It's been so long since the Towson stretch of York Road has been a bustling shopping area, you may have forgotten there's anywhere else to shop but Towson Town Center. Not so.
True, York Road looks a little like Main Street in Small Town America these days, with many storefronts deserted and boarded up. But if you get out of your car and walk up and down York and its cross streets, you'll find some great stores, many small eating places and more day spas and salons than you can shake a stick at.
It hardly seems right to park in the Towson Town Center lot if you aren't going to shop there; but be warned that if you park in the Towson Commons garage without getting your ticket validated, this jaunt will cost you $11. Metered street parking is available, and there's always the paid parking lot at the library.
1) 11 a.m. Hudson Trail Outfitters
It's worth taking a look at this wilderness-outfitting specialist even if the outdoors doesn't interest you much. The space is so big, it has its own waterfall and goldfish pond.
Inside the multilevel store is everything for the active lifestyle - including kayaks hanging from the ceiling, what looks like dozens of bicycles and a whole floor of camping gear.
The clothing lines include North Face, Patagonia and Under Armour, with everything from yogawear to ski jackets. Of course, if you need flip-flops or hiking boots, the store has a wide selection.
424 York Road
2) noon JFriendly Outfitters
This is a different kind of outfitters. JFriendly is, as the owner describes it, a "young men's urban skate brand," including T-shirts, polos, button-downs, shorts and pants. You'll see young women in here, too, eyeing the silk-screened hoodies ($50). Older adults are, of course, shopping for their children (wink, wink).
The owner, who likes to be known as JFriendly, is a Towson University grad on the verge of national success. He's picked up accounts at two New York chains, and his clothing line will be appearing in their35 stores. You can get it here now.
408 Delaware Ave.
3) 12:30 p.m. aParadox
Walk back to York Road and hope this tiny boutique near the Recher Theatre, popular with Towson students, is open. Hours can be funky; if it's not open, go have lunch and come back in an hour.
The shop specializes in vintage-looking clothing for "socially conscious" women and has its own line of T-shirts called Gimmickwear. You'll find trendy lines such as Stop Staring Dresses, Free People and EC Star. Cool hats are a specialty. Looking for Incognito sunglasses? You'll find them here.
And aParadox's sales are great, regular customers will tell you.
508 1/2 York Road
4) 1 p.m. Burger Bros.
Time for lunch. Walk up to the circle and go across to Allegheny Avenue. On the right, you'll see the new Burger Bros., owned - surprise - by two brothers. You can indulge in freshly ground beef, brioche rolls and fresh-cut french fries. There are also chicken sandwiches, a Gourmet-magazine-endorsed brand of hot dog and salads.
If burgers aren't your thing, there are two good alternatives for lunch on the other side of Allegheny: Zia's organic cafe and the Kebab Hut, with its pita bread made while you watch.
14 W. Allegheny Ave.
Towson's street sense
There are plenty of places outside the mall where you can have a fine time shopping and dining
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