Right after Leighton was born, my mom invited me to tag along with her friends to Round Top. Stroud and I had empty rooms to fill (we had just bought our first home), and I had a new baby, so I clearly needed an excuse to escape town for a couple of days. Thirteen years later, I still haven’t missed a show. Round Top is hands down one of my favorite “work trips” of the entire year. But, it can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time down.
I’ve put together a guide to help you navigate the show. Here’s what you need to know: there’s a show every fall and every spring. More than 50 venues set up in pastures and buildings along FM 237, with openings staggered over two weeks (click here to see the Spring 2020 show schedule).
Where to Shop
It would be impossible to comb through every field. But don’t miss these spots:
This show is a good mix of antiques, rugs, and new. My favorite art dealer is here so definitely stop if you’re in the market for interesting prints.
The Big Red Barn and Continental Tent
Think beautiful silver, Chinese porcelain, English antiques. Next door is my favorite show at Round Top, the Continental Tent. The prettiest pieces are always here, hands down. No digging required.
I used to love this show, but it’s been invaded by agate jewelry and cheesy clothes. It’s still worth a stop though, if anything for the complimentary margarita machine and indoor bathroom (in the back)!
Image by Carla Aston.
This is the show Round Top is famous for. Giant white tents filled with dealers from all over the world are what attract some of the country’s best designers to Marburger every year. Celebrity sightings are common, and when it opens — prepare to be trampled.
Image by Texas Monthly.
Air conditioning (and the lunch, see below) are the main draws of Market Hill for me. I do love a couple of dealers here — don’t miss Susan Horn Antiques or Stephanie Wheeler Art.
Image of Susan Horne Antiques by Market Hill.
Shopping this show is so relaxing to me….maybe it’s the fountain in the center courtyard, live music or the fact that half of the show is indoors. Regardless, The Compound is one of my favorite stops and has maintained its integrity with beautiful dealers.
Excess I is mostly industrial (I can pass), but Excess II across the street is a hidden gem. Many former dealers from the Arbors are now set up at Excess II. I’ve found gorgeous Biedermeier chests and Murano lamps in the back stalls. Also a good spot to hunt for Mid Century furniture. You need to be prepared to dig….but it’s often worth it.
Image by Texas Monthly.
Where to Sleep
The best pocket to stay in is near Round Top, just off FM 237. There aren’t any chain hotels on this stretch, just bed and breakfasts and tiny farmhouses for rent. Set an alert on your phone because these book up almost a year in advance….but it’s always more fun to stay close to town. These two spots are two of the cutest places to spend the night:
The Frenchie Luxe Guesthouses
I haven’t stayed at The Frenchie, but it’s on my list. The compound — a 1890s farmhouse, cottage and art studio — is just a short walk to downtown Round Top. The rooms are pretty and decked out with luxury linens and robes. Plus, there’s a main house with fully-stocked gourmet kitchen and an honor-system wine bar.
Image by The Frenchie Luxe Guesthouses.
Flophouze Shipping Container Hotel
These converted shipping containers are decked out in reclaimed materials — windows from a Philadelphia school, cabinets from a laboratory in Brooklyn, and counters made from an old Texas bowling alley — all repurposed to give these “rooms” a ton of charm. And you can’t beat Flophouze’s location. It’s in a pasture just on the other side of Warrenton.
Image by Flophouz.
If you are more of a last-minute planner, grab a hotel room in Brenham or La Grange. Both are about 30 minutes from the shows. This is clearly not as fun, especially if you want to linger at one of the spots below.
Where to Eat and Drink
Lunch: Simply D’Lish at The Compound
This Brenham caterer sets up a tent in the center courtyard at The Compound and cooks up delicious salads, sandwiches and tacos. Don’t leave without trying the homemade Hello Dollies!
Lunch: The Restaurant at Market Hill
This simple and healthy buffet is filled with grilled meats and roasted vegetables, all prepared fresh and on site by a local caterer. Seating is indoors too, so this is a great stop when you need a break from the Texas heat.
Dinner: Royer’s Round Top Cafe
Royer’s is an institution in Round Top known for their home cooking and pie. Ordering the pie sampler is our tradition because our table can never settle on just one flavor! Dinner reservations are a must. They usually start taking reservations about three weeks before the show.
Image by Royer’s.
Dinner: The Garden Company
This is by far my favorite place to eat at Round Top. Set inside a charming historic home in Rummel Square, the menu reads like something out of a nice restaurant in Dallas. If it’s not too hot, request a table on the massive patio under the even-more-massive oak tree. Make a reservation well in advance, especially if you’re visiting during the Marburger show.
Image by The Garden Company.
Drinks: Prost on Block 29
Just across the square from The Garden Company is this charming wine bar, set inside the oldest structure in Round Top. Prost also has a pretty patio and a great selection of artisanal cheese, and of course wine.
I hope you have fun at Round Top! Maybe I’ll see you there!