I'll admit it: touring colleges is one of my favorite activities. Weird? I think not! Visiting schools in new towns, cities, and states has opened my eyes and encouraged me to begin imagining what my future may look like. I am interested in not only the opportunities the schools themselves hold, but the opportunities the place in which the schools are located hold as well.

For this reason, I turn going on college visits into mini adventures. I research can't-miss landmarks, activities, and eats; I fully immerse myself in the culture surrounding the school. I understand the daily life of say, a Texas Longhorn, this way and take my understanding into consideration when deciding which schools to apply to.

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Zoe Malin

In February, my college-search adventure continued when my family and I moseyed down South to The University of Texas at Austin. To say I had high expectations for this trip is an understatement; I was jumping up and down as as the plane landed, ready to experience all things Austin.

After spending a week in Austin and falling in love, I truly believe everyone needs to visit once in their lifetime. Overwhelmingly abundant with things to do and places to see, taking Austin on without a game-plan may leave you guessing. However, my experience gave me a taste of everything and allowed me to explore the city to the fullest.

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Zoe Malin

Don't miss out on these Texan treasures sure to create an Austin adventure you will remember forever.

The Ann and Roy Butler Trail

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Zoe Malin

Waking up every morning and running along the Colorado River is definitely something I could get used to. The definition of an urban jungle, this trail takes you past towering skyscrapers and through an enchanting forest. In addition to running, dog-walking, and biking, people take full advantage of the trail being at the water's edge and kayak, paddle board, and fish. If you're lucky, you may even run into UT Austin's Crew Team practicing for their upcoming regatta! The Ann and Roy Butler Trial allows you to soak up the Austin sun and engage in heart heathy activities... what could be better?

Coffee Shop Craze

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Zoe Malin

Wherever you are in Austin, you are never far from an eclectic coffee shop. Each with their own specialty item or unique spin on a classic, take a break from your typical Starbucks order and try something new! I sipped on Halcyon's Thai Iced Coffee and Jo's Coffee's signature Iced Turbo; Jo's Coffee even had homemade gluten free pop-tarts! After a day of adventure seeking, these cafes are the perfect place to kick back, relax, and recharge. 

HOPE Outdoor Gallery

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Zoe Malin

HOPE Outdoor Gallery embodies so much of Austin's character; its freedom of expression, promotion of creativity, and free flowing atmosphere radiate off the walls... literally. A giant graffiti wall that deems everyone an artist, the HOPE Outdoor gallery is a blank campus for artists looking to spray-paint the night, individuals looking to make a statement, and tourists looking to explore a dream-like display of expressivity. The HOPE Outdoor Gallery is a breathtaking display of Austin's vibrant community and shows how much personality and heart the city holds.

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Zoe Malin

Make sure to bring sneakers to climb up the structure's various levels of beauty, a camera to take advantage of the incredible photo-ops, and a bottle of spray paint to make your mark

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Zoe Malin

Stroll Through South Congress

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Zoe Malin

If you need a break from skyscrapers and city streets, South Congress is the perfect getaway. This artsy neighborhood is full of up-and-comming artists and musicians who adore sharing their work. Street art and murals cover the sides of buildings and music is constantly being played which makes every corner even more exciting than the last. Known for its quaint shops and 5-star restaurants, wondering around Soco will keep you busy for hours.

Check out Magnolia Cafe for a 24-hour diner-dining experience and Allen's Boots to pick up a pair of extra-special cowboy kicks.

Restaurant Hot-Spots

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Zoe Malin

Despite being deeply rooted in barbecue and tex-mex cuisine, Austin's food scene couldn't be more diverse. Whether you are craving tacos from a Mexican fiesta, the best sushi in the Lone Star State, classic American fare, or donuts like no other, Austin has it all. Every restaurant has an ambiance as unique as its menu, making dining a memorable experience.

Check out these restaurants I can't stop raving about:

1. Wild Wood Bakehouse

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Zoe Malin

Serving hot meals inspired by traditional home cooking, lighter dishes like sandwiches and salads, and top-notch pastries, deserts and breads, Austin's only 100% gluten free kitchen covers all of its bases. Mac and cheese? Whether dining-in, taking-out, or just stopping by for a slice of Chocolate Dream Cake drizzled with ganache, Wild Wood Bakehouse is a gluten free eater's dream to be enjoyed by all. 

2. La Condesa  

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Zoe Malin

La Condesa has all the ingredients necessary to throw the perfect fiesta... and they do so night after night. This top-rated restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating is famous for their small-plates, which bring an Austin twist to classic Mexican dishes. I recommend the guacamole tasting, shrimp avocado ceviche, and Mexican-style street corn; these dishes simply couldn't be more "muy delicioso."

1. Searsucker

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Zoe Malin

With locations in Del Mar, San Diego, Las Vegas, (and of course) Austin, Seersucker is a household name across the West Coast. A laid-back yet sophisticated atmosphere emphasizes the eatery's goal of making dining an enriching social experience enhanced by mouth-watering dishes. Food for fish-lovers, meat-eaters, veggie-heads and everyone in between, Seersucker cooks up a memorable meal and an even more memorable night-out. 

UT Austin Tour

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Of course my trip to Austin wouldn't have been complete without touring UT Austin's stunning campus. Initially worried that a student body of 55,000 would overwhelm me, the minute I stepped on campus my doubts were erased.  Each different school and college ranks top amongst others in the United States and provides students with endless travel abroad, hands on research, and internship opportunities. Its numerous student organizations and special events make UT Austin a community in every way and creates a home for everyone. Driven by intense school spirit, Longhorn pride energizes students who bleed orange years after they graduate. "Hook em' horns" becoming a way of life, everything the city of Austin has to offer is amplified by UT's epic college experience.

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Zoe Malin