Up until now, Round Top, Texas, has been synonymous with one thing—antiques. That’s because twice a year for many years, is has been the go-to destination for antique buyers and sellers. However, this quaint little town, founded in 1831 and currently home to 90 people, is bustling with new establishments as townspeople have aimed to make their home a year-round destination, with upscale shopping, dining, and lodging.
I recently set out on the open road to see what the fuss is all about. Upon completing the hour and a half drive from Austin, I was overwhelmed by how much there is to see and do. I intended to take a day trip to Round Top, see a few things, and head back to the big city. But I got so caught up in sight-seeing that I ended up spending the night. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this 640-acre town is shaping up to be the next Gruene or Fredricksburg. So without further ado, here’s your ultimate year-round guide to Round Top, Texas.
What to Do in Round Top
Shop the Town Squares
In 2010, Mark Massey began hauling old farmhouses and other buildings from a bygone era into Round Top. It was his vision to restore the buildings and make them places where artisans and restaurateurs could set up shop. Together, Massey and his family purchased land and revamped what is now referred to as Henkel Square.
Today, Henkel, as well as Rummel and Bybee Squares, are top shopping destinations for visitors to the town. Wander the squares to find everything from antiques, to boots, to hand-crafted leather goods. And be sure to stop by The Round Top Chamber of Commerce, located in Henkel Square, to say ‘hello to Massey and load up on brochures containing details on area happenings.
102 N. Live Oak St.
Attend the Antiques Fair
If you stick around any small Texas town long enough, you’ll hear it all. Tall tales, old wives tales, legends, and straight up rumors. One of the stories you might hear is how Round Top Antiques Fair got started. Although some say it began four miles south in Warrenton, a few locals set me straight. It all started with one woman and one building. Emma Lee Turney hosted a two-day antiques show in 1968 and called it Round Top Antiques Fair. In 1969, due to the growing success of the show, Turney decided to make it a semi-annual event and extend it to Riffle Hall. “From then on, the overall show grew exponentially every six months.”
Now the fair is held over two and a half weeks, twice a year: once in spring and once in fall. It’s estimated that over 100,000 people visit the area during those times. You can find participating vendors strung up and down highway 237 and throughout the surrounding communities.
First-timer? It can be an overwhelming experience, but Loot Rentals teamed up with the hosts of the podcast “I Was Just Saying That” for a Roundtable on Round Top that offers tips and advice about shopping the festival.
Other helpful resources include:
Find Local Fare at the Farmers’ Market
Every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., local farmers bring the freshest veggies, spices, cheese, sauces, breads, flowers, pastries, honey, and tea to market. Don’t miss the chance to shop the best local produce in the area. This way, you’ll have something tasty to nibble on the ride home.
Town Square, 102 Main St.
Catch a Concert at Round Top Festival Institute
Round Top Festival Institute was established in 1971 by concert pianist James Dick. The music institute currently provides education programs and concerts throughout the year. If you aren’t lucky enough to catch a concert or aren’t in a musical mood, it’s worth taking a tour of the insanely gorgeous grounds and hearing about the organization’s history.
248 Jaster Road – Website
Junk Gypsy Company
No visit to Round Top would be complete without stopping by the famous Junk Gypsy Company headquarters. In 1998, sisters Amie and Jolie, and their mother Janie Sikes, hit the road to buy and sell “junk” at flea markets all over Texas. Coincidently, the Sikes found they could make a life and start a business from their wandering ways.
Amie and Jolie went on to star in two of HGTV’s Garage Sale Wars specials and work with several country recording artists, such as Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley. Partake in the gypsy life by shopping “hippie-meets-rocker-chic” clothing, home decor, and accessories curated by the Sikes.
1215 Texas 237 – Website
St. Martin’s Catholic Church
On the left-hand side just outside Round Top if you’re coming from La Grange, sits the world’s oldest active worship Catholic church. The tiny place of worship was started in 1888 and contains 12 benches that can hold about 20 people. This little piece of history is a must-see, but drive slow or you’ll miss it!
1215 Texas 237 – Website
Where to Eat and Drink in Round Top
One of the things that blew me away on my visit to Round Top was the quality of dining establishments in town. Even in a thriving metropolitan like Austin, it can be challenging to find places where the food, service, and atmosphere are all worth writing home about. Whether you’re looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, here are a few places in Round Top that are doing it right.
The Garden Co. – Feed and Firewater
The Garden Co. sits under one of the most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen in my life. This eatery is little sister to the Marketplace & Cafe in Schulenburg, and is serving up farm-to-table fare you’d expect from a neighboring big city. My group tried the sea bass, rib-eye steak, and grilled portobello mushrooms. Only food this flavorful could have us all eating in silence.
104 W. Wantke St. – Website
Royer’s Pie Haven
Whether it’s sweet or savory pies, coffee drinks, or a “heavenly breakfast” you crave, make a beeline for Royers Pie Haven. Pie Queen Tara Royer has been baking up homemade goodness for friends and family since she was a child. In July 2011, Royer decided to create a sanctuary for the world to enjoy her baked goodies.
On the breakfast menu for my group? Fluffy, buttery blueberry scones and expertly-crafted coffee drinks made with beans from a neighbor, Two Sparrows Roasting Co.
190 Henkel St. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: “Royers Pie Haven Serves Old Fashioned Goodness From Scratch”
Two Sparrows Roasting Co.
While sitting outside Royer’s Pie Haven, it’s easy to get entranced by the smell of freshly-roasted coffee that lingers in the atmosphere. After savoring every bite of my breakfast scone, I followed my nose to the wooden coffee roaster building to get the scoop. I’m not sure when Two Sparrows Roasting Co. opened, but that’s not important. All you need to know is that they roast coffee beans from five different countries and their nitro cold brew is the best I’ve ever had. But don’t take my word for it. Stop by to bask in the warm, perfume-like aroma of their freshly-ground beans, and pick up a jug of cold brew so smooth you can skip the creamer.
188 Henkel Circle – Website
- Royers Cafe: Down on Main Street, you’ll find a famous little gem of a cafe that Bud “the Pieman” Royer and his family have been running since 1987. Since then, the cafe that can only seat 40 people at a time has been serving contemporary comfort food like the grilled shrimp BLT on jalapeño sourdough and grilled pork tenderloin with peach n’ pepper glaze. Also on their menu: a list of more than 60 wines and, of course, Royers homemade pie.
- The Stone Cellar & Round Top Dance Hall: Yummy eats, craft beer on tap, live music—what more could you ask for? Pay a visit to this friendly neighborhood hangout to enjoy it all.
- Prost Wine Bar: If you want to hang with the locals, then this is the place to go. Nearly everyone I ran into in town raved about this beautiful little wine bar, located in Round Top’s most historic building. Stop in to enjoy a glass, a bottle, or purchase a case of wine from around the world.
Extend Your Stay at The Vintage Round Top
Paige and Smoot Hull are owners of The Vintage Round Top and active members of The Round Top Chamber of Commerce, helping to further the mission of making the town a year-round destination. The Houston couple designed The Vintage Round Top with the motto “Live Intentionally” in mind. It’s apparent in how they run their business and the design of their vacation rentals.
In fact, whether you’re staying in the No. 1450 cottage or The Boho Cottage, the design is in the details. A well-placed cowhide rug, hand-picked black picture frames from Europe, and old cotton gin doors repurposed as kitchen doors all add up to a stunning visual and textile experience.
Both accommodations mix what the couple calls modern vintage style. In short, it’s hip; it’s got soul, and it works beautifully. “Everything in this house has a story, and both male and female guests can relate to it. We designed it this way because if everything were from only one store, there’d be no conversation.”
Call the fabulous 1450 House or The Boho Cottage a home away from home, whether you want to take part in the Antiques Fair or are looking for a quiet getaway any time of year. The property is within walking distance to seven shows when the Antiques Fair is in full swing, and is a one-minute drive to downtown Round Top. I can tell you from my own experience, you won’t want to leave such luxe and tranquil accommodations.
1450 N. Hwy 237 – Website
Round-Up and Head to Round Top
Whether you’re visiting for the day or a whole weekend, this little town nestled in the Texas countryside has sophisticated yet unique shopping, dining, and lodging options that might make you consider permanent small town living.
@dollarsaenz wants to know:
What’s your favorite thing to do in Round Top, Texas?