Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, is one of my favorite places in the world! And that’s not only because I spent four years living there during college. The unofficial motto “Keep Austin Weird” is very applicable as the city really has a spirit of its own – a certain charm that’s uniquely Austin.

On my recent return trips to Austin for business and fun, I’ve been especially drawn to South Congress in Austin. The South Congress area is an eclectic district with great restaurants, retail, music venues, and more. The authentic Austin quirk and southern hospitality both shine through on South Congress.

Here’s how to spend a weekend on South Congress in Austin…

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How to Spend a Weekend on South Congress in Austin

Friday Afternoon

  • Check into the wonderful Hotel San Jose, a lovely boutique hotel with 40 bungalow style rooms located in the heart of the South Congress action. The property is full of personality, quirk, and history. I can’t recommend Hotel San Jose enough! In fact, I’ll share more info and beautiful images of the hotel next week. So, stay tuned for that…
  • Enjoy a cocktail on the patio of the hotel, amidst the beautifully lush gardens. I recommend the Rosso Amaro, a tasty blend of prosecco and grapefruit. The red wine sangria is also very popular.

Note: if by chance you are unable to book a room at Hotel San Jose during your time in Austin, I also recommend the sister property Hotel Saint Cecilia. I tend to alternate between the two on my visits to Austin. While these hotels are related, they each have their own very distinct vibes. However, I love both. If it’s wrong to love two hotels at the same time, I don’t want to be right! Ha. If you’re a dog lover like I am, you’ll be happy to note that both hotels are very dog friendly.

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Friday Evening

  • In the early evening, before dinner, while it is still light out, stroll a few blocks over to first street. In order to be a proper tourist in Austin, you simply must take your photo by the well-known Greetings form Austin mural, located at 1st Street and Annie Street. This postcard-like mural is very well done, capturing many iconic scenes all at once. Note, though, that to get a good photo, the photographer will have to stand in the middle of the street. So, exercise caution when capturing this moment.
    • You may remember seeing this mural featured here.
  • After that, cross the street and walk a few doors up first street to Elizabeth Street Cafe for dinner. This restaurant is one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants anywhere! Take one look at the menu, and you’ll understand why.  Combine delicious food with the cute, quaint patio space, and you have a winning combination. I definitely suggest dining on the patio, if the weather allows. I recommend ordering the shrimp and avocado spring rolls, the Niman Ranch pork belly steamed buns, a bowl of pho, and the drunken noodles. (I’m getting hungry just typing all of that!) That’s what we had on this night. It was more than enough to feed two people.

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Saturday Morning

  • After sleeping in and lounging around in the beautiful kimono robes provided in room at the Hotel San Jose, wander next door to Jo’s Coffee. Jo’s Coffee serves up great coffee, as well as delicious breakfast tacos. The people and pooch watching is fun, as locals crowd the patio with their dogs.
  • Plus, Jo’s is the home of another iconic Austin wall — the ‘I love you so much’ wall. You can snap a pic while waiting in line to place your order.
  • After breakfast, maybe spend some time relaxing by the pool back at the hotel.

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Saturday Afternoon

  • For a light and delicious lunch, stop by Cafe No Se, a restaurant newcomer to South Congress. Located in the new South Congress Hotel, Cafe No Se serves California-inspired cuisine. My recommendations from the menu are the shredded kale salad and the avocado toast. As good as the food is, it is rivaled by the interior design. The light-filled space creates an inviting, comfortable atmosphere through the use of reclaimed wood tables, white-washed walls, potted plants, and beautiful art.
  • Then, embark on an afternoon of shopping on South Congress as you wander up and down the character-filled street. There are high-end shops, vintage shops, women’s shops, men’s shops, and everything else you can imagine. I’ll highlight two stores for you…
    • By George: this fashion and lifestyle store has been an Austin staple for over 30 years. The South Congress location draws you in with its light, airy feel and beautiful merchandising. The store highlights some of my favorite emerging fashion, plus an eclectic offering of gifts and home decor.
    • Parts & Labour: I just stumbled upon this quirky little shop during my most recent visit to Austin. I was drawn to the store initially because of the cool new purple geometric mural on its side wall. When I wandered into the store, I found a charming collection of handmade goods from local artists. T-shirts, greeting cards, original art, and posters are just a few of the fun offerings you’ll find here.
      • You might remember the purple Parts & Labour mural wall from this article.
  • If you find yourself in need of a little afternoon sugar rush, grab a cool bite to eat at Amy’s Ice Creams. An Austin institution for over 30 years now, Amy’s is a must-try. Choose your ice cream, then choose your crush’ns. My personal favorite combination is the Mexican vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries mixed in! Can you believe I’ve been ordering that combination faithfully for 20+ years? Boy, I’m aging myself with that confession!

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Saturday Evening

  • Start the evening off right with some fresh oysters and cool cocktails on the oak-shaded patio at Perla’s. Happy hour on the patio at Perla’s is one of my favorite Austin pastimes. Once you finish enjoying the outdoor ambiance, take a seat inside for a delectable meal. Without a doubt, Perla’s is one of my favorite seafood restaurants period. I must admit I don’t have any specific recommendations here, because I’m always trying something new. And I’ve never been disappointed. You’ll love it!
  • As it gets later in the evening, cross the street to the legendary Continental Club. In a city full of live music establishments, the Continental Club still stands apart as one of the longest continuous running clubs in all of Austin. Operating since 1955, the club has hosted musical legends like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robert Plant, and many more. You never know who you might catch performing here! Check out the calendar of events here.
  • If you sing and dance the night away until the early morning hours, as we tend to do, you might need a late night snack. If that’s the case, Home Slice Pizza is your place! The carry out window serves awesome pizza by the slice until 3 am.

Sunday Morning

  • Sleep in! Ha. After that late night out, you’ll need it.

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Sunday Afternoon

  • Once you wake up, get packed, and check out of your wonderful room at Hotel San Jose, you’ll need a bite to eat before hitting the road. I suggest a stop at Torchy’s Tacos. If this Austin taco joint is good enough for President Obama, it’s surely good enough for you and me, right? While President Obama ordered a republican, a democrat, and an independent taco, my taco of choice is the fried avocado on a corn tortilla with diablo sauce. Plus, don’t forget a side order of street corn and some chips and queso. Survey the full menu here. It’s “damn good.”
  • While at Torchy’s, be sure to walk across the side street for one last photo opp. Painted on the side of a barbershop, this nostalgic, retro TV stripes wall is sure to bring a smile to your face. Cross your fingers that no cars are parked in front of it. But the wall is big enough, that even if there are cars there, you can still make it work. When we were there, there were two cars parked in front of the wall, so the colors actually extend beyond what you can see here.
  • After that, with a full heart and a full tummy from a good time in Austin on South Congress, travel safely back home.

A weekend on South Congress in Austin is a great way to experience a historic, unique part of the city all on foot. I love that essentially this whole itinerary is within walking distance.

Thanks for reading along. We hope you enjoy this travel guide and find the information useful. We’d love to hear your thoughts! And if you’ve been to Austin or live there, please feel free to chime in with additional ideas.

If you would like a downloadable, printable PDF version of this, sign up for our newsletter! We’ll email it to you later this week with the first newsletter installment.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Photos by Maritere Rice; graphic design by Ashley Cardoza


Details of My Look

Milly knit stripe dress (also here and here; shirt version here) | J.Crew denim vest (older; similar herehere, and here) | Golden Goose Deluxe Brand sneakers (also love these) | Elena Ghisellini rainbow felina bag | Fendi cat eye sunglasses | Dannijo bracelet (older; similar here) | Nars ‘jungle red’ lipstick | OPI ‘gelato on my mind’ nail polish | Caroline Constas ‘Lou’ off the shoulder dress (similar here) | Karen Walker ‘super duper’ sunglasses | Aquazzura ‘Belgravia’ wedges (also here; inexpensive option here) | Chanel bag (from The Vintage Contessa; similar here) | Valentino rainbow plexiglass cuff (older / sold out; I like this inexpensive rainbow bracelet option) | Nars heat wave lipstick | Tanya Taylor striped off-the-shoulder dress (also here and here) | Eugenia Kim ‘Cassidy’ hat (also here) (c/o) | Karen Walker super duper sunglasses | Valentino rockstud sandals (older; similar herehere, and here) | Dannijo statement necklace (older; similar from Dannijobudget-friendly option – less than $100) | Samudra pouch (older; similar herehere, and here – all less than $100!)


  1. Bella B says:

    Looks like such a fun trip, I need to go there one day!!! I m glad you had a great time!
    sending you love

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much, Bella! Maybe we can organize a girls trip to Austin some day soon…

  2. Sarah W. says:

    Hi, Carrie! It’s amazing to see SoCo from your perspective. I love ALL these places, and I’m so excited you’re showing them off in this light! I’m also very faithful to Amy’s Mexican vanilla + strawberries. What can I say?! It’s delicious! You and Mari also look fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

    XO, Sarah |

    1. Carrie says:

      Oh Sarah – thanks so much for stopping by and thanks for the endorsement. With you being a UT student, your stamp of approval means a lot.

      Do you have anything else to add in the area?

  3. Sydney says:

    That was such a wonderful post, I love all the little details you shared! It really makes a difference! I think this will be going to the top of my travel list! I would love if you could do a post about Houston best places to stay and eat and the walls!! I want to do a trip and visit a few different places there!

    Hope you had a wonderful day <3

    Styled By S

    1. Carrie says:

      Hi Sydney – I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for the feedback. I’ll definitely have some Houston highlights coming soon.

      Thanks as always for visiting! Much appreciated. Hope you have a great day.

  4. Sheri says:

    Hi Carrie,
    Great travel guide!

    Maritere’s photos are beautiful and so nice to see her in a few too 🙂


    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks, Sheri! Yes, isn’t Maritere a beauty? Both inside and out. Plus, super talented!

  5. Lisa Favre says:

    I am totally loving these off-the-shoulder dresses. I’ve been telling myself time and time to go ahead and get one but I just haven’t! Lovely photos, by the way!

    1. Carrie says:

      Yes, definitely Lisa! Check out this article for my favorite picks of the season:

  6. Laura says:

    I have never been to Austin but have heard nothing but great things, your making me want to book a trip ASAP!! Such gorgeous photos!

    1. Carrie says:

      Thank you, Laura! It’s a great city. This represents just one little section of it – which happens to be my favorite area.

  7. Nina says:

    What a fantastic city guide! I can’t wait to make another trip to Austin and check out some of your recommendations. Oh and I already ordered one of those hotel robes – so bright and beautiful! And you have to tell me what store that striped jumpsuit is in!

    xo Nina

    1. Carrie says:

      You definitely need to come back to Texas soon!

      Oh great regarding the robe. Did you get the blue?

      The jumpsuit is at By George. I fell in love with everything about that store. They even carried a few designers I wasn’t familiar with. Love it.

  8. Lisa says:

    What a perfect city guide to the South Congress area! I love the images you used! Makes me feel lucky to call Austin home!


    1. Carrie says:

      I so appreciate that. You are so lucky to live there, Lisa! 😀

  9. What an amazing travel diary you created! It makes me miss Austin so much! Love!

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much for saying that, Jenn! Isn’t it a great city?

  10. Taylor says:

    Absolutely LOVE this post!
    Beautiful definitely made me want to visit Texas!

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks, Taylor! So many great places in Texas, but Austin itself is definitely at the top of that list. It’s one of a kind!

  11. Tell me what is the “Belgian Bomber” : it is written on one of the windows … I was born in Belgium, so I am curious to know.
    And I will keep preciously you these information, for when i come to Austin, Texas (one day) !!

    1. Carrie says:

      Hi there! I believe it’s a sweet coffee specialty drink they offer. 🙂

  12. Tamara says:

    Looks like a fun city! Loving those snaps!


    Tamara –

    1. Carrie says:

      It definitely is! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  13. Amanda says:

    Such a beautiful post! I can’t even imagine the time it took you to create this! I am definitely saving this for later, because I have never seen Austin like this before!

    xoxo Amanda
    The Miller Affect, a Fashion Blog by Amanda Miller

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much, sweet friend! 😀

  14. Perfect Austin hotspots! Love them all. xo

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks a bunch, Lynds! Xo

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