UT is big! With 50,000 students, 170 fields of study, and 437 total acres of campus, it’s easy to get lost and miss out on all that college has to offer. To counter this, I asked students to share with me their “hidden gems of UT.” Here’s what I found.
1. Museum of Dinosaurs
While many people associate UT with longhorns and albino squirrels, few know that campus is also home to intriguing creatures of prehistoric times. See for yourself at the Texas Memorial Museum, located on Trinity Street across from the Butler School of Music. There, you will meet an underwater Mosasaur, a giant armadillo, a 3-million-year-old zebra, and even a 40-foot wide flying Pterosaur. Admission is free with a student ID.
2. Secret Gym
By now, you’re probably familiar with the Rec Center and Gregory Gym, but did you know there is a third place to exercise on campus? “Belmont Gym” is a small weight room nestled on the 4th floor of the football stadium. Although compact, the space is fully stocked with dumbbell sets, treadmills, ellipticals, and everything you need for a solid workout. To get there, enter the stadium through “Belmont Hall” on San Jacinto Blvd. Take the elevators to the 4th floor, hang a right, and walk down a winding hall until you reach the entrance. According to one student, the gym stays clean, tidy, and best of all, no one knows about it but athletes.
3. Mural by McCombs
Looking for a unique photo op? See if you can find the giant yet discrete mural tucked away by the McCombs School of Business. It’s 120 feet long, 12 feet high, and showcases rich strokes of blue and orange that resemble a cloudy sunset sky. To get there, start at the entrance of McCombs on Speedway. Take a right and walk alongside the outside perimeter of the building, round the corner, and… walaa. Be sure to bring your camera, as the mural makes a great backdrop to a selfie or even professional headshot.
4. Riverside Study Spot
Good study spots are hard to come by. They need to be quiet, distraction-free, and carry some element of ambiance. Luckily, I have just the place, and not many know about it. Tucked behind the Alumni Center is a little coffee shop patio overlooking a creek. It has a few tables and stays unpopulated throughout the day. To get there:
- Head to the Etter – Harbin Alumni center located on San Jacinto Blvd.
- Take a left at the main entrance and weave past statues of horses. When you see the “Texas Expresso” sign, you’re there.
- Grab a shady spot and study to the pleasant backdrop of a trickling creek.
5. Silent Disco
With all the studying, you may be looking for a chance to let loose and have fun with others. One way to do this is by joining a “Silent Dance Party” hosted by Campus Events + Entertainment. At this event, you and your friends will be given a set of headphones, all playing the same pop tunes. Put them on, and join the party. Take them off, and find yourself surrounded by silence. The stark contrast makes for a funny and eventful night.
The parties are hosted at different locations and times throughout the year. Keep an eye on the calendar for the next one.
6. Tasty Burritos and Great Service
Hungry? Stop by “Burrito Factory” at the top of Dobie on 21st street. This shop has recently grown in popularity for its authentic Mexican-style food and friendly customer service. When you get there, ask for Juan, the head chef. There’s a good chance he’ll remember your order.
7. 5th Floor of the PCL
You may know of the PCL as the six-story library on speedway where students surround themselves with silence and solitary focus. But did you know that on one floor, students gather to do just the opposite? The 5th floor of the PCL, aka the “Collaborative Commons,” is a place for students to talk, study, and co-work without the confinement of being quiet. On any given day, you may find students sketching on the whiteboards, choreographing dance routines, or running through bookshelves in inflatable dinosaur costumes. While you may get in a productive study session, it’s more likely you’ll leave with a good tale to tell.
8. Domino the Cat
The last (and arguably cutest) hidden gem of UT goes to our feline friend “Domino.” Named for his furry black and white coat, this kitty can be spotted hanging around the FAC waiting for a pet. Many students seek his company when they’re having a rough day. His friendly, calm demeanor makes for a much-needed reminder to slow down and enjoy the everyday gems of college life.
Gems In Every Moment
So there you have it: 8 hidden gems of UT. While these are only a few of the many treasures buried in this university, I hope they serve as a starting place for anyone looking to venture out into campus this fall. As you go searching, remember that there are gems to be found in every moment. With a bit of attention and appreciation, you’ll soon find yourself with a whole trove of treasures. Happy hunting.