Round Top Round Up: How to plan your own trip to Round Top Antiques Fair
I cant believe my trip to The Round Top Texas Antiques Fair is over!! I have been wanting to go for about 10 years, after seeing an article about it in an American magazine. I hope you enjoyed the photos I posted. It was the perfect trip as it combined some of my favourite things: antiques (of course), beautiful countryside, quintessential old weatherboard houses, fantastic food and meeting amazing people! Now that the dust has settled on my trip and I am back into a routine of sorts I thought I would help you plan your own Texas Antiques Fair adventure.
Where is this place? : Round Top is a tiny town in Fayette County, Texas, between Austin and Houston. It is only a short drive from Austin, just over an hour from the airport. Whilst we didn’t spend any time in Austin I would have loved to next time (yes I am pretty sure there will be a next time!) We flew into LA from Sydney and then on to Austin from there. After such a long journey we didn’t want to tackle driving on the other side of the road in a very large vehicle without a rest. We stayed in a hotel at the airport that evening and picked up our hire car in the morning after a good sleep! Driving straight on to the highway made it less daunting than trying to drive out from the city while jet lagged!
Where to Stay: Book EARLY! Round Top itself is a small town of only 90 people normally but its population explodes twice a year in Spring and Fall for the fair with around 100,000 people visiting. Its not just the shoppers but the hundreds and hundreds of vendors that attend, so accommodation gets booked out quickly. There are some beautiful little inns, bed and breakfasts and houses to stay in and we loved staying in the heart of town as it was so central to eateries (more on restaurants in a moment!) for breakfasts and after a tiring day, dinner, and the reluctance to be driving on the other side of the road in the dark too much!!! We stayed at Armandos Round Top Houses which has three small cottages which are wonderfully close to some of the beautiful shops, cafes and restaurants. It doesn’t supply breakfast but did provide us with a delectable hamper of snacks, wine and chocolate. We stayed in the Wynn Cottage, a quaint and rustic white weatherboard cottage. The bathroom was a little awkward - it was off the main bedroom and the shower/bath was a little cramped so with three of us there, lets just say we got to know each other real well. But it was charming and decorated with such style we forgave its shortcomings.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay, there is everything from beautiful ranches, including Rancho Pillow (which I will talk more about in a second), Shabby Chic creator Rachel Ashwell's The Prairie or The Vintage Round Top just outside of the town and these are all gorgeous. In town, The Round Top Inn looked wonderful and many seasoned visitors told us that that was a great place to stay or have a look on Round Top. com for a wide range of accommodation.
Where to shop: The fair is not just one venue but many many venues that pop up on properties up and down Highway 237. (You will need a car, you often cannot walk between most venues - here's a map to give you an idea of HOW much shopping there is ). If you are driving to Round Top from Austin you will get to the town of Warrenton and this is where your jaw drops and the fun begins. We couldn’t check in to our accommodation until 3pm so we planned to get to Warrenton and start shopping there, making our way up the highway (Warrenton is only 10 min south of Round Top). We were SO EXCITED as the tents came into view on either side of the highway so we parked as soon as possible and started to explore. We were there for several hours before we decided to get back in the car and drive towards Round Top. We couldn’t believe the amount of venues.
Most venues are free and run anywhere between one and the whole three weeks. In Warrenton there are the permanent buildings and there are the Excess Fields (I and II) and these are literally fields with tents and the occasional outbuilding and barns used filled with antiques. Parking is often a small fee ($2 - $5 USD). It is organised and there is usually someone there to guide you. Some venues are only open for a limited time with some only open in the last week which is the official Texas Antique Week. The Marburger Farm venue and The Big Red Barn both charge entry. They both open in the last week only. You can pre-buy the tickets online. I subscribed to both mailing lists and received notifications about when tickets went on sale. Marburger is for you, if you love European antiques ( there are so many French antiques in Round Top I cant see how France has any left!) . The Big Red Barn is actually where the Round Top Antiques Fair started fifty years ago. Its definitely the place to find the finest selection of American antiques. There is also plenty of venues for the fashion and accessory lover, jewellery both old and new and homewares as well. The Arbors had a great mix of old and new. Blue Hills had to be one of my favourite locations. I loved the beautiful out-buildings and well curated vendors. We decided to time our visit when all those venues were open in the last week. It can mean you miss out on some of the bargains in the fields, but you do get to see all the venues.
Some of the not- to -be missed permanent shops in Round Top include Townsend Provisions where you can find the famous Boot Room where you can be fitted out in a pair of vintage cowboy boots (did that my first day there!). Curate by Stash has an incredible range of vintage and new clothes as well as art, homewares and accessories.
For those of you that find something you must have, that wont fit in your suitcase, there is on site shipping but shipping to Australia is NOT cheap, especially with our exchange rate, but it is possible if you cant pass something up. Most of them wont organise the shipping internationally either so you have to have that lined up before you go. There is also a post office in Round Top, but again it is quite expensive so weigh that up (literally!) before you decide. Funny story though: I had an Instagram follower from Virginia US and she loved a collection of trophies that I had for sale. She said, a few days before I travelled, that she would have purchased them but didn’t want to pay all that postage - I laughed and said I was heading to the States in a few days and could post them from Texas! I felt I was making some extra money to spend and she got her trophies!
Where to eat - (the most important topic!) : The number one thing you need to do as soon as you decide to go to Round Top is to follow Rancho Pillow on Instagram and subscribe to their Get Updates list. Here's why: during Antique Week they hold Feast in the Fields. A long, long table in a field in front of Rancho Pillow holding 150 people eating food cooked over fire, live music and cocktails. It is like stepping into a fairytale. DO IT , DONT MISS IT. The visual spectacle and the wonderful people you sit next to is something you will never forget. While we were here we met Australian folk band The Heart Collectors - you wont meet warmer people anywhere and they invited us to their performance the next night at Market Hill - another incredible venue for European antiques - where we met some other Australians! It was a great night, fantastic music and the buffet dinner there was fantastic value.
Liberty Kitchen at Bader Ranch in Round Top: Not only is there the most gorgeous barn filled with antiques to peruse but there is a fabulous restaurant and bar set up looking over the fields which were filled with spring flowers - Blue Bonnets and Indian Paint Brushes. Its the perfect place for a sangria (or three) while waiting for what might have been the best meal I have EVER had: slow cooked ribs with cheesy grits and a fresh salad followed by a brioche pudding with raspberries and white chocolate. It was heavenly.
Prost Wine Bar is another great spot (and was conveniently across the road from our accommodation) and during the antiques fair they serve amazing wood fire pizza. Sitting by the fire we met some wonderful people too. (Everyone could not believe we had travelled from Australia to attend the antiques fair! It made for some fun conversations and we even featured in newsletters, Instagram TV, and peoples Instagrams!!).
We also had a great meal at Lulu’s in Round Top, fabulous Italian food in an incredible building on our last evening in Round Top. Book way ahead to get a table there too! I booked online on the Fork app.
It was an incredible trip and we were sad to leave Round Top. Texas stole a bit of my heart. The people make it such a wonderful place to be. I will be back! In the mean time I have some beautiful memories, some amazing photos and reminders throughout my home and wardrobe (yes I now have a Pinterest board called Western Chic and have googled 50 ways to wear cowboy boots!). I also have some beautiful antique prints which have been selling sooo fast on my Instagram and Facebook account when I have listed them ( not one of them has lasted long enough for me to put in my online store yet!! Keep your eye on my Instagram and Facebook if you would like something from my travels for yourself.
Please ask me anything if you are planning your own trip to Round Top! I would love to hear about it. I also have a Pinterest board with lots of links and inspiration for you here
In my next blog post I will give you a run down of our visit to Waco to visit Fixer Upper’s Magnolia Market.
chat soon (Y’all)