Driving in from Austin, the highway is dotted with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, the first signs of spring. As you get closer to Round Top (population: 90), another sign of spring comes into the picture. In cow pastures typically occupied by Texas longhorns, there are big white tents and people, lots of them (some 100,000 of them). This scene stretches on along Highway 237 for some 30 miles and extends into surrounding towns of Warrenton, Rutersville, Fayetteville, Carmine, Brenham and La Grange. It’s Antiques Week, an event that happens twice a year, in the spring and fall. Celebrating more than 50 years, what began as a weekend of antiquing has expanded into two weeks’ worth of shows. Here’s a round-up of what to see and do and where to stay and play while you’re here.
Armando Round Top Houses
Renowned Houston restauranteurs Armando and Cinda Palacios invite patrons to travel from River Oaks to Round Top where they have a trio of beautifully restored vacation homes. Dating back to the 1830s, the Winn is the oldest of the three and was the first property Armando purchased on a whim back in 1979. The circa 1880s Bybee Cottage was then acquired from the Bybee Foundation, an organization that preserves German immigrant heritage in Round Top. The Palacios kept the original patina of the place while lovingly adorning the old farmhouse with new amenities and luxe accessories. The Nest was once a 1930s home set in Houston’s West End and is now a mid-century modern space with pop art dotting the walls. See more at RoundTopHouses.com.
The Carmine Coop
Five minutes from downtown Round Top, the Carmine Coop offers three different lodging options – The Farmhouse, The Cottage, and The Airstream. Located on two acres and surrounded by corn fields, your neighbors are horses and cows, and your alarm clock is a rooster. While the lodges are appointed with rustic country charm, they do offer modern luxuries like HDTV and WiFi. For photos and more info, visit Thecarminecoop.com.
Matt White and his team, Recycling the Past, offer six flophouzes, old shipping containers-turned-overnight accommodations, all accented with salvaged materials, antiques, original art and vintage touches such as a record player and vinyl records. If you like your flophouze so much you want to keep it, the company can custom build one to your specifications and ship it to you anywhere in the world. Also on the property is the modpool, an above-ground swimming pool made from a shipping container, and the Round Top Ballroom. Outfitted with antiques, artifacts and odds and ends from Recycling the Past, it’s a large space that has hosted farm-to-table dinners, weddings and parties. Learn more at Flophouze.com.
The Prairie at Round Top
Formerly The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic, The Prairie at Round Top is a new chapter for this 46-acre property dating back to the 1880s. There are five houses on the property. Holly has added her own signature style to The Prairie while keeping design elements added by previous owners, all with the help of dedicated property manager Danny Riebeling. Danny was one of the original contractors who renovated it. His love of this place is evident in every nail and board. He is fun-loving, enjoys hosting guests and cooks a tasty breakfast. Book your stay at ThePrairieatRoundTop.com.
This 20-acre compound features multiple overnight options on the property, including four main lodges and a well-appointed, air-conditioned teepee. Each dwelling showcases hand-picked furnishings, paintings, books of poetry and other thoughtful touches. Outside, there’s plenty of room to roam and make new discoveries, like neon signs, a playground with zipline, hammocks, bathhouse, swimming pool and a fire pit. Formerly available by invite-only for friends-of-friends, it’s now a more inclusive space where all are welcome to tap into the spirit found here. It’s heartfelt, soulful, mystical and intentional where cool people go and good vibes flow. Feast in the Field is hosted on October 1 and 2. Fantastic chefs prepare the family-style meal served outdoors on the ranch. Purchase your ticket, or book your stay online at RanchoPillow.com.
Shane Brown of Big Daddy’s Antiques offers this 2,650-SF 1890s Victorian farmhouse with a new 30-foot pool and huge deck. It comes equipped with a full kitchen, four bedrooms (including a master suite), and two bathrooms. It sleeps nine people. The interior design is exceptional throughout with a beautiful mix of modern and antiques, and a Paul Michael Company piece or two. Book your stay on VRBO.com.
Round Top Inn
The history of this place is evident in its many existing structures, including the only remaining building from the state’s once-thriving cigar industry. Three of the guest cottages are 1880s originals built by prominent Round Top resident Charles Henry Schiege of Schiege Cigar Factory. The property includes the gate house, a collection of farm houses, the little cottage, the loft and other rooms for rent. Explore it for yourself at RoundTopInn.com.
The Vintage Round Top
Paige and Smoot Hull developed The Vintage Round Top in 2012 when they opened their first renovated cottage, No. 1450. The 2,400-SF home was designed with sustainability in mind and is comprised of reclaimed materials and vintage finds, creatively repurposed into light fixtures, furniture and decor. In 2016, the second cottage named Boho was built in the style of an industrial farmhouse. Both properties are available for rent. The Hulls also host private parties, weddings, special events and workshops year-round. Be inspired by their modern vintage aesthetic at TheVintageRoundTop.com.
Previously available only to friends such as country singer Miranda Lambert, Junk Gypsies Amie Sikes and Jolie Sikes-Smith have opened their guesthouse to the public. Wander Inn is luxurious but not about luxury. It’s about the land, the road, the magic of Round Top, and the feeling of arriving at a place, taking your boots off and staying awhile. Designed with comfort in mind, sink into a velvet sofa or slide into a rocking chair on the porch for views of longhorns in the pasture and the sun hanging low in the sky. Choose from eight beautifully appointed rooms at Gypsyville.com/wander-inn.
Black Bird Farm
A series of historic properties in nearby Fayetteville comprises the Black Bird Farm lodging experience. Here, you’ll find romantic, well-appointed interiors in an early Americana style. Choose from accommodations at the Grand Fayette Hotel, Market Street Inn, Red & White Inn, Bird House, 1850 House, Sealy House or Blackbird Cabins. Herring Hall, the event space, hosts live performances. Take a tour online at BlackBirdTexas.com.
Market Hill Restaurant
More than a shopping destination, Market Hill is a fun place to eat, drink and hang out. Open daily during the show, choose from a variety of lunch and dinner specials including Paul’s famous homemade red sauce and pasta. Market Hill also has live music nightly. Grab a cold beer or glass of wine, and enjoy great music and good times after a day in the fields.
The Garden Co.’s Feed and Firewater
An outpost of the original Garden Co. Marketplace & Cafe in Schulenburg, Texas, Feed and Firewater brings fresh ingredients to the table for fun appetizers, bright salads, yummy soups, and a variety of creative lunch and dinner options, all in a beautiful bistro-style setting. For a look at the menu, visit thegardencoandcafe.com.
London Bus Café
McLaren’s Antiques celebrates its English heritage with the London Bus Café onsite. An original London double-decker bus has been outfitted into a café, serving lunch and afternoon tea. (It’s air-conditioned, too.) No reservation is required, just come on in. Lunch is served from noon-3 p.m., and offers a variety of English favorites. Traditional English High Tea is served from 3:30-5:30 p.m., with freshly made sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries.
Prost on Block 29
An intimate wine bar and shop housed in a stone cottage that happens to be the oldest building in Round Top. Order by the glass, bottle or case (to take home with you), and choose from handmade cheeses, farm-to-table vegetables, tapenades and charcuterie. Sit inside at the bar or at a small bistro table, or hang out on the outdoor patio around the fire pit. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Royer’s Round Top Café and Pie Shop
Burgers, sandwiches and fresh-cut fries are some of the favorites here, but the real star of the show is the pie. Choose from apple, buttermilk, chocolate chip, pecan, cherry, strawberry rhubarb and more. Royer’s famous chicken dinner is served on Sunday from noon until they run out – the chicken is marinated for 24-hours in buttermilk and garlic and then hand-battered. It’s served family-style with mashed potato casserole and creamed corn.
The Stone Cellar & Round Top Dance Hall
An authentic 1907 Texas dance hall has been relocated to this site. The sign on the door reads, “Must wear boots inside the hall at all times.” Our kind of place, it’s a relaxing wood-fired pizzeria with a variety of craft beer and wine, with live music every Friday and Saturday.
Open twice a year in the spring and the fall, Market Hill curates the world’s best antiques, furniture, home decor and decorative arts, set in an atmosphere of genuine hospitality and hassle-free shopping in a beautiful, air-conditioned facility with clean restrooms, free Wi-Fi and easy loading areas. The Restaurant at Market Hill serves home-cooked meals, a great selection of beer, wine and other refreshments. It’s open daily during the show with live music most nights.
The large collection of vintage boots is the biggest attraction to this small, well-curated shop in Rummel Square. A permanent fixture in town, the store is open year-round, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and on Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Owners Nick and Ryann have a passion for old relics and handmade goods – something that runs in the family. Ryann’s mom, Sharon, helps the young couple hunt for vintage treasures for the shop. Nick’s mom, Linda, is the “boot queen” and is often found fitting folks in the famous boot room. Stop by, and make their acquaintance during the fall show. You might just find your new favorite pair of boots while you’re at it.
Curate by Stash
Another spot open year-round on Rummel Square is Curate by Stash. For more than a decade, Texas brand Stash has been making small, luxe leatherworks in a century-old mattress factory. Founder/designer Cheryl Schulke creates with the intention of mindful production over mass production. Walking into her first retail space in Round Top, it smells of leather and Texas lavender, and feels like a place you never want to leave. As the name suggests, it is artfully curated with a select few pieces from independent designers.
The Bugle Boy
Housed in WWII army barracks in La Grange, the Bugle Boy is an intimate concert hall that brings Americana, country, folk, blues and jazz to the stage on Friday and Saturday nights. Coffee, wine and beer are served. Thebugleboy.org.
Festival Hill Concert Hall
Founded in 1971 by world renowned concert pianist James Dick, Festival Hill is a 210-acre campus containing multiple performance facilities, historic houses, gardens, parks and nature preserves. Festivalhill.org.
Blissful Folly Farm is situated between La Grange, Round Top and Fayetteville in some of the most beautiful countryside in south central Texas. Located here, Rohan Meadery is Texas' oldest meadery, producing one of mankind's oldest fermented libations – mead. All products that come from here are small batched and homemade onsite. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Rohanmeadery.com.
Round Top Family Library
Round Top is the smallest incorporated Texas town to have a public library. It consists of two buildings, the main library in the former Hope Lutheran Church, a 1925 Gothic-style building, and the Rummel Haus, which serves as an activity center. It’s a great local resource, preserving history and offering community programs for kids and adults. Ilovetoread.org.