Austin Mural from the side of the Roadhouse Relics building on South 1st Street and Annie
A new section for the blog has landed for 2015! While stylecurated has traditionally focused on NYC exhibits, pop ups and store windows, readers voiced interest in connecting on a more personal level. Tastes & Travels will mix things up from time to time and add a bit of personality to my otherwise fashion-focused NYC perspective. First stop? Austin, Texas. My Honey and I fly out Christmas Day to avoid crazy crowds. Keep reading for a breakdown of the "bests" we experience...
One of 4 freestanding TOMS stores
Great concept + Great store design!
Driving around town, we pass an abundance of thrift stores (20+ Goodwill stores!) and strip malls, but they all seem similar to what could be found in the Northeast. We did stumble on a TOMS store. This is one of 4 free-standing stores in the US and has a café (where a part of the proceeds go towards providing fresh water to those in need). The decor is "recycled rustic" and embodies everything you would associate with the 'TOMS' brand. Along with shoes, visitors can purchase sunglasses, bags, jewelry and coffee. While I'm not a die-hard fan of the brand, it's easy to be inspired by the decor.
TOMS café with beverages made from TOMS Roasting Co.
The TOMS store sells eyeglasses and jewelry in addition to shoes
After eating an excess of BBQ and tacos, exercise is a necessary evil. We take to the hills to hike off a couple calories while enjoying fresh air and nature. Originally headed to Hamilton Pool, we end up at neighboring Westcave Preserve (we were not carrying cash and Hamilton Pool charges $15 admission). The 1 mile loop is not particularly challenging and gives us a chance to explore the countryside.
Westcave Uplands trail
0.4 or 1 mile trail--not too hard!On the way to coffee in the morning, we pause at the Baylor Street Art Wall (also known as the Hope Outdoor Gallery) on Baylor and 11th Streets. Graffiti is a staple in NYC, so naturally we wanted to see how Austin street artists compare. The outdoor art space is extensive, with its multi-faceted walls covered in illustrations (some more refined than others). The gallery makes a great blogger backdrop (though bring sneakers with your stilettoes for climbing up and down the spaces)!
Baylor Street Art Wall / Hope Outdoor Gallery at Baylor and 11th Streets
Baylor Street Art Wall--Lots to see and requires comfortable climbing shoes!
Downtown, Austin resembles most other cities (think Atlanta and Toronto hybrid). Most shops are closed the day after Christmas, but we did stop into the Google Fiber temporary space. Austin is one of 3 cities where Google fiber is available (Superfast internet!). Recently opened, Google's Fiberspace is comfortably furnished and serves as a showroom and venue for happy hours and other social events. All in all, Austin is like any other city with its fair share of corporate buildings, historic sites and commercial establishments. The standout for me would be the food--stay tuned for more on that subject!
Google Fiber temporary permanent space
Google Fiber lounge and event space
Mission San Juan (one of 4 Missions), in nearby San Antonio
Only an hour away, San Antonio is its own treasure trove of Texas treats. With the sun high in the sky, we stop by 2 of the 4 San Antonio Missions for a bit of Texas culture and history. We also drive by the Alamo, but the streets are so full of people we decided to keep going.
Mission San Jose is the biggest and most intact of the 4 missions; this has a functional church