AVMA Convention 2024 Daily News Friday

Experience Austin to the fullest during AVMA Convention 2024

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Make the most of your AVMA Convention 2024 experience by partaking in the local sites and sounds that make Austin, Texas, such a great destination. The convention, taking place Friday through Tuesday, is located in the heart of the city at the Austin Convention Center. Here are 10 exciting attractions to experience while you’re in town.

  1. Congress Bridge Bats
    Behold, the Congress Bridge Bats, the largest urban bat colony in North America. From mid-March to early November, an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats emerge each evening from beneath the Congress Avenue bridge, filling the sky as they hunt for food. Check the sunset time in Austin, and plan on arriving 90 minutes before sundown to get a good spot. Watch the bats for free from the Congress Bridge— located just four blocks southwest of the Austin Convention Center—or areas that are part of the AVMA educational excursion on the southeast corner of the bridge and Lady Bird Lake. Learn more and sign up for the excursion during registration.
  2. Food truck parks
    Whether you’ve got a hankering for grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, pad thai or gyros, Austin probably has a food truck selling your favorite dish. The trend started around 2007 when Hey Cupcake! first opened in a refurbished Airstream. Now city officials estimate around 2,000 mobile food vendors operate in the city. Specifically, food-court trailer parks have become an Austin phenomenon in which multiple trailers cluster to create a dining destination. The Picnic (1720 Barton Springs Rd.) is Austin’s original food-truck park, located one block from the entrance to Zilker Park. It features several food vendors showcasing cuisines from barbeque to Tex-Mex to New Orleans style to Venezuelan and Brazilian. Just added this year are Whole Lotta Pie, a partnership between Austin’s Roppolo's Pizzeria and Chef Javi Maggiolo that is making New York style pizza, and Jim’s Smokehouse. Free parking and restrooms are onsite. The Picnic is open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
     

    Or you can experience a few food trucks for yourself during AVMA’s Food Festival Friday while at convention. It will take place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and offer a wide variety of Texas cuisine. While you're eating, enjoy music performed by local artists.

    Aerial view of Lake Austin from atop Mount Bonnell
    View from atop Mount Bonnell over Lake Austin (Photos courtesy of Visit Austin)
  3. Mount Bonnell Trail
    If scenic views are your thing—and you know they are—your visit to Austin must include a jaunt to the top of Mount Bonnell in Covert Park (3800 Mt Bonnell Rd.). Reaching a mere 781 feet, this “mountain,” named for Texas newspaper publisher George W. Bonnell, is reportedly the tallest point in Austin’s original city limits and provides a fantastic view of the city. The trail is free to hike and accessible for all ages. The trail isn’t paved, however, and there are steps to traverse. Also, please note there are no restrooms, water fountains, or other facilities along the trail, so plan accordingly. The trail is open from 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
  4. Elephant Room
    This iconic jazz club, located in a dimly lit basement of the historic Swift Building in downtown Austin (315 W. Congress Ave.), has been serving cold beers and playing live music since 1991. “We didn’t open a tourist trap, so don’t expect any of those trappings,” the room’s website states. “We open the door, we serve the people good drink and good music. If they don’t come, we shut the door.” Elephant Room has live music every night of the week. There’s no cover charge from 5-8 p.m. every night and then a $7 cover beginning at 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Performances begin around 9:30 p.m.
  5. Upstairs Circus
    Upstairs Circus (234 W. 2nd St.) is a workshop-meets-bar concept where folks gather to create leather, wood, or jewelry products. Attendees can design these do-it-yourself projects while sipping on various craft cocktails, mocktails, beer, or wine in a design-forward, lively bar environment. Reservations are required, so visit their calendar page to select a project social date and time that works for you or your group.  Happy hour lasts from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and bottomless mimosas are available on the weekends.
  6. Museums at the University of Texas at Austin
    You don’t have to be a Longhorn fan or wear burnt orange to enjoy the history and culture offered at these institutions. The Blanton Museum of Art (200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) holds the largest public collection in central Texas. It has an extensive collection of modern and contemporary American and Latin American art as well as Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Once inside, you are met with “Stacked Waters,” an ombre, blue permanent installation that surrounds the museum's staircase. And don’t forget to stop by Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin,” a 2,715-square-foot stone building with luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture, and 14 black-and-white marble panels.

    Just across from the Blanton is the Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 Congress Ave.). For history buffs of all ages, the Bullock is filled with interactive Texas history exhibits and is home to the city’s IMAX theater. Make sure to pass by the Lyndon B. Johnson Fountain on your way to the LBJ Presidential Library (2313 Red River St.). For those interested in political history, you won't want to miss this museum covering Johnson’s presidency, political career, and American history during his time in office.
     
    Exterior view of the Texas Capitol building
    Tour the Texas Capitol, one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitol buildings, and learn the many legends surrounding this historic site.
  7. Texas Capitol
    The Texas Capitol (1100 Congress Ave.) is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most distinguished state capitol buildings. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. And yes, it’s true: the Texas Capitol stands 14.64 feet taller than the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the building and the legends surrounding it—buried Confederate gold, anyone?—during a free tour. Guided tours are available periodically between 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m., on the weekends with the last tour departing at 3:30 p.m. Self-guided tours of the capitol and grounds are allowed daily.
  8. Eureka Room
    Do you enjoy laughing, ridiculous activities, and meeting other fun people? Do you want to “Keep Austin Weird,” as the saying goes? Well, it doesn’t get much weirder than the Eureka Room (3312 Randolph Rd.). It’s a “boutique immersive experience room filled with light, sound, and fun participatory absurdity,” according to its website. The space measures a cozy 100-square feet and requires a minimum of four people to participate. Video-led instruction guides participants through a series of short, fun activities that have folks interacting with each other in a low-key but high-energy way. There are no puzzles to solve, nothing scary happens, and don’t worry, there are no trust falls. Visit the Eureka Room website to make a reservation.
  9. Sixth Street
    This world-famous entertainment district in downtown Austin is known for its bars, dance clubs, and live music. It has evolved into four distinct areas defined by location and style. The nine-block strip of historic real estate of Old Sixth Street, known locally as “Dirty 6th,” encompasses Congress Avenue to the west and I-35 to the east. With bars such as The Chuggin’ Money and The Dizzy Rooster, it has an atmosphere that has been compared to New Orlean’s Bourbon Street. Or stand on any of the six corners that make up the Red River Cultural District—between Sixth and 10th Street—and you can hear all types of genres, from alt rock to electronic to Texas Swing.

    But there’s more to Sixth Street than the music and nightlife. West Sixth, which stretches from Congress Avenue west to Mopac, is an eclectic mix of outdoor patio ice-house type venues, fine dining, and art galleries. East Sixth Street runs east of I-35 and has a more laid-back vibe with its neighborhood bars, lots of outdoor spaces, craft breweries, and food trucks.
  10. Yeti Barrr
    The flagship store (220 S. Congress Ave.) of the Austin-based cooler company Yeti features a popular patio watering hole that specializes in cold beer and live music. Wine is also on the menu, along with Micheladas, nonalcoholic beverages, and snacks. The store offers an assortment of Yeti products, including coolers and mugs that can be personalized onsite. The store and bar are open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Dogs are allowed in the patio area and the bar is close enough to the Congress Street Bridge that visitors can hear the bats in the evening.

Alumni events, concert, and more happening at convention

Don’t forget to check out the special events happening at AVMA Convention 2024. These kick off with the AVMA Veterinary Career Center's annual Mix & Mingle, happening from 5-7 p.m. on Friday at the Austin Convention Center, as well as alumni receptions for various veterinary colleges starting at 7 p.m., at the Hilton Austin and other locations around Austin, Texas.

On Saturday, both the Technician Appreciation and Young Professionals events are happening from 6-7:30 p.m., at Bull & Bowl. The AVMA is taking over Austin's historic Sixth Street for a night of food, music, and games. Bull & Bowl features duckpin bowling, private karaoke rooms, arcade games, mechanical bull riding, and more. Then enjoy early access to Live Life, Love All, from 7-9 p.m. The event is all about celebrating the beautiful things that make us different and the profession that brings us together.

Finally, this year’s AVMA Concert headliner is Brothers Osborne. The Grammy award-winning country duo will perform from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Sunday at Stubbs BBQ. Known as one of country music’s freshest and most consistently adventurous bands, John and T.J. Osborne have been performing together their entire lives. The concert is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim.