Between March and November, the bats will be in town. If you're here at the cusp of one of those months, call the Bat Hotline to check and to get the estimated time that they take flight. Note: This itinerary requires a car.
1. LBJ Library and Museum
If you're in town for just a short time, visiting the LBJ Library may afford you the best view of campus that you'll get. From the stone platform, you can see the campus to the west of you sloping down the hill and then rising up on the next one. There's no mistaking the well-known University Tower. Inside the library, behind glass windows, you'll see the presidential papers boxed in red Moroccan leather. But it's the museum you'll really want to head toward. Be sure not to miss the animatronic version of LBJ.
2. Blanton Museum of Art
The new Blanton has a gracious interior and a good bit of space to show its works. Of its holdings, the Latin American art is probably the most fun, and the Renaissance collection is probably the most important. There might also be a visiting show.
3. Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
This museum was built more with Texans in mind than out-of-staters. Outsiders are welcome, but the museum does delve into some Texas history minutiae that might not be so interesting to others. The exhibits are beautifully done, and some have a sense of humor. There are a lot of choices to consider at the ticket booth: exhibits, IMAX, the Texas Spirit Theater. You might have time to do all of them if you haven't lollygagged at the earlier stops. The combo ticket package includes a decent discount, and the Texas Spirit Theater, with its multiculturalist message, doesn't take long to see.
South of the Bob Bullock Museum, and so obvious that you can't miss it, is the:
4. State Capitol
This is fun for everyone. The biggest capitol building (but not the tallest) in the 50 states has seen a lot of shenanigans. Take the guided tour, which is free and is more interesting than the self-guided tour.
5. Take a Break
Step into this delightful Congress Avenue restaurant, the Roaring Fork, on the ground floor of the old Stephen F. Austin Hotel (now the InterContinental). Lunches are hearty and reasonably priced. 701 Congress Ave. tel. 512/583-0000.
6. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
You can end up spending a lot more time here than you planned, especially if you come in the spring when most of the wildflowers are in bloom. Watch the clock to ensure that you're back in town in time to catch the next (and last) stop on this itinerary. There are some attractions indoors worth your attention, and don't miss the gift shop.
7. Evening Bat Flight
When the largest urban bat colony in North America takes wing out from under downtown's Congress Avenue Bridge, it's an impressive act of nature. Call the Bat Hotline (tel. 512/416-5700, ext. 3636) for the daily estimated flight time. If you arrive early, get a space on the east side of the bridge close by the southern bank of Town Lake. You should also check out the information module set up by Bat Conservation International; it explains something about the habits and life of a bat colony.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.