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Day 215: Shop at Market Days

5 Dec

Each year, a few weeks before Christmas, the North Florida Fairgrounds is transformed into a bustling shopping market of handmade wares, from candles and Christmas ornaments to fudge; Florida-esque art; and clothing. Called “Market Days,” this two-weekend shopping extravaganza is definitely the sort of thing worth visiting at least once. It is a little pricey – I had to pay $9 just for admission and parking. My honest impression of the wares for purchase is that they just aren’t my style or in my price range. I’m not into corny signs that hang in the kitchen, tacky Christmas sweaters or photographs/art of Florida landscapes. After wandering in and out of several “markets,” I wondered if I had just wasted $9. But then I stumbled upon a booth where sturdy wooden kitchen utensils were being sold. They were beautifully crafted and unlike anything you can buy at a Wal-Mart or Target. I bought a “mixing paddle” that I was assured would work really well with dough. Then I was lured into tasting fudge samples at another booth and bought $6 worth of different fudge flavors. I probably could have done more damage to my wallet if I had more cash with me. And that reminds me – definitely hit up the ATM and bring lots of cash. The food vendors at Market Days are also better than average. There is the typical festival food of corn dogs, french fries and kettle corn, but there was also a great smattering of local restaurants represented, including local sushi/Chinese food restaurant Azu. All in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Address: North Florida Fairgrounds at 441 Paul Russell Road (entrance is off Monroe)


Day 149: Go furniture shopping in Havana

30 May

Havana is a small town northwest of Tallahassee in Gadsden County that is known for its excellent antique and furniture shopping. All of the furniture and antique stores are grouped together in the downtown area so it’s easy to walk from shop to shop. I’ve gotten quite a few furniture pieces myself there. I can recommend H&H for great couches, tables and chairs. I would describe their furniture as more traditional than modern, but it’s the type of store that almost anyone could find something they like. It is a great alternative to chain stores like Haverty’s, with pushy salespeople who follow you from section to section. At H&H, the friendly owner is nearby if you have questions but otherwise leaves you alone. Another favorite of mine is Wanderings, owned by a woman who has the job we all envy. She travels the world and shops for furniture, jewelry and other knick knacks  and sells those items from her store in Havana. Her shop is where I bought my Indonesia-made dining room table. If you’re more of an antique shopper, there is plenty to buy in Havana. Kellum’s (pictured above) is a great stop for unusual antiques. There are also quite few adorable cafes to stop for a lunchtime snack.

Address: Downtown Havana. Head north on Highway 27 (Monroe Street). You will see the furniture shops on your left once you entire downtown Havana.

Day 123: Shop at the downtown farmer’s market

3 May

Nearly every Saturday, there is a farmer’s market in downtown Tallahassee. Vendors sell fruits,vegetables, and even baked goods. There is also the obligatory jewelry stands and tie-dyed T-shirt vendors. The food itself is wonderful – much better quality than the local produce at a grocery store and you can leave feeling satisfied that you’ve done your part to support local farmers. There’s also plenty of variety, with farmers selling whatever is in season, which right now included peaches, squash, tomatoes and onions. Bring your own bags and plenty of cash, as most vendors don’t have credit card machines. It’s also a great place to bring kids, with a few booths that hawk goodies for kids, and musical entertainers. It has become a little bit like a mini-festival rather than a pure farmer’s market, which adds to its appeal for me because there was more to see and do.

Address: Monroe and Park

Day 120: Go shopping on Broad Street in Thomasville

30 Apr

There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe how warmly I feel about Thomasville’s charming downtown. First, this small town of about 20,000 about a 30-minute drive north of Tallahassee oddly has much more going on than Tallahassee’s downtown. Along a two-block street of Broad Street, smack in the middle of Thomasville’s downtown, you will find over a dozen adorable boutique clothing stores, home furnishing and fabric stores, a bookstore, coffee shop, cooking supply store and athletic-wear store. All locally owned. It’s a shopper’s paradise and I could have easily spend hundreds of dollars in that one tiny geographic area. Parking is plentiful and easy to find and the locals are friendly and helpful, always grateful for your business. My favorites are Relish, which sells gourmet cooking and baking supplies, and The Bookshelf, which has a fabulous selection of books that pertain to the South Georgia area as well as bestsellers and a children’s section. Of the clothing stores I am partial to Ally B because of its reasonable prices and great selection. It’s perfect for a Saturday day-trip from Tallahassee with your girlfriends, just don’t go on a Sunday when everything is closed.

Address: Broad Street and Jackson, Thomasville, Georgia

Day 111: Shop for cowboy boots at Way Out West

21 Apr

Way Out West is a new boutique clothing store in Midtown. It specializes in Western gear for both men and women. They also have just ordinary cute tops and T-shirts that don’t necessarily have a special “western” look to them. What this store does exceedingly well is cowboy boots. They have dozens of boots, each with their own unique look and design. The boots like as if they are handcrafted, with delicate designs, different colors and other unique features. I recently bought my first pair of cowboy boots and can tell you nothing matches the indestructible feeling when you wear them. The store also carries adorable mini-boots for kids. Way Out West is also a great place to buy other accessories, whether it’s belt buckles or cowboy hats. Their prices for regular clothing and jewelry were pretty reasonable, though the boots will run you $300 and up.

Address: 1212 North Monroe

Day 106: Shop for art at the Chain of Parks

16 Apr

The Chain of Parks is an art festival sponsored by the LeMoyne art museum that stretches across several small mid-street parks in downtown Tallahassee. It attracts artists not just from the city, but from all across Florida and the Southeast, who set up mini-stores underneath white tents. The art tents to be very Florida-based with lots of paintings or photographs of drooping trees layered in Spanish moss, swampy forests, and white-sand beaches edged with rippling blue waters.  I went with the intention that I would just window shop and sample the food vendors. But I found myself drawn to the art and loved the opportunity to speak with the artists about their particular style. (Most of it was outside of my price range. Think $500 to $2,000.) I ended up walking away with a lovely photograph of the Czech Republic from Larry Humphrey that I will hang on my living room wall. The food vendors weren’t bad, there was an abundance of kettle corn and some great locally-made ice cream from Barb’s Brittles. This isn’t exactly a child-oriented festival, it’s better  to go with friends or a spouse. The festival is free, but $1 are encouraged.

Address: Downtown Tallahassee

Day 90: Enjoy Springtime Tallahassee

2 Apr

Springtime Tallahassee is the city’s biggest annual festival and a cherished spring tradition. The festival started as a way to show legislators in town for session that sleepy Tallahassee had options for entertainment. The all-day extravaganza is worth indulging in. It starts with a 5K and 10K run in the morning. Even if you’re not a runner, park yourself along the race course and cheer on runners. My husband and I really enjoyed running in the 10K, which begins in downtown Tallahassee and winds its way through the nearby (and very hilly) Myers Park neighborhood. Then there’s the Springtime parade, with loads of giant floats that people have spent months bedazzling. This year, Florida’s Governor served as the Grand Marshal. It’s a definite favorite for kids, and extremely family-friendly. Thankfully, there is no need to display body parts to secure beads. Afterward, several downtown city blocks are closed to street vendors selling clothing, food, knick-knacks and art. I discovered the best shaved ice of my life at one of the food vendors. It wasn’t just hot dogs and cotton candy, either. They had seafood, Thai, BBQ and more. I can’t say enough good things about Springtime, though it does get crowded as seemingly the entire city descends upon a few downtown blocks. Come armed with a parking plan and good walking shoes.

Address: Downtown Tallahassee