College Town Throwdown: Austin vs. College Station

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my friends at Texas A&M, but now that my sister and best friend has decided to spend her college years in College Station, I can’t help but ask myself “Why?”  In my humble opinion, Austin is just…better.  To try to reason through my confusion, I’ve taken a step back to take an unbiased (or as unbiased as possible) look at what each of these college towns has to offer, setting the UT/A&M rivalry aside and focusing on the cities themselves.

Category 1: Culture

This is a broad topic, but after examining the culture of either city, they are incredible unique.  College Station is known for it’s friendly people, southern charm, and (mostly) conservative mindset.  Austin is, as some like to say, “weird”.  And those people are pretty spot-on.  But I think the weirdness is what puts Austin ahead of College Station in this category.  Sure there are weirdos, but there are also artists, soccer moms, musicians, politicians, lawyers, businessmen, homeless people, students, burn outs…the list goes on and on.  The small-town homegrown culture of College Station just can’t hold up to the diverse population of Austin, so Austin takes this one.

Category 2: Chicken

I know this seems silly, but it’s a real issue in my life that the only option I have for a specialty chicken fast food restaurant is Chik-fil-a (as if).  The bigger problem here is that we have not one but TWO on campus, AND they just built another across the street from campus (where people actually camped out the day before – judging you).  The most tragic part of this situation is that the closest Raising Canes is in Cedar Park, about 30 minutes away.  College Station, on the other hand, has (at least) two excellent options, Lane’s and Cane’s.  Not only are they practically next door to one another, but they also rhyme.  Even if you get confused about which one you’re going to (which one can expect from Aggies), you’ll end up with some delicious chicken and even better special sauce to dip it in.  College Station, you win the chicken battle.

Challenge 3: Movie Theaters

This one is a little tougher.  I love going to the movies and the fact that the theater in College Station only costs $4 is incredibly enticing.  However, the viewing experience at the Mecca of movie theaters, The Alamo Drafthouse, just can’t be beat.  While it would be beneficial to my bank account to only have to spend $4 on a movie, there’s nothing better than sitting in a theater at the Drafthouse, ordering a cookies and cream milkshake while the tailored pre-movie entertainment plays, and enjoying a film in your assigned seat with fellow movie lovers.  The $20+ you usually end up spending is 100% worth it.  Point Austin.

Challenge 4: Nightlife

Here’s another tough one.  Point: In College Station, the bars are literally across the street from campus on Northgate. Counterpoint: Austin is the home of 6th Street, one of the most well known bar scenes in the country (or at least it should be), and is a convenient free bus ride or decently priced cab ride away from campus.  Both offer a fairly similar selection of bars, although 6th Street (and downtown Austin as a whole) houses quite a few more.  Additionally, there are bars around the UT campus and the trendy Rainey Street for the slightly more laid-back crowd.  Sorry College Station, but Austin takes this one too.

Challenge 5: Music

This might be a little unfair, seeing as Austin is the live music capital of the world, but I think it needs to be included.  As a pretty big country music fan, I actually struggled with this category a little bit because Chilifest.  For those of you who don’t know, Chilifest is a festival in Snook, just outside of College Station, that has nothing to do with chili and everything to do with good country music and cheap beer.  But despite putting up a good fight, it just can’t stand up to the live music culture of Austin.  From Austin City Limits to South By Southwest to Fun Fun Fun Fest to the hundreds of shows going on every week all over the city, the music scene in Austin blows College Station out of the water.

Well, it looks like Austin is the victor in this College Town Throwdown (is anyone surprised?).  Unless you really like your fast food chicken, in which case College Station is the place for you!  Want to dispute my findings or throw in a challenge of your own?  Let me know in the comments below!

Aggie friends – don’t kill me,




  1. As someone who went to neither of these Texas institutions and still prefers UT…I have to say that I still don’t really consider Austin a “college town.” I mean, it’s our state capitol AND a major city. The 4th largest in the state, actually, and larger than both KC and STL, the two cities that my college town was closest to…so…I TOTALLY agree that I’d much rather live in Austin, but is it really a true college town? Or just a bamf of an awesome city that also happens to have a large university in it?

  2. I’d agree that Austin is definitely more town with a college in it than “college town”, but I think it’s still fair to compare the two. Calling it a college town had more to do with having a catchy title than anything else, really. Thanks for commenting! – Laura

  3. I am just about as country as they come (hello: raised in MIDLAND for goodness sakes!) but I am still 100% Team Austin. Haha while I do love Northgate, Dirty 6th just can’t be beat – come on, even Johnny Football comes to UT to party! 😉

    j. parker

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