“We’re just looking,” I lied to my husband as we parked at Bill Moore Antiques off Highway 237 in Round Top. He knew better than to believe me. Twenty minutes later, he loaded our (okay, my) loot into the car: a mid-century map of Paris, a vintage Dutch-carved dough bowl, and an oversize French demijohn bottle from the European antiques dealer—“with wholesale prices!” I noted happily. Where he saw trouble, I saw treasure.
This was my third visit to Round Top, and my first that didn’t coincide with the world-renowned antiques fair that consumes the hamlet for a week each spring and fall. Along with its neighboring Fayette County towns of Warrenton, Burton, La Grange and Carmine, the 90-person town welcomes more than 100,000 dealers and pickers twice a year. Visitors set up thousands of roadside tents in area pastures, making city limits indecipherable, while the two-lane country road through the region becomes a slow trail of bumper-to-bumper cars, trucks and, for the big leaguers, U-Hauls.
Those who want to avoid the crowds can do so, however. Round Top is an antiques destination in the off-season, too. The town has garnered national attention thanks to an HGTV power duo: no, not Chip and Joanna Gaines, but the Junk Gypsies. Sisters Amie and Jolie Sikes opened their 7,500-square-foot Junk Gypsy Company in 2013; it has since become a year-round attraction for shoppers.
Nearby, visitors can explore the stomping grounds of yet another popular decorator and TV host, Rachel Ashwell, who, as Oprah put it, “single-handedly turned shabby into chic” when she coined the term “shabby-chic” nearly two decades ago. In 2011, Ashwell opened The Prairie Bed and Breakfast, which, of course, includes an outpost of Shabby Chic Couture, where she sells finds from her own treasure hunts.
As we continued down Highway 237, we noticed the Big Red Barn—one of the iconic spring and fall show venues, boasting 30,000 square feet of booths—was open for the weekend. It was Amos, this time, who turned on the blinker. “We’re just looking,” he smiled.
- Don’t-miss dishes: Royers Round Top Cafe reigns as the town’s crown dining jewel. Order the bestselling grilled shrimp BLT on a sourdough hoagie, but save room for the famous pie. Between the Texas Trash (chocolate chips, pretzels, coconut, pecans, graham crackers) and the Cafe's Original Buttermilk (chess cake meets custard pie), you’ll want to take a slice—or a whole pie—home. Note: Ahead of the spring and fall antiques shows, Royers sets a date and time, three weeks in advance, when it will start accepting reservations by phone only (979-249-3611).
- Stay: Not far off Highway 237, Rancho Pillow Motel is a one-of-a-kind, whimsical retreat on a 20-acre compound with five unique lodging options, including a three-story, 18th-century barn relocated from upstate New York and an air-conditioned tepee. The heated pool and fire pit are perks, but the sunsets are the real attraction.
- Do: While Round Top occupies only 610 acres, the main square, which looks like it was plucked from a Hollywood movie set, boasts five whole blocks of fun. Take a stroll, sip Texas wine on the patio at Prost, and shop the large collection of vintage cowboy boots at Townsend Provisions.
Flashback Funtiques in Boerne touts mid-century wares including jukeboxes and vintage Coca-Cola vending machines. Hunting & Gathering offers a mix of primitive antiques with newer inventory, like Texas-themed gifts and handmade jewelry. And a trip to Boerne isn’t complete without a visit to Carousel Antiques & Fickle Pickles, for the renowned—you guessed it—antiques and pickles. Just trust us on this.
Blackbird Antiques and Comfort Antique Mall are popular haunts among pickers and collectors visiting Comfort’s charming historic district, while the patio and live music at Hill Country Distillers is the perfect place to wind down after a day of shopping.
You’ll know you’re in Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, when you see the rearing stallion on the roof of West Trail Antiques. This local favorite boasts 20,000 square feet of heirlooms, estate furniture and Western antiques—not to mention a huge selection of vintage Enid Collins wooden handbags. Also a must-visit: Country Accents Antiques just down the road, near Pipe Creek. It’s a picker’s dream, brimming with indoor and outdoor collectables—from crock-stoneware jugs to old-school Airstream trailers.