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Shopping on South Congress Avenue in Austin

Food trailers abound on South Congress Avenue in Austin
Food trailers abound on South Congress Avenue in Austin
Beverly Burmeier

One of the most fun hangouts for the hip crowd in Austin is South Congress, affectionately called SoCo by those who frequent the strip between the 1100 and 1700 blocks. This colorful stretch of Congress Avenue, located south of Lady Bird Lake, is lined with funky storefronts featuring unique and slightly kooky items, plus vintage shops where today’s young adults recreate fashion styles of previous generations. If shopping is your thing, don’t miss this six-block district, It’s also a must-see for visitors who appreciate the “Keep Austin Weird” (unofficial) city motto.

The area has gained national recognition for its eclectic shops, restaurants, artistic venues, and food trucks serving everything from down-home barbeque and tacos to gourmet fare and cupcakes. In addition to unusual shopping opportunities, locals and visitors both love sighting the Texas Capitol Building further down the street.

Need a portrait of Geronimo? Search Cream Vintage. Cowboy boots? Try Allen’s Boots, a South Austin landmark since 1977 or Heritage Boots, where you’ll get individually hand-made footwear.

Like to dress in black? Head south to Blackmail. Or brighten up at The Turquoise Door. Stores like Off the Wall, New Bohemia, and Uncommon Objects make a great nostalgia trip for any age—and you might find a vintage piece of jewelry, shawl, or handbag just like grandma owned.

Creative types will enjoy shopping at Austin Art Glass, Yard Dog Gallery, and Mi Casa (aisles filled with Mexican folk art). Find a crazy costume or wig at Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, or browse Maya Star, a fabulous boutique featuring jewelry, clothing, and gift items made by independent artists.

Getting hungry? Locals love the variety of food trucks located in the South Congress area, and the moderate Texas climate allows for outdoor dining almost year round. But if you don’t care to dine on the go, check out popular eateries like Home Slice Pizza, Guero’s Taco Bar, Fran’s Hamburgers, or the renowned Magnolia Café, all well-established favorites.

Plan to be in town for First Thursday, a family-friendly event in which So Co shops, restaurants, and galleries stay open until 10:00 p.m. or later. Look for special sales and free drinks. And, of course, being Austin there’s live music. It’s like a big block party that attracts locals as well as visitors. SoCo is easily walkable, so take your time strolling and window shopping while soaking up Austin’s unique vibe.

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