Travel and Events

Come As You Are

David Dove is a trombone player, composer, improviser, and educator. Below, Dove improvises to "If The Price is Right" for DJ Screw.

Although this event is over, Blanton's Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s will be up for the rest of the semester. The exhibit features themes of identity politics, the Internet revolution, and globalization. So go check out some 90s art for free!

Lauren Svetlik, Chloe Gomez, Meagan Otten

Located on the south end of campus, the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin presents Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s. Drawing on inspiration from this exhibit, Blanton showcased SoundSpace: Music of the 1990s, featuring numerous post-minimalist works and improvisers from the acclaimed No Idea festival.

Did he actually play on that tiny pink piano? Yes he did. From toying with children's pianos to throwing cymbals, Austin composer and performer Graham Reynolds improvised 90's ambiance. Reynolds performs and creates music for film, television, theater, dance, rock clubs, and concert halls. He has even worked with Richard Linklater and Jack Black!

Why use a distortion pedal when you can spin disks over your guitar? Alex Keller takes distortion to a different level. Keller, below, is an audio artist, sound design, curator, and teacher.

Matt Steinke, below, has performed with his homemade robotic musical instrument across the states. In addition to these performances Steinke has had work featured in Rolling Stone.

Spring Break: ATX Style

The Spring Break hangover. You can barely focus during lectures and despite having to studying for those exams you have coming up, all you can think about is the fun you had throughout the past week. Instead of sulking in the overwhelming amount of piled responsibilities, it's never too early to start planning next year's Spring Break - or even summer festivities!

Have you considered spending your Spring Break here in Austin instead of going back home or traveling elsewhere? Sure, you can attend events and the music festivals at SXSW, but the idea of spending money on all of those admission tickets makes our wallets hurt. Although it almost seems impossible, there are definitely cheaper alternatives for having a fun Spring Break! 

Here are some of our favorite local Spring Break activities:

Lake Austin, a water reservoir on the Colorado River, is a popular boating and fishing destination. Gather up about ten of your friends or family members and try renting out a boat for $35 per person! A boat rental adventure will relax your mind from worries as you can enjoy the breeze and take a dip in the cooling waters. Just nearby, is the overlook of the Pennybacker Bridge on Loop 360, which is known as one of the most scenic spots in Austin. Have your selfie sticks or polaroid cameras ready for a Instagram-worthy photo!

Preparing your own meals and snacks beforehand instead of impulsively eating at expensive restaurants can also help to reduce costs. On a hot Austin day, compliment your vacation vibes with a refreshing DIY pineapple piña colada! Start off with buying pineapples ($2 each) and some piña mix ($4) at H-E-B. Make your drinks according to the instructions given by the the mix and then prepare the pineapples by carving out the tops and core. Pour your piña colada in your pineapples, and you are good to go!

If you are still would rather spend your Spring Break partying at a music festival than splashing water at Lake Austin, there are still plenty of opportunities out there for you! During the weeks before Spring Break, stay on top of your social media game. Keep track of free private parties that you can attend and plan your schedule accordingly. Waiting in line might be a pain, it will be totally worth it all in the end knowing you didn't even have to spend a dime!

Our Budget for A Spring Break in Austin:

  • Boat Rental: $35

  • Pineapple: $2

  • Piña mix: $4

  • Private SXSW parties: free

  • Spending a whole week having fun with your best friends or family without having to worry about school and life, in general? PRICELESS.

    Linette Montana, Kabir Karnani , Jeniffer Dang

Coffee Shops around Austin: Halcyon

When it comes to coffee, the city of Austin has no shortage of fabulous places to go to get your desired caffeine fix. Whether its for an afternoon pick-me-up or a late night study session, there is bound to be a coffee shop that fits your needs. Halcyon is one of these great coffee shops that stands out to us in particular as being a great spot to study or just hang out.

Nestled on the corner of 4th street and Lavaca, Halcyon makes for a quaint and cozy spot that is coffee shop by day and bar, lounge, AND coffee shop by night. They have something for everyone!

Now, down to the good stuff - coffee. They have excellent coffee as should be expected from any successful downtown coffee shop. They have exceptional mochas, pour overs, and their iced lattes are definitely above par. Even plain old black coffee is an awesome choice. They even serve their hot drinks in real mugs... REAL MUGS. The staff is very attentive and willing to make drink changes - a huge plus.

The food is also great. If you like "plain jane" food, there probably isn't much for you, unless you consider avocado toast a food group, like many city dwellers do. They have excellent choices that are unique such as their hawaiian sandwich with a special chipotle sauce or their elvis sandwiches.

The shop has an excellent atmosphere for working or just hanging out. They have many seating options, inside and out, which is perfect for all of your coffee shop needs. If you're looking to chill out and do some casual homework, or just socialize, there are small couches for you. If you're looking to get serious about your work or would just rather have a table to work at, they have tables with stools and chairs also. They play excellent music that provides the perfect environment for studying or just hanging out, with the perfect mix of old and new at a mellow volume.

Like every successful business, they have a memorable wow factor about them. For Halcyon it just happens to be their amazing s'mores. They are perfect for a late night treat or a study break snack. Having personal trays and mini fires is the perfect way to make sure everyone is in on the fun.

With something for everyone, it really is a great place to hang out with friends or to take a personal study break. Whether you're going for a bite to eat, or a quick caffeine fix, Halcyon is a great place to go and keep returning to.

Sydney Harklau, Marissa McKenna

Swap Till You Drop!

On the first Sunday of each month from 12-3pm, The Austin Clothes Exchange hosts a free clothing swap at HOPE Farmers Market. The Austin Clothes Exchange is Austin's first clothes swap meetup group. This organization focuses on saving money, helping the environment, and forming new friendships. This month, I attended the city-wide swap and swapped till I dropped with fellow fashion lovers! Everyone there was so different from one another, but we were all there for the same reasons: we had clothes piling up in our closets and we wanted to freshen up our wardrobes for free.

As a college student, I feel like it can sometimes be a bit difficult to find fun activities that aren't too costly, and I'm really glad to have found out about The Austin Clothes Exchange and the events that it puts on. 

Not only is the clothing swap an exciting way find hidden treasures by sorting through piles and racks of tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories, but it is also an awesome opportunity to connect with other Austinites--which is important to me because I feel like The University of Texas is a city in itself. Another neat thing that The Austin Clothes Exchange does is that they donate all of the clothes that gets left behind at the swaps to those in need. Not only is swapping clothes fun and exciting, it can also be philanthropic!

Aside from the clothing swap, the HOPE Farmers Market also has other free activities, live music, fresh food, and local art. At the plaza, people enjoyed a live band, participated in free yoga classes and hula hooping competitions, and were able to spend a quality afternoon with their friends, families, and pets. Bring your loved ones (or come alone) after brunch and enjoy a fun-filled afternoon swapping till you drop!

If you are interested in participating in next month's swap at HOPE Farmers Market (412 Comal St Austin, Texas 78702) or would like more information, visit Austin Clothing Exchange's Facebook page at:

Julissa Rodriguez, Hunter Tanem, Melody Zhang

Sights and Bites: The Seattle Scene

Even if you've never been to Seattle, you've probably heard of the Space Needle or Pike Place Market. But the sprawling city of Seattle has so much more to offer than these tourist-flooded attractions. This guide offers four unique locations to add to your Seattle bucket list.

Japanese Garden

Seattle is known for its Japanese influence. What better way to get the experience than a stroll through the Seattle Japanese Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum. It's regarded as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in the country and it's the perfect spot for a break from the Seattle city life. Be sure to plan your trip in the spring so you can enjoy the koi fish and cherry blossoms!

Gas Works Park

Almost any vantage point in Seattle comes with a great view; Gas Works Park is no exception. This area was previously a gas-production plant, but now it's home to the abandoned machinery, a large lawn, sloping hill, and an unforgettable view.

General Porpoise

Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean you have to settle for a hotel breakfast. From the delightful cream-filled, cinnamon sugar-coated doughnuts to the pink and white decor, this quaint doughnut shop is sure to put a smile on your face. Their menu includes flavors like chocolate marshmallow and kumquat marmalade, but our favorite is the simple vanilla custard.


If you're ready to spend some money, this French Vietnamese fusion is not to miss. Stateside, voted the 2015 restaurant of the year by the Seattle Met, offers a unique menu split by portion sizes. Be selective with what you order, though, because you'll want to save room for dessert (the cheesecake topped with lychee snow is to-die-for).

Caroline Rock, Christie Han, Veronica Boccardo

Outdoor Date Ideas in Austin

Concert at the Austin 360 Amphitheater

This outdoor concert venue is the perfect place to go for lovers of music. The venue, located at the Circuit of the Americas complex, has had some of the biggest names in music. With performances such as Kanye West, Jimmy Buffett, Mumford and Sons, and so on, this venue promises entertaining shows. This is the perfect spot to watch your favorite artists with that special someone and would be a unique and memorable experience!

Austin is filled with a variety of activities and fun locations to visit. To break away from the stereotypical "dinner and a movie" option, here are some fresh, active ideas for your next date.

Paddle Board Down Lady Bird Lake

Adjacent to Zilker Park, this is the perfect location to leisurely paddleboard on a nice day in the calm waters. With downtown also near by, this area provides a vivid and vibrant view of Austin's skyline. Apart from the view of downtown, you can witness various trees and wildlife, and is sure to make the perfect date.

Rodeo Austin

From March 12-26, you can visit Rodeo Austin located on Decker Lake Rd. The Rodeo offers live musical guests such as Josh Turner, Eli Young Band, Grouplove, and many more. You can also channel your inner Texan by watching barrel racing, bareback riding, bull riding, as the list goes on. Nothing ends the night at the rodeo like the fair's iconic rodeo ferris wheel and carnival games. Don't miss out on the most important part: the food! While fried oreos, cotton candy, and corndogs are essential for rodeo season, the festive food options are endless.

Take a Hike on Mt. Bonnell

Alongside Lake Austin, Mt. Bonnell provides the most breathtaking views. Climb the stair path to the peak of Mt. Bonnell at 775ft and enjoy Lake Austin's view of the downtown city. Perfect for sunrise, sunset, or anytime in between, Mt. Bonnell would be an out of the ordinary and adventurous date idea!

Caroline Bolano, Erika Najera

One Shall Find The Sweetest, Sweetest Peaches in the Valley Below 

The night is Tuesday, February 22, 2016. The venue is Parish, located on 6th and San Antonio in downtown Austin. Local band Duncan Fellows ushers in the night with a mellow yet intense set. Then, the scene grows foggy, the lights ignite once, and the crowd grows electrified. A cloak covers one, while suspenders adorn another. The drummer man is off to the left behind his set. A single, modified stand decorated elegantly holds two mics. Suddenly, with a burst of energy, the band breaks in a triumphant bellow to the tune "Stand Up." Upon the sound of the synthesizer and the drums, the lights illuminate the stage, and the group comes to life. The feeling is cold, yet warm; pure, yet sensual; dramatic, yet understated. The performance is an intense representation of simplistic dichotomies that coalesce into fine entertainment. Brooding with gothic energy and an astounding quality in presentation, In The Valley Below craft a performance that is not only sultry only enigmatic, but completely transfixing.

Albeit technical difficulties crept up and surprised the band in the beginning of the show, In The Valley Below commanded the stage and gave us, the audience, a powerful performance full of passion. Singer Angela Mattson, dressed in a prairie dress with a faint chevron pattern, commanded the synthesizers, theremin, her vocals, and sexuality. Jeffrey Mendel, dressed in a white button down, black slacks, suspenders, and decorated boots, annihilated the stage with his electric guitar and charged voice. Joshua Clair kept the intensity alive with his drumming skills. Mendel remained positioned centered, only to move back to shred his guitar when necessary during songs while Mattson glided about poised with mystery and intent. The delivery of "Stand Up" brought the crowd to their feet. Songs like "Neverminders," "Searching For A Devil," and "Last Soul" continued the energy. At one moment, singer Angela Mattson gazed into my eyes; it was truly monumental. Fan favorite and most popular, "Peaches," was played near the end of the set, which was sung by everyone in the crowd. A new song ended the night. Right as they left the stage, the crowd began to chant for another song, and the band came back to cover Pink Floyd's "Money."

All in all, the night was killer. Both the band and the venue forged an ambiance that seethed mystery from every corner of the room. The prairie chic vibe of the apparel juxtaposed to the indie rock vibes created an intriguing polarization. Their album, The Belt, released in 2013, is available for streaming on Spotify. I recommend a listen if you enjoy indie rock. 

Hunter Tanem, Chloe Gomez, Ethan Elkins

Treat Yo Self: Best Austin Dessert Spots

We're officially a month into the spring semester, and that means the workload is piling up for all of us. After countless hours of studying, you deserve to indulge a little. So, take a tip from Tom Haverford and "Treat Yo Self" to some of these iconic Austin eats.


It may technically be winter, but spring has sprung here in Austin. Cool off on these 80 degree days with a cone from Lick. Their unique range of flavors are all made with locally sourced ingredients from farms right here in Central Texas. They even offer dairy-free and vegan options. We tried the Grapefruit with Champagne Marshmallows, which was the perfect combination of sweet and tart.

TIP: Sample some of the stranger flavors first; you never know what you may like!


This popular spot on the drag specializes in art of crafting delicious ice cream sandwiches. You can choose from their menu or create your own combination. We tried the Mint Chip ice-cream on the Butter Sugar cookies, and can't wait to go back to test out some more delicious combinations. If you aren't a fan of the traditional ice cream sandwich on cookies, put your frozen dairy between a brownie or a belgian waffle.

TIP: Eat that sucker fast! (warm cookie + cold ice cream = lots of napkins!)

Voodoo Doughnut

Originating from the other "weird" city of Portland, Oregon, Voodoo Doughnut serves up some of the most creepy (and delicious) confectionary treats in town. The spot of 6th street is open 24 hours, so it's perfect for late night sugar cravings. These are not your typical Krispie Kreme, glazed doughnuts. Voodoo does doughnuts differently, topping their treats with things like cereal, crumbled candy bars, and even bacon. If you bring a pink to-go box back to your dorm, I guarantee you will become the most popular girl in your hall.

TIP: Bring your extra change! They only take cash.

Lauren Svetlik, Meagan Otten 

Top Date Restaurants in Austin

Attention foodies! Whether you're meeting someone new or looking to switch up date locations with your special guy or gal, college students are always seeking alternatives to the outdated "pizza-and-a-movie" fallback. That's why we hand-selected top dining options in the Austin area (from quirky cafes to award winning sushi restaurants) - perfect for your upcoming date. All of these selections have great reviews on Yelp and Zagat, but don't just take their word for it. Check out our top six picks for Austin date-worthy eateries.

First Date - Keep your first date relaxed with these casual coffee houses.

Cuvée Coffee Bar

This relaxed coffee joint is more than meets the eye. By day, Cuvée is a cool, streamlined cafe; at night it transforms into a casual bar with unique brews. So whether you're grabbing coffee before food truck-hopping in East Austin or ending a fun night with a drink, Cuvée Coffee is a versatile spot to incorporate into your date.

Caffé Medici

Students may be more familiar with Guad's slightly run-down Caffé Medici, but this downtown location offers a cleaner, more contemporary setting. Multiple seating options (including a loft and outdoor area) make this the perfect place to sit down and get to know your date a little better. Tack on this casual coffee joint to your date itinerary after catching a movie at Alamo Drafthouse or an afternoon on the water at Congress Avenue Kayaks.

Tenth Date - Don't skimp on the celebration - the tenth date is a big deal!


Put your chopsticks to good use at this chic Japanese restaurant. Voted TripAdvisor's fourth best restaurant in the U.S. in 2015, Uchi does not disappoint. With an extensive menu of fresh and refined food in an array of flavors like sushi, sashimi, tempura, miso soup, and artfully crafted desserts. Uchi's carefully prepared dishes leave you feeling satisfied but not overstuffed. The check might bruise your wallet, but since you made it to the tenth date, it's definitely worth it.


If you're looking for a romantic Italian restaurant, Carmelo's is perfect. With the dim lighting and beautiful table setup, it depicts a classy restaurant from a movie. Their wide-ranging menu includes seafood, pasta, steak and even vegan options. On top of that, their vast wine selection allows you to top off your meal with the perfect drink.

Whether you're looking for a no-fuss coffee spot, quaint brunch location, or a romantic candlelit dinner, you're sure to impress your date (and your tastebuds) with any of these six options.

Caroline Rock, Christie Han

Fifth Date - Kick it up a notch with these more exotic options.

Bun Belly

Bun Belly is a modern interpretation of contemporary Vietnamese and an innovative take on Asian fusion bar food. Share an order of bahn bao (including ice cream bao!) or select from a long list of dishes, spring rolls, or vegetarian options. The reasonable portions fill you up without compromising flavor. The dining area also features a small bar known for its beer and better. Tack on this casual coffee joint to your date itinerary after catching a movie at Alamo Drafthouse or an afternoon on the water at Congress Avenue Kayaks.

I Got Emotional Over Carly Rae Jepsen

She gave more than just E•MO•TION, she gave her all. Very few times have I ever felt myself entranced by an artist, and I am surprised to say that Carly Rae Jepsen more than cemented herself in my mind as a great performer and a genuinely profound artist.

The location was sublime; a small venue in downtown Austin, ACL Live, with more than enough room to dance. LA band, Fairground Saints, kicked off the night with a folk set. They were then followed by Cardiknox, an upbeat indie pop band that speaks to my inner partier. Both bands were a fantastic start to the night, and are now an instant add to my spotify music. Between sets, '80s bops would play. Her latest album, Emotion, released in August of last year, takes on simplistic structures that were paramount to '80s popular music and sounds reminiscent of typical '80s synthpop and house music. All in all, the venue and atmosphere produced one of my favorite performances ever

Many did not take Carly seriously as an artist after her substantial hit, "Call Me Maybe." When it was released, I can recall not taking her music seriously. When she dropped Emotion last year, I had changed my entire view. Highly underappreciated and under the radar, many pop masterpieces were released in this album, all of which she performed with my utter amazement. The set contained some of her older hits, but mainly comprised of Emotion. She began the night with "Run Away With Me," which is a high energy track that speaks to falling in love. She layered in songs, old and new, with high energy and passion. My favorite, "Your Type," was featured, which encompaeses falling in love with someone who will not love you back. She ended the night with her biggest hit, "Call Me Maybe," then wrapped up the set with "I Really Like You," in which she introduced the song with "I really, really, really, really, like you all."

CRJ made my heart swoon, my body dance, and my soul sing. Without a doubt, the concert exceeded my expectations. An astounding concert to go along with a marvelous album and an immaculate artist. Check out Emotion on spotify if you get a chance and enjoy pop music; it is one of the best albums released in 2015. 

Julissa Rodriguez, Hunter Tanem, Melody Zhang

Sweet Barks

Last Saturday, February 13th, Austin Pets Alive! hosted an adoption event, "Sweet Barks," at the Austin Beer Garden Brewery that came just in time fur Valentine's Day. Austin Pets Alive! is one of the leading no kill shelters, making it inevitable for some dogs to remain unadopted for several months or years. Those dogs are referred to as long-stays. The proceeds from the event benefited the organization's care for these pawticular dogs. Guests had the opportunity to enjoy pizza and beer, cookie decorating, and even had the option of taking home an adorable canine to be their valentine.

Though the focus of the event was to bring attention and support for the long stay dogs, the urge to include adoptions of precious little pups could not be resisted.

Within the first hour of the event, the majority of the young puppies were adopted! Needless to say, these babies knew how to work it!

The true show stopper of the event, however, was the kissing booth. During our visit to the event, a long-stay dog named Brock stole the hearts of my team. Brock is a Terrier/Pit Bull mix who is full of pawsitive energy and has been at the shelter for more than 900 days. Brock was a pro at the kissing booth where he posed like a champion and gave out some "besos for pesos."

For every pint of beer sold, the ABGB donated one dollar to APA!, making raising financial support for these furry friends as easy as woofing down a couple of beers. Sweet Barks also brought awareness to the amount of sweet dogs still waiting on being adopted by their valentine. <3

If this event hounded you up and got you into the animal-loving spirit, check out APA's web page to attend their upcoming events and to get information on their adoptable pets, like Brock!

Dhaval Shah, Danielle Dowell, Andy Medina

Taking a Bite Out of The Big Apple

Even though NYFW: F/W 2016 has already come to an end, there are still a lot of opportunities to visit New York City for upcoming fashion week events throughout the year. While attending fashion shows and going sightseeing are probably the first things you would like to scratch off of your bucket list, you can't ignore the fact that New York City is known as the food capital of the world. With what it seems to be like an endless variety of marketplaces, cafes, cocktail bars, and restaurants to choose from, it can be overwhelming to search for the best places to eat - while maintaining your travel budget at the same time. However, don't let this intimidate you or ruin your experience! Based off of recent travel experiences, here are some of our top eateries to hit up whenever you visit NYC:

Breakfast and Brunch: 

If you're looking for the perfect restaurant for breakfast or brunch, Jack's Wife Freda is definitely worth checking out. The lively bistro has a menu of American-Mediterranean cooking and classic cocktails, and is known for its simply modern atmosphere that you can't help but take a snap of.

Quick Bites:

Chelsea Market is noted as "one of the obligatory places to go to visit" by Yelp, serving a multifunctional purpose as an enclosed marketplace, shopping mall, and an office building. Chelsea Market is the perfect places to go for stroll, sampling cheeses, pastries, and coffee along the way.

Although the summer heat in New York is nothing compared to the humid temperatures we face in Texas, it doesn't hurt to buy a refreshingly cool snack or two. The cute and trendy Pop Bar serves an assortment of gelatos, sorbets, and yogurt popsicles that are NY1 News claims is the "city's tastiest cold sweets".

Lunch and Dinner:

When visiting NYC, it's almost mandatory to have Italian food - whether it be the classic kind or just simply pizza. NOMO SOHO, a hotel located a short distance from Little Italy, holds a contemporary Italian restaurant with a hip speakeasy vibe. Everything from the restaurant's magnificent menu to its upscale décor will make your experience there worth sharing on social media.

Late Night Dining and Drinks:

As the sunset fades behind the towering skyscrapers, the hustle of the city continues on even as night settles in. To capture the Manhattan nightlife from a subliminal angle, visit the 30th floor cocktail lounge named Skylark. High above the city, you can capture expansive panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Empire State Building, and Time Square.

If heights aren't your thing, stop by Beauty & Essex - a speakeasy style lounge and restaurant, hidden behind a vintage pawn shop. With its high class vibes, you can spend the night admiring its glamourous architecture (in the picture above, the walls are covered in fur) and the complimentary champagne in the ladies' room.

Linette Montana, Kabir Karnani , Jeniffer Dang