The University of Texas and the Drag form a district of Austin. This article also covers the "West Campus" and "North University" neighborhoods.
The University of Texas (UT) has one of the top five largest campuses in the US, and offers many attractions for students and non-students alike, with aesthetically pleasing grounds and many museums and cultural centers open to the public. A long section of Guadalupe Street (pronounced GWAHD-uh-loop by the locals), known as "the drag", runs alongside the western boundary of the UT campus, providing the area with unique shopping and culinary attractions. Some of the side streets to the west of the drag have some hidden gems as well.
UT is one of the largest universities in the country. With a history going back into the 1800s when 40 acres was set aside for a university, UT has grown into a world class institution. A walk around the campus will reveal everything from Ivy League architecture to modern sculpture. Places to visit are the Harry Ransom Center, the home of one of the original Gutenberg Bibles, the West Mall, UT's answer to London's Hyde Park corner, where students solve the world's problems, and the Littlefield fountain, designed by Italian artist Pompeo Coppini in 1933. The UT tower, the centerpiece of the campus upon its completion and for long since, periodically has tours that let visitors ascend to the observation deck at the top for a panoramic view of the campus and Austin.
If you're up for a walk (the campus is not small), don't forget to visit the LBJ Presidential library on the East side. If you're a football fan, Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium, home of the 2005 National Champion Texas Longhorns, is a must see. If you're around in the summer, a baseball ticket can be had for Texas baseball (a regular contender for NCAA champion The stadium is across I-35, though. For a rest, and if you can find it, discover the secret peaceful oasis of the lily pond near the biology building. Finally, there is the Cactus Cafe. A cool club on campus in the Austin tradition, the Cactus is known for great live acoustic music. A visit to the University would not be complete without stopping at the Cactus.
The Drag is also worth a visit. It's an urban oasis with a line of interesting stores, joints, restaurants and the usual mix of national chains. The UT Co-op has everything a Texas Longhorn fan could ever desire. Don't forget to visit the Renaissance Market, a small open space across from the university where one can purchase tye-dye shirts, home made jewelry and original art.
At one point, Austin would have been little else than UT and downtown. Today, UT stands as one of Austin's best monuments. If you're older, a visit will remind you what it feels like to be young again. If you're younger, it may excite you about what you can be. UT mottoes include "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" and "What begins here changes the world."
- 1 Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, ☎ . Monday-Friday 10AM-5PM, Saturday 11AM-5PM, Sunday 1PM-5PM. The permanent collection comprises an impressive range of European art by important artists such as Rubens, Lorrain, and Guercino, as well as a selection of American and Latin American artworks. There is also a roster of changing exhibitions ranging from the medieval to the modern. Adults $7, children $3. Admission is free every Thursday.
- 2 Harry Ransom Center, 300 W 21st St (21st at Guadalupe), ☎ . Tuesday-Wednesday Friday 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-7PM, Saturday-Sunday 12PM-5PM. Houses an extensive collection of restored cultural artifacts including rare books, manuscripts, photography, film, and art. The center also hosts frequent cultural symposia which are open to the public. Free.
- Neil Cochran House, 2310 San Gabriel, ☎ . Tues.-Sat. 2PM-5PM. This 1855 Greek Revival-style estate house is one of the most important historic residences in the city. Guided tours provide a lot of background information on area history and on the loads of beautiful period furniture throughout the building. $5.
- Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, 2313 Red River St., ☎ . Mon.-Fri. 9AM-5PM. One of thirteen presidential libraries, this facility holds over 45 million pages of historical documents, plus a museum which has an ever-changing array of exhibits related to American history and the American presidency.
- Texas Memorial Museum, 2400 Trinity St. Mon.-Fri. 9AM-5PM; Sun. 1PM-5PM.. This natural history museum, housed in the exhibit hall of the Texas Natural Science Center, hosts a variety of interesting exhibits, including a paleontology laboratory where visitors are allowed to interact with and ask questions of paleontologists as they go about their work of cleaning, cataloging, and studying fossils. Free.
- University of Texas Tower, ☎ . This 307-foot tower, built in 1937, is interesting in its architectural detail, and is one of the defining landmarks of the city. The observation deck is open to the public as part of guided tours and offers a great view of the campus and surrounding city.
- Street Art. Many notable pieces of street art: El Federico's Bob Dylan on the Hole in the Wall at 26th; the huge 'Movie History' mural on the side of the old Varsity Theater/Tower Records at 24th, and (front and back!) El Federico's rock icons; the psychedelic Austin landscape on the north-facing wall of the Renaissance Market; the Chagall/Dali/Warhol tribute mural at 300 E. 30th St and of course the famous "Hi How Are You" alien starting frog painted by local legend Daniel Johnston (now on wall of "Thai How Are You" Thai food place at 21st and Guadalupe).
- Arcade UFO, 3101 Speedway, ☎ . Sunday-Thursday 3PM-1AM, Friday-Saturday 1PM-3AM. Arcade UFO is a little slice of Shinjuku in Austin. It's filled exclusively with modern Japanese imported games. It's a great alternative to spending an evening at the bars.
In addition to bookstores and other shops which cater to the needs of masses of UT students, the Drag has traditionally been filled with quirky eclectic shops, from bead shops to used records to tattoo parlors. There are still many of these shops around, though in recent years a number of more upscale shops have appeared as well, with unique fashion clothing and home decor items.
- Antone's Record Shop, 2928 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Monday-Saturday 10AM-10PM, Sunday 11AM-8PM.
- University Co-op, 2246 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Monday-Friday 8:30AM-7:30PM, Saturday 9:30AM-6PM, Sunday 11AM-5PM. A giant giftshop carrying virtually any Longhorn-themed item you can imagine. School supplies and textbooks are located downstairs.
- Amy's Ice Creams, 3500 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Sunday-Thursday 11:30AM-12AM, Friday-Saturday 11:30AM-1AM.
- Aster's Ethopian Restaurant, 2804 N I-35 (NW corner of I-35 access & Dean Keeton), ☎ . Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday 11AM-9PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-10PM, closed Monday. Aster has been delighting Austin with her Ethopian food for over a decade. The menu includes many vegan choices, both hot and mild: eggplant, two varieties of lentils, potatoes, greens, cabbage, and wonderful injera.
- Burger Tex, 2912 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Closed Sunday. Korean burger joint with a condiment bar. Try the bulgogi burger.
- Dirty Martin's Place, 2808 Guadalupe St (near 29th St), ☎ . Daily 11AM-11PM. Known for the tasty old-time greasy burger, Dirty Martin's is a staple for hungry football fans after UT home games and has been in the same building since the 1920's. Still has a simple old-time feel, and you can watch the burgers grilled right in front of you at the bar.
- Kerbey Lane Cafe, 2606 Guadalupe St (between 26th and 27th Streets), ☎ . 24 hours.
- Ruby's BBQ, 512 W 29th St, ☎ . Sunday-Thursday 11AM-11PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-12AM. Close to campus, this older establishment serves natural meats slapped onto a piece of butcher paper and served on a plastic tray. The dog-friendly patio is a good place to eat (though you may want to avoid it in the summertime). The food is one of the better casual BBQ joints in town. It shares an alley with the Spider House, so you can go get some good coffee after your meal.
- Spider House Cafe, 2908 Fruth St, ☎ . Daily 7AM-2AM. Popular local cafe with large outdoor seating area, occasional live music and film showings. Vegan cake and peanut buttercups are available as well as chili and burritos which can be made vegan.
- Star Seeds Cafe, 3101 N I-35 (located on I-35 access road just before Days Inn), ☎ . 24 hours. No-frills diner with a delicious Cuban sandwich.
- Thai Spice, 2100 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Monday-Thursday 11AM-10PM, Friday 11AM-10:30PM, Saturday 12PM-10:30PM, Sunday 12PM-9:30PM. Thai cuisine and sushi.
- Torchy's Tacos, 2801 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Monday-Thursday 7AM-10PM, Friday 7AM-11PM, Saturday 8AM-11PM, Sunday 8AM-10PM.
- Trudy's, 409 W 30th St, ☎ . Monday-Thursday 4PM-2AM (Bar: 2PM-2AM), Friday 11AM-2AM, Saturday 9AM-2AM, Sunday 9AM-2AM (Bar: 10AM-2AM).
- Wheatsville Co-op Deli, 3101 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Daily 7:30AM-11PM. A well-known Austin health food store with deli that offers vegan and vegetarian items such as sandwiches, soups and desserts.
- Cactus Cafe, 2247 Guadalupe St (inside Texas Union building at the corner of 24th and Guadalupe), ☎ . Monday-Friday 11AM-7PM* (Social Hour: 4-7PM), Saturday 8PM-12AM*, closed Sunday. *Open later depending on performances. Live music venue with full bar. Tickets sold on first-come, first-served basis.
- The Hole in the Wall, 2538 Guadalupe St (where Guadalupe meets Dean Keeton). Daily 3PM-2AM. Austin institution dive bar with live music, multiple bars, outside patio and quick service from smokin' waitresses by night or cool hippie dudes dredging up Austin's bohemian past by day.
- Kasbah Moroccan Lounge (Kasbah Hookah Lounge), 2714 Guadalupe St, ☎ . Sunday-Wednesday 2PM-2AM, Thursday-Saturday 2PM-3AM. BYOB hookah lounge. Limited parking behind the building.
- 1 Drifter Jack's Hostel, 2602 Guadalupe St (behind the 7-Eleven at 26th and Guadalupe, above the Thai Noodle House), ☎ . Hostel with both dormitories and private rooms. Free breakfast, free wireless internet, and free parking offered. Luggage storage and laundry facilities available. 4-bed dorms $28-30, 6-bed dorms $25-28, private rooms $75-85.
- 2 Days Inn, 3105 N Interstate 35 (I-35 and 32nd St.), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12PM.
- 3 Rodeway Inn, 2900 N. I-35, ☎ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 12PM.