On a sunny day, there’s no place like the SoCo district in Austin. Fabulous restaurants, funky vintage shops, chic boutiques, cool bars and live music. Always, live music. If you're wondering what to do and where to find the best restaurants, music venues and shops on South Congress Avenue, read our guide to the neighborhood and get to exploring.

patio on south congress at Perlas Seafood and oyster bar in austin texas
Perla's. Credit Casey Dunn.

DINING

Austin’s food scene is not for the faint of heart. Within the South Congress neighborhood, you’ll find culinary tourism at its most delicious. Start your morning right with ricotta hot cakes topped with bananas, maple syrup and pecan butter at Café No Sé. Or for a quick boost, grab a coffee or gourmet tea at Mañana. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the nearby Big Top Candy Shop, a store with more than 300 types of candy.

Home Slice Pizza: Thin crust pies, local beers and an order-by-the-slice window with a retro vibe keeps this joint jumping noon to late night.

HopdoddyBite into their big-as-life burgers and wash it down with a boozy shake.

Perla's Seafood & Oyster Bar: An eye-catching coastal patio setting ideal for people watching while shooting oysters. 

Jo's Hot Coffee Good Food: This free-standing bean scene offers breakfast tacos, pastries and caffeinated bombs like the Iced Turbo. Be sure to snap a selfie in front of the "I love you so much" mural.

Amy's Ice Creams: Get your licks at the famous walk-up stand with personality plus scoop masters. The Scoop: Order the Mexican Vanilla. Double Scoop: Mad for ice cream? Schedule a tour of the production facility to see how the magic happens.

live band and dancing in the gueros oak garden in austin texas
Guero's Oak Garden. Credit Andy Mahr.

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT

From historic blues clubs to record shops stacked with obscure vinyl, the rhythm of this road is gonna get you. Choose your own adventure by checking out calendars for both The Continental Club and C-Boy’s Heart & Soul. They’re owned by the same group and are located just down the street from one another, so between the two you’ll find everything from funk to bluegrass. From March to November, elbow your way into a spot on the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch as the world’s largest urban bat colony emerges from beneath. Get a different perspective by taking the Lone Star Riverboat Bat Cruise and catching the sight from Lady Bird Lake.

Ego’s: This basement dive bar is where karaoke legends are born.

Arlyn Studios: Top notch recording spot Arlyn Studios has featured A-list performers to the tune of Willie Nelson, Les Paul and Neil Young.

Hotel San Jose: Spend a tranquil night or just take a break with a Frosé on the patio.

Guero’s Oak Garden: On Wednesdays and weekends, head to the Oak Garden at Guero's Taco Bar for live Americana and blues.

First Thursdays on South Congress: Join the block party on the First Thursday of the month. Select stores are open late, restaurants are buzzing and live music pours out of every door. Don't miss First Thursday happenings at South Congress Hotel with local bands and DJs in the courtyard, drink specials, a photo booth and more.

Kendra Scott Flagship Store on south congress in austin texas
Kendra Scott flagship store. Credit Molly Culver.

SOUTH CONGRESS SHOPPING

Get your head-to-toe retail fix with every kind of shopping experience imaginable, from locally designed t-shirts and enamel pins at Parts & Labour to fair trade folk art and craft treasures from Tesoros Trading Company. Step inside the cozy little houses-turned-boutiques on SoCo to find locally designed jewelry and seasonal baked goods at the Kendra Scott flagship store or hot beverages, glasses, shoes and more down the road at TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee. As an added bonus, the store regularly hosts free events (yoga, movies, crafts, and even DJ school).

Allens Boots: The “sole” of Texas style is all about calf-kissing footwear. Visit this Austin landmark for more than 4,000 boots, plus cowboy hats, clothing and accessories.

Cove Boutique: Shop upscale, resort-inspired clothing and accessories in a travel-themed setting.

Yard Dog Art Gallery: Peruse contemporary folk art in a setting packed with quirky local talent. Famed local singer/songwriter Bob Schneider’s art frequently graces the walls.

Lucy in Disguise: Live your Halloween dreams at this costume shop with everything from Lady Gaga to Ghostbusters.

South Congress Hotel: Not just for chic slumbering, locals frequent the modern minimalist boutique hotel to partake in on-site features like Sunroom boutique, Revival Cycles, tenoverten nail salon and five spots to eat and drink, including the acclaimed Otoko

Looking for lodging in the South Congress neighborhood of Austin? Learn more about nearby hotels here.