Austin’s South Congress (aka SoCo) district comprises a slew of hip, funky restaurants and boutiques along South Congress Avenue south of the Congress Avenue Bridge. Stroll down the main drag, people-watch and window-shop, and marvel at the retro neon signs including the Austin Motel and Jo’s Coffee (home of the iconic “I love you so much” mural).
There’s a whole lot of Austin culture and character packed into this little drag. Let your appetite guide you to a meal, snack, coffee, beer, or cocktail on the patio while you explore this eclectic enclave. Lucky Robot, Amy’s Ice Cream, Home Slice Pizza, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar are among local faves. Grab a unique souvenir from Heritage Boot or Allens Boots, or browse for something special at Tesoros Trading Company.
Things to Know Before You Go
- South Congress is a must for every first-time visitor to Austin, and is ideal for couples and shoppers; younger kids may not find it very exciting.
- Restaurant patios here and throughout Austin tend to be very dog-friendly.
- The boutique hotels here, such as Hotel San José and Hotel Saint Cecilia, offer unique accommodations within a short walk of restaurants and shops.
- Lots of SoCo establishments offer WiFi.
How to Get There
Southern Congress is bordered by Oltorf Street to the south and Lady Bird Lake to the north. Street parking is generally available, except during particularly busy times. Pedicabs and city bike rentals are available throughout town, and CapMetro runs buses that stop regularly in the district.
When to Get There
Most SoCo shops open 10am or 11am. Visiting close to or after sunset is a great time to see the neon lights (and the bats; see below). Spring and fall typically bring great weather, but be aware of oppressive crowds during popular festivals such as South by Southwest (March) and Austin City Limits (October).
The Congress Avenue Bridge, at the northern border of SoCo, is home to the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in the world. At sunset most nights from March to November, people gather above and below the bridge, as well as on the water, eager for a peek at the swarms of bats emerging for their evening meal.