Off-limits to the public for nearly a quarter of a century, the infamous observation deck of the UT Tower -- where crazed gunman Charles Whitman went on a deadly shooting spree in 1966 -- was remodeled with a webbed dome and reopened in 1999. Billed as tours, these excursions to the top of the tower are really supervised visits, although a guide gives a short, informative spiel and stays on hand to answer questions. Frankly, it would probably be better if these visits -- now about 30 minutes long -- were half as short and half as expensive (I saw lots of people looking bored after about 10 minutes).

Deck tours are available by reservation only. Check the website or phone the numbers listed on Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm to pin down the schedule and to find out how to get your tickets.

Note: You are permitted to bring along a camera, binoculars, or a camcorder to take advantage of the observation deck's spectacular, 360-degree view of the city and environs, but you must leave behind everything else, including purses, camera bags, tripods, strollers, and so forth. (Lockers are available at the Texas Union for $1.)