South Congress

This central Austin neighborhood is one that showcases how diverse Austin can be. Stroll along here for cool cafés, bars, and shops.

Sitting south of the Colorado River and Lady Bird Lake in Austin is the hip neighborhood of South Congress. This is a colorful, thriving community of independent stores, live music venues, musicians, and artists.

Running from east of Town Lake Metro Park all the way to the Interstate 35, South Congress is a wonderfully walkable microcosm of Austin itself. The whole area is retro heaven, with brightly colored one-story stores to ’50s-style motels. You could spend days exploring the crafts, coffee, and cool food places. Shop for a mid-century lamp, an ’80s taffeta prom dress, or a new tattoo. Want to sit and people watch? This is the place to do it.

The main artery of the area is South Congress Avenue, along which you will find low and slow barbecue joints, backyard music venues, outdoor bars, trendy art galleries, and coffee emporiums. The wide, gently sloping avenue gives you the best view of the Texas Capitol building across town. Once you’ve taken the obligatory photo of the Capitol, seek out the iconic buildings right on South Congress Avenue, such as the Continental Club; it’s been the place to hit after dark since 1955.

Off the avenue, there is still a lot to explore. Stay on foot if you can – you might work off some of the calories you ingest from the offerings of the 1,500 food trucks that call this city home. A large proportion of them do the South Congress circuit, serving up everything from tacos to burgers to every deep-fried hybrid you can possibly imagine. While you’re hunting down the food trucks, don’t miss the area’s amazing street art. Austin is a huge outdoor canvas with murals changing weekly; the best works are often discovered when you’re just wandering.

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