Austin, Texas, may be known for crazy concerts, fun festivals and food trucks, but a trip to the city that keeps it weird wouldn’t be complete without a funky souvenir. From high-end malls with luxury stores to unique local spots with antiques, Austin offers shopping experiences for all styles and budgets. To help you shop until you drop, U.S. News talked to local experts to scout the best shopping spots.
South Congress Avenue
South Congress Avenue "gives travelers a feel for Austin, with local boutiques, oddity shops, vintage shops, locally owned restaurants and cafes, as well as some boutique hotels,” says Amber Weir, concierge at the JW Marriott Austin. “It’s a cute, well-kept street, and there’s one store called Uncommon Objects with totally weird vintage things.” This kitschy, eclectic street is great for unusual souvenirs and definitely has something for any shopper.
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Sandwiched between cross streets East Riverside Drive and Leland Street in the Travis Heights neighborhood, South Congress Avenue, or SoCo, offers a wide range of stores selling vintage, high-end and antique items, plus local shops such as Sunroom, Revival Cycles and ByGeorge. Allens Boots, an Austin institution since 1977, is a must-visit and has thousands of styles to choose from.
Travelers can also find restaurants, bars, candy stores, costume shops, art galleries and music venues along the street. Chris Johnson, concierge and greeter at The Driskill, says, “Every first Thursday of the month, the shops stay open later and offer deals on everything within the store. Some even have rosé or a small keg. On these first Thursdays, local vendors set up a market, and you can get all kinds of cool stuff you can’t find anywhere else, one-of-a-kind-type of things.”
Nestled in the North Burnet neighborhood is The Domain, a family-friendly outdoor mall with 100 high-end chain stores, boutiques, restaurants and bars. Macy’s, Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton reside at The Domain. At the Domain Northside, located nearby, you'll also find shops like Bonobos and Austin favorites like Eliza Page. Visitors looking for a more traditional mall-style experience should consider this bustling spot.
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“It’s very dog-friendly, and they have big stores like Neiman Marcus and Dillard’s, but they also have smaller stores that are specific to Austin,” says Melissa Crawford, lead concierge and front desk agent at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa. “You can spend the entire day there, and you won’t run out of things to see and do.”
2nd Street District
If you’re looking for walkable downtown shopping, 2nd Street District’s more than 50 stores and restaurants have you covered. This hip and happening area sits between Colorado and San Antonio streets, and West Third and West Cesar Chavez streets, right along Lady Bird Lake. “They have a lot of iconic stores like Toy Joy, plus ACL Live at The Moody Theater, the Willie Nelson statue, Violet Crown Cinema and great restaurants like La Condesa,” says David Scheffke, front office manager at the Hotel Ella.
Cool, upscale local and chain clothing stores stand alongside top-notch eateries like Jo’s Coffee, III Forks and Cru Food & Wine Bar. Visitors interested in a little R & R after a long day of hauling their purchases can visit the district’s Milk + Honey spa and salon, or Lacquer Downtown nail salon.
South First Street
Smaller local stores decorate the South First Street area, which stretches from West Oltorf Street to West Gibson Street. Shoppers can wander shops like Flashback Vintage, Jack & Lola and Mana Culture, and art galleries like Art for the People. When your shopping power’s running low, try one of the excellent restaurants in this spot, like Bouldin Creek Cafe, Lenoir or La Patisserie. Visitors will also want to stop by the "Greetings From Austin" mural, at the intersection of West Annie and South First streets, for a sweet selfie.
[Read: The Best Things to Do in Austin.]
North Austin’s The Arboretum is another outdoor shopping mall that’s perfect for the traveler who’s looking for chain shops and restaurants surrounded by greenery. Its more than 40 shops include clothing stores like Francesca’s Collections and Gap, along with specialty retailers such as Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars and Z Gallerie. The Cheesecake Factory, Amy’s Ice Creams and Brio Tuscan Grille are just a few of the eateries around the complex. The Arboretum also works for those looking to hop from place to place, as it sits across the street from two other large shopping areas, Great Hills Market and North Hills Town Center.
To experience more of what Austin has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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Ellis graduated cum laude with a bachelor's in English from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Texas Freelance Association, Freelance Austin, and Women Communicators of Austin. You can find her on LinkedIn and her website, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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