Skip to Content

Charming Austin Neighborhoods: Tribeza’s Guide to Travis Heights

Learn about the best things to do and see in Travis Heights, including favorite spots along South Congress Avenue

Travis Heights Cottage (photo by Stella Masterson)

Travis Heights was Austin’s first southern suburb, and it remains one of the best neighborhoods in the city. Prior to 1880, south Austin was virtually non-existent, as the only way to get across the Colorado River was a wooden pontoon bridge that was prone to flooding. Soon Charles Newing, a banker from New York, visited Austin and realized the immense potential that this area had. He quickly decided that a stone bridge was needed to connect north to south. This bridge would change the way Austin was developed forever. By the early 1890’s, many homes were being built in what was then called “Fairview Park,” due to the area’s “fair view of the city.” While Fairview Park still exists today, Austinites tend to think of the entire area between South Congress and I35 as Travis Heights.

Travis Heights Bungalow Renovated by Austin Flipsters (photo by Stella Masterson)

Travis Heights is a lovely neighborhood filled with old bungalows and modern homes alike, but the most popular area in this neighborhood is definitely South Congress Avenue. South Congress or “SOCO” as some like to call it, has undergone immense changes over the past few decades. The area has been everything from Austin’s first “strip mall” in the 1950’s, to what some would call “seedy” in the 1970’s and 80’s, and has since transformed into what can equally be called a tourist attraction, as well as a local favorite. It’s filled with great restaurants, bars, shopping, and venues — both old and new.

Travis Heights Cottage (photo by Stella Masterson)

RELATED: Charming Austin Neighborhoods — Tribeza’s Guide to Hyde Park

Things to Do in Travis Heights

Best Dive Bars in Austin – Ego’s
Ego’s (photo by Holly Cowart)


Ego’s Karaoke Bar is easy to miss, but it would be a shame if you did. Tucked away off South Congress a bit sits a karaoke bar that has been a part of the Austin scene since 1979. Stop in to karaoke anytime between 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. or play some pool, pinball, or video games if karaoke isn’t your style. You can also watch something on the big screens while you enjoy people-watching and a good drink. This place is legendary Austin and it is most definitely a rite of passage for any Austinite.

Music Lane Mural (photo by Heidi Okla)

Music Lane

The area of South Congress deemed “Music Lane” is a newer addition that encompasses a multitude of places to eat and shop. You can buy everything from Nike to Hermés here, as well as dine at some of the best spots in the city. Austin’s member’s only Soho House is located here, as are The Lola and The Muse, if you’re looking to live in the area.

Big Stacy Pool (photo courtesy of City of Austin)

Big Stacy Park

Big Stacy Park is located along Blunn Creek in Travis Heights and is beloved by the neighborhood for its beautiful surroundings and the Big Stacy Pool, built in the 1930’s, and once dubbed “South Austin’s Playground.” The pool is naturally heated by an underground spring, making it the perfect place for a winter dip.

Places to See & Stay

The Continental Club (photo by Heidi Okla)

The Continental Club

The Continental Club is truly classic Austin. Established in 1955 and going strong ever since. Continental Club has stood the test of time. It began as a swanky supper club, then became Austin’s first burlesque club, transitioned to a blue-collar bar, and eventually grew into one of Austin’s best music venues. You feel all the history when you enter into this perfect little spot located on South Congress Avenue. If you’ve been in Austin a while, you know A LOT has changed about South Congress. We are beyond fortunate to still have this Austin original.

The Austin Motel (photo by Nick Simonite)

The Austin Motel

“So Close Yet So Far Out.” These words have graced the Austin Motel’s iconic neon sign for quite some time and they capture the feel of The Austin Motel perfectly. This one-time motor lodge, first opened in 1938, and is still a huge part of the overall South Congress ambiance. If you know South Congress, you know The Austin Motel. Stay the night here and step back in time with a 1970’s flare and a totally hip vibe. The pool is just as iconic as the sign out front and you can grab a daily pool pass for $30 to join in the fun!

I Love You So Much Mural (photo by Heidi Okla)

I Love You So Much Mural at Jo’s Coffee

A photo in front of the I Love You So Much Mural is a South Congress must! First written on the wall of Jo’s Coffee as a message after an argument between partners (a quick google will get you more of the story), it soon took center stage as a must-see on South Congress. We love that this message of love has taken on such meaning for so many people. Whether you’re with your partner, your family, your friends, or flying solo – it’s worth a stop to grab a photo in front of the wall. Then make sure to hashtag it #iloveyousomuchaustin. It’s a total “thing.”

Where to Eat

Home Slice – South Congress (photo by Heidi Okla)

Home Slice Pizza

If you’re living in Austin, TX and haven’t had a slice of Home Slice Pizza, we’re honestly not sure what to think!? This classic New York Style Pizza joint has been a staple on the Austin scene since 2005, but somehow it seems to have been here much longer. We love Home Slice for its consistency (we’ve never had a bad slice), its overall vibe (NY pizza joint with a Texas flare), and the fact that we can hit it up after a night out or take our kiddos there midday. Home Slice makes everyone happy!

The Salty Donut (photo by David Clough)

The Salty Donut

The Salty is a newer arrival to South Congress, opening in the summer of 2021 and quickly winning hearts for its creatively delicious donuts and coffee served in a hip locale with a sweet little patio. So much to love here! We usually shy away from spots that could be seen as “chains” when sharing our fave Austin go-tos, but we love the story behind this donut trailer turned nationwide donut shop, and we’re happy they’re here. We hope you stop by soon if you haven’t already. Our personal favorite is the Banana Cream Pie, but honestly, you can’t go wrong at The Salty!

Güero’s Taco Bar (photo by Holly Cowart)

Güero’s Taco Bar

Güero’s Taco Bar is a classic Mexican joint that has stood the test of time. Opened in 1986, Güero’s has been serving up solid Mexican food to Austinites and tourists alike for over 35 years. It has been located on South Congress for almost 30 of those years. Enjoy the people watching on the streetside patio or live music in the garden – Güero’s has it all!