Austin is a great place for families. All year round the city is full of events that cater to its citizens young and old. One of the most popular destinations is First Thursdays on South Congress Avenue where once a month the shops stay open late and the entire street becomes a pedestrian friendly party that the whole family can enjoy. The South Congress Area (or SoCo as it is now called) has long had a reputation for its eclectic shops, art galleries, and restaurants. On First Thursday, everything stays open until 10pm on South Congress between Riverside Drive and Ben White Boulevard.

For those with kids in tow, you may want to make your first stop the Big Top Candy Shop. They carry a wide selection of vintage candy that you’ll remember from when you were a kid as well as all the new verities that you may have not have tried. They also have an old fashioned soda fountain serving up hot chocolate, peppermint shakes, and desserts.

You may want to then head over to Lucy in Disguise, Austin’s largest costume shop for a quick game of dress up. Lucy’s opened its doors on April fool’s Day in 1984 and has grown into an 8,000 sq. ft. costume mega store. Whether it’s a funny hat or a Mardi gras mask, Lucy’s has something for everyone. It’s a great place to get lost among the rows and rows of wacky costumes.

A new addition to South Congress is the Farm to Market Grocery. Inside you’ll find a wide selection of specialty items and fresh fruits and vegetables. On First Thursdays it’s a great place to stop in for a quick snack or to pick up a piece of fruit to carry with you down the street.

If you’re looking for a gift, you should take a moment to step into Monkey See, Monkey! Doing their part of Keep Austin Weird, they specialize in bizarre gifts that you may not ever see again. Where else are you going to find a Sock Monkey Wine Coozy? They also claim to carry 7 out of the 10 stupidest gifts listed on yahoo. The best part is that they’re proud of it.

When you get hungry from all the walking and shopping, there are a number of great food options. Guerro’s serves up world famous Mexican Cuisine and some of the best Margaritas in town. It is also a favorite haunt of local celebrities and a great place to people watch. Homeslice Pizza serves up some of the best New York style pies in town. They’re so serious about their pizza that they closed the whole shop for a week to take the staff to New York on a pizza tasting tour. If you have a sweet tooth, you should head over to Amy’s Ice Cream, an Austin original that serves up their own unique ice cream flavors.

Fans of live music will have to check out the Continental Club, one of Austin’s most well known music venues. Every night of the week, they showcase both local and national touring acts. You may also want to check out their new gallery space upstairs, a comfortable lounge with live jazz and blues every night of the week.

There really is something for everyone of South Congress and First Thursdays offer an amazing opportunity to explore every hot spot in the street. You never know who you’ll see and are guaranteed to discover something new.