The Best Places to Shop in Austin
A trip through Austin’s shops and boutiques will send you home laden down with great vinyl, used and new books, and top-notch vintage western wear, but you may be surprised by local designers, too, showing off their stuff, from fashion to housewares.
603 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703, USA
Leading the charge for independent bookstores since it opened in 1970, Book People is legendary for creativity and a strong calendar of events. The store holds frequent author signings—and we’re talking big authors—and book club meetings for all manner of book genres. Those who can’t get to Austin can sign up for a subscription service called Trust Fall in which a new book, handpicked by the staff, arrives in the mail a few times a year. Kids are a special focus here: The store publishes a blog written by its own “teen press corps” and collaborates with librarians around the state to hold the annual Texas Teen Book Festival. Book lovers should not miss visiting this stalwart home of literature, and handily, it’s open a lot: 9 a.m.–11 p.m. every day but Thanksgiving.
600A North Lamar Boulevard
In this modern age of Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora, record stores often seem sad and bitter places. Not so Waterloo, where music lovers—both staff and customers—celebrate the art. Bands playing Austin come in for in-store performances and signings, and you may recognize a few famous faces browsing the new and vintage vinyl and CD sections. As expected at a record store, the staff have big opinions but are friendly, and can help you navigate the 6,400-square-foot space. A highly recommended, if dangerous (prices are very reasonable but the desired objects are many), shopping stop.
1400 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Celebrated Austin restaurateur Larry McGuire (Jeffrey’s, Perla’s) turned his passion for style and design into a second career when he purchased this retail brand. With locations on hip South Congress and near the Whole Foods flagship, By George sells chic clothes for men and women (think brands like Our Legacy, Protagonist, and Jenni Kayne). The home-goods section of the store gives the chance to outfit your dining room (oak bowls, scented candles), pamper your four-legged best friend (plush, round dog beds), and, since it’s Austin, broadcast music anywhere in your house with a speaker designed to look like a classic Marshall amplifier. If you’re lucky, your visit might coincide with a pop-up from a local restaurant.
1423 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Want to look like the hippest, sharpest, coolest dude in town? Whether you’re going for pretty-boy appeal or a sexy lumberjack look, this South Congress spot has you covered. In addition to high-end denim, retro bathing suits, Pacific Northwest–inspired sweaters, and slim-fit suits for a night on the town, STAG sells the other stuff that a worldly man needs: from cologne to leather goods to personal-care products. (After shopping, reward yourself with a pie from popular Home Slice Pizza next door.)
1100 S Lamar Blvd #1135, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Want to get that small-town-ice-cream-shop feeling in a big city? Head to Lick for fresh and unique seasonal ice cream. With each lick of your cone, a new complexity of flavor is revealed. Ice cream here is made with only wholesome ingredients, most locally sourced, and is free of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors, and preservatives. A double scoop—Caramel Salt Lick atop Pecans & Cream—is highly recommended.
1522 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
When you’re hitting the food truck or restaurant scene on South Congress, be sure to head in to Allens (look for the big red boot) to be wowed by the craftsmanship and the selection. The minute you open the entrance door, the smell of leather hits and you won’t believe your eyes. There are over 4,000 boots on display, while representing 12 boot manufacturers. Trust me, you’ll find your dream pair in there somewhere. Once you’ve got those new boots on, head next door for an award winning cocktail at the South Congress Cafe before heading on over for some line dancing at the Broken Spoke.
1704 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Anything that you can imagine, made local and beautiful! Parts & Labour has been working with local crafty artists for many, many years, and the shop is truly like walking into a studio filled with one of a kind pieces. This is the ideal place to visit for a gift that says: “Austin” or for an original piece; whether it is jewelry, clothes or decorative pieces. Support Austin, support local!
1200 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
There’s no better way to get the perfect pair of cowboy boots than to get them made to order, and that’s Heritage Boot’s specialty. These boots are made by hand by artisans from Leon, Mexico that have been making boots for generations. There are timeless pieces with the best quality skins, imported from Europe, and the attention and love for detail shows with every piece. Stop by to check out the fun art work that decorates the store or to place your order on first pair of hand made Cowboy boots!
1542-1566 South Congress Avenue
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.
1720 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704, USA
This south Austin mural located on the corner of Annie and South 1st Street is a popular location for travel photos as well as engagement photos (or just cheesin’ out in general). Why not take your photo in front of the mural the next time you find yourself in Austin? Roadhouse Relics that occupies the building where the mural is painted is a super cool gallery displaying the neon artwork of Todd Sanders and is definitely worth a visit!
1512 S Congress Ave
An antique collective with hipster flair, Uncommon Objects lives up to its name, starting with the giant jackalope with light-up eyes perched atop their sign. Inside, you’ll find meticulously arranged displays organized by theme and color, including everything from taxidermy mounts and buckets full of antlers to medicine bottles and wreaths made of human hair. There are plenty of suitcase-sized trinkets under $20 if you’re looking for an unusual souvenir to bring back. If you can’t make it to the store, check out the delightfully creepy photo gallery on their website.
1700 South Congress Avenue
Feathers Boutique has offered a carefully curated collection of vintage clothing for women since 2005, and now also boasts a collection of artisan jewelry to match. Best of all, they’re committed to making fashion accessible (that is, affordable) for everyone. Stop in and have a new experience each time, as their inventory is constantly rotating.
1706 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
An old-fashioned soda fountain and 300+ different varieties of bulk candy; Big Top Candy Shop opened its doors in October 2007 and has been satisfying the sweet tooth of all visitors, regardless of age! There’s also over 2,000 kinds of wrapped candy, some classics, and other unusual selections. Have a milkshake or a fountain soda and spend hours drooling over the candy!
11920 Domain Dr, Austin, TX 78758, USA
Drinking beer at a supermarket might sound like an odd travel tip, but this isn’t just any supermarket: It’s Whole Foods, and you’re in Austin, birthplace of the healthy food mecca. The massive market has a lot more than organic milk and bulk quinoa. It has multiple beer bars and prepared food stations, including ramen loaded with Texas BBQ beef. Ducking into the Draft Shack to slurp down oysters and sip a draft microbrew, you might forget that you’re a few feet from the cereal aisle. Outside the store is another opportunity for beer, served with bratwurst, from a cool converted shipping container counter. The store also hosts regular tasting events and classes, and stocks plenty of edible local souvenirs—though it might be hard to pack a sixer of Lone Star in your suitcase.
618 Tillery Street
Industry Screen Studios a full fledged screen print studio that is keeping the screen process alive. From concert posters and fine art prints to custom t-shirts and apparel, Industry works with very talented Artists and Illustrators to create fun, creative, eye catching pieces. They also offer hands on workshops and print demonstrations, so check out their awesome store front/studio in East Austin.
1023 Springdale Rd Building 1, Austin, TX 78721, USA
I first acquired one of Mychal’s beautifully handcrafted leather journals in late 2006 as a gift prior to an extended trip to Brazil. It now sits in my bookshelf, filled with sketches, poems and souvenir Brazilian flyers, stickers, photos, etc, as a remembrance of a great adventure. These are journals you will want to keep forever; they will inspire you to fill their pages, carefully with the same attention to detail that there were created. Visit Mychal’s studio in East Austin and let the smell of leather lure you in; she may even share a glass of wine and engulf you in conversation about her next adventure, the latest leather shipment or the best place to Salsa dance in Austin. I now prepare for a new travel adventure, and have picked the new shade of turquoise to be the color for my next Iona journal!
701 Tillery St B-3, Austin, TX 78702, USA
Lisa is a talented full-time jeweler, and all work is created in East Austin. Pay her a visit at her quaint studio, filled with tools, inspirations and materials; all representing the intricacy of her work. Watch her or her talented assistants at work, crafting primarily sterling silver, and incorporating other materials such as gold, enamel, and thread. If you are lucky, you may even get to meet her gorgeous baby! Her geometric, handcrafted masterpieces are bold and beautiful, and they are perfectly creative and feminine. Don’t leave Austin without one of her pieces!
1012 W 6th St B, Austin, TX 78703, USA
Amy’s has been serving homemade ice-cream for over 25 years...enough said. Amy’s creates artisan ice creams with over 350 flavors in rotation. Be creative with your taste buds; choose a flavor or two and add any toppings (crush’ns) you like. Be adventurous and try their seasonal flavors or go for the traditional choices. Grown in Austin, Texas, Amy’s is as Austin as it gets! Must try: Mexican Vanilla with Strawberries Belgian Chocolate with Heath Bar Crunch
1400 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704, USA
Browse folk art at Yard Dog gallery. Along with its focus on work from the Deep South, the gallery also exhibits pieces by musicians, such as local singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston. During SXSW, check out performances in the intimate backyard. My Morning Jacket and Neko Case have played there in the past.