If I had to pick one word to describe Spa Luxe it would be “experience.” From the warm welcome you receive upon walking in the door to the truly first-class treatments, the experience was nothing short of exceptional.
I’m not sure how many spa days you need under your belt to be considered an expert, but whatever the number is—I’m close! This is probably very obnoxious, but I swear it’s just part of being a lifestyle blogger. That, and lots of 5Ks, heavy appetizers, and cheap champagne! I’ve been scrubbed and buffed and steamed in hotels and day spas at various price points. But I can tell you: The sprawling Spa Luxe in Georgetown has set a new bar.
A critical part of the spa day for me is the relaxation room, the staging room if you will. A luxurious robe and some not-so-cheap champagne before a massage always sets the tone for some serious me time. Spa Luxe set the stage just right. Next up was a 90-minute massage. You now how certain people are born to do things? Like Michael Phelps was born to swim like a fish? Beyoncé was born to bring the house down? Well my masseuse was born to rub muscles! She had a gift for knowing the right amount of pressure and feeling points of tension without me even mentioning it. It was magical and my 80 minutes were over far too soon.
Photo Credit: Aubrey Young Photography
Next up was a HydraFacial, which is the latest and greatest when it comes to facials. I’ve long struggled with clogged pours and this treatment was just what I needed. It’s been three weeks and my face still feels and looks clear and fresh. That most definitely will not be my last HydraFacial.
Topping off my day of self care was a pedicure, with my glass of bubbly in hand. The thing about Spa Luxe is that everyone was so good at their specific job. I felt like I was the only client of the day and they were truly invested in my longterm wellness. A real highlight in the crazy life of a blogger. Duty calls!
It’s almost impossible to believe, but Austin’s beloved Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is celebrating its 43rd year of existence! This famous fine art market and musical fest features national and local award-winning artists, at least three bands performing live each day, two full bars, and local food. The holiday atmosphere gets merrier every year.
There is no better place to pick up unique gifts for the people on your list. The event features more than 175 contemporary touring visual artists and local favorites showcasing their work while the Armadillo Bazaar stage entertains shoppers with national touring acts and Grammy nominated musicians. With lights down low, spirits high, and the music just right, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar makes holiday shopping fun.
The 2018 bazaar will also give back to local nonprofits in a big way! Feel good about throwing your money around this year—and shop for gifts that could only be found right here in Austin.
To save time and snag your tickets online, click here!
When: December 13th–24th
Time: 11 a.m.–10p.m. daily
Cost: $10 for General Admission | Free for kids 12 and under
This year a whopping 280 artists (that’s a record!) submitted their applications for Austin’s famous Cherrywood Art Fair! This beloved ATX holiday event just gets bigger and better all the time.
Come shop for the most unique and meaningful gifts at Maplewood Elementary school in the Cherrywood neighborhood. The hallways and sidewalks will be lined with handmade ceramics and pottery, eclectic art, stylish apparel, one-of-a-kind jewelry, natural skincare, playful pet products, and whimsical children’s merchandise. More than just shopping the Fair offers live music and entertainment, kids crafts, and local eats.
So you can plan ahead, here are some of the participating artists:
This is always one of our favorite events in December, because it strengthens local businesses, connects families, and supports aspiring young artists. The proceeds from Cherrywood Art Fair benefit Maplewood Elementary School and Chula League’s Little Artist BIG ARTIST program, a free 10-week mentoring program pairing professional artists with East Austin 5th and 6th graders to turn ideas into art and art into business.
Skip the megastores, and go hyper-local with this Austin tradition. There’s really nothing else like it.
For the 8th year in a row, the team at Netspend decided to forgo the traditional office holiday party and give back to the local community. The holiday season at this Austin-based company is not about long lunches, over-the-top celebrations or loud music—it’s about the amazing reward, and personal satisfaction, of helping your neighbor and the community. This day of giving they call “Netspend Community Connect” was held yesterday, Thursday, November 15th.
Founded in 1999, Netspend offers prepaid debit cards and innovative payment solutions to consumers who have historically been “underbanked” or choose to be self-banked to deal with their financial needs. This unique holiday tradition gives employees a chance step away from their daily routines and take a “walk in the shoes” of Netspend customers. Community Connect is designed to highlight the everyday hurdles that so many people face—especially in an expensive city like Austin.
On Thursday, about 650 participants, broken into 72 teams, took to the streets of Austin and gave away more than $30,000. A little kindness goes a long way, and this year’s participants paid it forward to unsuspecting Austinites by paying for their groceries, gas, bills and much more.
On top of this Community Connect event, Netspend and its partners, have also raised $400,000 to fund the Netspend Scholarship Foundation’s awards for 2019 which will include 120+ deserving recipients from across the US.
“Community Connect is a proud Netspend tradition, and every year around the holidays, we’re humbled to continue the initiative alongside our partners, and to give back to our beloved city of Austin,” said Netspend President Kelley Knutson. “If other organizations embrace this concept, and participate in days of giving back to their communities (over and above their normal charity giving), we’ve helped evolve our mission to a greater collective good. This event is a personally moving, and motivating, experience and we are thrilled to have raised the most money to date for our Community Connect day, and we look forward to continuing our deep-rooted tradition for years to come.”
Where to Next? Race, the city-wide scavenger hunt that saw huge turnouts in D.C. and Nashville is on its way to ATX! Test your knowledge of our fair city, along with all of your brains and brawn. This is basically an action-packed combination of race, scavenger hunt, outdoor escape room, and interactive city tour. You’ve seen Amazing Race, right? Then you are ready.
Grab your best buddy because this involves two-person teams solving clues to locate checkpoints across the city and complete physical and mental challenges at each one. Checkpoints will include iconic Austin landmarks, unique local spots, and a few wildcards. Teams can travel between checkpoints on foot, bike, public transportation, rideshare apps, personal vehicles, etc.
The race will be logged live via Instagram @wheretonextrace_ and will showcase the challenges and activities of the race. W2NR allows followers to tune in on Instagram to see coverage of the race and watch as the action unfolds. The W2NR staff is with racers every step of the way to enhance and personalize the racing experience!
Teams that finish the race within the goal time will win an equal share of the prize money! The minimum prize money will be $1000 but it has the potential to go way up based upon the number of people who sign-up.
Scholz Garten is hosting W2NR registration and the post-race after party! For more information about this crazy-fun situation, click here.
The Gruene Music & Wine Festival + Craft Beer Event, which began way back in 1986, is a four-day festival with four distinct events to offer. This long weekend of fun in one of the most charming and historic parts of Texas is a celebration Americana music, wine, craft beer, food, and local makers. There will be more than 90 Texas wines and 75 Texas craft beers for tasting, so come thirsty. Everyone from Shinyribs to Clint Black and Emmylou Harris has played this iconic event.
Since its founding, the fest has always benefited the Comal County United Way, a charity whose mission is to improve the quality of life for locals by generating resources to meet the needs of the community.
Check out the day-by-day details below and click here to get your tickets! If you haven’t been to Gruene, this will be the perfect intro to a true Texas gem.
When: October 4th – 7th
Gruene Historic District
THURSDAY: KICKOFF EVENT
Specially curated wine & beer tasting
VIP Tickets Available
FRIDAY: ROCKIN’ WITH TEXAS WINE & FOOD
Private show & meet ‘n’ greet with Aaron Watson
Wine tasting by three of Texas’ best vineyards
Catered Dinner by The Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar
The Great Guitar Auction
SATURDAY: TEXAS TASTINGS & TUNES
90+ wines for tasting
SUNDAY: + CRAFT BEER EVENT & MUSIC FEST
Over 75 craft beers for tastings & wines for purchase
Wedding season is officially upon us! The invites are out, the tents are going up, the signature cocktails are flowing, and that makes pretty much everyone in a serious relationship start thinking about making it official.
This spring, Benold’s Jewelers, Austin’s favorite bridal and fashion jewelry destination for more than 85 years, is going all out to help you find the perfect engagement ring during their Spring Bridal Event. The choices may be overwhelming, so they’re bringing the best designers together for two special days. Plus, shoppers will get 20% off featured bridal designers! If you’re in the market, there is no time like the present.
Designers will have representatives at the event to discuss their newest lines, and help you understand the four C’s, and everything else you need to know about this all-important purchase.
When: Friday, May 4 (Special Preview Night, 5 – 8 p.m.) and Saturday, May 5 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
While planning a power-bonding group activity for my co-workers recently, I was struggling with the decidedly un-cool nature of the options. A pub on wheels? No thanks. A Segway tour? They’d never forgive me. Or trust falls? Oh God, no. I didn’t want to embarrass these people, I wanted to have a fun with them!
Thankfully, because of this very site, I came across Your Biker Gang, which bills itself as one of the funnest things to do in Austin. This company helps you create your own motorcycle gang, but subs in fat-tired electric minibikes for the motorcycles, which are so much safer and completely glee-inducing.
I can tell you now that when I surprised my beloved colleagues with this outing, I became, for that brief shining moment, the hero of our office. When we arrived at their headquarters in West Austin, our little gang of nine were outfitted with helmets and bandanas by our fearless leader and road captain, Cope. We also had what’s called a “sweeper,” a super nice guy who held up the tail end of the crew and kept us all very very safe.
After a quick tutorial and training on the bikes in a parking lot, we were out on the open road, with Cope blasting classic biker gang tunes from a giant speaker on his bike. I immediately wanted to buy one of these bikes and I still do. It’s a little intimidating at first, but once you learn to trust this speedy little machine and lean into your turns (top speed is 20 mph) you become one with the bike and basically feel like you can do anything. Anything! Like riding in Downtown Austin traffic.
As someone who has grown up in this city, and takes its beauty for granted on a daily basis, I can tell you that this is an amazing way to see Austin. As we biked over the pedestrian bridge on Lady Bird Lake, through Zilker Park, and along Waller Creek, I fell in love with this place all over again. The wind was blowing our hair back, people were looking at our crew with total envy, and Cope was doing stunts at the front like a badass. We were the happiest Hell’s Angels you ever did see.
If you need an activity to entertain a crew, whether they are family, friends, coworkers, or total strangers, Your Biker Gang will be a hit, I promise. They will customize the tour for your group so you can get history and trivia and see the big sights like murals, statues, the UT campus, and more. Or—if you are locals like us—you can just have a joyride and stop for tacos on the way. These bikes are easy to ride and the concept is as feel-good as it gets.
It’s time to jump on your electric hog and get lost for a while. Be a group-activity-planning hero for once. The road is calling!
On a drizzly Saturday morning in January, after leaving the loving embrace of Lazarus Brewing Co. on East 6th Street, our guide Adam told the origin story of the food tour we had just set off on. It goes something like this: On a trip out to Los Angeles, the founders Lindsey and Andy had signed up for a culinary tour of the city. After three hours of walking around, they were still hungry and had no buzz to speak of. Well this isn’t good, they thought to themselves. Surely,we can do better!
And do better they did, by starting Austin Eats Food Tours in January 2011 and ensuring that people who put down their hard-earned money for a tour of Austin’s finest food and booze offerings would leave with full bellies, and full hearts. “We love the Austin vibe—live music every night of the week and local restaurants that take as much pride in their unique décor as their original recipes,” Andy says. “We wanted to develop a vehicle that highlights local Texas born establishments throughout the city.”
Seven years in and many many tours later, the couple has perfected the art of touring Austin like a local—so much so that roughly 65 percent of their guests are actually from here. My husband and I are old townies who grew up in Austin and have watched in awe as it’s changed and morphed over the years. The Brunch, BBQ, and Brewery Tour was the perfect way us to check out a bunch of new spots in one go, and observe the ever-changing eastside like a couple of anthropologists.
We were instructed to come hungry, and by the time we met Adam and our new friends at Lazarus Brewing Co., we were starving. Adam—like an angel sent from above—pointed out a long table reserved for our crew and said that orders of breakfast tacos (little, adorable tacos) were already on their way. We immediately loved and trusted Adam. “This is not just a food tour,” he told us, “it’s a support group.” A flight of beer followed, and we got to know our new posse. What struck me right away was how subtle and non-touristy this felt. We just looked like a crew of people who were chatty and friendly. There was nothing about the format of the tour that shouted TOURISTS. Basically, a passing observer would have probably thought we were friends of the owner who were getting some extra TLC.
What followed were brisket kolaches at the Kerlin BBQ trailer where Adam ran across the street to get us a 12 pack of Shiner (again, the man is an angel), chicken and waffles and cactus pear mimosas at The Hightower, and crazy-good gelato at Gemelli. I got the lemon curd and it tasted like the best cheesecake of my life. The tour ended at Zilker Brewing Company, where we tasted more great local beer, and hung around like people with nothing to do but enjoy our city for a few hours. It was sublime.
Along the way Adam pointed out more of his favorite spots in the area and had menu recommendations for each. He was funny, informative, and chill—a guide/friend hybrid that made the tour a total pleasure. The mechanics of the tour were seamless. Everything was paid for, timed beautifully, and thoughtfully put together. They are pumping money into the Austin economy by showing off burgeoning local businesses that are doing something different.
If it’s been a while since you tried some new food in Austin, or you are checking out the city over a short period of time, try an Austin Eats Food Tour. It’s the best way I can think of to get a real taste of Austin—and leave completely satisfied.
Investing in a new restaurant concept probably sounds like something only rich people do, but we’re living in the golden age of crowdfunding, so we can all get in on the ground floor of something big. Eight years ago, the founders of Peli Peli teamed up to bring South African fusion cuisine to Houston. From their initial start in Vintage Park, the team of Executive Chef Paul Friedman, Michael Tran, and Thomas Nguyen have now expanded to three locations throughout the metro area. Both Tran (BS ’99) and Nguyen (BA ’98, JD ’01) are UT Austin grads, so when it came time to expand beyond their home in Houston, they set their sights on ATX.
Plans are for Peli Peli Austin to take over a space in the downtown 2nd Street District and open its doors in September of 2017. The team now has an active expansion campaign on the NextSeed platform where the community can uncover more specifics on the business, team members, and follow up on updates about the restaurant.
To fuel its growth, Peli Peli had resounding success with a campaign in May 2016, raising $358,000 for its Houston Galleria location on NextSeed’s platform in Texas. The funds allowed the restaurant group to increase its working capital and invest in its infrastructure. In just eleven months, the team paid their investors back—well ahead of schedule—returning $409,513 to the members who invested.
Since its launch in 2015, NextSeed has facilitated over $4 million in crowdfunded investments in restaurants, bars, and other local businesses in Texas and around the U.S. using state and federal crowdfunding rules. For as little as $100, investors can invest in a project or concept that they feel passionate about—supporting local by investing local.
NextSeed provides the investor with an overview of each campaign, a detailed description of the business model and leadership team, market analysis, all of the investment details, and the opportunity to ask questions in a virtual community forum.
NextSeed was the first SEC-registered regulation crowdfunding platform in the country and is now operating from coast to coast.
To learn more about opportunities like Peli Peli, all the active as well as fully funded campaigns nationwide, visit NextSeed.
Any views expressed in this article reflect the personal views of the author only for discussion purposes and should not be viewed as investment advice or recommendation, and does not constitute any legal or tax advice with respect to any securities. Rendering of Peli Peli Austin dining room. Courtesy of NextSeed Rendering of Poitin interior. Courtesy of NextSeed Rendering of Poitin interior bar area. Courtesy of NextSeed.