The South Congress area of Austin is a busy, eclectic stretch, filled with shops, restaurants...and people. While East Austin may be starting to overshadow this neighborhood in terms of hipness, the artsy vibe is still present on SoCo. It's certainly a tourist draw, and the crowds are unavoidable at any shop or restaurant, but it's worth strolling down to check out some of those shops anyway. One of the more popular shops is Uncommon Objects, a pretty well organized but slightly hectic antique shop with some unique and interesting finds. My favorite little shop was actually Sugar & Paris, an art gallery/handmade jewelry store. The artwork and other gifts are mostly (if not all local) and were, to my eye, a bit more interesting than those at other shops/galleries. My favorite when we visited were the collages by 'Andrea M' that placed vintage photographs of early 1900s-era women alongside contemporary Austin sites and an inspirational quote of some sort (I particularly liked the use of Tom Waits). Keep an eye out for this little shop -- it's busy, and a little cramped, but certainly a fun peak inside.
By Greg Marks