On many of my travels hunting down pressed coins I’ve stopped at more than my share of roadside rest areas or truck stops to take a break from the long hours behind the wheel. Most of these places are quickly forgotten, and left behind after a quick fuel fill-up or fast food meal. However there is a chain of interstate gas stations and convenient stores that have garnered quite a following. Buc-ee’s opened their first location in Lake Jackson, Texas back in 1982 and since then has grown to over 39 locations. Originally they were only found throughout Texas but have in more recent years started to expand into some other southern states like Alabama, Georgia and just within the past couple months here in Florida.
On February 22, 2021 their first Florida location officially opened in St. Augustine. There was plenty of media attention here locally in Orlando, and I was able to see some of the interior but wasn’t quite sure exactly what all the fuss was about. I checked out some YouTube videos of this new location and my interested was piqued. But then in one of the videos I saw what appeared to be a penny press machine inside and that sealed the deal. It took some time but I eventually picked a date not too long ago and made the almost 2 hour trip up I-4 and then onto I-95 towards St. Augustine so I could visit my very first Buc-ee’s.
The first thing I noticed when getting off the interstate and into the parking lot were the signed that advertised Big Rig Trucks were not allowed at their location. This seemed strange, but after some further research apparently this is something they have implemented at all their locations. Also they have an incredible number of Gas Pumps to fill up your vehicle. I believe this location along had over 100 pumps. After I parked my car and headed towards the entrance I was met by their Mascot Bucky keeping safe and wearing his facial covering.
Inside the store is kind of split in half, part of it is a big convenient store with coffee stations, soda fountains, coolers with bottled drinks, snacks, a deli, plenty of jerky and even fresh barbecue. I was a bit overwhelmed when I first walked in and figured I would just start with the Buc-ee’s brand merchandise first before checking out the food.
They had everything you could need from T-shirts and sweaters to swimsuits and home decor. My daughters would have loved all the plush animals they had there as well.
The smell of food was intoxicating and I quickly found myself gravitating towards this area of the store. In the middle is where they have an area with pre-made sandwiches, tacos, burritos, beaver chips, and even sausage on a stick. I witnessed a fresh brisket being placed on the cutting board while I was examining all the options and the staff broke out in a loud chant about the “brisket on the board”.
On the reverse side of the barbecue counter was where they made fresh fudge and among other sweet treats even various kinds of candy coated nuts. I grabbed myself a basket and quickly started to load up on food. Before I knew it my basket was almost full and I hadn’t even checked out the deli but I figured that would need to wait for another day.
With my basket full of food I was about to check out and go indulge in my car, but then remembered there was a pressed penny machine inside that I had completely overlooked. Thankfully it wasn’t too far away, just look for the old Bucky pickup truck near the merchandise section.
The cabinet on this machine was fantastic. I loved seeing Bucky on the front, and that red color fit right in. I have used this style machine in the past at some other locations and actually really like them. They pressed really well for the most part, and are really quiet when you use them. I know that standard “cranking” sound we are all used to is part of the experience but it’s nice to take a break from that every so often.
The designed available in this machine were all created specifically for this location and stated St. Augustine, FL on each of them. The first has an image of Peace Heart Buc-ee’s, the second was a Luck-ee Penny, the third said Belongs to Buc-ee’s, and the last said Smile if you love Buc-ee’s. These designs were really cute and I do really like that they had the location listed on each coin. This makes for a fun little sub-set to collect along your travels.
Reluctantly I headed out of the store and back into my car. I enjoyed all the food I picked up and after being back home have actually felt cravings to go back for some of those breakfast brisket tacos. After visiting I completely get the obsession and have caught the fever myself. I do wish it was a little closer to home so I could visit more often, 2 hours up the coast is a bit of a hike. Thankfully they have also just opened their second Florida location in Daytona Beach which is a little closer and I’ll be heading there pretty soon. Keep on Pressing!