Attractions around Austin offer alternative spring break activities

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From right to left, Miss Rodeo Austin Style Show contestants Shanel Waggoner, Ashley Bergfield and Madison Ward walk up the stairs to pose for a photo at the Driskill Hotel Thursday night. The Austin Rodeo will run from March 9 through March 24 and can be an alternative event to South By Southwest.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Editors Note: The following is a collection of spring break activities for students who will be in Austin and don’t have SXSW plans.

Rodeo Austin
Since 1938, the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, known as Rodeo Austin, has brought the traditional rodeo experience to town with some unique twists in the spirit of Austin’s weirdness.

Along with featuring traditional rodeo events and exhibits such as cowboy music and horse riding, Rodeo Austin gives patrons the chance to participate in and witness unique rodeo-themed events. These include Swifty Swine Pig Races where guests watch pigs race around the “Pork Chops Down” International Speedway and Bullet Proof, a two-day event filled with “beverages, bands, BBQ and boot stompin”.

Many events are included with the admission fee and there are opportunities for people of all ages to participate. One unique aspect of the program is its status as a non-profit organization. According to the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo website, the organization provides scholarships to Texas youth annually, whose fund has grown considerably over the years. Today Rodeo Austin boasts an economic impact of $68 million annually and is proud to host the world’s fifth largest indoor regular season ProRodeo.

—David Maly

Enchanted Rock
Visitors disenchanted with SXSW festivities may want to fall under the spell of Enchanted Rock state park in the neighboring town of Fredericksburg, which is approximately an hour and a half drive from Austin.

People have been traveling to the area, one of the largest underground rock formations in the United States, for more than ten thousand years.

According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife website, the park got its name from a tale involving a Spanish conquistador and the local Tonkawa tribe. In the tale, the Native Americans believed the rock swallowed the conquistador and believed that he was magical. He denied their claims and said it was not him that was magical, but the rock.

Visitors to the park can enjoy many activities like backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, bird watching and star gazing.

Facilities at the park include picnic tables, grills, tent pads, showers and restrooms. The park is open seven days a week, although parking is limited based on the time of day.

—Jody Serrano

“Young Frankenstein”
The Long Center for the Performing Arts is hosting the Tony-nominated show “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein,” based on the 1974 film of the same name.

The show will take place Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 11 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. “Young Frankenstein” is adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel and follows the story of Frederick Frankenstein, grandson of the late Dr. Victor von Frankenstein, and his journey to Transylvania. The show includes music from award-winning composer Mel Brooks, who is known for shows such as “The Producers.” Ticket prices range from $29-$79, depending on seating level.

Mark Truett, spokesman for the Long Center, said people will enjoy the show if they are fans of Mel Brooks or Broadway in general.

“Most shows next week are going to be concerts,” Truett said. “This is a high-quality Broadway show that is available if concerts are not your thing.”

—Paxton Thomes

Free Beer Tuesdays
Every Tuesday, movie rental business I Luv Video provides film fanatics and beer drinkers with the opportunity to combine these two activities into one movie-browsing experience.

Every customer who is at least 21 years old is encouraged to enjoy Lone Star beer fresh from a keg. There are two I Luv Video locations located near campus. One is located on Guadalupe Street near 29th St., and the other is at Airport Blvd. and 49th St.

I Luv Video employee Andy Gately said Free Beer Tuesdays creates a fun social experience for everyone and is a great way for any movie lover to feel at home.

“You don’t even have to rent anything,” Gately said. “Everyone’s welcome to come hang out and check the store out.”

I Luv Video also provides customers with the opportunity to partake in CINESUNDAYS, which feature showings of movies selected by staff members. The showings take place every Sunday at the 29th Street Ballroom, located inside the Spider House Cafe. Gately said this gives movie fanatics another chance to socialize and enjoy themselves.

—David Leffler

Austin Zoo
Exciting renovations at the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary can provide students with a full afternoon of cheap fun and relaxation.

The zoo is a non-profit organization that seeks to help rehabilitate rescued animals, according to the Austin Zoo & Animal Sanctuary website. The zoo features nearly 350 animals located on about 15 acres of land, and recent construction has upgraded the exhibits. Last month the zoo had a dedication for its brand-new, climate-controlled Primate Palace, which houses twelve capuchin monkeys and one spider monkey, said executive director Patti Clark.

“They are really cool because there are so many neat things, like rope ladders and suspended platforms,” Clark said. “It looks like a lot of fun. I’ve been resisting the urge to play on them myself.”

Additional renovations include a new enclosure for the zoo’s two Russian red foxes Mikhail and Nikolai, as well as a new habitat for cougars Sierra and Aurora, Clark said.

Parking is free and a discount on admission is offered to both college and high school students. Outside food and beverages are allowed inside the zoo, Clark said.

—Hannah Jane DeCiutiis

Krause Springs
Anyone looking to get away from the city and spend some time relaxing in the natural environment camping, hiking, swimming, or picnicking might consider a day trip to Krause Springs or Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve.

Krause Springs is a privately-owned, well-known property that houses a swimming hole fed by 32 natural springs, located thirty miles from Austin in Spicewood.

“We’re a nice place to get out of the city, and just relax and chill,” said Krause Springs employee Terry Bruchard,
Bruchard said Krause Springs has plenty of room for primitive camping with a limited number of spaces for recreational vehicles. There are small grills available for picnicking.

“We do frown upon underage drinking and raucous wild parties, but other than that, it’s a great place to come and have fun,” Bruchard said.

—Megan Strickland

Printed on Friday, March 9, 2012 as: Austin offers more than just SXSW