Congress Avenue is often referred to as the Mainstreet of Texas. It has long been my haven for retail therapy, and I would recommend going there to anyone in the Austin area who is looking for a pleasant day of window shopping with or without the kids.
One of the things that I like about it so much is that there is something for everyone. While strolling around the avenue between Lady Bird Lake and the Capitol, you’ll pass through one of the National Register Historic Districts to see museums, restaurants, theaters, and of course, places to SHOP!
So let’s talk for a minute about these stores. Austin downtown shopping has it all, so you can feel safe that whatever your personal style is, you’ll find plenty of stores that cater to your taste.
I love to mix up my fashion style and I frequently get compliments. When new guests visit my home they’ll often ask, “Where did you find that?” and the answer is always the same, “I came across it while shopping downtown Austin.”
The same is true when it comes to my wardrobe. I’ve visited so many cities but none of them compare in shopping to the experience you get shopping in downtown Austin.
First I want to talk about where I like to go shopping for art. I feel like Austin has so many talented artists living there and the entire city has a very “artsy” feel to it, so it makes sense that the art places on Congress are so amazing.
On days when I am free from the kids and I just want to take in some art and shop for a few new pieces, I have one go-to-spot. It is the La Peña Gallery at 227 Congress Ave. I’ll usually start my shopping journey there after I pass the breathtaking Colorado River, which is just a couple blocks away.
To me, La Peña feels more like walking through an art museum than being in an art store. Of course, the artwork is for sale, but the ladies who work there are not pushy and let you look at your leisure.
Most of the people who have never been in La Peña think that it is all Latin-looking art inside, and their website does advertise that the artwork they display is largely from artists of Hispanic descent.
Actually, for the most part, the artwork is very eclectic; there isn’t one general style that you’ll see on display. Don’t go in expecting to see all Miami-style brightly colored art. You’ll see lots of classically elegant, subtle pieces as well.
Beware of making a weekend trip specifically to visit the gallery because they are not open at all on Sunday and close at 3 on Saturday. The other days of the week they are open 8-5pm.
Up the street, going away from the river is my typical second stop at 316 Congress Avenue, Patagonia. Now if you’ve never been inside of Patagonia, they are a sporting goods store, but they have so much more to offer than every type of athletic item imaginable.
They have clothes that no one would ever guess would be sold at a sporting good store! I talk a lot about the importance of staying active and in Austin weather staying cool can be tough.
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to look like I’m headed to the gym when I go for a walk. There are dresses and even jeans that they sell in the store that look like fashionable streetwear, not like work out attire that are designed to breathable; highly recommended for anyone who wants to maintain their fashion dignity in this heat!
Four blocks up the street still headed away the river; there’s Caffe Medici at 800 Congress Avenue. If you need a little pick me up, while shopping this is the place.
It’s a quaint little shop with the best Espresso in Austin. The flavor is rich, sweet, and has a chocolate aftertaste, love it!
In my opinion, no shopping trip to downtown Austin is complete without stopping at Consuela! This lifestyle store has it all and it can only be visited at the location on 912 Congress Street.
They have home furnishings, clothes, accessories, and everything is high-quality. The colors are vibrant, the designs are bold, but the feel remains very classic and feminine. I cannot go into the store and not walk out with three or four bags.
Now these are just a few of my favorite stops when I spend the day shopping on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. There are lots of other good places on Congress too.
For clothing, there’s Dress Shop at 315, JoS A. Bank at 320, Csilla Wear at 504, and Keepers at 515.
For fine jewelry, there’s Joe Koen and Son at 611 and Kruger’s Diamond Jewelers at 722.
For an amazing selection of alcoholic beverages, there’s Urban Wine + Liquor at 200.
I personally like to take the day while shopping downtown Austin to site-see and window shop, so I park near the river and walk.
Depending on your schedule, you may find it easier to drive, but keep in mind Austin traffic can make it difficult to get from store to store if you are not used to driving in it.