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 The University of Texas at Austin. A beautiful stroll and view the public art around campus. The theater and music departments are both well regarded and have performances throughout the school year. If you visit during football season, you can see the 2005 National Champion Texas Longhorn football team play at Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.
- 2 Blanton Museum of Art, 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, ☏ . M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 11AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. 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.
- 3 Harry Ransom Center, 300 W 21st St (21st at Guadalupe), ☏ . Tu W F 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-7PM, Sa Su noon-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.
- 4 Neil–Cochran House, 2310 San Gabriel, ☏ . Tu-Sa 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.
- 5 Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, 2313 Red River St, ☏ . 9AM-5PM daily. One of 13 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. Adults: $8, Seniors (62 and over): $5, Retired military with valid ID: $5, Children (13-17): $3, College students: $3.
- 6 Texas Memorial Museum, 2400 Trinity St. M-F 9AM-5PM; Su 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.
- 7 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).
- 1 Arcade UFO, 3101 Speedway, ☏ . Su-Th 3PM-1AM, F Sa 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. More upscale shops have appeared, with unique fashion clothing and home decor items.
- Antone's Record Shop, 2928 Guadalupe St, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 11AM-8PM.
- 1 Buffalo Exchange, 2904 Guadalupe, ☏ . Vintage clothing.
- University Co-op, 2246 Guadalupe St, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-7:30PM, Sa 9:30AM-6PM, Su 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, ☏ . Su-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F Sa 11:30AM-1AM.
- Aster's Ethopian Restaurant, 2804 N I-35 (NW corner of I-35 access & Dean Keeton), ☏ . Su Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, closed M. Aster delights Austin with her Ethopian food. 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 Su. Korean burger joint with a condiment bar. Try the bulgogi burger.
- 1 Changos Taqueria, 3023 Guadalupe, ☏ . Tasty, affordable, and authentic tacos and other Mexican dishes. Try the al pastor tacos with the el nortena salsa. Serves breakfast tacos as well.
- 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 1920s. 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.
- 2 Pho Tai Son, 1908 Guadalupe St, ☏ . Good fresh Vietnamese standbys, pho, bun, stirfry and bubble drinks. No beer but maybe you can bring your own?
- Ruby's BBQ, 512 W 29th St, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 11AM-midnight. 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, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-10PM, F 11AM-10:30PM, Sa noon-10:30PM, Su noon-9:30PM. Thai cuisine and sushi.
- Torchy's Tacos, 2801 Guadalupe St, ☏ . M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 8AM-10PM.
- 3 Trudy's Texas Star, 409 W 30th St, ☏ . M-Th 4PM-2AM (Bar: 2PM-2AM), F 11AM-2AM, Sa 9AM-2AM, Su 9AM-2AM (Bar: 10AM-2AM). Regarded by some as the favorite for Tex-Mex food in town, but this also means they are generally incredibly crowded and loud. Excellent margaritas with specials each night of the week. They're known more for their Mexican martinis than for their food.
- 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), ☏ . M-F 11AM-7PM* (Social Hour: 4-7PM), Sa 8PM-midnight*, closed Su. *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, ☏ . Su-W 2PM-2AM, Th-Sa 2PM-3AM. BYOB hookah lounge. Limited parking behind the building.
- 1 Spider House, 2908 Fruth St (just north of the UT Campus), ☏ . Daily 7AM-2AM. A lovely place to spend a night out on the patio by yourself or with friends. Table service available. The Chai Milkshake is a dream; the Sangria pitcher is pricey but a fun way to unwind. Decent food as well. Hosts a poetry slam every Tuesday night at 8PM in an annex.
- 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: noon.
- 3 Rodeway Inn, 2900 N. I-35, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon.