One of the most frequent questions I receive in my volunteer job as a True Austin local is “What can I do with my teenager when we visit Austin?” Thankfully, I have a resident teen to ask. Her answers almost always include South Congress Avenue. And eating out.
This winter break, my nearly 15-year-old daughter planned an afternoon of Austin-y fun for her and I to enjoy together. She set the itinerary and I happily tagged along as her shopping and eating buddy.
Here is the route we took.
Stop 1 – BookPeople (603 N. Lamar) We have been huge fans of this independent bookstore since 2011, when my daughter spent a weekend there at the coolest camp ever. On this trip, we cashed in Christmas gift cards for new books, so our adventure was off to a great start!
Stop 2 – 24 Diner (600 N. Lamar) The wait for a table was 45 minutes, so we put in our name and headed next door to Waterloo Records.
Stop 3 – Waterloo Records (600A N. Lamar) This store is dangerous if you are a teen with holiday money burning a hole in your pocket. She loved everything: the vinyl, the record players, the t-shirts, the buttons!
Stop 4 – Back to 24 Diner (600 N. Lamar) Breakfast for lunch! 24 Diner serves breakfast 24 hours a day. And their coffee comes in giant mugs. Delicious. Wonderful. I wanted to go home and take a nap after enjoying such a filling meal, but we pressed on, to Congress Avenue!
Stops 5 & 6 – Prototype Vintage Design (1700 1/2 S. Congress) and New Bohemia (1606 S. Congress) South Congress is a great spot to shop for vintage clothing and accessories, my daughter’s favorites. If you love these too, check out the Vintage Around Town Guide for a map of Austin’s vintage and antique shops.
Stop 7 – Uncommon Objects (1512 S. Congress) If you only visit one shop in Austin, let this be the one! It is amazing. The Vintage Around Town Guide describes it best: “Vintage mecca, this enormous emporium of antique goods will delight anyone who likes old stuff. Your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids. Amazing curiosities arriving daily.”
Stop 8 – TOMS Roasting Co. Coffee (1401 S. Congress) This little house on SoCo is a cozy spot to enjoy a hot beverage. You can also shop for glasses and shoes inside. Plus, there are always plenty of free events to sign up for on the bulletin board (yoga, music for kids, movies, and storytimes). You can follow TOMS Austin on Instagram for event updates. Read more about this unique coffee shop here.
Stop 9 – 10,000 Villages (1317 S. Congress) This stop was for me. We were headed to the St. Vincent de Paul Vintage Boutique and Thrift Store (1327 S. Congress) but they were already closed for the day. I dragged my daughter in to 10,000 Villages to shop for fair trade gifts and chocolate instead.
Stop 10 – Home Slice Pizza (1415 S. Congress) We were still full from lunch, so we didn’t stop for delicious pizza this time, but we did take time to admire the murals adorning the outside walls of the restaurant. I can’t get enough of Austin’s street art.
Stop 11 – Hey, Cupcake! (1511 S. Congress) A hotel is being built on the site that used to house the food trailer park, but the Hey, Cupcake! trailer is still located nearby, on the corner of Congress Avenue and Elizabeth Street. Cupcakes equal happiness in my book, so it’s pretty easy to smile in front of the “Smile! even if you don’t want to” mural.
Stop 12 – “Before I die” wall (206 E. Elizabeth St at Brackenridge) I’ve been wanting to see this since learning about it, so we walked the two blocks east of the Hey, Cupcake! trailer. There were only tiny slivers of chalk left on the ground, but I managed to add my “Go to Africa” wish to the wall.
Stop 13 – Big Top Candy Shop (1706 S. Congress) Okay, this isn’t true. We didn’t stop at Big Top this time, but we should have. Let’s just pretend that we ended our outing at Big Top, because this old fashioned candy store and soda shop is one of my favorites. Other good options for wrapping up our afternoon would have been the South Congress Amy’s Ice Creams or Jo’s Coffee (where you can also take a photo by the “I Love You So Much” mural). But, like I said, my daughter was the boss of this day, and she wanted to go to Urban Outfitters. So, we headed to the 2ND Street District for a little more shopping and some hot chocolate from Austin Java.
Despite the cold, it was a pretty spectacular day. We had several hours of fun for the cost of lunch and hot drinks. I can’t wait to do it again soon!