By Lauren Jones
After a long week of classes, there’s nothing better than a weekend away from homework, studying and the hectic college lifestyle. But what is there to do in Belton? Students who are new to the area might claim there isn’t much, when a lot of entertainment is only a short distance away.
Located behind the courthouse in downtown Belton, the Gin offers food, gifts and spa treatments. In addition, The Gin is starting a concert series in March, which will include a live band once a week free of charge.
Natalie Buckey, marketing director for the Gin, is the go-to woman for what one should know about the Gin, including which dishes to order. For Mexican fare, Coronas de Oro is the place to go.
“Personally, I like their Mexican egg rolls,” she said.
They are a combination of beef, rice, jalapenos, guacamole and cheese wrapped inside a homemade egg roll and served with an avocado dip. Coronas de Oro also offers $5.25 lunch specials.
For students who miss their moms’ cooking, the Gin at Nolan Creek is good when cafeteria food becomes monotonous.
“The restaurant offers $6.95 blue plate specials for lunch that change daily. We never have the same thing on each day,” owner Bob Terry said.
One of its specialties is smothered pork chops served with cheesy scalloped potatoes and black-eyed peas.
The Gin at Nolan Creek also offers free Wi-Fi access as well as a view of the creek.
The Gin hosts a variety of gift shops, as well. The Mercantile, which offers wall accents and furniture, is the place to find unique decorative items for any dorm or apartment.
Brickwood is an eclectic boutique for those looking for unique clothing and jewelry items at low prices. They offer designer jeans and carry a collection of texting gloves that work on touch screen.
For relaxation, the Woodhouse Day Spa uses organic products to soothe aches.
They also offer affordable massages as well as a variety of manicures, pedicures, facials, body wraps and hand and foot treatments.
Manager and UMHB alumna Khim Owens said, “We also offer gift cards that are perfect for Valentine’s Day.”
The Gin’s Weigh Station has a variety of frozen yogurt flavors and toppings and offers a 10 percent discount to UMHB students.
Those who love the night life but can’t afford it, Wheels Family Skating, located just off of I-35 across from Temple High School, is good for a night out with friends.
The vintage-inspired roller rink has been a host to hundreds of parties and has a family-friendly atmosphere. The rink itself is equipped with lights and a disco ball while a live DJ plays hit songs.
This month the center hosted a retro roller disco night for UMHB, an event so successful that the owners, Alberto and Jennifer Alpizar, are hoping it will become a regular
“Starting February, we’ll be doing a UMHB night,” Jennifer said. “Admission will be $5 with a student ID. We’ll start out by doing it the first Thursday of each month, and if it’s successful, we’ll do it every Thursday night from 8 to 10. It’s really just a great place to hang out,” she said.
Alberto Alpizar was eager to get the word out about UMHB night.
“We’re really excited,” he said. “We just want everyone to come out and hang out with friends and have a good time.”
The center offers affordable skating lessons, party rentals and matinee discounts.
Scheduled to debut in May, Grand Avenue Theater is sure to become a huge hit in Belton. It is being constructed just across from Walgreen’s and Sonic and will have six theaters that can hold up to 300 people, a full kitchen with a soda jerk style cafe and a theater for those who wish to throw a private movie party.
David Leigh, owner and head of the construction of the theater, is proud of the luxuries it will have to offer.
“There will be more leg room, leather seats and three of the screens will be 3-D,” Leigh said. “We only have six screens, but we’re going for quality, not quantity.”
The cafe inside the theater will offer not only familiar movie theater foods like popcorn, candy and soda, but patrons will also be able to order full meals such as hamburgers and hot dogs or desserts like ice cream sundaes.
“It will be like having dinner and a movie,” Leigh said.
Grand Avenue will offer a student discount to UMHB students on Tuesday nights.
“We know that this will be something that students are going to love,” Leigh said. “Tuesday seemed like a good night because most students probably don’t have a test the next day. It’ll be a good break from studying.”
Leigh encourages students looking for employment to apply to work at the theater.
“We’ll start hiring around March or April,” he said.
Grand Avenue Theater is scheduled for debut May 6 and will show upcoming movies such as Avengers, Brave and The Amazing Spiderman.