Things to do in Austin – South Congress

South Congress is Austin in a nutshell. The stretch of boutiques, photo-ready murals, and array of eateries are all representations of our city’s persona. And because of all that, it is often the one place we must take any guests or visitors in need of the Austin experience.

And now, walking past Allen’s Boots, a street performer, and a chrome Airstream trailer fitted with a spinning cupcake on its roof, our guest Brynn Elliott Watkins (New York based stylist and blogger behind Being Elliott) is beginning to understand Austin too.

Follow along with us as we tour SoCo to visit old favorites and to discover the hidden secrets that’ll have you rediscovering the popular avenue all over again.

Big Top Candy Shop

1706 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Planning the perfect Austin itinerary for visitors can be a hectic analysis of likes and dislikes. Big Top Candy Shop is the must-have place on your list guaranteed to please everyone. This emporium has endless varieties of candy – sweet and savory, old and new, international and locally made. Big Top’s soda foundation offers nostalgic treats like egg cream sodas and malts.

Wasabi

Wasabi, a sushi restaurant staple, is one ingredient you wouldn’t expect to find behind the counter. As it turns out, it happens to make a killer shake when blended with vanilla ice cream. The wasabi milkshake is a secret menu item most visitors don’t know about, but ask the friendly counterpeople and they’ll whip one up for you.

Prototype Vintage

1700 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Founded in 2005 by Audrie San Miguel, Emily Larson, and Sarah Evans, Prototype Vintage is a trove of well-curated vintage wear for men and women. Carrying looks defined as “progressive designs from the past that define the modern style of today” – its the sort of place whose lookbook editorials are featured on Nylon.com.

Friends Of Sound Records

700 Fredericksburg Rd, San Antonio, TX 78201

Friends of Sound is a secret hideaway behind a secret hideway, a pleasant surprise accessed only by a back alley entrance around the corner from Prototype Vintage. The gentlemen behind Friends of Sound have amassed an impressive collection of classic vinyl that reaches into the more obscure corners of soul, funk, disco, country, and more. Records can be given a test run on their Technics turntables, and they consistently have a fresh selection to pick through.

Guero’s Taco Bar

1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Formerly a central seed and feed store, and congregation point for many south Austinites, Guero’s Taco Bar opened in 1995. With a dog-friendly patio, and live music in the evenings (Gary Clark Jr. plays at the famous venue in the film Chef), the taqueria continues to serve as a meeting place for locals and newcomers alike. Be sure to order up one of their 17 varieties of signature margaritas.

Austin City Lemons

1511 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

On a South Congress weekend when the sidewalk along Guero’s is thick with people and a band in their backyard is playing, one of the last things one might expect is to venture behind their back lot and find a giant lemon. Owner Grant Sanregret and his Austin City Lemons serves up the freshest lemonade and frozen lemonade in their giant lemon home behind Guero’s and Hopdoddy. They’ve only been in their current location since March, but the stand has already received a celebrity shoutout in People magazine from Sports Illustrated model Brooklyn Decker.

Continental Club

1315 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

The music scene that defines our city’s heritage is represented nightly at the Continental Club. Within the cool, dark red walls of the venue, nothing feels contrived or outdated – just classic. Grab a seat for the people watching, the country / rockabilly acts, and to take in a slice of 1960’s Americana.

The Continental Gallery

1313 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

On a South Congress weekend when the sidewalk along Guero’s is thick with people and a band in their backyard is playing, one of the last things one might expect is to venture behind their back lot and find a giant lemon. Owner Grant Sanregret and his Austin City Lemons serves up the freshest lemonade and frozen lemonade in their giant lemon home behind Guero’s and Hopdoddy. They’ve only been in their current location since March, but the stand has already received a celebrity shoutout in People magazine from Sports Illustrated model Brooklyn Decker.

Hey Cupcake

Hey Cupcake! was one of the first to pioneer the modern incarnation of food truck culture – both in Austin and around the country. Take a classic Airstream, put a giant cupcake on top, and provide a delicious cupcake with a smile. The folks behind Hey Cupcake created the magic formula, then whippersnappered it (aka the whipped cream they inject into the middle of your cupcake by request). This time of year make sure not to miss The Pumpkinator cupcake.

Before I Die…

206 E Elizabeth St, Austin, TX 78704

Behind Hey Cupcake, close to the intersection of Elizabeth and Brackenridge Street, is a giant chalkboard mural with three words printed in simple, bold block letters: Before I Die. As one might imagine, this open invitation elicits responses ranging from poignant (“I want to work on a clinical trial that cures Alzheimer’s”) to slightly obscene. Austin has a lot of famous murals, from the Jo’s Coffee “I love you so much” to Daniel Johnston’s friendly frog. This newest addition is a chance to be an active part of these urban artworks.

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