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It’s fun to shop local

Courtesy Austin CVB

Prepare your members for an afternoon of strolling cobblestone streets tucked amidst historic neighborhoods, ducking in and out of chic boutiques, purchasing that sparkly find of a lifetime and nibbling on a bag of spiced popcorn that can’t be found anywhere else.

Yes, we’re talking about shopping, a favorite bank group activity. Although the stores at a local mall can be found most anywhere, there are neighborhoods in some favorite bank travel destinations with one-of-a-kind shopping opportunities.

These urban clusters offer not only local designs, art and vintage treasures, but also sweet and savory indulgences that add to a shopping experience.

Austin, Texas
Experiencing the live music in the Live Music Capital of the World is just the beginning for an Austin vacation, according to Steve Alberts, communications manager for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“Two neighborhoods stand out for the best areas to hang out and shop for an afternoon,” Alberts said. “Second Street, a vibrant urban setting, offers a mixed use of fun places, including the lofts and restaurants that the locals enjoy, and also the chic retail opportunities that are the star attractions for tourists.

“Plain Ivey Jane and Girl Next Door are just two examples of the hip women’s boutiques. Mercury is a design studio with the best of gifts and art. And after a stop at Joe’s for a cup of coffee, head to Lofty Dog to pick up something for your pampered pooch.”

South Congress, known as SoCo, is the second shopping stop. “Located in the strip below Lady Bird Lake, this is where students and hipsters of all ages shop for antiques, jewelry, artwork and more. Check out Heritage Boots for your cowboy boots and both Feathers and Prototype for vintage clothing,” Alberts said.

Take note that Whole Foods Market’s flagship store is located in Austin. “At 80,000 square feet, this is a culinary amusement park,” said Alberts. “From tacos to barbecue stands, there are 14 in-store eateries. And across the street is Book People, one of the nation’s best independent book stores, where readers get lost in the pages.”

Waterloo Records, the 6,400-square-foot record store, is another not-to-miss shopping opportunity.

“All the music is displayed alphabetically, so you’ll find local artists next door to the biggest names in the business,” said Alberts.

And from French crepes to Vietnamese tacos, no one will have to look far for an inexpensive meal, as Austin is home to 1,500 mobile food trucks.

800-926-2282, ext. 7232

Dubuque, Iowa
Victorian Dubuque, with $400 million in expansions and renovations to the Port of Dubuque, is home to wineries, the glitziest of casinos, nature on the Mississippi River and niche neighborhoods where the shopping reflects the heritage.

“Our downtown offers the gamut on opportunities to stuff an extra suitcase,” said Julie Kronlage, director of sales for the Dubuque Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Upscale antique shops showcase the best of vintage items this area is known for, quilt shops highlight handcrafted finished products, and we even have a popcorn shop where our popcorn is a souvenir must.”

Visitors will want to check out the two newest shopping additions on Main Street: The Fig Leaf Intimates, a shop specializing in clothing, gifts and cosmetics, and the Chocolaterie Stam, where browsers often sip a homemade-blend cup of coffee while choosing between European sweets and truffles.

“The H.J. Fashion Emporium is another cool experience. With old-fashioned charm, you can find clothing and shoes, including Birkenstocks, in all sizes,” said Kronlage.

After riding Fenelon Place Elevator, bank groups find themselves at Cable Car Square, where three blocks of shopping bliss await. Jewelry, baskets, Irish imports and more are crammed into this neighborhood below the bluffs.

“And don’t miss a local favorite: the cake dots at All Things Sweet,” added Kronlage. “Cake dots are rolled cake pieces in thick frosting, and this confectionary is known as the best in the tristate area.”