There are plenty of ways to explore South Congress, but there’s only one perfect way to spend a day in this bustling, tourist-driven neighborhood. We've put together an itinerary for your ideal day spent shopping, eating and drinking on South Congress Avenue.
We wouldn’t blame you for snapping a photo at the I LOVE YOU SO MUCH mural at Jo’s Coffee—it gives us all the feels too. Beat the crowds by getting there early, then sip on the café’s famous Turbo (a sweet chocolate, hazelnut, coffee blend served over crushed ice) while you people-watch. Make your way over to Allens Boots, a Congress Avenue institution since 1977, where the smell of leather smacks you over the head as you walk through the door. Peruse the colorful aisles filled with custom-made boots that include bedazzled, low-heeled turquoise stunners. Then hit up brunch at June’s for the to-die-for pastries (hello, raspberry streusel cake), a killer fried-chicken sandwich and all the mimosas you can handle. There will definitely be crowds, so make a reservation stat.
Duck into South Congress Books, a treasure trove of literary delights that houses books like a framed copy of Hallucinogenic Plants (A Golden Guide) for $1,750. Then wander the aisles at Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, the pièce de résistance in the Austin costume scene. It’s a vibrant, 8,000-square-foot emporium packed wall to wall and floor to ceiling with everything your theatrical heart could desire. Aftewards, fuel up with New York–style pizza at Home Slice, either dining on pies, calzones or subs in the boisterous restaurant or grabbing a to-go slice (all hail the white pie with spinach, ricotta and mozzarella) from its window. Here on a Saturday? Stop by the SOCO Outdoor Market, where local artisans sell jewelry, furniture, soaps and everything in between.
Enjoy a predinner cocktail at Watertrade, a tucked-away bar next to Otoko at the South Congress Hotel where Japanese whiskeys abound. Then cross the street for dinner at Vespaio. Once a grocery store, the cozy restaurant now has a wood-fired oven, a wall of expertly curated wines and a standout pappardelle bolognese. Post up at one of Austin’s best live-music venues, the Continental Club, for the perfect way to end your day on South Congress. And if someone asks you to dance, you should probably say yes.