Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Woodlands, Texas

My family had our second trip to The Woodlands, Texas (North of Houston).  Actually, my son's best friend moved there and we were picking him up from his Spring Break visit.  

The first time I visited was to cheer on my brother-in-law who was participating in the Ironman Texas a couple a years ago.  We volunteered to hand out drinks during the biking portion.  Those of you who don't know what an Ironman is, well it's amazing.  It's a 2.4-mile swim /112-mile bike/ 26.2-mile run.  A really long day! The next Ironman Texas is in The Woodlands on May 18, 2013.  (If you are thinking of racing, sorry it's already booked)  After wondering all over The Woodlands that weekend, I liked it and thought "I could live here".  

Me handing out water at the Ironman
It was worth a trip back just to hang out and enjoy the township.  The Woodlands is a master-planned community full of trails, woods, parks, neighborhoods (they call "Villages") that range from apartments to mansions, shopping, entertainment venues, golf and restaurants.  So nothing is far and it's setting is picturesque (if you like trees).   All the commercial building have a sign ordinance that has height and size restrictions.  You really can't see the signs from the road, so you have to know your directions and street names because there are no landmarks.  I love the whole vibe of the town, a little urban and suburban mix.  Technically, it's called a mixed-use community where commercial and residential with mixed incomes all co-exist in a small area.  (Mixed-use development is — in a broad sense — any urban, suburban or village development, or even a single building, that blends a combination of residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, or industrial uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and that provides pedestrian connections.)

With these beautiful planned communities, design and landscaping have strict regulations.  This is definitely something to consider if you want to live in one.  You can't cut down a tree without replacing it.  You can't change anything without permission.  There is a long list of when, what and how often to do things like trash and cutting the grass (which must be cut once a week).  Most likely the villages are strictly monitored and you probably will receive pictures of your violations. But that's what makes it remain the beauty it is.  I personally love a planned community!

We had one Saturday to explore, so we went for a walk/run, brunch, shopping (Anthropologie of course) and visit with friends.

View of Street
 We walked to the Town Center from our hotel, so I took some pictures along with way.  Most of the roads have paths.
Example of the shop signs

Street lamps near Town Center

Yellow Lamborghini
 I couldn't help myself!  Who drives a 1/2 million dollar car?

Pathways are nice and wide

Bridge at Waterway Square
There is about 1.5 mile loop around the waterway that is great for running and biking.   
Boat House 

Mosaic murals under the bridge

So after a 4 mile run and walk, we went to have brunch at the Black Walnut Cafe.  The weather was beautiful and the food was great!  

Eggs Benedict
 About The Woodlands, Texas

It was a great day and visit to the Woodlands.  I plan to go back!  What do you think of planned mixed-use communities?  Are you for or against them? ~Brandy

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