When you think of a state university campus, you probably think of a dusty library, a smattering of dorms, and bright school colors on every surface, all tucked away in a little college town corner. However, one of the largest state schools in the country is anything but this plain and simple prototype. The University of Texas at Austin draws students, fans, and tourists alike to its colorful campus that goes far beyond burnt orange. If you find yourself in Longhorn territory for a day, here’s the best way to spend your time.
Words and Photos by Kristen Olson
Kerbey Lane Café
2606 Guadalupe St
Start your day off in the best way possible—with pancakes! One of the cornerstones of West Campus, Kerbey Lane is a 24-hour diner with a beloved breakfast menu and even more beloved queso. Try out a stack of the featured pancake flavor (past favorites include birthday cake and strawberry lemonade; always add the cinnamon swirl on top!) to go alongside your Kerbey queso for one of the best campus meals.
Northwest corner of Inner Campus Drive and University Ave
If you need a little time to digest, take a short walk across Guadalupe Street and find the turtle pond. Watch the turtles tumble around each other while the UT Tower looms over your shoulder, then head over to the Main Mall area for a view of the Texas Capitol. Take a picture in front of Littlefield Fountain for an iconic shot with the Tower.
Blanton Museum of Art
200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Whether you’re into classical European paintings, impressive exhibitions, or just pretty blue walls, the Blanton has it all. Stroll around the recently redone permanent collection space and take in the artwork of all different styles and ages. This is Austin’s primary art museum and is located right in the heart of campus. If you prefer history to art, substitute the Blanton for the Bob Bullock State History Museum across the street or the Harry Ransom Center two blocks away.
2402 San Gabriel St
Be sure to work up an appetite before coming for BBQ at this West Campus-located gem. With a coveted spot on Texas Monthly’s list of the Top 50 Barbecue Joints in Texas, Freedmen’s is not to be missed. Fatty brisket, piles of pulled pork, and racks of smoky ribs will keep your mouth watering for days after your meal, and these BBQ masterminds replaced the classic side of plain white bread with deliciously crisp focaccia. If you needed reasons beyond the meat to pay a visit, let the upscale cocktail menu, smoked banana pudding, and saloon/speakeasy interior convince you.
2246 Guadalupe St
Take it easy after lunch with a long walk down Guadalupe, UT’s most well known street. Stop into the University Co-op to pick up souvenirs to remind you of your day as a Longhorn. The Co-op sells everything from Longhorn cowboy boots and Texas-shaped pasta to burnt orange t-shirts and bat-shaped stuffed animals (an homage to the nocturnal creatures that love to call Austin home). You’re sure to find something you love!
West Campus food trucks
Corner of Rio Grande St and 26th St
A day in Austin wouldn’t be complete without a meal out of a food truck. Head back into West Campus to 26th Street and pick your favorite truck at this picnic area! Your options include macaroni & cheese, noodles, Korean barbecue, pizza, po-boys, and more. Sit beneath the strings of lights and save room for a cookie shake from Cold Cookie Co.’s truck—they blend up your choice of milkshake and perch a cookie on the whipped cream on top. It’s the perfect way to end your night.