Buc-ee’s in Kentucky: Everything to Know About the Famed Travel Center Opening in the Bluegrass State

by Suzanne Halliburton

Kentucky, start celebrating all things Buc-ee’s — from now forward, all travel centers will pale in comparison to this Disneyland of gas stations.

Promise, you’ll thank Texas for sending Buc-ee’s your way. The first store opened Tuesday morning in Richmond, Kentucky. And yes, it made the news, everywhere. How often can you see a giant Beaver beckoning travelers to come inside for some BBQ and a cold drink? If you’ve spent any time traveling along I-85, you’ve certainly seen the billboards beckoning. Oh, and you can do all this plus fill up the tank with some of the cheapest gas around. Cause technically, this is a giant gas station, but with a reason to go inside and linger awhile. That’s how we do it in Texas and we’re happy to spread this joy to other states.

Buc-ee’s Celebrates 40th Anniversary with More Travel Centers, Including in Kentucky

Buc-ee’s started in 1982 as a convenience store in Lake Jackson, Texas, not far from Houston. The founders were Arch Aplin III and Don Wasek. Arch, a Texas A&M alum, goes by “Beaver.” So now you know why Buc-ee’s embraces the largest living rodent in North America as its mascot. And Buc-ee is a twist on Buck, the name of Aplin’s beloved lab.

The first official travel center opened in Luling in 2001. And then Buc-ee’s opened the largest convenience store in the world in 2012 off of Interstate 35 in New Braunfels, which is between San Antonio and Austin. How big is it? Try 68,000 square feet. There are 120 gas pumps with 1,000 parking spots. (Yes, the center does need that many spaces). There are 83 toilets, 80 soda fountain dispensers, and 64 ice freezers. And there are 31 cash registers to check everyone out. It’s always crowded, but wait time usually is minimal.

Buc-ee’s started expanding outside Texas in 2019, building travel centers in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. The site in Sevierville, Tenn, will be 8,000 square feet bigger than New Braunfels. So the hometown of Dolly Parton will take the world record from Texas.

(Photo by Allison V. Smith for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If You Go, Grab a Sliced Brisket Sandwich and Some Homemade Fudge

Kentuckians soon will know the joys of planning a pit stop at Buc-ee’s. You go there for the BBQ sandwiches (sliced brisket or chopped), maybe a sausage wrap. Be sure to grab the homemade potato chips that’ll be next to the hot sandwiches. But if chopped meat isn’t your thing, check out one of the massive coolers with salads, sandwiches, and sides. It’s grab-and-go car food. You also can buy heated mixed nuts or turkey sticks or homemade cookies and fudge. Try the kolaches, which are baked right there inside Buc-ee’s.

But if you just want a lighter snack, head to the other end of the store for a wall of nuts, sugared or salty, sesame sticks, and trail mixes. There are all sorts of flavors of jerky. And there are huge aisles devoted exclusively to potato chips and popcorn. When you walk towards the cash registers, grab a bag of Beaver Nuggets. They’re a must-have.

Buc-ee’s isn’t all about food and cold drinks. You can shop, too. There are the traditional branded t-shirts or sweats. There’s also outdoors gear and jewelry. Plus, Buc-ee’s cares about your pets. There’s a section for treats and toys.

The Buc-ee’s that opened Tuesday in Kentucky is 53,000 square feet of hospitality. And here is the list of spots getting Buc-ee’s in the near future. Start planning your trips now.

  • Florence, South Carolina, 2022
  • Crossville, Tennessee, 2022
  • Athens, Alabama, 2023
  • Auburn, Alabama, 2023
  • Sevierville, Tennessee, 2023
  • Smiths Grove, Kentucky, 2023
  • Hillsboro, Texas, 2025
  • Harrison, County Mississippi, 2025
  • Anderson, South Carolina, 2026