78704 is a well-known area code for a reason; it’s sublimely laid-back, with plenty of good food, art, and places to wander. Austinites like to take out-of-towners to SoCo, braving the weekend crowds so they can duck in and out of air conditioning while their starry-eyed visitor gets their shop on. Hit Uncommon Objects for random antique oddities, Turquoise Door for Mexican folk art, Allens Boots for, well, boots, and Feathers Boutique for vintage. At night, the legendary Continental Club comes alive with rock, blues, or country bands. South Congress also has a gorgeous uninterrupted view of the Capitol, but it’s not worth getting run over for a photo.
One block over from SoCo is the less-booming and highly underrated First St in the Bouldin neighborhood, a haven for bona-fide hippie-, artist-, and eccentric-types. Stop in at the Art for the People Gallery, a boutique and art gallery combo, before discovering Roadhouse Relics, neon artist Todd Sanders’ studio. Here, you will also find the classic “Greetings From Austin” mural. If you head north along First and turn right on Mary St, you can visit The Herb Bar, a store full of healing herbs, teas, and essential oils. Keep walking down Mary St to see perfect examples of classic Austin bungalows next to new and bizarre builds like “Bouldin Castle” at Third and Mary.
Often overlooked by visitors, the 160-acre St. Edward's University also resides in the '04 further down South Congress Ave with a student body of around 5,000. Laid-back liberal arts students can watch a stunning sunset from the top of their campus hilltop, then head to the patio at Crow Bar. Also in the area: Curra's Grill has avocado margaritas and some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine in the city.