While cowboy boots and hats are often at the top of visitors’ Austin shopping lists, a little exploration will reveal a whole new world of possibilities. From vintage music to batty gifts, these local proprietors offer many creative ways to take a piece of Texas home with you.
Conveniently located on South Congress Avenue, Allens Boots is a warehouse-sized store with rows and rows of boots to choose from. Whether you’re in the market for classic brown boots or flashy pink ones, you’ll have tons of options in every price range. The staff is accustomed to helping newbies find a desirable style and just the right fit.
At Cavender’s, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with every type of cowboy hat imaginable. Most urban cowboys opt for straw hats or palm leaf hats because they’re lightweight and easy to care for. If your interest in dressing like a cowboy turns out to be fleeting, these hats are still excellent for providing portable shade, which will come in handy for yard work or any outdoor activity. Felt hats, on the other hand, are much fancier but require routine upkeep. Got an aspiring cowpoke in the family? Cavender’s also has a large supply of hats for the little ones.
In addition to being an excellent barbecue joint, Stubb’s is a major concert venue with indoor and outdoor stages. You can stop in for a meal, see a show and buy a few bottles of barbecue sauce to take home. The sauces range from sweet to spicy to Dr. Pepper, and all are inspired by the recipes of the late Christopher B. Stubblefield, who started the restaurant in the 1970s. From the beginning, the restaurant was a hangout for local musicians, and that tradition continues today.
Pinthouse Pizza is known for wildly eclectic pizza pies and hoppy beers. After you sample a few brews and find the one you like the most, you can get a 64-ounce growler of beer to go. The Electric Jellyfish IPA is one of the most popular in town, with hints of orange and lemon. In addition to several mainstays, the brewpub releases new beers on a regular basis. The mad-scientist brewers enjoy experimenting with exotic types of hops and yeasts to create all new flavors.
The rich, buttery caramel used in Lammes’s pralines is made using a top-secret 100-year-old family recipe. When combined with crunchy pecans, the result is an addictive treat that provides a taste and texture experience you won’t soon forget. The shop also offers a wide variety of house-made taffies, toffees and truffles. For special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, the store also sells chocolate-covered strawberries and grapes.
If you’re a University of Texas alumnus or just a Longhorn fan, you’ve probably got some worn-out attire that desperately needs to be replaced. You can refresh your supply of burnt-orange shirts and hats at the University Co-Op on Guadalupe Street (aka The Drag). More fanatical fans will also appreciate the store’s selection of Longhorn-themed ties, belts, suspenders, watches and necklaces.
After visiting Austin’s famous bat bridge and learning that the flying mammals devour 20,000 pounds of bugs per night, you may want to buy a bat house of your own. Available in two sizes, the houses can be installed on a pole or a building. If you’re worried about thousands of bats descending on your home, keep in mind that the boxes are only big enough to house a small bat family. The store also sells other bat-themed items, including Christmas tree ornaments, pillows, yard ornaments, T-shirts and socks.
Featuring paintings, prints and sculptures by up-and-coming artists, the Austin Art Garage was founded on the idea that art should be presented in a non-intimidating environment. Prices start as low as $40, so anyone can own an original piece of art by someone who might be the next Picasso. The inventory is ever-changing since the gallery receives new pieces from local artists every week.
If you’ve always wondered where you could buy an AC/DC Highway to Hell lunchbox or a Gene Simmons/KISS Christmas tree ornament, your search can finally end at Wild About Music. The store also has a selection of guitars, board games, socks, dinnerware and even a Stevie Ray Vaughan throw pillow.
Originally from Hungary, Csilla Somogyi launched her CsillaWear clothing line in 2007 and opened her Austin boutique in 2012. All of her dresses and tops are handmade at the shop, and she also sells artwork and jewelry made by local artisans.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for your glory days as high-score king at the video arcade, take a trip down memory lane at Game Over Austin. The store has both games and equipment for old-school games such as Galaga, Pac-Man and Asteroids. While working with outdated equipment can be a bit challenging, the staff knows a few tricks to help get you up and running at home.
A small record store with a remarkably eclectic selection, this is the kind of place you can stumble upon a true musical gem at a reasonable price. Make sure you check out the dollar bin for more hidden treasures. If you’re new (or new again) to vinyl records, you can even buy a turntable and speakers at the shop. There’s also a selection of vintage music posters, clothing and CDs.
This small bookstore on South Congress features vintage books, music posters, art and photography. Whether you’re a serious collector or just a nostalgic bookworm, the shop provides a welcoming environment for casual browsing. Don’t expect piles of old books, however. This is a highly selective collection of first-rate books in excellent condition. In fact, the staff views the books themselves as little pieces of art. There’s also a small stock of vinyl records. The store’s online counterpart Tornbooks offers a more extensive selection that can help you locate hard-to-find titles.
People all over Austin are putting up owl boxes to attract eastern screech owls, but the diminutive owls can nest in several other parts of the country too. This is one of the simplest hobbies imaginable. Just put up the box and wait. Owls generally start looking for homes as soon as the weather starts to get a little cool. Sometimes they’ll try out a box for a few days, leave for a while, and then return with a mate. If you’re lucky enough to attract a mating pair, you’ll have the wonderful payoff of a coupled of little fuzzballs popping up their little owl heads by early May. In addition to being fun to watch, the owls eat mice and rats.