Everything to Know About Buc-ee’s, Texas’s Favorite Roadside Stop

From BBQ to “beaver nuggets,” Buc-ee's has it all

March 28, 2023 7:01 am
Exterior of Buc-ees
Inside everyone's favorite gas station

Texas road trips can start and end with big cities, beaches, desert landscapes and national parks, but the state’s most talked about destination might be Buc-ee’s, the fan-favorite gas station and convenience store with dozens of locations across Texas.

It’s rare to find people so enthralled with a gas station, but Buc-ee’s isn’t your normal gas station. Sure, it sells fuel, but depending which Buc-ee’s you visit (some are simple convenience stores, while others are like theme parks), you might also find fresh brisket, aisles upon aisles of housemade jerky, candy and packaged snacks, assorted clothing, camping gear and even a dog park. Buc-ee’s holds the record for the largest convenience store in the world at 66,335 square feet, and for the world’s longest car wash at 255 feet. They know how to get drivers’ attention, and to keep it.

Roadside billboards direct passers-by into the nearest location, whether it’s at the next exit or 100 miles down the road. Most feature the brand’s cartoon beaver mascot and feature sayings like, “jerky, one of the five basic food groups” or “restrooms so clean we leave mints in the urinals.” 

Here’s everything you need to know about Buc-ee’s before you hit the road.

Buc-ee’s 101

Buc-ee’s sprang to life in 1982 when company founder Arch “Beaver” Aplin opened the first store in Lake Jackson, Texas, selling gas and convenience store staples, like drinks, snacks and ice. Three years later, that 3,000-square-foot store was joined by one twice its size, which added fresh food to the mix — an on-site kitchen made sandwiches, tacos and donuts. As the years passed, Buc-ee’s continued to grow, both in footprint and in scope.  

Today, there are 34 Buc-ee’s locations in Texas with more on the way, plus a handful of others across the Southeastern U.S., in states including Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Those stores vary greatly and fit into their surroundings. The older stores tend to be smaller and contain only the necessities, while newer versions are massive attractions featuring barbecue counters, 100-plus gas pumps and enough bathroom stalls to accommodate a football team. The New Braunfels location is the largest, while Katy has that record-setting car wash, which bathes your slowly moving car with a series of different rollers and brushes for five full minutes.

What to eat

Buc-ee’s barbecue may not rival the best barbecue joints in a state famous for top-notch barbecue, but it’s no slouch. A counter called the Texas Round Up cooks and serves brisket, sausage, turkey, pulled pork and sandwiches, so that’s the place to start if you’re in the market for a hearty lunch. There are also bakeries making fresh kolaches and biscuits, refrigerated islands selling packaged sandwiches, salads and other grab-and-go items, and drink fridges stocked with every liquid under the sun.

If you need to stock up on road trip snacks, Buc-ee’s has a seemingly endless supply. All the name-brand chips and candy are accounted for, but it’s the less-expected fare that keeps people coming back. Entire aisles are dedicated to homemade jerky, with more than a dozen varieties ranging from peppery beef to garlic, plus dried sausages and venison sticks. Nuts are roasted on site and imbue the air with a sweet quality — bags sell as quickly as they’re filled. Homemade fudge is cooked daily, and potato chips are fried in house. Then there are the Beaver Nuggets, which despite the name contain no actual beaver but are instead puffed corn snacks covered in caramel. People go crazy for them.

What else to get

For starters, get gas. The pumps are plentiful, so there’s rarely a wait. But beyond the obvious, you can also score T-shirts, hats, flip-flops and a variety of homegoods. Whether or not you need such things from a massive gas station is debatable, but it’s nice to know they’re available. Some of the larger Buc-ee’s stores carry camping supplies, assorted outdoor gear, cast-iron pans and even a selection of grills and smokers. Tchotchkes are everywhere, and range from Texas signage to coffee cups, blankets and windchimes. None of the above are typical road trip necessities, but Buc-ee’s stores aren’t simply places to stop between destinations. For those who live nearby, they’re also reliable go-tos for food, housewares and gifts, with items you can’t find at the typical 7-Eleven.

What’s this about the bathrooms?

Look, if you really need to go, just pull over at the nearest rest stop. But Buc-ee’s has endeared itself to countless roadtrippers by offering — and boasting about on billboards — the cleanest bathrooms in the state. They were even dubbed “the cleanest restrooms in America” as part of a nationwide content run by Cintas, so…that’s a fun fact. But it’s also part of the brand’s core identity now and something they’re compelled to keep up. Staff are tasked with keeping bathrooms clean and well-stocked 24/7, which bodes well for anyone who enters. The fact that you might stop for a bathroom break and then leave with a barbecue sandwich, some beaver nuggets and $50 worth of jerky is just good business.

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