Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE books. And bookstores.
And while the big box chain stores are fine for picking up a magazine or the newest best seller, I have a special place in my heart for small, independent bookstores. Sadly, they seem to being a dying breed. So when I find one I love, I need to share it.
Today, that’s South Congress Books. This tiny treasure is tucked in among the quirky shops and restaurants on South Congress, near places like Big Top Candy and Guero’s Taco Bar. But it’s not a spot for the party crowd.
This is the place to go for that rare book you just have to have for yourself or a gift. Or an out-of-print or vintage treasure you just cannot find in a chain bookstore.
It’s also a place to wander through, and find yourself inspired by a beautiful image on a book cover, or magnificent illustrations or a haunting opening sentence — and discovering that THIS is a book you cannot live without.
If you’re searching for a certain title, you can check out their online inventory to see if they have it in stock. But I prefer to just stop in, and ask. That way, I get to browse the shelves — and maybe find that the book-I-did-not-know-I-needed (but now do!) is sitting right in front of me.
I’d heard about it. I’d even walked past it on the way to another event. But it wasn’t until this past weekend when someone dragged me to it that I actually went into Austin’s Citywide Garage Sale.
And I think it took all of about 30 seconds from walking in the door to be absolutely hooked! First, there were the tables piled high with vintage linens, from quilts to hand-embroidered pillowcases. Then there were the primitives…furniture, metal wheels, and so much more, all rich with patina and worn with use. And as if that wasn’t enough, there were the kitschy collectibles, that just begged me to stop and look.
Everything was tempting…and yes, I do mean EVERYTHING! It took a lot of willpower to keep my wallet safely tucked away (well, most of the time!) But even browsing and chatting with the vendors was a blast. Even kids I saw were having a great time checking out the “old stuff”, and asking questions. And if they find something they like, it could be a chance to start them on a collection of their own.
Best thing of all? This is not a once a year event! It happens every month! And with the low admission fee ($5.00 and kids under 12 are free!), it’s a guilty pleasure I can afford over and over again. Want to make it even cheaper? Sign up for their e-mail list, and you’ll knock a dollar off your admission!
One of the best ways to get to know a new city is to visit the local history museum. And Austin is no exception.
But the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in downtown Austin is not your average history museum. From the IMAX to the interactive theatre complete with sights, sounds, and even a bit of rain (can this be Texas? Nah, it never rains in Texas…at least not since I’ve been here!) it’s genuinely fun!
Even the cafe was good…and cheap! A major wow for a museum restaurant!
If you’re planning to be around for awhile, join the museum. The free IMAX tickets alone make it worthwhile, and with three floors jam-packed with exhibits, you may need more than one visit to see it all.