Professors share their favorite summer spots in Austin

Anna McCreary

Believe it or not, even professors need breaks sometimes. Here are three professors’ takes on the  Austin summer scene.

Education psychology Professor Mary Claire Gerwels

Gerwels said most people don’t realize the largest bat colony in the area isn’t on the Congress Street bridge — it’s actually beneath the overpasses on I-35, a little north of Austin. She said she discovered it on accident one night when she was driving with her husband.

“People think if you want to see the bats, you have to go downtown, but you can actually go up there and sit in a parking lot and just watch them stream out,” Dr. Gerwels said. “This is much easier to get to — if you happen to be up north around dusk, you’ll see hundreds of thousands of them.”

As an alternative to Lake Austin’s busy trailways, Gerwels also recommends the paths that go through the Wells Branch neighborhood in northern Austin. The trail spans a total of six miles and wraps around Mills Pond, which is famous for its ducks and geese.

“It’s beautifully kept up, and it’s not crowded,” Gerwels said. “It’s a neighborhood that’s been there a long time —  there’s always something going on.”

Educational psychology Associate Professor Andrew Butler

The pool at Barton Springs is certainly no Austin secret, so there’s no excuse if you haven’t paid it a visit. Butler said his family moved to Austin from North Carolina, and the natural outdoor pool quickly became a family favorite when he took his son there.

“It was so cold, but he loved swimming and he was so excited about the pool that we were in there for way too long. I had to force him to get out, he was so excited and trembling,” Butler said. “You don’t see things like [Barton Springs] in very many places — so the idea of an outdoor pool that’s a natural spring and seems like a regular pool is pretty neat.”

English Associate Professor Mia Carter

When Texas heat is unbearable, Carter said catching a movie at the Paramount Theater’s summer series is a great way to escape the sun. The 100-year-old theater’s summer lineup features films including “The Graduate,” “Jaws,” “Mary Poppins” and “Gone With the Wind.”

“They have fantastic kinds of films going back to silent to contemporary classics all summer long,” Carter said. “My best memories are dragging my children to the Marx Brothers double feature.”