TEXAS COLLEGE TOUR ROAD TRIPS
BY ANNETTE BROOKS
With more than 90 four-year colleges and universities in the Lone Star State, tens of thousands of parents and children visit Texas campuses each summer. We used U.S. News & World Report’s list of the ten best colleges in Texas and created an overview of a few things to do and see when visiting these campuses.
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
UT Austin is the flagship institution of the University of Texas system known for its famous catchphrase, “Hook ‘em Horns.” While you’re in Austin, take a live or guided tour of the Texas Capitol building and grounds and live the “keep Austin weird” slogan by visiting Casa Neverlandia. Then, at dusk, gather on or near the Congress Avenue Bridge and watch North America’s largest urban bat population emerge from underneath. Thousands ascend into the night sky and fly East over Lady Bird Lake.
WILLIAM MARSH RICE UNIVERSITY Rice University, a private research university in Houston, consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the country and often snags the #1 spot on best colleges in Texas lists.
Part of Rice’s charm is a campus with secret symbols and places. For example, the columns in Lovett Hall’s arch were carved to represent the four stages of college life, and alcoves in Herzstein Hall create a whispering chamber. Pop into Rice Coffeehouse, a student-run, on-campus spot that serves various coffee drinks, smoothies, and special summer drinks.
TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY TCU, a private Christian university in Fort Worth, is home to the renowned TCU Frog Horn. The large, purple metal contraption designed to look like a frog is a staple at Horned Frog home football games and community events. Smoke comes out of two horns, and the sound it emits is akin to a loud train whistle. While you’re in Fort Worth, watch the daily longhorn cattle drive from the restaurants and sidewalks on East Exchange Avenue. Enjoy walking through the 15-block Stockyards District, with unique shops and lively nightlife.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT DALLAS Initially founded as a private research arm of Texas Instruments, the University of Texas at Dallas is located in Richardson, a Dallas suburb, and is the northernmost campus of the University of Texas system. When you’re ready for a cool break from touring the campus, head about 15 minutes south to The Galleria Ice Skating Center, you can also enjoy a little retail therapy by browsing the Galleria Mall’s 137 stores. If you’re spending the night in the Richardson area, check out the Plano Super Bowl, which boasts 48 lanes and a scratch kitchen.
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON The University of Houston, a public research university and the flagship institution of the University of Houston system, is considered one of the country’s most ethnically diverse major research universities. While there, amateur ghostbusters can check out haunted places near campus. For instance, Glenwood Cemetery allegedly has high electromagnetic fields. Elder Street Artist Lofts, formerly the ruins of the Jefferson Davis Hospital built on an old burial ground, is known for its super creepy hauntings. When you’re ready for lunch or dinner, try Hungry’s in Rice Village. The eclectic menu offers something for everyone.
SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY SMU is a private research university in Dallas. Touring any Texas campus in the summer can be hot and tiring, but ice cream makes it bearable. One of SMU’s popular spots, Pokey-O’s, located next to the SMU bookstore, lets you create your own cookie sandwich treat with a choice of two cookies and ice cream.
If you enjoy art and culture, SMU’s Meadows Museum, located on the edge of the Southern Methodist University campus on Bishop Boulevard, is considered by many as the greatest collection of Spanish art outside of Spain.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS UNT in Denton is a public research university founded in 1890. It was known as North Texas State University until 1988. Notable alumni include Dr. Phil McGraw, Don Henley, and many more.
A visit to Denton wouldn’t be complete without checking out Goatman’s Bridge, a registered historic landmark considered to be a paranormal hotspot. If you’re touring UNT on a Saturday morning, stop by the Denton Community Market, featuring live music, local artists, food trucks, local farms, and a variety of vendors.
TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY Texas Tech, a public research university in Lubbock and the main institution of the Texas Tech University System, boasts one the largest landmass campuses in the country at 1,839 acres.
Take a break from touring and stop by Buddy Holly Center, which features an annual Summer Showcase Concert Series, offering live music Thursday evenings through August 19, 2021. Grab lunch or dinner at one of Lubbock’s numerous BBQ joints. One local favorite is Tom and Bingo’s Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que, an unassuming old-school joint that’s been serving up Que for close to 70 years.
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY Ready to be an Aggie? Texas A&M University is a public land-grant research university and the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System.
Steeped in lore, you’ll hear students talking about putting a penny on a certain statue to bring good luck and other traditions. Then there’s Bottle Cap Alley, which has become a fixture of Aggie culture in College Station. The Northgate neighborhood alleyway contains what some estimate to be hundreds of thousands of discarded beer and soda caps. Bring a cap or two along to add to the collection.
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY Chartered in 1845 by the last Congress of the Republic of Texas, Baylor University is a private Baptist research university in Waco.
When touring the campus, stroll along the river walk behind the law school with views of McLane Stadium. Also, check out the AZA-accredited Baylor Bear Habitat. Many American Black Bears have called Baylor home since 1917. Today, “Joy” and “Lady” enjoy their comfortable, curated environment. And since Waco is the home of Dr. Pepper, visit the Dr. Pepper Museum. Saddle up to their old-fashioned soda fountain and try a Dr. Pepper float.