Top 10 Things To Do In South Congress, Austin
It may not have the sheer volume of, well… volumes that Austin’s similarly famous Book People hosts, but South Congress Books promises an intimate atmosphere where avid readers can find unique things to read. A local staple since 2011, South Congress Books boasts an impressive selection of first-edition books, bestowing them with a sense of nostalgia that can scarcely be found outside of your grandparents’ attic. Their inventory includes everything from classical literature to obscure philosophy, to bizarre conspiracy books. They also offer a selection of vintage posters and other artwork. The staff possesses a profound familiarity with their merchandise, and can help any curious customer find a special book to suit their taste.
Looking for gag gifts with a potentially lewd twist? Monkey See, Monkey Do has you covered, as long you’ve got a wicked sense of humor and a helping of ’80s and ’90s nostalgia. Although they primarily deal in toys aimed at adults, not all are inappropriate. Vintage action figures abound, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another store nearby that sells tin Star Wars lunchboxes from bygone decades. If toys aren’t your fancy, Monkey See, Monkey Do has plenty of other novelties, including quirky books, apparel, and magnets.
Pay Tribute To The Colorful Street Performers
Austin is well-known for its art and music, and many creative persons embrace alternative venues and audiences. South Congress offers a prime opportunity for amateur performers to showcase their unique talents. Musicians, dancers, mimes, living statues, and beat poets all comprise just a fraction of the talented individuals who regularly line the streets. Their presence helps to give South Congress a festive and lively atmosphere. Few will ever charge for a performance, but it’s courteous to throw a few dollars their way.
Browse Yard Dog Art Gallery
Originally limited to artwork from the southern United States, Yard Dog now presents a wide variety of pieces from artists across North America. Since 1995, Yard Dog has been the definitive place to purchase artwork on South Congress. Their collection includes items from Reg Mombassa, Jon Langford, and Camp Bosworth. They’re also constantly looking for new artists to add to the roster, and typically consider mailed-in submissions. Perusing the gallery is totally free, but buying anything can run quite an expense; many of their pieces cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Yard Dog Art Gallery, 1510 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 912 1613
Consistently rated as the best ice cream vendor in Austin, Amy’s Ice Creams dishes out hundreds of rotating flavors that keep patrons coming back for more. Beginning in 1984, Amy’s established a much more positive environment in the heart of the Texan metropolis than George Orwell could’ve predicted. Since its opening, this shop’s cold fever has swept the state and spread to Houston and San Antonio. The South Congress location is never lacking in customers, and a nice cone goes perfectly with a walk down the drag. Amy’s is often open late in the evening, usually closing around 11 p.m. or midnight.
If it’s too cold for ice cream, Big Top Candy Shop provides a menagerie of colorful treats. With over 2,000 brands of packaged candy and hundreds of varieties of bulk candy, the walls are practically lined with sweets. There’s also a service counter where customers can pick up specialized blends of shaved ice or other tasty, chocolate-coated concoctions. The general aesthetic of the store recalls classic circus imagery, and there are numerous candy-themed posters advertising strongmen, freaks, and the like.
Complementing its equally eclectic 6th Street counterpart, Museum of the Weird, this medieval structure in the middle of an otherwise trendy urban street will surely strike a chord with science-fiction and horror aficionados. At Sfanthor, visitors are welcome to browse a gallery of cult television and film icons cast in wax sculptures. Painstaking recreations of famous movie monsters dwell side-by-side with authentic arts and crafts from the likes of sci-fi giants such as H.R. Giger. For a nominal fee – $8.00 for adults – fans can witness these pieces in their imposing majesty and maybe take a bit of weirdness home from the gift shop. Since its opening in early 2015, Sfanthor has also acted as a one-stop shop for comics, action figures, and other nerdy memorabilia. Sfanthor offers free parking in its private lot, a phenomenon arguably more alien to South Congress than anything within the museum walls.
Grab A Bite At Home Slice Pizza
Few Austinites will contest the dominance of Home Slice when their weekly (or daily) pizza cravings kick in. If that isn’t evidence enough of its popularity, Home Slice actually occupies two adjacent store fronts – the first as their dine-in pizzeria, and the second, aptly titled ‘More Home Slice,’ as more of a take-out place. Both locations offer authentic New York-style pizzas, as well as calzones, salads, sandwiches, wines, cannolis, and cheesecakes. With its enormous pies (18 inches for large pizzas) and reasonable pricing, there’s no better place to grab dinner on South Congress.
Home Slice Pizza, 1415 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX, USA, + 1 512 444 7437
More Home Slice, 1421 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, +1 512 444 7437
Whether it’s Halloween or convention season, Lucy in Disguise remains the definitive costume store in Austin. With rooms upon rooms of dresses, wigs, props, and jewelry, you can assemble almost any outfit you want from Lucy’s stock – assuming they don’t already have it pre-made. They have costumes for every genre and time period: fantasy, pioneer, pirate, sci-fi, steampunk, western, adult, and more. Moreover, their employees are incredibly helpful and know exactly what you need to put the perfect touches on your costume. If you don’t plan on reusing your outfit, Lucy has a rental policy, and also provides special discounts for theatrical productions.
Austin’s reputation for graffiti artwork characterizes the city in a way that few other things do. Many of its most prolific murals line the brick and concrete canvases of South Congress. The ‘I love you so much’ mural on the side of Jo’s Coffee is the perfect backdrop for couples of all ages to photograph themselves against. A brief walk down the drag will reveal more murals. Some act as decorative advertisements for the store fronts; others stand out as quirky portraits of figures, such as Mr. Rogers. Regardless, these sites attract both tourists and residents alike, to take pictures and create lasting memories.