South Congress (SoCo), Austin: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Looking for the perfect place to shop until you drop in Austin, Texas? Make your way to South Congress, or SoCo, for the finest shopping, dining, and nightlife in town! Nestled on the south side of Lady Bird Lake, this vibrant neighborhood is known for its hip and funky vibe.

Home to colorful buildings, street art, and an array of quirky boutiques, Austin’s South Congress district is a haven for artists, musicians, and creatives. Experience SoCo’s vibrant energy at its peak every first Thursday of the month when South Congress Avenue transforms into a lively street fair with art vendors, food stalls, and live music.

The entertainment scene in SoCo is off the charts. Catch a show at the legendary Continental Club or soak in the local vibes at Guero’s Taco Bar, where talented musicians often take the stage. The nightlife here is buzzing, with bars, pubs, and cocktail lounges serving delicious drinks and live entertainment.

South Congress is also a shopaholic’s paradise with independent boutiques, vintage stores, and antique shops bursting with treasures.

Eager to hit SoCo to explore? Plan your itinerary with this complete guide for what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in South Congress (SoCo), Austin.

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What to see & do in South Congress (SoCo)

Continental Club

Dive into the heart and soul of Austin’s music scene at the legendary Continental Club. If you’re a music lover, this iconic venue in SoCo is a must-visit! This historic institution has showcased live music since 1955 and still exudes the same electric energy.

From rock ‘n’ roll to country, blues, and everything in between, the Continental Club offers a diverse range of performances that cater to every musical taste. Soak up the club’s intimate atmosphere and vintage vibe as you watch an incredible lineup of talented musicians take the stage.

Continental Club

Whether you’re into foot-stomping beats, soulful melodies, or mind-blowing guitar solos, the Continental Club delivers it all. The club’s rich history adds to its allure. Many famous musicians have graced the Continental Club’s stage, and it’s a place where music history and the vibrant Austin music scene converge.

The Continental Club isn’t just limited to its main stage. Be sure to check out the Continental Gallery, a cozy listening room adjacent to the main club, where you can enjoy more intimate performances and acoustic sets. It’s the perfect spot for a laid-back evening of live music and great company in South Congress.

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge

Spanning across Lady Bird Lake between Downtown Austin and SoCo, the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is one of Austin’s must-see attractions. Sure, it’s a beautiful example of modern bridge architecture, but this is no ordinary bridge—it’s home to North America’s largest urban bat colony!

Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in June

When the bat colony emerges around sunset from March to November, something truly extraordinary happens: Over a million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from underneath the bridge, creating a mesmerizing sight as they take to the skies for their evening meal.

The bat emergence, often called the ‘bat bridge spectacle,’ is a fascinating natural phenomenon that shouldn’t be missed! Head to Congress Avenue Bridge as dusk approaches and end your day in Austin watching the bats begin their nightly flight, forming a swirling cloud of wings overhead. The sight and sound of a million bats in flight is nothing short of awe-inspiring!

Allens Boots

Embrace the spirit of the Wild West and find the perfect pair of cowboy boots at Allens Boots. Located on South Congress Avenue in the heart of the neighborhood Allens Boots is a legendary destination for anyone seeking authentic Western footwear and accessories.

Allens Boots

From classic, traditional styles to more contemporary and fashion-forward designs, there’s a boot for you at Allens Boots. Snag a rugged and durable pair for a day on the ranch or a stylish and eye-catching pair to make a statement. Go for iconic Western brands like Lucchese, Tony Lama, and Justin or up-and-coming bootmakers pushing Western fashion’s boundaries.

And Allens Boots isn’t just about boots—it’s a treasure trove of Western accessories, too. From stylish hats and belt buckles to intricately crafted leather belts and handbags, you’ll find everything you need to complete your Western look.

Where to eat & drink

Centered around South Congress Avenue, SoCo teems with fantastic restaurants & bars that are among the most popular places to eat & drink in Austin.

Need a caffeine fix or a quick bite? Jo’s Café is SoCo’s go-to for fantastic coffee and fresh pastries to start your morning. Known for its delicious coffee and mouthwatering breakfast tacos, it’s a perfect spot to fuel up for a day of exploring Austin.

For a modern twist on Mediterranean cuisine, head to Aba Austin. Inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean coast, the menu features everything from hummus and spreads to fresh seafood and grilled meats. Pair the delicious food with expertly crafted cocktails that combine classic and innovative flavors or wines from the Mediterranean region and beyond. Book a table on the rooftop patio for a sunny brunch or an evening cocktail with friends.

Feeling like freshly shucked oysters and sea-smackingly fresh seafood? Then Perla’s is the place to be! Tuck into various seafood delights, from oysters on the half shell to seafood towers, grilled fish, to lobster rolls. Pair your dishes with an impressive selection of handcrafted cocktails and a thoughtfully curated wine list to enhance your dining experience.

Restaurant in South Congress

Take a culinary journey to the shores of the Mediterranean at June’s. Drawing inspiration from the cafés of Paris, the tapas bars of Spain, and New York’s hippest bars, this laid-back, sophisticated café and wine bar is a great spot for late breakfast, brunch, and all-day bites. Tuck into classics like Croque Madame, Steak Tartare and Frites, and Steak au Poivre complemented by unique bottles and classic cocktails.

Looking for something more laid-back? Head to the 04 Lounge, a no-frills neighborhood spot decorated with flea market finds. Order a strong drink, choose your favorite tune on the jukebox, and challenge one of the tattooed locals to a game of pool.

Have a hankering for authentic Mexican food? You can’t go wrong with Güero’s Oak Garden. Located in the old Austin Seed & Feed building, Güero’s promises an evening like no other with plates of classic Mexican fare and hand-shaken margaritas. Order heaving plates of tamales, tostadas, and tacos, and kick back to live music as the mezcal and tequila shots make the rounds.

Where to stay

Although there’s a more limited accommodation selection in SoCo, it’s still one of the most interesting choices for where to stay in Austin. Expect only a handful of official hotels with vacation rentals rounding out the inventory.

For more options, expand your lodgings search to neighboring Downtown Austin or Zilker or further afield to areas like Central Austin.

Austin Motel

Austin Motel

For a historic and quirky stay, head to the Austin Motel. Just south of the Colorado River and a short drive from South Congress Avenue, the hotel offers comfortable single and double rooms with private bathrooms, cable TV, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Unwind with a refreshing dip in the swimming pool.

Hyatt Regency Austin

Hyatt Regency Austin

Overlooking Lady Bird Lake, Hyatt Regency Austin is a modern retreat with stylish rooms and top-notch amenities. Located within a short drive from Congress Avenue Bridge, the hotel has beautiful lake views. Stay fit in the 24-hour fitness center and relax on the sundeck beside the swimming pool. Enjoy open-air dining on a terrace with fire pits and live local music on the deck.

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Hotel Saint Cecilia

Undefined luxury abounds at the Hotel Saint Cecilia with opulent suites, chic studios, and luxurious poolside bungalows. Soak up spectacular views from private terraces and indulge in high-end amenities like high-end sound systems with turntables and iPod connections. Stay fit in an Olympic-size swimming pool and kick back in a library offering vintage vinyl and rare books.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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