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Best Austin Shopping

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You’ll definitely need some hip duds for your trip to Austin, and Austin's shopping options make it easy to find some while you're here. From the downtown shops on South Congress Avenue and Second Street to the tony Domain and Arboretum in North Austin to the coolest independent bookstore ever and the groovy boutiques around the University of Texas campus on Guadalupe Street, there are plenty of places to run up that credit card bill. Prefer to head north? The Round Rock Outlets is another option, and there’s a giant IKEA store there, too. But, you’re wise to skip the boring mall and chain stuff and go straight for the best Austin shopping on the Drag, South Congress and Lamar.

BookPeople

Neighborhood: Downtown

Austin just wouldn’t be Austin without BookPeople, one of the largest independently-owned bookstores in the country. The only day they’re closed is Thanksgiving and, with stellar author and community events, a great café and a chair massage station, you may never want to leave. There’s also great jewelry on the first floor, as well as beautiful scarves in little baskets along the stairs to the second floor. Add a stop at Waterloo Records (600 N. Lamar Blvd.) to your agenda, too. The famed Austin music store that has given many musicians their start is just down the street. Buy your Austin City Limits recordings here; there’s a great selection.

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BookPeople  

South Congress

Neighborhood: South Congress

Known to tourists as “SoCo” (though most locals don’t like the “manufactured” nickname), this is bohemian energy with a Keep Austin Weird twist. Find hip stores (Blackmail for cool vintage, By George for hip designers, Crofts Original for fun T-shirts and jewelry, Allens Boots for cowboy boots, Off the Wall for antiques and Uncommon Objects for collectibles). Shops stay open late (and often serve free beer) the first Thursday of every month—worth getting into town early if you can.

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South Congress  

“The Drag”

Neighborhood: University of Texas Campus

Guadalupe Street on the University of Texas campus is a hotbed of shopping in Austin activity, with cute boutiques like resale store Buffalo Exchange (this writer’s absolute favorite store; the best time to go is August when UT students head back to school and dump their designer duds); neighborhood grocery stores like Wheatsville Co-op (delicious deli food with a ton of vegan options; do not miss the cashew-tamari salad dressing), and Toy Joy—which sounds like it could be a sex shop but is actually a very cool toy store (great for kid and adult gifts). There’s also an open-air market across from the Student Union, where hippies sell beads, jewelry, bongs, pipes and art. Indeed.

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“The Drag”  

Second Street

Neighborhood: Downtown

Austin’s Second Street District is the newest shopper's paradise, with a great combination of the arts (Ballet Austin and the Butler Dance Education Center), food (Taverna, Jo’s, tart and Lamberts are standouts), drinks (Malverde and Cru), clothes (Estilo, Girl Next Door), jewelry (Eliza Page) and home (Design Within Reach, IF&D, Finch). Only time to hit one store? Go to Eliza Page, where you’ll discover Austin designers Kendra Scott, Alexis Bittar, Eliza Page herself and others. Worth. The. Splurge. Then toast your awesome self with a mojito at Malverde.

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Second Street  

San Marcos Outlets

Neighborhood: San Marcos

Got time? Head to the outlet malls in San Marcos—just a half-hour south on Interstate 35, where it’s a truly a shopper’s bonanza with such luxury brand stores as L’Occitane, Michael Kors and Neiman Marcus Last Call. It’s best to hit the outlets on the way to or from a day trip out this way—like to Gruene or nearby San Antonio. And if you have only one day to shop, skip it entirely and just stay on South Congress for more interesting, one-of-a-kind finds.

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San Marcos Outlets  
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