Sure, you could just pick up a T-shirt at the airport as a memento of your Austin visit, but souvenir shopping presents the perfect opportunity to explore some of the city's best-known stores. Residents love to support their local businesses, and the area around North Lamar Boulevard at Fifth and Sixth Street is a hot spot for Austin-centric shopping. The first three stops on my list are all near there, and you can walk between them. Other prime areas for browsing and buying are South Lamar, South Congress Avenue, West Second Street, and North Loop. And, actually, our airport shopping isn't too shabby. Both Waterloo Records and BookPeople, from my list, have outposts there. Whether you're looking for food, books, home decor or a burnt-orange T-shirt to remember your time in Austin, you'll have lots of choices to fill your shopping bags. Leave some room in your suitcase to bring home a little bit of Texas.
This Austin icon is one of the nation's top independent record stores. Pick up CDs by Texas acts like Ruthie Foster, Billy Joe Shaver, Gary Clark Jr., and Wild Child and a Waterloo sticker or T-shirt for yourself or your favorite music fan back home. You just might catch an in-store performance when you visit, too.
The independent spirit is also strong at Waterloo's across-the-street neighbor. At this beloved store, founded in 1970, the scads of books include local authors like Lawrence Wright and Sarah Bird and Texas-related titles. In addition to all the books, you'll find plenty of gifts with Lone Star flair.
Whole Foods Market Flagship
After hitting Waterloo and BookPeople, head to the downtown location of Austin-founded Whole Foods to refuel and shop more. At 80,000 square feet, this is a lot more than a grocery store. Besides Texas-made food, wine and beer, you can take home everything from natural beauty products to pet items.
University Co-Op East
Want some Longhorn swag to commemorate your visit to the University of Texas at Austin? There's the more visible Co-Op just across from UT on Guadalupe Street (aka The Drag), but this slightly off-the-beaten-path location has better parking and smaller crowds for all of your burnt-orange shopping needs. Hook 'em, Horns!
Tesoros Trading Company
With folk art from around the world, Tesoros embodies Austin's eclectic charm. The colorful tin ornaments from Mexico are some of my favorite gifts to give. They're also among the many items at Tesoros under $10, which means you can get all your co-workers something to brighten their desks and still have margarita money.