Getting the Most out of Austin

Written by Chad Hutchens, E-Resources Librarian, University of Wyoming Libraries

While you’re at ER&L, you should not pass up on the opportunity to take in some of the great things the capital city of Texas has to offer. Austin is truly a wonderful place to visit, and like ER&L, it offers a little bit of everything for everyone. Fortunately, the ER&L Conference venue is very centrally located within Austin, TX and many attractions such as museums, shopping, great restaurants, and recreation areas are well within walking distance. Don’t take our word for it, but there’s also a very good chance that it will be warm while you’re there! Here are some ideas to keep you busy.

You’re in Austin, TX…eat some good local fare while you’re here. In addition to what is available in the AT&T Conference Center, there are many restaurants within walking distance [Google map]. A few fellow librarians at the UT Libraries have offered up their recommendations for local Tex-Mex fare [Google map] if you want to take in some regional cuisine. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a long walk down to the flagship Whole Foods Market [Google map] which is an experience unto itself (note: this is a 1.5 mile walk each way). One way or the other, there are many, many great places to eat close to the conference center that will work for all budgets.

Austin and the University of Texas campus offer many cultural opportunities including museums, libraries, and other places of historical significance. The ER&L Conference website has built a few maps outlining many of these places you can visit if you have time. Almost directly across the street from the AT&T Conference Center is the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum and almost adjacent to it is the Capital of Texas complex. The LBJ Presidential Library and Museum is a unique venue on campus that cannot be ignored. If you only have a short window of time available for something fun, please consider the very short walk (not even three blocks) over to the Harry Ransom Center where you can take a look at one of the few existing Gutenberg Bibles and their other exhibits. Be sure to pay attention to the “Events” page at the Harry Ransom Center as well; they have special talks, poetry readings, musical performances, and invited speakers who cover a variety of topics often related to libraries, archives, and conservation efforts. In the other direction from the conference center, one may also take a 2 block stroll down to the Blanton Museum of Art which has both permanent and rotating art exhibits from the 15th century to the present. Of course, do keep in mind that most of these museums have admissions fees, but all are quite reasonable.

If you’re looking to spend some times outside, why not take a leisurely walking tour of one of the most impressive urban campuses in America? UT Austin’s campus has many architecturally unique buildings, numerous fountains and statues, as well as other works of public art. There are two self-guided tours offered; the first is the “Diversity Tour,” [pdf] and the second is simply the “Self-Guided Walking Tour.” [pdf] There is also an interactive tour that will take you to the many works of public art on the UT campus public art tour, or you can always just explore on your own. If you get lost, just remember that the UT Tower is at the center of campus and the AT&T Conference Center is in the direction of the capital (on the south edge of campus)! One unique spot you may not find on any of the self-guided tours is the “talking oil well,” Santa Rita #1 [google map], which is right down MLK Boulevard from the conference center.

Away from campus, there are also numerous opportunities. Not all are within walking distance, but taxi’s are easily available if you so desire. Again, check the ER&L conference website at for info on museums and other venues off-campus. If you’re looking for something recreational, Austin’s Town Lake running trail is a local favorite. If you feel like taking a swim or just dipping your feet in the water on a warm afternoon don’t miss Barton Springs in Zilker park, where the water is always a cool 68 degrees year-round. Any way you slice it, if you’re at ER&L, there will be no lack of exciting things to see and do.