Want to soak up the vibrant and eclectic vibes of the city with your family? It’s possible Family Fun on SOCO might be what you’re looking for.
Before we moved to Austin, South Congress, or SOCO, was always a stop on our trips to Austin. Strolling down SOCO allowed us to soak in the spirit of the city, and the iconic destination full of shops, restaurants, and creativity checked off boxes for everyone in our family. Needless to say, since moving here we still enjoy frequenting our favorite spots.
One of the great things is that once you park, there is no more in and out of the car since it’s a strip that’s made for walking, and one of the best parts of the walk is each time you cross the street when you glance north, you’ll see the gorgeous Austin Skyline and a straight shot of the capital.
Get your walking boots ready it’s time to find out 10 of my favorite spots for family fun on SOCO. …there may also be a bonus or two.
Let’s wander south to north, that way if you decide to go on your own family fun adventure, this will hopefully make your shuffling down SOCO a little easier.
First up two yummy breakfast options!
We’ve been on a hunt for the best donuts in Austin, so we kicked off here! Let’s just say, these donuts did not disappoint. The Salty Donut serves up inventive, Instagram worthy, artisanal donuts, and other baked goods. The traditional glaze donut is my son’s favorite, the kind of glaze that creates messy goodness! My favorite donut was the brown butter & salt donut. …also, you won’t want to miss the seasonal strawberry frosted pop tart!
A good friend recommended this place when we first started coming to Austin frequently and I’m so glad she did. It’s been the kick start to many great days… it’s a no frills, just good comfort food, Austin diner staple for over 43 years. The breakfast tacos are delicious, and my absolute favorite is the blueberry cornmeal pancakes (gluten free too!), sooo yummy and huge.
If you mash up “Where a Kid Can Be a Kid” and “Keep Austin Weird” – You’ll end up with this incredibly quirky and amazing little toy shop. You’ll find gifts, toys, action figures, and collectables – some new and lots of old throw backs. The California Raisin action figures had me smiling back to my kindergarten days. I’d say this shop geared more for the kid in you vs. your youngest kiddos.
This one’s for your little’s – tucked in the back of Limbo Jewelry is Little Limbo. They have a wonderfully curated collection of toys, gifts, clothes, and souvenirs for young children (that you’ll actually want!). One of the things I love about living here is the pride for Austin and Texas in general. So, I was so excited to see a precious Austin smiley faced hat and a couple of Texas and Austin themed books picked up for my toddler.
Big Top Candy Shop (A lil “Treat Yo’ Self” for the Kiddos)
Step right up, folks and be prepared to experience the whimsy, magic, and wonder of what it means to be a kid in a candy store (Yup, even you mamas)! When you walk into this wall-to-wall circus themed candy shop, it’s bound to have you taking a trip down memory lane. With a jaw dropping 3,400 candies, you may just find a blast from your past. My 3-year-old had never seen anything like it, and kept saying “I will have this one, and that one, and that one.” We filled up a clear bag with brightly colored candies, and I held to the joy and magic of this special moment. P.S. – they also have ice cream, chocolates, and an old school soda fountain with over 50 flavors! Talk about sweet family fun on SOCO!
Kendra Scott Flagship (What I think I SOCO’s best kept secret)
This one is for you mamas! Consider it a lil “Treat Yo’Self” for moms, daughters, and even grandmothers. I admit, I stop here every time I’m on SOCO. Kendra Scott is my all-time favorite. I’ve been to a lot of her locations, and this one is an absolute showstopper! With a beautiful signature mural that changes out seasonally, you’ll want to snap a pic for sure. The murals are always girly and fun! Inside is the lovely little Sips & Sweets Café where you can pick up sweet treats from local bakers. Enjoy your treats on the beautiful porch or pick up some bubbly to sip and shop. We enjoyed customizing our own jewelry at the Color Bar and celebrating a birthday with the generous 50% off birthday discount. P.S. – You never know when you’ll walk into fun pop-up events because Kendra is always giving back to the community.
I have never smelt so much leather in all my life! The kind of leather that makes you want to saddle up, grab a sweet new pair of boots, and go out for some all-night dancing! …or maybe some mutton bustin’ for your kiddos. This iconic institution has been around since 1977 and has rows upon rows of authentic cowboy boots and tons of western wear. If you want to embrace the spirit of the Lone Star State… this is the place. It’s the must see, you had no idea you needed to see, place!
Going out to eat with kiddos can get tricky, but this place gets it. Each kiddo gets a super hip color sheets and their very own ball of PIZZA DOUGH to play with while you wait! Yessss you heard that right… and to my toddler THIS is what a pizza party is like! This alone is reason enough for a visit. Plus, the pizza is a local favorite, specializing in Authentic N.Y. Style Pizza with a vibe that’s cozy, retro, and hip with a sense of nostalgia. We sat on the back patio to enjoy some fresh air along with cheese and margherita pizza.
Amy’s Ice Creams & Jeni’s Ice Creams– it’s all about that drip!
Get ready to scream! Two seriously good ice cream shops right across the street from one another! We may be a house divided, but we all have one love for ice cream! Amy’s Ice Cream is renowned for it’s fun flavor combos with “crush’ns” and the staff may just perform an impressive trick while serving it up. Amy’s boasts over 350 flavors in rotation… and that means you’ll have endless options with each visit! Jeni’s Ice Cream is more of a gourmet artisanal approach with unforgettable flavors… beware – you can get a flight of 10 different scoops! Definitely add the Gooey Butter Cake as one of those options!
The number one reason to stop here in my opinion is to get a pic in front of the iconic “I Love You So Much” Mural. …because did you even go to SOCO if you don’t get a pic here?! The second, and also super important reason, is to get your caffeine fix before heading out! Grab the signature Iced Turbo – a delicious concoction that’s sweet blend of coffee, chocolate, and hazelnut for the car ride home! It’s so yummy… and you deserve it!
3 Bonuses not quite in walking distance on the SOCO strip, but worth driving to.
Enlightened Baby – One stop shop for your sustainable and eco-friendly baby needs… Toys, clothes, strollers and car seats galore (They help with installation and will let you try out the seats to make sure they work in your vehicle).
Cidercade – Over 150 retro and modern arcade games – entry fee allows for unlimited games! Plus, there is cider and pizza! Teens, tweens, and even the kid in you, will love this place.
Little Stacy Park – Tucked into the neighborhood is a cute well shaded park, playscapes for all ages, wading pool, tennis courts and more.
Have out of town guests or looking for a fun staycation?
Hyatt Regency – Our go to hotel before moving here has always been the Hyatt Regency. It’s centrally located and close to everything. Some of our favorite perks are: Easy safe parking, waterfront and Austin skyline views, pool on the lake, right on the lady bird lake trail, walk out to kayaks and swan pedal boats, Starbucks downstairs, walk right onto the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset for the ***FAMOUS BAT SHOW (Over 1.5 million Mexican tailed bats emerge each night!)
Motel Austin – This mid-century motel has been around for over 85 years! Enjoy the pool and Joann’s Fine Foods while you soak in some quintessential Austin Vibes.
South Congress Hotel – A hip boutique hotel who believes your pup deserves a vacation. (So much so, your pup stays for free!) Grab house made pastries and coffee at Mañana and enjoy the rooftop pool.
I hope you and your fam have a good time exploring and creating happy memories with some Family Fun on SOCO!
Be sure to let us know your favorite spots for Family Fun on SOCO in the comments.