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Considering all the ink Austin's nightlife gets, let's switch gears and get into the day-life. It revolves around two main decisions: Where to east the best breakfast burrito, and where to do some amazing shopping.

For this traveler, the real history of a city is found through its vintage stores. There you can find glimpses of past decade's fashion trends, ingenious and sturdy housewares, and -- especially in Austin -- killer cowboy boots, already broken in!

Vintage shops also are a cool place to find gay-friendly Austinites, whether they're owners or other shoppers. After all, of the entire Lone Star State, queers flock to fun and funky Austin for a reason. Must be the shopping.

Before setting off, and after you've visualized the items you're hunting for (the skilled shopper's technique), consider a quick look at this handy reference guide for Austin's vintage shops: The Vintage Around Town Guide (www.vintagearoundtownguide.com). It has a map, a list of shops to scroll through, and a printable version -- though you're likely to find a hard copy already waiting for you at most of the stores it mentions.

First stop on the vintage train is arguably the cutest of the lot, Flashback, 1805 S. 1st Street (www.flashbackaustin.com). Since 1982 this converted home has sold accessories in the kitchen, dapper menswear in the living room, and super-fab ladies clothes and accessories in the boudoir. The inventory dates as far back as the 1940s, but there's plenty from the more recent past to float your boat. If you're visiting Austin from somewhere colder, Flashback is a great place to find pristine coats, hats and other outerwear. There's also a sparkly assortment of fine and costume jewelry at the checkout counter/dining room.

Chase your flashback with a quick jaunt eastward to S. Congress. All along that wide strip, which is south of both downtown and the Colorado River, you'll find the SoCo shopping district. Behold the cornucopia of adorable stores, but do not miss the gem among them called Uncommon Objects, 1512 S. Congress Ave. (www.uncommonobjects.com).

Nestled mid-block since 1991, the store began as a small antique collective. It has since matured into a full-blown emporium, comprised of dozens of stores within the store. There you'll find everything from fine china and cast-iron cookware, to cool tie clips and snazzy souvenirs. And with a ton of foot traffic flowing through (especially on the weekends), it's better than a nightclub for date shopping.

Hop next door to Tesoro's (www.tesoros.com) -- a can't-miss shop for most Austin visitors. Much inside this trading company outpost is new and amazing, but head to the back to discover a smart selection of second-hand clothes that stand out.

If SoCo hasn't worn you out, take a 10-minute drive north to Room Service Vintage, 107 E. North Loop (www.roomservicevintage.com). Another hotspot emporium, this store is a great way to feel like you're inside 10 shops at once. Wander through to find furniture, lamps and many other mod home accents at dandy prices. There's a large selection of vinyl records, toys, quilts, and dishes, and corners full of colorful clothes, hats and shoes. Room Service also rivals any cowboy-gear shop for cool belt buckles.

Across the street, browse the nice assortment of clothes from the past half-century at Ermine Vintage (106 E. North Loop). Head a few blocks west next, fuel up at the classic Epoch Coffee, then check out to Blue Velvet Vintage, 217 W. North Loop (www.bluevelvetaustin.com/home/), where the good prices lead to daily inventory turnover on an array of clothes and accessories. This family operation is often named Austin's best vintage/thrift store for is wild assortment of everything from retro eyeglasses to embroidered cowboy shirts to go-go boots. Blue Velvet also gets raves from locals for stocking handmade and re-made items from local craftsters.