A recent jaunt to Round Top proved to be an unforgettable experience that surpassed all expectations. Nestled in the heart of Texas, equidistant between Austin and Houston, south of Giddings, this quaint town is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
Surely you know Round Top for its antiques and design shows that happen three times a year. With over 4,000 vendors, it is the largest antiques show in the country that is a must-visit. In fact, it’s awe-inspiring and attracts visitors from across the country. You can spend hours upon hours into days browsing through the charming antique shops and uncovering vintage treasures. While in town, visiting the store, Round Top Ranch Antiques is an absolute must. It’s a huge multi-building that is full of European antiques. They have a workshop onsite which is unique, to customize purchases. The owners are always on-site and it is the only Round Top business that is open six days a week to serve the town’s many year-round visitors. Here’s when the action happens:
- FALL. 2023. October 23rd thru 28th. 9am – 6pm | Opening Day. 9am – 5pm | 24th – 27th. 9am – 4pm | Last Day. …
- WINTER. 2024. January 19th & 20th. 9am – 5pm. Blue Hills & Other Venues: January 18th – 21st.
- SPRING. 2024. March 25 thru 30th. 9am – 6pm | Opening Day. 9am – 5pm | 26th – 29th. 9am – 4pm | Last Day.
Anyone who has followed the area’s trajectory knows that Junk Gypsy was in Round Top early on and has become a calling card for the town. Part pickers, curators, and boss sisters Jolie Sikes and Amie Sikes have helped put Round Top on the map with their hippie-meets-rocker-chic store. Want to stay there as well? Can do. Located on the back of their property is the Wander Inn, an eclectic home away from home.
I was enchanted by the small-town charm and warm hospitality, making it an ideal destination for a peaceful and relaxing getaway. I opted to stay in a charming bed and breakfast, and I couldn’t have made a better choice. There are several places to stay, I recommend Red Antler Luxury Bungalows, created by the erudite and elegant Houstonians Greg Fourticq and John Cone, who bring a worldly design point of view to their casitas.
The five-star design speaks to their personal aesthetic, and they are mighty welcoming hosts. Located on the edge of town near Festival Hill, along the banks of Boggy Branch Creek, Red Antler has four identical 1,300 square foot two-bedroom, two-bath bungalows that provide every comfort of home. The round pool, surrounded by cheerful patio furniture, has you feeling as if you’ve really escaped the confines of the city.
I also recommend Hotel Lulu. The inn’s exuded rustic elegance of cabins that are centered around a pool provide a cozy and comfortable environment. The innkeepers are incredibly welcoming and helpful, offering recommendations for local attractions and dining options. Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to the serene countryside views and relishing the evenings spent stargazing on the porch?
Plus, its restaurant, Lulu’s, similar to its big sister original in Houston, will have you dazzled by its delectable cuisine. Dinner at Duo Modern was also a highlight of the trip. It is the contemporary style restaurant at Market Hill and also offers a plethora of cuisine-sharing and also, shopping opportunities. It’s stories-high glass windows let in the sunlight, and the stars, depending on when you dine there.
If you’re hungry for other options during your stay, Round Top’s culinary scene will pleasantly surprise you. From authentic Texas barbecues to farm-to-table bistros, I indulged in a variety of delightful dishes. The locally sourced ingredients and creative twists on traditional recipes made every meal a unique experience. If you want a truly Texan, honest-to-goodness burger or chicken fried steak and fries in an authentically reminiscent roadhouse, then Popi Burger is the place for you. Top it off with their famous shakes and you’ll have enough shopping fuel for hours.
Lunch and shopping at the Stone Cellar were particularly amazing since it is a historic honkytonk and restaurant. Housed in a repurposed train depot from 1861, they offer live music, cold drinks, and incredible food from their scratch-kitchen menu. For dessert, you can do some shopping will artisanal boutiques that are on premises at the 550 Market. Another dessert highlight is the pie from the renowned Royer’s Café in the middle of town, where I treated myself to a slice of the best apple pie ala mode that I’ve ever had.
Though a small town, Round Top offers so many activities for every interest. It boasts a thriving arts community, with various galleries and local artisan studios. I admired beautiful handmade crafts and paintings, supporting the talented local artists. If you want to acquire one-of-a-kind pieces, you’ll have plenty of choices. On the town’s Henkel and Rolland Squares, you’ll find Curate by Stash (Rolland Square), Townsend Provisions (Rolland Square), and Prost Wine Bar (Rolland Square).
A have-to-see cultural venue is the Round Top Festival Institute. It is a musical institute that was established in 1971 by pianist James Dick that will have you feeling as if you are in a European hamlet. It provides musical education programs in summer months and hosts several concerts every year. It’s been a Texas music tradition for over half a century and is a feast for the ears. It, along with other venues, is also the perfect place for a wedding or corporate retreat. Lamar Lentz, who gave us a tour along with founder James Dick, is an integral part of the Institute’s on-gonig success.
Nature lovers will find solace in the surrounding countryside. There are plenty of nearby state parks, which provide excellent hiking opportunities. The wildflower displays in the spring are breathtaking, and there are many opportunities to take numerous photos amidst the colorful blooms.
One of the highlights of our vacation was the warmth and friendliness of the locals. With a population that hovers around 90 residents, I felt like part of the community, and everyone I encountered was eager to share stories about the town’s history and recommend must-see spots. Their genuine kindness made my stay truly special, and I left with new friendships and cherished memories.
In essence, a vacation in Round Top, Texas, is nothing short of remarkable. The idyllic setting, delectable cuisine, and diverse activities provided the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re seeking a weekend escape or a longer retreat, Round Top has something for everyone. This hidden gem should be on the bucket list of any traveler looking to immerse themselves in the heart of Texas charm and hospitality. I left Round Top with rejuvenated spirits and a longing to return, knowing that we had discovered a little piece of paradise in the Lone Star State. When you’re ready to plan your stay, visit ExploreRoundTop.com.
Here are some of our other recommendations and additional information about Round Top. For hotel accommodations, go to VisitRoundTop.com. So, what are you waiting for?
- The 303 at Round Top (303 Washington)
Open year-round, this curated spot is home to historic buildings that were discovered across Texas, brought to Round Top and lovingly restored. Shops include one-of-a-kind apparel items, vintage cowboy boots and unique pieces and found items. Bonus: the property also offers overnight lodging- cozy up in their rustic private suites and bungalows.
- The Stone Cellar & Round Top Dance Hall (550 N. Washington St./Hwy 237)
This refurbished 1861 train depot was selected as one of Texas’ Top 10 Best Dancehalls! The go-to place to drink and dine with live music on weekends, it’ quintessential Round Top. Fun Fact: Stay under the starry skies… located behind the dancehall is Round Top Roll Up RV Park.
- Round Top Festival Institute (248 Jaster Rd.)
Round Top Festival Institute, founded in 1971 by world-renowned concert pianist James Dick, began with a handful of gifted young pianists in rented space on the town square, the project is now an internationally acclaimed music institute for aspiring young musicians and distinguished faculty. The 210-acre campus contains performance facilities, historic houses with lodging options, extensive gardens, parks and nature preserves. You feel like you are in Vienna, not Round Top, Texas. Absolutely stunning! Concerts scheduled throughout the year.
- Il Cuculo & Lulu’s (204 E. Mill St.)
Celebrate your time in Round Top with an end-of-the-day visit to Hotel Lulu’s swanky recently expanded bar, IL CUCULO. Open seven days of week and offering a full bar including specially crafted cocktails and an edited wine list along with a small selection of light bites. The IL CUCULO expansion was thoughtfully designed by notable Houston-based maximalist, Dennis Brackeen, of the eponymous Brackeen Design Group and iconic shop Moxie, Houston. Brackeen turns up the volume and delights with visual treats throughout the lounge area with acid green- and brick-colored banquettes, highly lacquered millwork, tiger-print bolsters, and a custom iron table adorned with gold coins reminiscent of early 19th century epaulettes. Craving Italian? Visit the chic eatery, Lulu’s, located inside of the iconic Hotel Lulu, offering a variety of Italian favorites.
5. The Garden & Co. Feed & Firewater (104 Wantke St.)
Part café, part garden shop and nursery, this Round Top hotspot is nestled in Rummel Square. The modern farmhouse vibe, tasty cocktails and farm to table menu will leave you satisfied.
6. Cisco Village (1232 Texas 237)
Founded by LA’s Cisco Home, Cisco Village features a rotating collection of like-minded curators, makers and merchants. Whether you’re looking for thoughtfully produced case goods, upholstery, rugs, gifts, salvaged architecture and reclaimed furniture, or a cocktail at their boho bar The Crown.
7. Duo Modern at Market Hill (1542 Texas 237)
Led by veteran chef Gino Llanes and Houston-based Nate Pineda, menus are determined day of based on what’s in season and what inspires them. Each meal is served buffet style, with vegetarian options, fresh bread and a curated wine list. Tip: we’ve heard they have a killer brunch.
8. St. Martin’s Church (3490 Texas 237)
Blink and you might miss the world’s smallest catholic church, located just past Round Top in Warrenton. Mass is held once a month and visitors can leave handwritten intentions in a book on the alter.
9. Prost on Block 29 (112 Bauer Rummel)
Located in Round Top’s most historic building, Prost caters to both wine novices and sophisticated collectors. Charcuterie and breads can be enjoyed on their beautiful outdoor patio.
10. Townsend Provision (101 Bauer Rummel)
On the corner of Round Top’s year-round destination, Rummel Square, owners Nick Mosley and Ryann Ford-Mosley offer a thoughtfully curated collection of antiques, vintage cowboy boots, home goods and gifts.
11. The Humble Donkey (195 Henkel Circle)
Owned by John and Laurie Lowery, you can find art, antiques and a whole lot of charm at their store, The Humble Donkey. A life-long artist, advertising guru and former NASA illustrator, John decided to pick up his paint brush and put his own spin on the animals, rusted-out tractors, and other stuff that called the region home — and sell it out of his very own gallery.
12. Royer’s Café (105 Main St.)
Over 30 years of serving gourmet comfort food, famous pies and lasting memories.
13. Ellis Motel (185 Henkel Circle)
The place to unwind at the end of the night, Ellis Motel is in a two-story 1800s building serving craft
cocktails and snacks. With a roomy front porch, cozy lounge and a 70s playlist, it’s the perfect place to
linger and soak in the local culture. Must try: Skull Creek Margarita
15. Junk Gypsy Company (1215 Texas 237)
Part pickers, curators and boss-bitch businesswomen, sisters Jolie and Amie Sikes have helped put Round Top on the map with their hippie-meets-rocker-chic store. Lodging: located on the back of their property is Wander Inn, a magical, eclectic home away from home.
16. Casa Blanke (102 E Mill Street)
Be sure to swing by the cutest downtown stop for breakfast, smoothies, and coffee – and make sure to order the lavender oat milk latte.
17. Modern Marla (303 S White Street)
THE spot for consigned couture and luxury finds, and served with a glass of Veuve Clicquot and a welcoming smile.
18. Via Vandi (109 Bauer Rummel)
A delightful boutique overflowing with edgy handmade jewelry and internationally sourced textiles, including Japanese kimonos.
19. Rockabilly Baroness (550 Texas 237)
For an artistic mix of elevated offerings, be sure to pop your head into this shop at the 550 Market for a taste of Western Couture, including hand-tooled silver belt buckles, handmade leather goods, and bespoke boots from Tres Outlaws, and don’t forget to peruse the market’s other studios located just steps away.