Buc-ee’s—the Texas-based and Texas-sized gas station chain that has developed a cult following for its clean restrooms, ample snacks, kitschy gifts, and adorable beaver mascot—has been spreading east in recent years, opening locations in Alabama, Florida, and last fall, Warner Robins, Georgia. On August 23, a brand new Buc-ee’s opened in Calhoun, meaning that if you’re traveling north or south on I-75 in Georgia, you’re going to run into one of these spectacles. Here’s why it’s worth stopping when you do:
The restrooms are really that good.
If you’re heading to the Calhoun location, there’s a rest area one exit before you get to Buc-ee’s. But don’t be fooled; perhaps Buc-ee’s biggest selling point is having what it dubs the “world’s cleanest restrooms.” And they’re pretty darn good. Spacious stalls boast hand sanitizer inside, the sinks and mirrors are enormous, and, yes, they’re kept clean. You can even buy the artwork that adorns the entryway, if you want to give your home bathroom some extra flair.
You need a jalapeno-cheddar kolache in your life.
The rest of the more than 50,000-square-foot Buc-ee’s store is divided into two sections: food—of both the packaged and fresh variety—and gifts. Make a bee-line for the bakery counter. There are several varieties of savory kolaches to choose from, but the jalapeno-cheddar one is the winner. It’s simple—sausage and cheese encased in a pillow of perfectly sweet bread—but oh so satisfying. Be sure to ask for it heated if you plan on eating ASAP. Don’t miss the sweet kolaches too, which come in flavors like apple, cherry, and pecan pie.
And a barbecue sandwich.
Since its home state is known for barbecue, it’s not a huge shock that there’s a massive barbecue counter dubbed the “Texas Round Up” in the center of the store. Behind the counter, workers clad in denim aprons and yellow cowboy hats shout when there’s fresh brisket on the chopping block, slicing it and serving it on sandwiches that are wrapped, hot, and ready to go. The brisket and pulled pork are both worth snagging for an easy lunch. Pair it with Buc-ee’s chips—fresh warm ones are available at the Round Up, or you can grab a variety of flavors from the convenience section. One more treat worth ordering from the Round Up: the sausage on a stick, which is exactly what it sounds like, a massive sausage link wrapped in a tortilla, perched on a skewer. It tastes better than it looks.
There’s an entire wall devoted to jerky.
One trip to Buc-ee’s and you’ll learn quickly that they sell their own branded everything. You can buy Buc-ee’s popcorn, Buc-ee’s hot sauce, Buc-ee’s bean dip, Buc-ee’s organic coconut granola clusters. And you can buy a lot of Buc-ee’s jerky, which takes up an entire wall and comes in a variety of flavors including lemon pepper, ghost pepper, and teriyaki. If you’re not sure where to begin, try the Mesquite peppered beef.
It’s impossible to not find a great snack.
Remember when I said Buc-ee’s sells its own branded everything? While you’ll find every variety of Frito Lay and Hershey’s snacks, the beaver brand is king. They sell typical general store fare—gummy worms and peach rings, caramel corn, chocolate-covered peanuts, and bags of dried fruit—alongside items more unique to the shop. Trail mixes come in flavors like “peanut butter blast” and “trail blazin crunch.” There are more than half-a-dozen different kinds of yogurt-dipped pretzel varieties—the raspberry-flavored and salted caramel-flavored ones are excellent. The pecan cinnamon roll crunch popcorn tastes not unlike the fresh, warm cinnamon pecans and cashews sold near the Round Up counter. And eschew a plain Rice Krispies treat for a salted caramel one—or one made of Fruity Pebbles. If you really have a sweet tooth, try an OverBite, a thick chocolate patty (or peanut butter cup) that was about the size of the palm of my hand.
But when in doubt, pick the Beaver Nuggets.
When I visited Buc-ee’s Calhoun, I overheard an employee describe the store’s signature snack to a customer as being similar to Kellogg’s Corn Pops cereal. Really, Beaver Nuggets are Pops turned up to 11. The large, sugary corn puffs both crunch and melt in your mouth, and it really is impossible to only eat a few of them. In the past few years, Buc-ee’s has started selling new varieties of the nuggets, including sea salt caramel nuggets, spicy nuggets, and even chocolate-dipped nuggets.
Stop by the fudge counter.
Like a shining, sugary beacon, the massive fudge counter at Buc-ee’s is located directly on the backside of the Texas Round Up meat counter, and it is difficult to resist its call. Traditional flavors like chocolate and peanut butter are complimented by a gooey and salty caramel and dark chocolate, cookies and cream, and a sprinkled birthday cake flavor that tastes like a spoonful of buttercream frosting. If you can’t pick just one, a $14 sampler pack includes a wide assortment to taste—red velvet cake, key lime pie, M&M, vanilla pecan, and plenty more.
Like everything else, drink selection is extensive.
Head to the fountain for soda options, Arizona ice tea, and Buc-ee’s own brand of cane sugar sodas and flavored lemonades. (The cherry lime soda is a sugar bomb, but a delicious one.) A massive extra-large cup is only $0.79 cents. There’s also an expansive coffee station with various creamers and flavor syrups, and a wall of Icee machines.
The T-shirts are a big deal.
Buc-ee’s sells plenty of merch decorated with the store’s Buc-ee Beaver mascot—everything from shot glasses to plushies to mini footballs to bottle openers to Christmas ornaments. But perhaps the most popular way to take home a Buc-ee is to wear him on your shirt. The Buc-ee’s T-shirts are whimsical and change fairly frequently based on seasons and trends. Recently, I saw a tie-dye hoodie with Buc-ee’s face imposed on Saturn, a superhero Buc-ee, and Buc-ee paired with a Georgia peach. You can make an entire wardrobe of Buc-ee clothing—the shop sells sweatpants, caps, boxer shorts, shoes, running shorts, pajamas, and pretty much anything else you’d ever need. Be sure to wander around the rest of the retail section, particularly if you’re in need of a last-minute gift for someone. It’s stocked with candles, toys, wall decor, cutting boards, cast-iron pans, cookbooks, soaps, magnets—the list goes on and on.
Oh, and they sell gas.
That is why you came here, right? Buc-ee’s has more than 100 pumps and in addition to standard offerings, both Georgia locations have pumps that offer ethanol-free gas and diesel exhaust fluid.
Buc-ee’s Calhoun is located at 601 Union Grove Road Southeast, Adairsville; and Buc-ee’s Warner Robins is located at 7001 Russell Parkway, Fort Valley. Both are open 24 hours.