West Campus is a center for student living in Austin. You can find this neighborhood of apartment high-rises and fraternity houses directly west of the University of Texas. Of course, there’s more that draws in the young residents than easy access to the library. This neighborhood is packed with late-night entertainment, trendy coffee shops, and delicious food. You don’t have to be a student to enjoy West Campus. This list showcases the top things to do in Austin for visitors and locals alike.
Swing Dancing at the Fed
Austin Swing Syndicate hosts a swing dancing night at the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs Mansion every Thursday night. Everyone is welcome, and no experience is required. The event starts at 8pm and goes on until midnight. Beginners can learn the swing dancing basics at a free lesson starting at 8:15pm. Once you’ve brushed up on your skills, head into the main ballroom and dance the night away. No partner? No problem. The community is very welcoming, and you can usually find someone willing to share a dance. Some nights feature a live band to add to the fun.
Pease Park borders the western edge of West Campus. This beautiful 42-acre expanse of nature is great for relaxing, play, and picnics. The park grounds feature a view of Shoal Creek and a scenic running trail along its length. The athletically inclined can also find volleyball courts, a baseball field and basketball hoops. If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon, there are picnic tables and grills throughout the park. Or you can bring a book and read under the large shade trees. For the kids, there are swings and a playground.
Although this coffee shop pushes the northern border of West Campus, it is still within walking distance and worth the visit. Spider House Café captures the unique Austin aesthetic from the moment you arrive. The coffee shop is set up in a dimly lit house with mismatched couches, tables, and chairs arranged throughout the different rooms. There is a bar where you can order coffee or cocktails. There is also a large patio yard outside where you can order drinks, light eats, and appetizers. Spider House often hosts events like movie nights and concerts. There is an adjoining building called the Spider House Ballroom that holds poetry slams every Tuesday.
Plucker’s is a neighborhood favorite wing bar in the heart of West Campus. While wings are the obvious attraction, this restaurant has much more entertainment to offer. Plucker’s is a prime spot for watching sporting events. Can’t get a ticket to the big UT game? Head here and you’ll be in good company. Arrive early for special events because the place fills up, and the wait can be long. Plucker’s also holds weekly events that keep the regulars coming back, like trivia nights and happy hour.
Kerbey Lane Cafe is located right on The Drag and is a staple in most University of Texas students’ diets. This cafe is famous for its seasonal pancake flavors, Tex-Mex, and Kirby Queso. It’s one of the best brunch options in the area, but it often gets packed on the weekends. The 24-hour diner is also a late-night favorite for Sixth Street revelers after a night out. Don’t be surprised to walk in at 3am and find the restaurant filled with customers enjoying cinnamon roll pancakes.
Don’t want to fight the crowds on Sixth Street? The Local is the perfect bar to unwind without having to leave the neighborhood. This bar offers cheap drinks, plenty of seating, and entertainment. You can sit at the bar or on one of the couches inside, or enjoy the weather on the large outdoor patio. If you want to have some fun while you drink, visit the pool tables, play a round of corn hole, or break out one of the board games.
Austin loves food trucks, and so does West Campus. Over the past few years, food truck parks have popped up throughout the neighborhood and house some of Austin’s best trucks. These parks offer a range of options from sandwiches to falafel to ice cream. There is usually plenty of seating if you want to eat outside, or you can take your order to go. Trucks tend to have complicated schedules, so check before heading out if you’re hoping to visit a specific truck.
Bordering West Campus on the east, the University of Texas has plenty to offer the public. UT is home to several museums including the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and Texas Memorial Museum. The campus itself is a historical marvel with buildings dating back to 1883. History buffs can check out the ghosts of Littlefield House and take a tour to the top of the iconic UT Tower. Of course, you can’t miss a chance to watch the Longhorns play at Darrell K Royal Stadium.
Built in 1855, the Neill-Cochran House is a well-preserved glimpse into the lives of some of Austin’s earliest residents. The Greek Revival-style mansion was created for Washington and Mary Hill, who designed the house so exquisitely they could not afford to complete it and never lived a day in the house. Today, the Neill-Cochran House is a museum and an event venue. The museum has several rotating collections and permanent collections on display. The museum is only open three hours from 1pm-4pm Tuesday-Saturday, so hurry in or set up an appointment.
The Hole in the Wall is an Austin dive bar that has served up booze and music on The Drag since 1974. The bar has a long history of hosting great musicians on their way to making it big and legendary touring artists. Spoon, Shakey Graves, and Don Henley of the Eagles have all graced the stage. Courtney Love, Quentin Tarantino, Natalie Portman, and John Stamos have also stopped in and left memorable impressions. So head to The Hole in the Wall, grab a cheap drink, and know you’re in good company.