Outdoor Adventures

Nothing Square about The Square

The San Marcos Downtown Square

Overall Rating: 8     Good for: all ages     Time spent: 2 hours

2292670165_f659a05594_bThe Square of San Marcos refers to the perimeter of the Hays County Historic Courthouse. It’s bustling with life from the nearby Texas State University and is both populated and run largely by students and alumni. The exclusivity of the population, however, shouldn’t be any sort of a turn-off. Included in the surrounding buildings are bars, mom and pop shops, restaurants, and art exhibits. The courthouse lawn is also home to a variety of events year around including small music festivals. This place couldn’t feel any more like home with its historic buildings and friendly inhabitants.

I like to spend my days in the square doing one of two things: (1) Stopping by two of my favorite resale shops. The first is a store affectionately named “Junk in Da Trunk.” It’s a huge collection of vintage clothes, accessories, and collectibles. Hands down the cutest antique store I’ve ever been to. The second is only half resale, but whole vintage. Superfly’s Lonestar Music Emporium is way less country than you would imagine but does carry the largest selection of vinyl records that I’ve seen in a very long time. It truly feels like you’ve stepped into the 1960’s and I couldn’t be more excited about it. (2) Munching on the famously good Insomnia cookies. I mean, who couldn’t love a cookie shop that delivers fresh warm deliciousness to you until 3am? It’s a must try in the town of San Marcos.

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Speaking of 3am, the nightlife at the Square is nothing short of what you’d expect it to be 5 minutes away from a college campus. Live bands can be heard performing inside many of the 27 bars and lounges in the surrounding streets. It’s a trademark of this town, and not taking advantage of it would be a huge mistake.

All and all, the Square is a very cool place to visit if you enjoy historic towns and of course shopping. It’s a neat experience that you can’t necessarily find in a whole lot of cities outside of the Northeast coast. The Texas charm is very present in the mannerisms of shop employees and in the buildings themselves, but it’s contemporary enough to be a hit with teens and 20-somethings alike. It’s a wonderful stop for all ages during the day, and its really great for ages 21+ at night. The perfect combination for family vacations if you ask me.

I’ll be back soon!

Jen

 

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Outdoor Adventures

Sunburnt but Happy at the Japanese Tea Gardens

The Japanese Tea Gardens

Overall Rating: 10!     Good for: All Ages     Time Spent: 1.5 hours

IMG_9196These gardens are so beautiful. It was like taking a breath of fresh air in an otherwise very industrialized, crowded city. The Japanese Tea Gardens are between 5 and 10 minutes from downtown San Antonio, depending, of course, on traffic and your willingness to speed. It’s publically and privately funded, which is to say that its free to get into and free to stay for as long as you’d like. The pathways are largely wheelchair accessible, and you should absolutely save this trip for a day with a little less sunshine and a temperature a few degrees lower than I did on my most recent trip. It’s a great place for short walks, sunshine, and individuals of any age. At the top of the garden stairs, and closest to the entrance there is a tiny shop that sells teas and trinkets, and attached is a lovely cafe with a variety of very tasty menu options.

The ponds that lay in the center of the gardens are home to beautifully colored Koi fish, which was a fun surprise for me. Surrounding these ponds are 360° views of exotic flowers, bushes, and trees. My visiting family was amazed that such a place could exist in a city as large as this, and you will be too. The outside noise in non-existent, and it feels like you’re in an oasis 100 miles away from everything else, a truly beautiful concept. You won’t find anything this green anywhere else in San Antonio.

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The aspect of the gardens that most interests me is the “secret” path behind the waterfall. It’s a bit muddy and a bit narrow, but it is so worth it (in the right shoes). If you follow this trail all the way up it will take you to the most magnificent view of the San Antonio skyline, and it’s definitely a view you won’t forget anytime soon.

I could not recommend the Japanese Tea Gardens any more highly. It is a tradition that has been kept alive for almost a hundred years, and I hope it is one that is kept alive for 100 more.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” -Gary Snyder 

Bye for now,

Jenna