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Six months has gone by fast for me writing about vacation homes for SecondShelters.com. What have we been covering? Beach, lake, ranch, and mountain abodes, among other destinations of interest to North Texans. Year end is a time to look back and reflect. What are the top spots for vacation homes for DFW residents?

Gas up the virtual jet and click to see highlights; we’re taking a tour of some of our favs…

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Fall Creek Ranch

All photos courtesy of Big League Ranches LLC

Turning the calendar to September signals the start of  the hunting season and leaves me longing for the Texas Hill Country, even though I’m more likely found shooting with a camera than a gun. I love the feeling of being in a natural setting, flush with fish and wildlife. Wish-booking through ranch property listings, I came across this lovely property, Fall Creek Ranch off the Pedernales River in Travis County, northwest of Austin.

It’s available all or in part, with or without a 9-acre parcel with a lodge house bearing the address 26109 Wild River Road, Spicewood.  The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home was built in 2004 as a retreat house. At 3,128-square feet, the lodge sleeps up to 15 with space for more in cots on a sleeping porch. Modeled after 1800s-era Texas dog-trot style log cabins, the structure is finished out with antique and reclaimed materials and is so charming it has been featured in both Country’s Best Log Homes Magazine (Spring 2010) and Cabin Living (April 2016.) 

Fall Creek

 

26109WildRiverRdSpicewood

Here’s more of the magazine-quality interior and gorgeous surrounds:  (more…)

All photos: Leah Shafer

Cedar shake shingles for siding is a classic look for cottages all over Cape Cod. They are left unpainted and turn from light tan to a weathered gray over time. Clapboard siding is also commonly seen on Cape Cod cottages. All photos: Leah Shafer

Cape Cod has historic roots in American history, one of the earliest places the Pilgrims settled, later becoming a thriving fishing, whaling, and trading area.

But the romantic mythos of the Cape took off during John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign, much of which was based out of the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port. JFK gave his acceptance speech there after winning the 1960 election, and returned frequently during his presidency. The Kennedy’s Camelot and Cape Cod are inextricably linked in the American imagination.

Today, the year-round population of 220,000 swells during summer months, when many thousands flock to Cape Cod for relaxation and resorts. It stretches from Provincetown in the northeast to Woods Hole in the southwest, and each of the 15 towns has its own individual character and hallmarks.

The sunset at low tide from our vacation house near Oster in Cape Cod.

The sunset at low tide from our vacation house near Orleans in Cape Cod. Stunning.

Cape Cod still maintains a charming, maritime feel, with almost 560 miles of wide, sandy coastline (including the gorgeous Cape Cod National Seashore), and house after house with weathered cedar shake shingle siding and colorful flowers that thrive in the temperate summer climate.

I just returned from a week’s vacation in Cape Cod, where we stayed in a classic shingle-style Cape beach house near Orleans on the inner bay. My fiancé’s family has vacationed there since the 1970s, and I joined them last year for the first time. As someone who spent her childhood summers in Galveston, Cape Cod was an enchanting experience, from windy afternoons walking by the seagrass along the shoreline to driving along winding roads with lush vegetation. The whole week we were there, the temperature never rose above 71 degrees.

Candy just wrote about the Cape for Grand Vie Magazine (read it here), and we both are delighted with the region and intrigued by the real estate market there. As Realtor Paul Grover of Robert Paul Properties in Osterville told her, 68 percent of his buyers were from Boston and its suburbs in 2013, and lots are empty-nesters.

But contrary to popular belief, Cape Cod is not just a haven for the rich and famous. As I discovered, there’s a range of housing available, with many beauties available for under $400,000 (I photographed 14 houses I’d consider classic Cape Cod cottage style that you can see throughout this post).

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Our Vacation Home Week celebration on CandysDirt.com was such an amazing success. We got to feature incredible second homes and developments in some of our favorite locations. Luxury amenities and gorgeous design, each one of these homes has just what you want for a getaway and then some! And boy, let me tell you about location! Let’s run through our fabulous featured second home spots from Vacation Home Week!

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cp fishingWe’ve looked at a few ski areas recently (namely Aspen and Taos), but as the temperatures warm and ski season begins to wrap up, it’s time to return closer to home and talk about the really important stuff: bass fishing! (more…)

Boot Ranch Chef Aaron StreitmaterBoot Ranch is our favorite vacation (or permanent!) home community in the Texas Hill Country. When Chef Aaron J. Staudenmaier moved to Fredericksburg (from Dallas — he worked under Chef Kent Rathbun at Abacus, Jasper’s and at the farm-to-table concept, Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen) to become the Boot Ranch Executive Chef in October 2012, he came with a vision to showcase the best of the Texas Hill Country farms and vineyards in five-star style. With several seasons of exploring the best farmers and vendors in the area under his belt and refining his creative ideas with their ingredients, Chef Staudenmaier is ready to share some of his introspection and findings. His quest continues and the bounty begins:

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