If you live in Austin, chances are you have a soft spot for The University of Texas. The massive college at the heart of our city has helped shape Austin into what it is today, impacting our town’s culture, economy and population shifts with the rhythm of the academic calendar. We may be a big city, but in many ways, we’re still a college town.
Whether you love UT, love to hate it or indulge in nostalgia for the Forty Acres, these eight campus outings and activities will remind you how amazing this one-of-a-kind university is, and how lucky we are to share a city with The University of Texas at Austin.
Whether you’re exploring campus for the first time or retracing days long past, enjoy my favorite spots for reveling in what makes UT a wonderful place.
#1 Attend a Concert at Bates Recital Hall
In a town like Austin, you would expect the largest university’s Music Department to be something special. UT’s Butler School of Music does not disappoint. Their events calendar is chock-full of amazing concerts to check out—from student groups to world-class touring ensembles—and their Midday Concert Series make for the perfect musical interlude on a weekday.
While you’re at the School of Music, be sure to check out the stunning Visser-Rowland Pipe Organ in person. The scale of the Organ Studio alone is worth the trip.
#2 Go Glow Bowling for Cheap at the Union Underground
I grew up hanging out at the Union with my friends, so the idea that it’s for UT students only seems ridiculous to me. The Union Underground is too much fun for students to keep to themselves, so fortunately it’s open to the public! There are plenty of games for everyone to enjoy—including billiards, bumper pool and league bowling—and cheap pizza and beer to boot.
But the real reason to head to the Union is for Glow Bowling. Thursday and Friday evenings, and all day Saturday and Sunday, the Union Underground turns into a kitschy black light wonderland. Bowl a few rounds with friends and you’ll have an insanely fun evening for under twenty bucks.
#3 Tour the Iconic LBJ Presidential Library
Where else can you learn all there is to know about our 36th President and, arguably, one of the most emblematic Texans to date? Even if you don’t consider yourself a Lyndon Baines Johnson fan, exhibits like “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!” showing through January 2016 will make your trip worthwhile.
Austin Museum Day is September 20th this year, so you can check out the LBJ Presidential Library for free!
2313 Red River Street – Website
#4 Experience an Intimate Concert at the Cactus Café
Any time I see a musician I love playing at the Cactus Cafe, I snag a ticket immediately. This on-campus venue in the Texas Union is intimate and lovely, one of the best spots to hear your favorite songwriter up close and personal. You’ll feel like you’re in in a cozy living room with the artist–a living room with a full bar and great acoustics.
2247 Guadalupe Street – Website
#5 Explore Dinosaur Fossils at Texas Memorial Museum
We have so many world-class museums right here in Austin that I think the Texas Memorial Museum gets unjustly overlooked. You can check out real dinosaur tracks and learn about Texas wildlife, and biodiversity, plus view scientific specimens never before seen by the public. Better yet, venture to UT’s Natural Science Department with your favorite young scientist to share the learning.
October 12, 2015 is National Fossil Day, and Texas Memorial Museum will be celebrating with talks and engaging activities for aspiring paleontologists of all ages, with features like a Fossil Dig Pit.
2400 Trinity Street – Website
#6 Drink Beer, Eat Brussel Sprouts and Listen to Music at Hole In The Wall
You have to venture slightly off campus to experience this Austin landmark. But if you want to experience a music venue that’s still keeping it real in Austin–on the Drag, no less–then you have to make it to Hole in the Wall.
Around since 1974, this bar is still a great place to check out bands or grab drinks with a friend. To sweeten the deal, Paul Qui’s brainchild, East Side King, serves up inspired, spicy sweet Asian fusion dishes that pair ridiculously well with Texas beer.
Editor’s Note: It was recently announced that Hole in the Wall may shutter soon due to rising rent costs. Our whole team at Austinot.com sends our best and sincerely hopes this isn’t the case.
2538 Guadalupe Street – Website
#7 Read David Foster Wallace and the Gutenberg Bible at Harry Ransom Center
The Harry Ransom Center has some of the most impressive exhibits and collections and, if you’re a lover of the humanities, the sheer volume of text and art to enjoy can feel overwhelming at first. Witness firsthand original texts starting with the first book printed on moveable type, The Gutenburg Bible, all the way to David Foster Wallace’s archives.
300 W 21st Street – Website
#8 Tour the Famous UT Tower
The UT Tower tour is a classic for a reason. Go up 27 stories and take in an awe-inspiring view of Austin from the top of UT’s prized tower.
While you’re in UT’s stately Main Building, make your way into the Life Science Library. The intricate details of the ceiling and the quiet hush of the dark wood library will make you wish you were sifting through the collections, a student once again.
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
What is your favorite thing to do on the UT campus?