If you’re planning a trip to Austin, you’re almost certainly planning to visit the best shops on South Congress.
While you’ll find plenty of national brands like Yeti, Madewell, and Reformation on Austin’s beloved boulevard today, the unique South Congress boutiques and shops are what truly draw visitors and locals alike to South Congress–and every last one of these is within a short walk of the others, if not located right next door.
Here are the local icons that need to be on your South Congress shopping list!
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Parts and Labour
One of my personal favorite shops on South Congress, Parts and Labour feels like an upscale Texas souvenir store.
The goods tend to be Austin and/or Texas-themed, but rather than mass-produced magnets, Parts and Labour focuses on unique items from local artists.
If you’re in the market for something to remember your trip to Austin by, Parts and Labour is the place to go!
With over 400 pairs of boots on display, Allens Boots is an unmissable South Congress attraction whether you’re in the market for a pair of cowboy boots or not!
Its giant red boot statue and classic sign are also among the most recognizable places on South Congress Avenue.
Tesoros Trading Post
The unique folk art, curios, furniture, and beyond that you can find at Tesoros Trading Post hail from more than 20 countries around the world.
Whether you’re looking for a piece of jewelry from Bolivia, a carving from India, or pottery from Morocco, Tesoros has you covered.
South Congress Books
This beautiful used bookstore is an absolute delight from the moment you step into it: well-organized and charming, you never know what you’re going to find at South Congress Books!
Decades-old cookbooks, books by local authors, and well-cared for classics are just a few of the selections you’ll likely see on the shelves.
South Congress Books focuses on collectibles, so while prices are higher than what you might find at a typical used bookstore, the literary treasures on its shelves are also remarkable.
One of the most popular South Congress boutiques for women’s clothing, Maya Star is a must-shop for fashion lovers.
The inventory at Maya Star–pulled from a variety of carefully selected boutique labels and designers–is ever-changing, making this one of the best shops on South Congress to visit over and over again!
Big Top Candy Shop
Open the door to Big Top Candy Shop, and the smell of sugar hits you immediately.
Classic candies, sold by the piece or in larger quantities, call to mind a vintage candy store.
Add in a soda fountain and a circus-themed decor scheme, and you have all the makings of a South Congress store that brings out the kid in everyone.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Monkey See, Monkey Do is ostensibly a gift shop, but in reality, it’s a delightful collection of whimsy and kitsch, featuring vintage action figures, toys, vinyl, and more.
Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds
Austin’s most celebrated costume store since 1984, Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds consists of more than 8,000 square feet of explosive color and creativity.
If you’re in the market for a wig, costume makeup, a boa, gogo boots, masks (not the 2020 kind!), an outfit covered in rhinestones, or just about anything else that you could imagine wearing on Halloween, Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds has you covered.
Half the fun of visiting is simply wandering aimlessly–like several of the best shops on South Congress, the best part of the shopping experience is never knowing what you’re going to see next.
This colorful store–complete with metalwork statues out front (I’m partial to the armadillo statues you’ll often find there)–focuses on folk art and religious items from Mexico and Latin America.
However, you’ll also find everything from t-shirts to copies of loteria inside, and it’s worth taking the time to peruse the shelves!
Bonus: Uncommon Objects
Once upon a time, Uncommon Objects–a fascinating emporium specializing in antiques and truly bizarre oddities from around the world–was one of the most beloved shops on South Congress.
In 2017, however, the store moved a couple of miles away–but if you’re interested in bizarre, wonderful stores that draw your eye in 100 directions at once, Uncommon Objects is absolutely worth going out of your way for!