Travelers headed to Austin, the Live Music Capital of Texas, will want to make a quick jaunt across Lady Bird Lake to South Congress Avenue, or SoCo. This pedestrian-friendly strip is home to some of Austin’s most iconic experiences, like its murals and many places to eat and shop.

Quick Answer Guide: 14 Best Things to Do in SoCo

‌Top Things to Do in Austin’s South Congress‌

‌Best Things to Do During the Day on SoCo‌

‌Best Things to Do Outdoors on S. Congress Ave.‌

‌Best Things to Do at Night on S. Congress Ave.‌

‌Free Things to Do at S. Congress Ave.‌

Top Things to Do in Austin’s South Congress

You might be in town for one of the music festivals, like October’s Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park. The SXSW Festival is another big draw in March. Or maybe, you want to check out Austin’s vibe for a possible move. Whatever the reason, Austin is friendly, sunny and welcoming of all. South Congress is one of Austin's most popular shopping and cultural districts.

1. Walk Along South Congress Ave.

‌How to Get to S. Congress Ave.‌

From downtown hotels, there are several ways to get to SoCo. The most fun might be to snag a scooter from any street corner. Companies like Lime and Bird operate over 10,000 e-scooters around Austin. With a $1 to start and a downloaded app, it seems everyone in Austin uses scooters.

Ride-share is available in Austin and is another popular option, especially late since some streets are narrow and dark for scootering and walking. Remember, Texans love their vehicles. It is also possible to walk to S. Congress Ave. since it’s less than half a mile from downtown Austin. If you have a car for your trip, S. Congress Ave. offers free street parking and paid garages.

‌Things to Do in‌ ‌SoCo‌

Austin loves its arts and music scene; South Congress Ave. offers both. This area definitely earns its Keep Austin Weird vibe, the self-described motto of Austin. For music lovers, the Continental Club is one of Austin’s iconic music venues, so check out its line-up before arriving (tickets might be required). This is one of the Best Things to Do in South Congress.

Public art reigns across downtown Austin, though some of the best murals are located along S. Congress Ave. From the "I Love You So Much" mural to Austin’s Willie Nelson, travelers will have ample opportunity to wander and snap some pics. Austin is like your Grandma, so no one will leave hungry. From tacos to food trucks to brunch, SoCo offers a lot of eateries.

2. The Continental Club

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It is at 1315 South Congress Avenue. As the Live Capital Music of the World, visitors and locals are out and about checking out bands. The Continental Club opened in 1955, and top bands have graced its stage since. With live music seven days a week, The Continental Club aims to please with an eclectic line-up. Before heading to ATX, check out The Continental Club schedule. Some shows require tickets. And remember to tip your bartender.

3. "I Love You So Much" Mural

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Jo’s Coffee is at 1300 S. Congress Ave. The mural is on the side of the building, and there is often a line for pics. Obviously, you are here for the selfie op. It’s OK; even Austinites take pics in front of the green wall emblazoned with "I Love You So Much." This is one of the best things to Do in South Congress. The message was painted in 2010 by Amy Cook, after the local musician fought with then-girlfriend Liz Lambert, a local real estate developer. Do the right thing and buy a cup of coffee from Jo’s Coffee. It’s a locally owned coffee shop.

Best Things to Do During the Day on SoCo

Shopping along S. Congress Ave is epic. From cowboy boots to Austin’s own Kendra Scott to small boutiques, window shopping and people-watching is prime along S. Congress Ave.

4. Allen’s Boots

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  • Perfect For:‌ Yearning for boots
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  • If You Go:‌ Know good cowboy boots last a lifetime and have a price tag to match.

Allen’s Boots is at 1522 South Congress Ave. For Texans, cowboy boots are an iconic investment piece for both men and women. From weddings to rodeos to boardrooms, cowboy boots are welcome. Austinites are friendly, though; show up with cheap boots, and people will notice. If you yearn for a pair, head to Allen’s Boots for one of the largest selections. There, you will find everything from pointed toes to exotic leathers.

5. Kendra Scott

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  • Perfect For:‌ Gifts and statement jewelry
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  • If You Go:‌ Kendra Scott supports women and youth with the Kendra Scott Foundation.

Kendra Scott is at 1701 S. Congress Ave. From its statement necklaces to fine jewelry, Kendra Scott started her jewelry empire in Austin. Now, with locations across the U.S., Kendra Scott and her team are still creating its signature pieces in Austin.

6. Amy’s Ice Creams

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  • Perfect For:‌ Kids and ice cream lovers
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  • If You Go:‌ Grab a handful of napkins.

Amy’s Ice Creams has locations across Austin. The SoCo location is at 1301 S. Congress Ave. Obviously, you are in line for ice cream. That was the easy decision. This in one of the places to visit in South Congress. Amy’s Ice Cream features 350 flavors in rotation. Deciding might be the hard part. This Austin legend opened in 1984, and murals cover the SoCO location.

7. Big Top Candy Shop

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  • Perfect For:‌ Kids and the young at heart
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  • If You Go:‌ It has an old-fashioned soda fountain too!

The Big Top Candy Shop is at 1706 S. Congress Ave. This fanciful mainstay along SoCo sports a circus theme and is a big hit with the kids. Big Top Candy Shop opened in 2007 and today offers over 400 bulk candies and 3,000 wrapped candies, from nostalgic favorites to new creations from across the globe. Visitors will also find chocolate and fudge. Its soda fountain blends up drinks like Italian Cream Sodas. Big Top Candy Shop also serves ice cream.

Best Things to Do Outdoors on S. Congress Ave.

A patio along South Congress Ave. is the perfect way to experience Austin’s favorite things: eating and the outdoors. From tacos to seafood to brunch, Austinites love their outdoor dining.

8. Guero’s Taco Bar

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  • Perfect For:‌ Everyone
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  • If You Go:‌ There will be a wait most of the day. Happy Hour is 3 - 6 p.m.

Guero’s Taco Bar is at 1412 S. Congress Ave. Mexican food reigns at Guero’s Taco Bar. Head to the bar for a jalapeño margarita if you’re game or any of its dozen of signature margs. Start with some chile con queso or guacamole. All the Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites are on the menu, from tacos al pastor to tamales to enchiladas with a rainbow array of sauces. If you have room, finish off the experience with flan or tres leches cake.

9. Perla Seafood and Oyster Bar’s Outdoor Patio

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  • Perfect For:‌ Date nights and celebrating
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  • If You Go:‌ Reservations are a must.

Perla's Seafood and Oyster Bar is at 1400 S. Congress Ave. Two hours of free parking is available in the lot behind Perla’s; enter on W. Gibson. Perla's might have one of the prettiest patios in Austin, with its gracious oak trees overhead and patio lights after dark. This is the place for fresh seafood, flown in daily from the Atlantic, Pacific and the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Perla’s oyster offerings are impressive. The seafood selection includes local favorites like Gulf of Mexico red snapper and prawns; however, Alaskan halibut or Nova Scotia lobster are both available.

10. Brunch at Café no Sé

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Café no Sé is at 1603 S. Congress Ave. Café no Sé features a minimalist interior and serves French pastry shoppe–inspired baked goods and brunch favorites with international flavors. It features an extensive wine list, and the patio offers an ideal location for people-watching. Another top South Congress cafe for all-day breakfast is the Magnolia Cafe. Its buttermilk pancakes are legendary. Tex-Mex classics, like migas and breakfast tacos, are definitely high on the list of musts in South Congress. Another chic cafe option is Mañana.

Best Things to Do at Night on S. Congress Ave.

As visitors polish off their Tex Mex combo plates, it's time to find the live music-focused nightlife. The Continental Club is a must do in South Congress.

11. C-Boy’s Heart & Soul

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  • Perfect For:‌ 21+
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  • If You Go:‌ Check out its Jade Room upstairs, inspired by Japanese GI Bars.

C-Boy’s Heart & Soul is at 2008 S. Congress Ave. Often described as "the swankiest club on South Congress," C-Boy’s Heart & Soul is a juke joint with soul and R&B live on stage seven days a week. It also has a large patio with games. It’s a good idea to check out its calendar; it’s eclectic. Another option includes the Karaoke bar Ego’s, which turns on the mic at 8 p.m. nightly. It is at 510 S. Congress Ave.

12. Lucky Robot

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  • Perfect For:‌ Satisfying those Japanese cravings
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  • If You Go:‌ The dining room is small, so reservations are recommended.

Lucky Robot is at 1303 S. Congress Ave. Lucky Robot is the first sustainable sushi restaurant in Austin, and inside the colorful spot, the atmosphere is nice, with cherry blossoms hanging from the ceiling. I recommend starting with the brussels sprouts or the spicy edamame to liven up the taste buds. Then follow that with screaming fresh sashimi and inventive dumplings, or try the tasting menu for a host of new flavors. Another option, if you can snag a reservation, is the 12-seat Otoko, located in the South Congress Hotel, a swanky boutique hotel.

Free Things to Do at S. Congress Ave.

Window shopping and people watching are top activities in South Congress. Public art is another top free thing along S. Congress Ave. I recommend checking out some neon signs along the way, like the Insta Worthy Sign at The Austin Motel. Another one is the kicking redhead in front of Lucy’s Fried Chicken.

13. The Austin Motel

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The Austin Motel is at 1220 S. Congress Ave. Back in 1938, South Congress Ave was way out (so I’ve been told). The Austin Motel was a typical roadside motel of the era. Austin’s hospitality and design icon, Liz Lambert, bought the retro property in 2016 and polished it into a poppy boutique hotel. The MCM architecture elements are still there, like the kidney-shaped pool, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby, and the iconic neon sign out front. New plants fill the original brick planters, and the pool-side furniture has been replaced with midcentury reproductions. The interiors pop with a fiery color palette of cadmium red and orange with accents in barium chromate yellow (all colors from an artist’s palette). Another South Congress Hotel to walk by (or stay at!) is the ivy-covered Hotel San Jose.

14. Congress Avenue Bridge

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  • Perfect For:‌ Wildlife lovers and first-time visitors
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  • If You Go:‌ The bats leave their roost after sunset.

‌How to Get to‌ ‌Congress Avenue Bridge‌

Lady Bird Lake bisects Downtown Austin from South Austin. Several bridges cross the lake, including the S. Lamar Bridge, Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, S. First St. Bridge and the S. Congress Ave. Bridge.

‌Things to Do on the Congress Avenue Bridge‌

Bats! Central Texas is home to millions of Mexican free-tail bats. From caves to highway underpasses to bridges, visitors celebrate the swirling nighttime exodus of the bats. This is one of top activities in South Congress. In downtown, the best place to see one of Austin’s bat colonies is near the Congress Avenue Bridge. Visitors can on the bridge, along the shores of Lady Bird Lake and even on kayaks and SUP on the water. I recommend standing on the S. First St. Bridge to capture the bats and the Congress Ave. bridge.

Downtown Austin offers a vibrancy inspired by its young population paired with an authenticity that runs deep in Texas. The South Congress area is a testament to that as it blends foodie musts, eclectic shopping and iconic live music venues. Here’s a local tip: one of the best shots in Austin is from the center line of Congress Ave. to the Texas State Capitol on the other end.