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Keep Austin Weird

 Keep Austin Weird!

Austin is a lively and colorful city known for its art scene, outdoor recreation, music festivals, vintage boutiques, unique dining, hip locals and more! Austin is hailed the Live Music Capital of the World largely due to their 100+ music and entertainment venues. Austin is widely famous for holding the South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits festivals. Austin is also known for its famed McKinney Falls State Park and the natural swimming pool at Barton Springs Pools and swimming holes at Jacob’s Well and Hamilton Pools. Austin is also home to the largest urban bat colony in the U.S.

The Texas Hill Country offers scenic and panoramic views of the granite and limestone rolling hills, caves and caverns, blue lakes and so much more. The Texas Hill Country is a favorite for its great outdoors featuring inviting landscapes, outdoor recreation, and water sports.

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Downtown:

Texas State Capital- The Texas state capital was a bit smaller than I initially thought, but it was still a stunner. We were able to go right in on a Saturday, and I was so glad it was open. We were able to walk around freely, and I enjoyed observing all of the histories here.

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The rotunda ceiling was inspiring and gorgeous. I love the dome, it is so beautiful. We got some great photos here inside the capital and around the grounds. The lawn was lush, and we hung out outside for a while just enjoying the breeze and fresh air. We were able to park in the lot across from the building for no charge. This area does get highly populated, but that’s just because of the sweet location and things to do nearby.

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South Congress Avenue, or Soco, is known for its completely authentic Austin experience. Soco is frequented for its points of interest and many outdoor activities. South Congress is near 6th street and showcases the beauty of downtown Austin’s skyline, Texas State Capital, Lady Bird Lake and more. South Congress offers vintage and boutique shopping, cozy coffee shops, various eateries and more.

When I think of SOCO, I really think F-U-N! I have to shout out a few of the places that I always frequent when I’m in the area. Tesoros, Uncommon Objects, Monkey See Monkey Do, and Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds. The strip lives up to its coined name “Keep Austin Weird.” It’s a fabulous area if you’re big in the art scene if you’re a hipster if you like folk art and if you like being around “cultured” people. I thoroughly enjoy Austin as a whole, but I could not come to the area and not visit the SOCO area.

6th Street is Austin’s downtown historic district. 6th street is popularized for its extensive entertainment offerings. Austin is vibrant in character, and this is genuinely evident just by taking a stroll in the Soco district. The energy is controlled chaos and offers visitors a sensory overload in the best way possible. There is a bohemian and hipster vibe that just exudes Austin and is entirely compelling. There is also a multitude of trendy boutiques, live music venues, street performers, art galleries, pop up shops, unique eateries and even more.

 Soco:

Lucy in Disguise With Diamonds- When in Austin I make it a point to go to Lucy’s because this costume shop is so much fun. Lucy’s is best described as an eclectic carnival style emporium. When I’m here, I feel like I’m on the set of a Moulin Rouge musical. Lucy’s has so many amazing costumes, props, and accessories that it can be quite overwhelming, but in a good way. Lucy’s is probably my favorite costume store because they have so many unique costumes and combinations. If you are looking for an outfit for a costume party, Halloween, or even a festival you will be impressed with their selection to choose from.

It’s easy to get lost in here because I just navigate down the rows until I don’t remember how long I’ve been browsing, or how I ended up in the back room with a handful of costumes, heh. They have many costumes to choose from ranging from Old Hollywood style, glitz, and glam, vintage, and retro, Greek, and Roman, fairy or mermaid costumes, periodic costumes such as The Renaissance and more. They have a separate back room, and you will find more costumes and accessories including boas, boots, costume jewelry, theatrical makeup, wigs, wings, hats, and masks. Do yourself a favor and check out Lucy’s because this is such a fun browsing/shopping experience. They are definitely on board with Keeping Austin Weird. Whimsical adventures await you.

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Tesoros Trading-  Is the place to go for international gifts. Tesoros is one of my most beloved shops in Austin. When in the Soco/South Congress area you will definitely want to check them out. The area is excellent and you can see a lot of wall art and street art in the area. Tesoros has a beautiful wall mural of The Virgin Mary/Our Lady of Guadalupe that is truly inspiring!

Upon entering the store be prepared to be dazzled! They have a huge selection of Dia de Los Muertos artwork, novelties, paintings, etc. The Day of the Dead artwork can be seen throughout the store. I also love all of the sugar skull designs.

This store has a good number of South American, Mexican, Indian and African, etc. inspired jewelry, handmade gifts, and interior home decorations. If you enjoy and appreciate folk art and culture, there are hundreds on top of hundreds of different items to browse to your heart’s desire.
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Monkey See, Monkey Do -This is another one of my go-to spots while in Austin. Have you ever wondered how did you live without banana dental floss or gum? What about absurd amounts of bacon candies? Does your mini action figure collection need updating? Do you like pop art and fan fiction? Do you love monkey paraphernalia and need more of it in your life?! Do you love nostalgic or just downright strange toys? Do you like collectibles?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you don’t want to miss stopping by Monkey Se,e Monkey Do. This store has some hilarious novelties and gag gifts coupled with some great toys and one of a kind items. This store is just fun!

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Uncommon Objects- When in Austin I usually visit Uncommon Objects at least once during my stay. They have a lot of antiques and vintage items. This store is a hub for all things vintage and retro. You really feel like you’re in a time warp and this place gives off really unique vibes. I admit my first impression was that it was a giant junk store of sorts with some hidden treasures. There are not a whole lot of items I would want to purchase here, but a lot of people like just looking around.

They have hoards of vintage knick knacks and home decor items, plus old-timey novelties and trinkets. It takes a while to browse everything they have. Some stuff doesn’t make quite enough sense, some stuff will make you chuckle, some stuff will make you scratch your head in confusion. What I love about coming here is you never know what oddities and treasures you will find. This thrift store has a lot of interesting items. The antiques here are quite costly so bring your wallet if you’re collecting a new piece of history to take back home with you.

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More shopping:

Triple Z Threadz- This store has a large assortment of toys and gaudy apparel. Triple Z Threadz has a wide variety of unusual gifts and quirky novelty items. Most of the clothing here has kitschy patterns and graphics.  Triple Z also carries many graphic tees, embroidered button downs and unique vintage pieces of clothing.

Farm to Market- F2M is perfect for health nuts. While strolling through the area, we decided to pop in Farm to Market to pick up a couple of snacks. I was glad to find this healthy little neighborhood grocery. They have snack choices including sweets, crackers, chips, drinks, etc. Also, some of the stuff is a bit pricey, but I attribute that to health store plus tourist and accessible location on Congress.

I remember my first trip here some years back, and it was the first place I had ever seen Pop chips anywhere. I was so grateful to find chips that were popped and not deep-fried. Score! They also have succulents, and cactuses outside you can purchase.

Attractions:

 Hope Graffiti Park– The Hope Gallery Graffiti Park is a concrete graffiti jungle encompassing a vast amount of street art, graffiti work, and wall murals. The graffiti park collectively showcases the artistic works of many talented local artists. The graffiti walls are ever-changing, and you can watch these colorful stories come alive before your very eyes.

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Statesman Bat Bridge-  Austin is the home of the largest urban bat colony in North America, and offers a fantastic sunset experience to visitors. Here you can witness 1.5 million bats taking flight from under the bridge and flying just overhead into the night sky. The Radisson hotel is the perfect destination to stay and is right in the center of the bat bridge. The hotel offers excellent views of the Congress Ave. Bridge and Lady Bird Lake.

So you want to see the bat show under the Congress Ave. Bridge? Well, you should know this. Yes, it was worth the hour wait. Yes, it was worth the itchy grass. Yes, I’d go again. However please note that videos/photos are tough to take as the bats fly out at a very fast speed and pictures/videos tend to be blurry due to this. Also, they do not come out till late afternoon/sunset, so you don’t have any natural light to capture them very well in.

Interestingly we had to call an actual and very real Bat Hotline to pay for parking, or you can use the kiosk. Get there pretty early as it tends to get crowded with eager spectators. Additionally, know that they don’t start trickling out till around 8pm and it’s pretty slow at first. The bats appear to be shy and playfully dart about. And then not long after this, whoosh. Up, up, and away. They swarm the sky’s and it definitely an experience to be had.

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Zilker Park- The Zilker Park is centrally located in Austin and the hub for many recreational and leisure activities and outdoor festivals, namely Austin City Limits Festival. Zilker Park consists of Zilker Botanical Gardens, Barton Springs Pool, Austin Nature and Science Center and so much more!

Lady Bird Lake- This reservoir in Austin is great for outdoor recreation where paddle boarding, kayaking, yoga, picnicking and biking are a way of life. At Lady Bird Lake you may also hike and sightsee at the trails, watch the bats emerge from under the bridge, and take a scenic river cruise.

Hippie Hollow- Hippie Hollow is a beautiful park stretched across a great lake. I had no idea when I got here this was an all nude beach, but alas we had arrived, and it didn’t make much of a difference. They do charge a park entrance fee and inform all visitors that it is an optional clothing park. Regardless of being a nude beach doesn’t seem to deter too many people. I didn’t notice any issues with any of the other park guests, and it is a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere.

Hippie Hollow is a great beach area for relaxing, sunbathing and swimming. There are lots of boulders and rocks sprawled out across the beach area, and it takes some rock climbing to find a sweet spot to hang out. I enjoyed sitting on the rocks and just taking in all the beautiful natural scenery.

Lake Travis-  Lake Travis is an enjoyable reservoir offering stunning views of the Texas Hill Country. Lake Travis offers many water sports and outdoor recreational activities. At Lake Travis, you can visit a marina, take a boat tour, wakeboard, jet ski and even more.  Lake Travis showcases many beautiful homes sitting atop Texas hills and beautiful trees and water, it is all very picturesque.

The Oasis -The Oasis is a lovely open area spot for shopping, dining, or watching sunsets. The Oasis is nestled in Austin along Lake Travis. I’ve been here a few times as the sun sets and the views off the veranda overlooking Lake Travis are incredible.  I love spending the afternoon at The Oasis because it is indeed a serene experience. I’ve had sunset dinners at The Oasis restaurant and the views from sitting at the top of a 450 ft. Cliff is just stunning. There are beautiful memories to be made here!

There is nothing quite like sitting on the veranda enjoying the most scenic and beautiful view over Lake Travis. The atmosphere here is superb. The conversation is a little better. The food is a bit better. The air up here is a little better. I could not visit the Austin area and not come to have dinner at The Oasis. The view is breathtakingly beautiful.

Keep Austin Weird!

With Love, From Austin
The Vintage Gypsy

“I write because you exist.” –Michael Faudet

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Photography Travel Uncategorized

Bucket List Dreams: Hope Graffiti Park

 

The Graffiti Park

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The Hope Outdoor Gallery, also known as Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, also known as Baylor Street Art Wall, is an incredible 3-4 multi-level tier display of murals, graffiti, wall art, and street art. Austin’s Graffiti Park is an explosion of talented graffiti artists faithfully creating and recreating mind-blowing and jaw-dropping street art.

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Throughout the day you can see artists hard at work creating murals and masterpieces before your very eyes. Many of the artists dedicate their time and talents to bring even more beauty and animation to Austin. The wall paintings are lively and full of character. The murals tell vivid stories to visitors and express the artist’s raw emotions, range and personality.

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The artists showcase new work on a daily basis. You likely will not see the graffiti park look the same twice. The talent and creativity portrayed by each artist are manifold. The paintings and stories are widespread and ever-changing. Oftentimes you can converse with the artists while they are creating their newest art piece, and they will share with you their inspiration for the mural.

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The Graffiti Park overlooks downtown Austin. We were here for dusk and got to see the sunset over downtown Austin and the Grafitti Park. Please note, parking is slim to none. We lucked up and caught street parking, but that took time and a great deal of patience. It is a tight fit in this area and there is literally no place to park that doesn’t have no parking signs. Be prepared to wait it out, go round in circles, and possibly walk a ways back once you do.

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The Graffiti Park was packed with people. Some were painting the walls with spray cans and others hanging out all along the different tiers. You can bring your own spray paint and add your mark or be like me and find a can lying around on the ground. Just be mindful of the existing work that other artists have labored perfecting their crafts.

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You may want to do some light stretching if you plan to make it all the way to the top. I believe I did some climbing and hiking and a lot of sliding back down. I’d suggest you also wear boots or tennis shoes because you’re on your own as far as getting around.

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I explored each tier and I was fascinated by the attention to detail and professionalism on most things. There are some things not as professional and fall along the lines of tagging. Some of the art is pretty raw and others are more refined. I find art in everything so I still could appreciate even these pieces.

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The Graffiti Park is a pretty hip spot to be. It is hipster-inspired and so very Austin. There are tables set up with some artists selling work. Some of the artists have their boom boxes and are just jamming out spreading good vibes all around.

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There are some massive pieces that really left me breathless. I truly love art that evokes emotions and tells stories. It was great to see so many artists here working on their crafts. We got some incredible sunset photographs. The backdrops at the park are amazing. There are so many colors here it’s just terrific! The views from the varying look out points are stunning as you can see Austin in all its glory.

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Before heading out we got to talk with one of the artists who had just completed his masterpiece that day. It was the story of the woman in the sky who was deeply in love with the man of the mountains. She left the heavens to find her one true love on the earth. He didn’t need to explain it though. The art spoke for itself and told me it’s story. The piece was deeply moving.

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The views from the bottom of the park are inspiring and the views once making it to the top are just tremendous!

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And my bucket list dreams just keep coming true!

With All My love,
The Vintage Gypsy

“She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”