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Exotic Resort Zoo: Take a Guided Safari Tour in Texas

Exotic Resort Zoo

Last weekend my family took a mini road trip to the Exotic Resort Zoo in Johnson City. I’ve wanted to check it for years and am so glad we finally had the opportunity. It’s about an hour out of town but truly a world away.

The zoo is located on 137 acres with over 500 animals and 80 different species. The highlight is the guided safari tour, where you ride around the property in a large open but covered trailer. You can buy buckets of feed for $6 each, which I highly recommend (they are large enough to share).

The tour takes about 45 minutes, and our guide did a wonderful job of telling us about the animals as we meandered through the grounds.

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Lake Travis Real Estate: Reached the Peak in 2013 or Still Climbing?

Positive Housing Market

The last peak for the Lake Travis real estate market was back in 2006. The area had experienced quite the boom during that time — especially the market for new home construction.

Builders were having a hard time keeping up with the demand. Prices and sales volume for single family homes in Central Texas hit an all time high. That all came to a screeching halt when the mortgage market meltdown began in the summer of 2007 and continued to affect the housing market for several years.

The Lake Travis real estate market experienced prices at their lowest and inventory at its highest during 2009.

And then, slowly but surely, things started to pick up.

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The Backyard at Bee Cave: The Final Year for the Live Oak Amphitheatre?

The Backyard

Located behind Bee Cave Central Park — and at appropriately named “Willie Way” — The Backyard is an open-air music venue considered by many an Austin favorite and Hill Country treasure.

Over the years, music lovers have enjoyed concerts from a list that reads like a who’s who of some of the best and varied musicians of our time. To name a few: Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Merle Haggard, Coldplay, Widespread Panic, Alanis Morissette, Elvis Costello, the Gypsy Kings, Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakum, ZZ Top and of course, Willie Nelson.

The Backyard opened its doors in 1993 and originally was located near the intersection of Highway 71 and Ranch Road 620. Nestled in the small town of Bee Cave before there were many of the retailers and restaurants now established, this venue provided a unique and welcomed addition to the Austin music scene.

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Best Places for Easter Brunch: Lake Travis and Beyond

Funny black and white kitten wearing pink Easter bunny ears.

Have you made a reservation for Easter Brunch?

Easter Sunday, coming up on April 20th, is a popular day to go out to eat.

Whether you’re looking for an upscale brunch or a laid back patio with live music, many of us choose to dine at a restaurant rather than cook at home. Some folks want a family friendly spot with activities for the kids, while others base their decision solely on who offers the best mimosa and bloody mary specials.

Whatever your criteria (we don’t judge!) there’s a little something for everyone here in the Lake Travis area.

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Bee Cave Public Library: Summer Reading Programs, Bee Cave Book Club, and More!

Bee Cave Library

Do you like to read?

Finding a good library in the area will afford you many opportunities. Besides having a place for some quiet time and finding good books — you’ll have the chance to connect with other book lovers, encourage your little ones to read, volunteer and more.

But did you know the Bee Cave Public Library is more than just a “good” library?

According to Library Journal’s Index of Library Service 2012, Bee Cave is home to a nationally top-ranked public library based on a comparison with libraries of similar population, size and budget.

At the Bee Cave Public Library, you can take advantage of all sorts of reading programs, special events, cool online tools, and more.

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Lake Travis Cycling Guide: The Mansfield Dam Loop

Mansfield Dam Loop

It’s no secret that Austin is home to a huge biking community, for both road and mountain. There’s no better way to see a city and find out what it has to offer than on a bicycle. And with miles and miles of bike routes, this especially holds true in Lake Travis.

One such route can give you an excellent overview of the Lake Travis area. The Mansfield Dam Loop is a road ride with several different variations that will take you up and down the hills of west Austin and along the south shore of Lake Travis.

Here’s the breakdown on one of the more popular road rides in Lake Travis.

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Jester King Brewery: The Farmhouse Style of Brewing Beer

Welcome to Jester King Brewery

In the past five years in Central Texas, the craft beer scene has experienced unexpected growth in a number of ways. More than a dozen breweries have opened within a short driving distance of Lake Travis, giving you a reason to take a picturesque day trip out to the hills.

And with the new change in state law in 2013, breweries are now able to file for the proper permits and licenses to become a brewpub, which essentially allows them to sell their creative concoctions directly to you to consume on site and to take home. This is good news for many breweries that already hosted tasting rooms and tours.

Just on the edge of Hays County, on a small section of unincorporated farmland in Austin sits Jester King Brewery. Brewing out of an old machine shop that was transported to the 220-acre farm that it sits on today, and sharing five of those acres with neighbor Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza, is one of Texas’ most creative artisanal brewpubs in the state.

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Why You Might Not Find Your Home on Zillow or Trulia

Lake Travis Home Search Map

Whether you’re looking to make a move to the Lake Travis area or move up within the area, looking at homes online is where you’ll most likely begin to gather information.

And if you’ve started to look at homes online, it’s very likely that you’ve landed on sites like Trulia and Zillow. Both of these national real estate portal sites spend a lot of money to be at the top on the first page of Google.

So what can you expect to find when you visit the top national real estate portal sites?

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Cho Sushi: Japanese Fusion in Steiner Ranch and Lakeway

Cho Sushi Steiner Ranch

It was back in early 2007 when some of the first commercial development in Steiner Ranch was completed. A small bakery and coffee shop that went by the name of Delicato was one of the first restaurants to occupy the many spaces that made up Vista Ridge at Steiner Ranch.

Many of the original occupants struggled to connect with Steiner Ranch residents. Who remembers Tutto Gusto?

It was tough timing as the economy slowed and business owners faced the challenges from competition as more development moved into the area. Selling really expensive coffee and gelato proved to be a business model that wouldn’t be successful enough to pay the rent. It wasn’t long until the doors of Delicato permanently closed.

The timing couldn’t have been better for two brothers with a vision of bringing their own style of comfort food to the Lake Travis area.

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Things to Do in Gruene, TX

Gruene Hall

One of the cool things about living in Austin is the number of quick day trips you can take within a short drive. Gruene (pronounced like the color of a shamrock), near New Braunfels, is one of my favorites field trips.

Gruene is a charming historic town and the home of Gruene Hall, which proudly claims the title of Texas’ oldest dance hall. Numerous country musicians cut their teeth there including George Straight, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett and plenty more. It remains a huge draw to this day, with live performances from big names regularly.

Jerry Jeff Walker plays this weekend, and there’s a great lineup all month. Some shows are free, so if you’ve never experienced a show there plan to check it off your Texas bucket list this summer.

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