By Kim Fox
Howdy! And welcome to my inaugural blog for the CVB. I was born and raised in Caldwell and have lived in the B/CS area my whole life. I went to school at Blinn College in Brenham and then came to Texas A&M University. Needless to say, I have stayed close to home and not strayed too far! Now I have been married for just over 20 years and have a teenage daughter who I love with all my heart and who challenges me daily (as all parents with teenagers know).
I am really excited to write a blog for the CVB as I have worked with them for years on events I organize through my work at Texas A&M University. There tends to be a lack of information out there on activities for families, especially if the kids are over the age of 10. There is family fun out there; you just have to track it down.
On Friday, May 2, my family went to First Friday in Downtown Bryan. It has been a very long time since we have been and I have wanted to get back for months. Although it is a great date night locale, the many activities offer a very diverse range of choices for just about any age demographic.
We arrived a little after 6 p.m. and the area was already bustling. We were able to find street parking near the Children’s Museum, but would have parked in the garage if we didn’t find this space so easily. Make sure to keep a hand on the little ones as the traffic through Downtown at this time can be bumper to bumper and I saw a few little ones try to dart in and out of parked cars and made my heart stop a few times!
If you haven’t been to Downtown recently, the restaurant options are similar to taking a trip around the World Showcase at EPCOT in Disneyworld! From block to block you have offerings of Italian, Tex-mex, Indian, German, and even home-style. Now thanks to the food truck trend we have rolling restaurants all over the community and they have seen the benefit of parking at First Fridays. They add to the cultural mix with Filipino, gourmet, waffle-style, sliders and even some good old fashioned snow cones. Wouldn’t it be awesome to grab food from a truck and sit on the sidewalk people watching and listening to the street performers? Basically, if you leave Downtown Bryan hungry, you did something wrong!
Obviously, food is a big draw for my family and we had too many options for one night, so we’ll be back to sample the others. But, there is so much more to First Friday than just food. You can’t walk a block without enjoying some type of street performance. Multiple groups play, folk, Tejano, country and more.
The Village Café also is one venue with live music in the alley next to their restaurant. While we were there an impromptu dance party broke out – of course, most of the free spirits were under the age of 7, but I would have been motivated to join in if my family wouldn’t have threatened to disown me. We also saw pottery demonstrations and a great performance from the Order of Aggie Illusionists. The one theme we kept seeing was families. Kids of all ages, and kids at heart, were mesmerized by the music and sights.
Sometimes kids need a little hands-on activity to keep them engaged and those opportunities were at First Friday as well. And the best thing Mom and Dad – most, if not all, were FREE! In addition to the pottery demonstration outside of The Frame Gallery, The Purple Turtle Art Studio has craft tables set up inside. Kids can explore their creativity while parents can tour the art and listen to live jazz (or just sit on the comfy couch).
Also, don’t forget to pop into Daniel-Stark Law offices. They have more craft tables set up in their lobby. Again, live music and food trucks are right outside the door.
These are great activities for the younger set, but not too many tween or teenagers might be interested in creating a bead necklace. Just the atmosphere of First Friday with the music, food and excitement is enough to keep my teenager engaged. Not to mention some great shopping opportunities at the boutiques – just about any teenage girl would be able to find something they can’t live without!
Did someone say chocolate? The Chocolate Gallery is an experience in and of itself. After all that walking, you might want to satisfy that sweet tooth with the multitude of indulgence they offer. Not only can you find something yummy to eat, but you also watch as a chef creates their edible art.
And, what’s better than a FREE movie under the stars? Sale Park is set up for family-friendly movies every First Friday. Of course, food trucks are nearby for snacking, but all you can bring your own picnic, blanket and/or chair and enjoy a movie usually starting a little after 8 pm.
Before you leave, try to take a ride on the Hidden Oasis horse-drawn carriage that leaves from the plaza by the La Salle Hotel. Although we saw a lot of couples enjoying the romantic ride (even one very special proposal!), families can still enjoy the experience as well.
Overall, I would best describe it as a PG-rated version of the French Quarter with something for all ages, but even more fun to enjoy as a family. For the monthly list of activities and other events in Downtown Bryan, visit http://www.downtownbryan.com/. I hope to see you and your family in Downtown Bryan on Friday, June 6th, because I’m sure we’ll be there again.
Kim Fox is a guest blogger for the CVB who works in the Office of the Provost for a little university named Texas A&M and enjoys sharing her “townie” knowledge to those that ask.
(The BCS CVB accepts guest 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 do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the BCS CVB.)