The San Jose Hotel
See the Sights Along Austin's Broadest Avenue
South Congress is one of the most unique and artistic neighborhoods in Austin. With funky boutiques, artist markets, delicious restaurants and live music, the area has plenty to explore, and most of it is within walking distance.
The San Jose Hotel is a chic and modern hotel situated in the heart of South Congress. Its minimalist, Zen-like design makes it a popular spot for a hip getaway, especially for celebrities. Some locals even go there for staycations. But you don't have to stay there to enjoy the unique hotel; you can go to San Jose's bar for happy hour and sit out by the pool. The hotel offers unique amenities--you can even rent a vintage typewriter or an iPod pre-loaded with music!
The Continental Club
The Continental Club is a staple of South Congress Avenue and is without a doubt one of the best live music clubs in Austin. This live music venue was opened as a private supper club in the 1950s and it underwent many changes throughout the years (in the '60s, it became a burlesque club!). In the 1980s, a new owner restored it to its original 1950s look. The club features many Austin artists. The Continental Club is best known for rockabilly, country, swing and retro roots music, though it offers a little bit of everything.
Jo's Coffee Shop
Jo's Coffee Shop is a popular stop on South Congress Avenue for a caffeine fix. If you're in a hurry, you can walk up to the bright green counter and go, but if you're in the mood to read or relax (or even do work--they have free wi-fi), you can sit under the shaded patio. The patio has bar stools that overlook Congress Avenue, making it a prime spot for people watching. Jo's also serves cold beer and sandwiches.
View of the Capitol
When strolling along South Congress Avenue, it's easy to get caught up in all the colorful stores and attractions on the street itself. But make sure to take a moment and stop and look north toward downtown! You will have a perfect view of the Texas Capitol building and a great view of the downtown Austin skyline.
Guero's Taco Bar
If you love Mexican food, be sure to stop at Guero's Taco Bar on South Congress Avenue. The large restaurant sits in a historic, century-old building and features hand-shaken margaritas. You can eat the interior Mexican food in an enclosed patio, private garden, inside the main restaurant or in the outdoor patio along the sidewalk that overlooks the hubub of South Congress. Quentin Tarantino's movie "Death Proof" featured a long scene filmed at Guero's. Not in the mood for Mexican? There are plenty of other great places to dine on SoCo.
South Congress is full of unique boutiques. Blackmail is unusual in that it only offers black merchandise. There is clothing for men, women, kids and even pets. They also sell some housewares and knickknacks. If you are looking for the perfect little black dress, this is the place to go! It is located in the oldest commercial building on South Congress and is independently owned and operated.
Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds
Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds is hard to miss when traveling along South Congress Avenue. With its colorful sign full of celebrities and icons in addition to the dancing zebra statue on the roof, this costume shop is the go-to place for Halloween and other themed events that require over-the-top dress. You can buy costumes, but you can also save money by renting instead (do you really need a Count Dracula costume or royal ballgown year-round?). Lucy in Disguise also sells vintage clothing. Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds is part of what makes South Congress Avenue such a fun and quirky place. Remember, Austin has many other vintage clothing stores!
Hey Cupake! and other food trailers
In the 1600 block of South Congress Avenue, you can find a cluster of food trailers occupying the front row of a large parking lot. While the area is now a full outdoor eateries offering everything from flavored popcorn to fried chicken served in a cone, Hey Cupcake! was the first trailer there and started the craze. The shop sits in a vintage airstream trailer and features a large cupcake statue on top. They offer a sinful menu of fresh cupcakes, all of which come with a free injection of whipped cream, if you desire. There is an outdoor seating area for Hey Cupcake! and the other trailers, making it a great place for a casual outdoor meal or snack (and perfect if you're with a group who can't agree on what type of food to get).
This funky motel is located just seconds from the San Jose Hotel, but offers rooms at around half the price. Sure, it isn't nearly as swanky, but it is a great spot for visitors who want to be within walking distance of all South Congress Avenue has to offer. The motel has been family owned and operated since 1938 and features 41 rooms and a '50s-style pool. The rooms are all unique and decorated with a variety of ever-changing murals, antiques and bright colors. The motel's front sign says, "So close yet so far out." It's the place to stay if you're looking for the authentic Austin experience!
South Congress Artists' Market
On First Thursday and on most weekend afternoons, artists' markets are set up in clusters of tents along South Congress Avenue. One of the main markets is located next to the restaurant Vespaio. There are other groups of tents a bit further north, near Cissi's Market. Sometimes tents are set up on the opposite side of the street, as well, though they are all within walking distance of each other. In these markets you can find hand-made jewelry, paintings, clothing, sculptures and all other forms of local arts and crafts.
Edited by Robert Macias