Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Wimberley, Texas is my happy place. As I drive the 15 miles west of San Marcos, breathing in the hill country views, I can’t stop the little smile that creeps onto my face as I approach the sign that says, “Welcome to Wimberley ‘a little bit of heaven.’” Quaint little shops dotting the banks of the beautiful cypress-lined Blanco River make me feel ages away from city life, even though it’s taken a mere hour to travel there.
On the first Saturday of every month, from March to December, this lovely little town welcomes visitors from far and wide to Wimberley Lions Market Days. More than 475 vendors open their booths to sell everything from vintage apparel to children’s toys. It is part garage sale, part flea market and part antiques mall. But what you might not expect is that the market is actually a relaxing and enjoyable shopping experience for the whole family.
What makes Wimberley Lions Market Days unique is that many of the booths are permanent fixtures, owned by the vendors, which are set up like little stores. They have been painted and decorated, some have specialized flooring and sales counters. The booths are present year-round, so vendors do not need to set up anew each month. This creates the feel of an outdoor shopping mall, where you meander from store to store, along seemingly endless tree-lined paths.
Last month I took my 8 and 10 year old to kick-off the Wimberley Lions Market Days season. My kids can’t get enough of the market, so they were thrilled to tag along. The vendors are welcoming, the treasures are endless and, best of all, many prices are not much more than you’d find at a garage sale. Here a few deals I scored in March:
- Funky marbles for my 4-year-old – 10¢ each
- A brand new Carter’s Easter outfit for my nephew - $3.50
- A brand new tutu for my niece - $5
- A vintage ‘50s apron for my sister-in-law - $5
If you go:
- Bring cash, as some booths do not take credit cards. You will also need $3 - $5 for parking.
- Take along a lunch, or plan to buy a barbecue plate from the Wimberley Lions. If you sit at picnic tables in the pavilion, you can enjoy free live music periodically throughout the day.
- Bring a few bottles of water, sunscreen and hats. A good deal of the market is not shaded.
- Arrive early. The market starts at 7 a.m. If you get there when the gates open, parking is a breeze, it’s not too hot out, and you get the best selection of goods.
- Bring a cart, wagon or stroller, to load up with your purchases.
- Have a plan for stroller-bound kids, as many booths are not big enough to accommodate strollers. It’s nice to have two adults along, so one can take stroller duty.
- Print a site map before you go, to help you navigate the huge market: http://www.shopmarketdays.com/pdf/2011_directory.pdf
- Wimberley Market Days is located at 601 FM 2325 in Wimberley.
- You can reach Wimberley from Austin by taking US-290 or I-35.
- The major road into Wimberley is Ranch Road 12. The intersection of RR12 and FM 2325 has a traffic signal; look for ACE Hardware and King Feed Store at the intersection. Turn on 2325 (toward Blanco) and proceed less than a mile. Wimberley Market Days will be on the left; Lions parking lots are on the right.