tannehill’s, shopping options for hats and boots along Mule Alley, and the John Wayne Museum.
Places To Stay And Eat In Fort Worth
The University Of Houston And Rice University
The University of Houston Cougars will become a member of the Big 12 Conference in 2023. Yell “Eat ‘Em Up, Eat ‘Em Up, Go Cougs Go!”
Rice University is a private research university in Houston on a 300-acre campus near the Houston Museum District, next to the Texas Medical Center. It is ranked among the top 20 universities in the U.S.
Things To Do In Houston
Houston is famous for Space Center Houston, home of NASA Mission Control. The Houston Museum of Natural Science is also a fantastic place to visit, with dinosaur skeletons, space-station models, a planetarium, mineral specimens, and a six-story butterfly center.
Places To Stay And Eat In Houston
Stay at my favorite luxurious boutique, Hotel Zaza in the Museum District, across from Herman Park. Enjoy the ZaSpa spa, plus the Tipping Point Restaurant and the Terrace for exquisite cuisine.
Houston has excellent seafood restaurants. Gatlin’s Fin & Feathers is great for chargrilled oysters and spicy miso shrimp. At La Fisheria, get the sweet corn tamales with bacon and shrimp. At Brennan’s of Houston, don’t miss the famed snapper turtle soup, shrimp remoulade, and Pontchartrain with jumbo lump crab, shrimp, and oysters.
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University is home to the Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. “Guns Up” is the rallying cry of the 55,000 students. “Wreck Em” comes from Texas Tech’s fight song.
Things To Do In Lubbock
Located in the panhandle of North Texas, there are plenty of things to do in Lubbock. Visit the Buddy Holly Center, a tribute to the rock and roll singer. See several historical museums, including the Museum of Texas Tech University, the American Windmill Museum, and the Silent Wings Museum dedicated to WWII glider pilots.
Enjoy the National Ranching Heritage Center, the Science Spectrum & OMNI Theater Landmark, and Prairie Dog Town. The Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark celebrates almost 12,000 years of Southern High Plains Indigenous populations.
For wine lovers, McPherson Cellars Winery and tasting room are located in a converted 1930s Coca-Cola bottling plant. It honors Dr. Clinton “Doc” McPherson, a prime Texas grape grower and pioneer of the Texas wine industry.
Places To Stay And Eat In Lubbock
My favorite place to stay is the Overton Hotel & Conference Center, near the Tech campus. Eat at the Pecan Grill here, a Texan twist on American food.
Lubbock has some stand-out restaurants, including Cast Iron Grill for Southern-style breakfasts, and lunches as well as the best homemade pie. Try One Guy from Italy for pizza and Las Brisas for premium Angus steaks.
Waco is home to Baylor University, a private university chartered in 1845. A Big 12 Conference football team, the Bears play in the McLane Stadium. The Baylor Bear Habitat houses the bear mascot at the heart of Baylor’s campus.
Things To Do In Waco
There is plenty to do in Waco, home of Joanna and Chip Gaines’ Magnolia Market at the Silos. You can take a Waco Fixer Upper Tour or visit the Cameron Park Zoo. See the Dr Pepper Museum, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Waco Mammoth National Monument houses 24 Columbian mammoths’ fossils. Take a sunset Brazos River Cruise or buy locally grown produce at the Waco Downtown Farmers Market.
Places To Stay And Eat In Waco
Stay at my favorite boutique hotel, the Czech-themed Pivovar Hotel, which encompasses a brewery, bakery, Biergarten, beer spa, and restaurant, all connected by a unique atrium in the middle of the building in the downtown Silos District.