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Locals We Love: Paramount Theatre’s Jim Ritts

Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of Austin's Paramount Theatre, inside the historic building

Since 1915, Austin’s Paramount Theatre has been a shining beacon to central Texans seeking exciting and eclectic performances. Its gloriously restored blade and distinctive marquis blaze forth, announcing that magic is about to be made.

Paramount Connections Across Generations

Facade and sign of Austin's historic Paramount Theatre
The Paramount blade was recreated in 2015 for the 100th birthday of Austin’s historic theatre.

From comedy to music, theatrics to political commentary, classic films to cutting-edge cultural events, the Paramount and neighboring sister, the State Theater (or “Stateside”), transcend the past.

“No strictures to what we can or can’t do,” said Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of the Paramount and Stateside, as he sat in the original 1935 film projection and vault room and chatted with Top Trip Rentals. “[The Paramount’s] a connector.”

Ritts recounted a special time when he experienced the power of the Paramount.

The scene: the Paramount’s performance of Mark Twain Tonight, Hal Holbrook’s one-man show since 1954.

That night, Ritts met a father/son duo attending the show. That night was the boy’s 13th birthday. The father’s father, Ritts learned, had taken him to the Paramount for the same show on his 13th birthday.

That generational continuity carried an emotional wallop.

“I choked up. This place is truly the fourth character in every performance; it’s what is central—the Paramount, Holbrook’s Mark Twain—and the river flowing through connecting a grandfather, father, and son.”~Jim Ritts

Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of Austin's Paramount Theatre, inside the historic building
Jim Ritts, CEO and executive director of Austin’s Paramount Theatre. Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

Artists who perform here also attest to the theatre’s impact. Ritts pointed out that many—he mentioned Lyle Lovett, specifically—were inspired here, and subsequently chose the venue to kick off tours and new releases. Lovett’s not alone. The theatre estimates that some 10,000 performers have graced the stage throughout the Paramount’s storied life. And every year, more than 200,000 audience members experience the Paramount’s magic.

Sidewalk star at Austin's Paramount Theatre honoring singer Lyle Lovett
In addition to honorary sidewalk stars, performers are encouraged to sign the backstage “Artist Wall.” Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

Engaging Austin’s Theatre Community Beyond the Show

Classic seats in Austin's historic Paramount Theatre
35mm and 70mm film exhibition make the Paramount a must for classic screen lovers. Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

The Paramount opens minds, hearts, and doors through a variety of outreach programs.

“Literacy to Life”  introduces third graders to stagecraft. Professional “Story Wranglers” help students learn techniques to improve skills and build confidence while they write an original theatrical production (you can see finished works online at the Paramount’s website).

The Summer Classic Film Series Family Film Festival introduces young and old alike to the wonder and joy of iconic movies. With discounted prices and matinee times, the weekly series is a wonderful way for adults and kids to pass the dog days of Austin’s summer months.

And did you know that the Paramount Theatre plays a role in SXSW Edu? That’s right; the Paramount staff has promoted the importance of arts education at this annual Austin conference (here’s the 2018 SXSW Edu schedule).

 

Top Trips’ Paramount Picks

The Paramount Theatre’s “Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival” is as unique as those iconic Austin light towers. During the festival, a wealth of comedic genius graces stages around ATX with more than 100 live performances.

Be sure to take a look at the Paramount Theatre’s current list of events (films, shows, performances) when you plan your next night out. When you book a stay at Littlefield Lofts on Austin’s signature 6th St., you’re just a short walk from the Paramount and State Theatre (between 7th and 8th St.), Congress Avenue, and the stately Texas Capitol grounds.

Interior view of Austin's historic Paramount Theatre
Classic architecture and details, such as the original 1920s fire curtain, add period glamor to the Paramount. Photo Credit: Paramount Theatre

 

#goplaystay

Logo for the Paramount TheatreWhether you went Paramount or Stateside, we want to know about your ATX cultural night out.

What’d you see? What did you wear? Was your night special? Did you make a Paramount connection?

Tag us at @TopTripRentals so we can feel the magic.

 

 

August 22, 2017

Do Ghosts Exist? Austin Gets a Glimpse of Sir NoFace

Chad Calek and Justin Holstein give a talk at Emo's in Austin on new documentary, Sir No Face

Do you believe in ghosts?

Had you spent an August evening with filmmakers Chad Calek and Justin Holstein, you might have said “yes.” The two noted paranormal investigators were in Austin to promote their latest project, Sir NoFace. This documentary investigates a “full-body apparition” recorded by an Australian paranormal team. Is the image an accomplished fake, or does the footage prove, once and for all, that ghosts exist?

Austin Welcomes Sir NoFace

Chad Calek and Justin Holstein give a talk at Emo's in Austin on new documentary, Sir No Face
Austin’s Emo’s became the scene for American Ghost Hunters Chad Calek and Justin Holstein. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

The Sir NoFace Lives Tour launched in Austin at Emo’s on Aug. 2, 2017, and whether you believe or not, Calek and Holstein put on a great evening. The two men, friends for more than 20 years, shared their love of film in an easy-going, personable manner before a raptly enthusiastic crowd of fans. They showed clips, told stories, and laughed at each other (and themselves) for being terrified. As Calek put it, “There’s a certain amount of humor in being completely f**ked.”

Calek is known as director and star of the autobiographical documentary American Ghost Hunter and A&E’s reality series Paranormal State. He and Holstein formed AGH Television, an independent digital distribution website and home to their many joint projects. Recently, A Blood Red Sky became available on Amazon Prime. Britain’s Chillingham Castle, the “most haunted location in the world,” sets the scene for Calek, Holstein, and the rest of the AGH team to explore the interaction of altering their minds while experiencing paranormal activity.

These filmmakers are masters at building suspense and setting mood. Sir NoFace was genuinely creepy, and dark, cavernous Emo’s (2015 E. Riverside Dr.) was the perfect setting for getting your pants scared off. And becoming a believer.

3 Tips for New Ghost Hunters

T-shirts from the Sir NoFace North American Tour with Chad Calek and Justin HolsteinIn case you’d like to check out some haunted locations on your own, Calek offered a few tips.

  • Do your research (look for places with known activity and read up on their history before you go)
  • As a protection, listen to the voice inside of you (“when you’re calling for the undead to do things to you, it gets really scary,” so trust your instincts)
  • Don’t play with a Ouija board (“it’s not the board itself–it could be a Ouija banana; you’re giving up your freedom. And that’s dangerous….”)

Famously Haunted Places in ATX

Leah Nyfeler's notes on Chad Calek 's Sir NoFace Lives North American Tour and ticket stubAustin is home to several locations that make “haunted” lists (“Top 11 Most Haunted Places in Austin, TX” is a good start). One that’s always included is the famous Driskill Hotel. Built in 1886, the Driskill sits directly across 6th Street from Top Trip Rentals’ vacation rentals property, the Littlefield Lofts. While there are many stories, Room 525 (scene of two different suicides, by brides) and the hotel’s staircase (a little girl holding flowers haunts the steps) get special call-outs.

Top Trip Rentals was happy to host the AGH team at another historic (but not so ghostly) Austin property, 410 E. 6th Street (also known as the Graeber House). Calek, Holstein, and crew were looking for a space where they could all stay together. “The road is a tremendous amount of work,” Calek explained in an email. “I prefer to be tucked away in a place that has similar amenities to my home, so that I can enjoy the company of my touring team, who are also my closest friends.”

We’re pretty sure 410 E. 6th Street isn’t haunted. But if you’d like a tour of some Austin spots that supposedly host a ghost or two, take a look at Austin Ghost Tours when you book your next ATX stay.

Find the next city and showing on the Sir NoFace Lives North American Tour

Merchandise for sale at Sir NoFace North American Tour in Austin

 

August 15, 2017

1 week ago

On the Town with Parkside, Mattie’s

top-trip-rentals_play

How can you be a local business and make recommendations to guests without knowing the town? Top Trip Rentals loves Austin and, whenever possible, we’re out and about, discovering what’s special about our city.

We’ve collected a few images and comments from our most recent #toptripping experiences. Check out what the Top Trip Rentals staff recommends:

 

Parkside’s Summer Social Series

Top Trip Rentals owner Chereen Fisher loves to get the group out to make connections, sample offerings, and glean ideas for guest experiences. She suggested Parkside’s Summer Social Series: “I want to go because it sounds fun, yummy, and the event is something worth knowing more about.”

Top Trip Rentals cards showing Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside ProjectsParkside is noted chef Shawn Cirkiel’s flagship restaurant project, and the series was created to share “adventurous, upscale bar food and specialty cocktails” served on their rooftop patio overlooking downtown Austin, within walking distance from Top Trip Rentals vacation homes property, Littlefield Lofts.

Purchasing admission to Parkside’s Summer Social Series grants what could be called the “Pick Your Parkside Pleasure”: choice of one each from three specialty cocktails, three courses from Chef Nathan Lemley, and three courses from featured guest chefs (different dates feature different chefs). 

Collage of cocktail and food from Parkside Summer Social in July 2017

“It was a great experience being able to try creative collaborations from Parkside’s chef Nathan Lemley and Crossroads owners Danielle and Wayne Van Steen.

The cocktails were colorful, and the food was light and flavorful. Parkside’s rooftop patio is a lovely gem in Austin’s 6th Street entertainment district.”  ~ Cara Thibodeaux

Interested in Parkside’s Summer Social? Put August 2o, 2017 on your calendar. The next event features chef Nathan Lemley and guest chef Lyle Bento. Learn more and buy tickets. 

Mattie’s at Green Pastures

Dinner and cocktail menu from Mattie's at Green Pasture
Menus (dinner and cocktail) with the Green Pastures Julep. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Austin’s locals remember many, many years of wonderful dining and event experiences at unique home-turned-restaurant Green Pastures. Recently, this piece of history was renovated and reopened by new owners as Mattie’s at Green Pastures, and we were eager to see how the traditional had been transformed. We’re happy to report that original charm has been preserved (peacocks, the house itself) and lovely modern updates added (decor and menu).

“Because I’m a gluten-free eater, previewing the menu is important. I never want to sit there, nibbling on the garnish from my drink, while everyone else chows down on fantastic looking but I-can’t-eat-those appetizers. Not only were there gluten-free options, but our server was very knowledgeable about all of Mattie’s various dishes and their ingredients. I recommend the Kale Salad.

The little details at Mattie’s impressed me. The cocktail menu was extensive, and including the photo of Mary Faulk Koock and her husband Chester, who established Green Pastures Restaurant in 1946, was a sweet touch. My Green Pastures Mint Julep was a perfect combination of classic cocktail with a modern update, just like Mattie’s.” ~ Leah Nyfeler, Communications

Plate of cornbread with flavored butter at Mattie's at Green Pastures in Austin.
Cornbread with flavored butter for the table, at Mattie’s in Austin. Photo Credit: Cara Thibodeaux

“Every dish we ordered here at Mattie’s did not disappoint. My absolute favorites, however, would have to be the Biscuits and Butter as well as the Crispy Cauliflower.”~Cara Thibodeaux

In addition to her role as Reservation Specialist at Top Trip Rentals, Cara has a personal food blog, The Great Full Girl. Visit “Mattie’s at Green Pastures” for more in-depth information about her experience.

Interested in trying Mattie’s at Green Pastures? Be sure to make a reservation. Once the weather’s a bit cooler, we recommend enjoying the outdoor tables on the porch and on the grounds. Maybe you’ll spy one of the white peacocks.

Want to stay close by? Top Trip Rentals’ Downtown Bungalow is in the Mattie’s at Green Pasture’s neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

 

July 30, 2017

“Stretch” Comes to Austin’s Graeber House

Various members of Stout Magazine book panel at Top Trip Rentals property in Austin

Mermaids have swum here. Musicians played (perhaps you were one of the guests for the SoFar pop-up concert with Harvest Thieves, Brookfield, and Zula Montez). Maybe your company held private events here during Austin’s annual conference celebration, South By Southwest (SXSW).

Mermaids at The Graeber House in Austin at Top Trip Rentals eventSofar Sounds pop up concert at The Graeber House in Austin

 

However you know 410 E. 6th St., the Graeber House, we’ve got a new iteration for this historic downtown location.

Entrance to 410 E. 6th Street in Austin
The Graeber Home’s entrance. Photo Credit: Twist Tours

On Wednesday, June 28, Stout Magazine is hosting Houston-based business author Scott Sonenshein. A panel of Austin entrepreneurs will review Sonenshein’s book Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined.

And you’re invited to this unique vacation rental in the heart of downtown Austin to join their discussion.

Living the “Stretch” Lifestyle

Cover of the book Stretch by Scott SonensheinScott Sonenshein is the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice University and a respected expert in business management, psychology, and strategy.

So what’s his book about? What place does  “stretching” have in business? Sonenshein explains:

“People think of resourcefulness as something done out of need when facing shortages or to resolve problems, but that’s just one aspect of it. Stretching means we don’t start from feeling like what we have isn’t enough. Instead, we embrace what we already have and then creatively put those resources to work, such as time, money, relationships, and materials.”

Logo for Stout Magazine

Magazine publisher Christi Hester knew immediately that Sonenshein embodied the “bold, brave, and determined” Stout lifestyle.

“There’s a chapter in Stretch inspired by Robert Rodriquez,” Hester explained. She had heard the filmmaker speak a few years earlier and was “blown away by how Rodriquez ‘mavericked’ and created his own vision; he was a disrupter before people started using the term.”

She reached out to Sonenshein to create an unconventional book review—a discussion on how executives implement experiences to encourage leadership success and build a purpose-driven life.

Meet the Experts

Various members of Stout Magazine book panel at Top Trip Rentals property in Austin

Each of the panelists brings their own “stretch” to the discussion.

Hester recognized The Graeber House, 410 E. 6th St., as a fitting location for hosting the group: “There’s simply no other house like it in Austin. When I think of the Stout mindset, 410 fits the bill.”

Want to Join Us?

Event information for Stout magazine book review of Stretch by Scott Sonenshein

Register now (spots will fill fast)! (The first 20 early bird registrants will receive a free copy of Stretch. The author will be signing books; to purchase your copy, a donation to The Shade Project is suggested)

The Graeber House is cool, right? Rent 410 E. 6th St. for your Austin vacation stay!

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Interior view of The Graeber House in Austin on 6th St.
Family living room in the multi-story Graeber Home on Austin’s 6th St. Photo Credit: Twist Tours

 

June 28, 2017

Top Trip Rentals Shout-Out: KEY Concierge

Top Trip Rentals cards with profile of KEY Concierge founder and CEO Kim Shrum

 

You’re on a dream get-away to Austin. Quick: What’s your plan for an epic night out?

Can you figure out the hottest new restaurants in town? Need fresh flowers? Want a side trip somewhere fun?

Sure, it’s possible to wade through Google search results, Yelp reviews, and random “best of” articles. But don’t you have better things to do?

At the touch of a button, KEY Concierge’s team of local hospitality experts takes the nightmare planning out of your ATX destination agenda.

Why Top Trip Rentals Works with KEY Concierge

Top Trip Rentals bedroom view at 119 E. 6th Street Austin, TX
Would you really rather get up and go out than eat in at your Top Trip Rentals home-away-from-home? And with this view? #breakfastinbed Photo Credit: Twist Tours

Top Trip Rentals has your vacation rental home just like you’d like it, and KEY Concierge further enhances that stay. Technology helps their tea of hospitality experts develop and deliver customized itineraries in advance for out-of-towners.

Founder and CEO Kim Shrum created the app-based service to provide “next level” services for discerning travelers and staycationers.

“We’re in a rewarding business,” explains Shrum. “We’re creating memories for our clients through unique experiences you can’t buy out of a box.”

These special itineraries involve tapping into the local community to identify unique adventures (arranging day trips to Marfa or catering intimate dinner parties) as well as satisfying everyday needs.

Our Top Trip guests find that KEY Concierge is a big help with services such as pre-arrival grocery delivery, bar stocking, and airport transportation. No matter what’s on the agenda, KEY Concierge infuses its services with personable and thoughtful attention to detail.

Check This Out

Enhance your Top Trip Rental stay by booking one of KEY Concierge’s popular tours in Austin. Try the Brewery + BBQ Excursion. Outdoor lovers won’t want to miss KEY’s private Hill Country Ride or A Day on the Lake (so many ATX adventures to arrange!).

Tell Us About Your Experience

How has KEY Concierge enhanced your Austin stay with Top Trip Rentals? Add your comment here or show us on Instagram (@toptriprentals, #toptripping). Did you get the complimentary breakfast?

Top Trip Rentals special offer through KEY Concierge for complimentary breakfast

 

 

June 13, 2017

Top Trip Rentals Supports Musicians During SXSW

Artist Lizzo album cover SXSW 2017

In honor of two anniversaries–30 years of South by Southwest, Austin’s premier festival  (1987–2017), and Top Trip Rentals’ 10th anniversary, we gave SXSW 2017 musicians a special promotional rate during their stay. Yes, while ATX room rates hit high notes, we lowered rates to $30 a night so musicians could conveniently rock a 6th Street launch pad during their SXSW’s performances.

Crazy, right? Well, Top Trip Rentals believes Austin’s soul is its artists. We wanted to tip an appreciative hat to artists of all stripes (musical, visual, theatrical) who’ve made success possible. When SXSW emerged out of the Austin Chronicle’s think tanks in 1987, some 700 people attended; my, how things have grown! In 2016 alone, SXSW brought $325.3 million into Austin economy’s. The average nightly cost of an ATX hotel room that year? $350.

So, yeah, Top Trip Rentals thought our 10th anniversary was the perfect opportunity to give back to SXSW bands.

“We wanted to support the original mission of SXSW, the music portion, because that’s what basically put Austin on the map as a destination city,” explained Chereen Fisher, owner of Top Trip Rentals.

Top Trip was honored and thrilled to have artists from all over the world at our vacation rentals. This year’s list of SXSW musicians and bands included

Lizzo,

The TonTons,

Tunde Olaniran,

White Reaper,

Sundara Karma,

Margo Price,

and more.

We couldn’t have asked for better guests, and so Top Trip Rentals created a tradition. During big festivals and events, we’re reserving a portion of our vacation rentals at affordable prices for performers, those souls who get on stage and give their energy, genius, and artistry every night.

 

Lizzo is a hot ticket at SXSW 2017

Come Stay with Us During Your Gig!

Are you a performer (musical, visual, theatrical) who needs an affordable place to unwind during Austin’s legendary festivals and creative events? Talk to our offices: email at info@toptriprentals.com or talk to a human at (512) 522-8747.

March 14, 2017

New Year, New Faces at Top Trip Rentals

Top Trip Rentals staff members Rebecca and Cara

As we greet 2017, our Top Trip Rentals staff doesn’t want 2016 to get away without reflecting on a few special highlights.

In 2016, Top Trip Rentals welcomed more guests from more varied locations to more accommodations than ever before.  That kind of growth introduced new faces to our guests.

We added two great new team members: Rebecca Barbeau, general manager, and Cara Thibodeaux, reservations specialist. Both come with extensive travel-related professional and personal experience.

When booking a Top Trip Rentals stay in Austin, your first contact will most likely be with Cara. She calmly and knowledgeably answers hundreds of daily calls and emails regarding accommodations in Austin and the surrounding Hill Country.

Cara’s extensive experience includes working with hotel brands and vacation rentals, including HomeAway.com and TurnKey Rentals. When she’s not working, Cara travels the world (recent trips include Guatemala, France, Spain, and Italy) and writes an Austin food blog, Foodofthe512.

Rebecca Barbeau joined Top Trip Rentals in 2016, filling our newly created General Manager role. Rebecca has years of experience globe-hopping and working in resort hospitality at some of the nation’s most gorgeous locations: Big Sky, Catalina Island, and the Grand Canyon.

Rebecca keeps everything running smoothly at Top Trip Rentals. You will find her at the Littlefield Lofts property handling guest relations, working with our housekeeping staff, and overseeing the moving behind-the-scene pieces. When not tenaciously problem solving for Top Trip, Rebecca loves traveling and used to live out of the largest piece of Samsonite luggage you’ve ever seen.

Cara and Rebecca can be reached at Top Trip’s email if you have a question about an upcoming stay. Make sure you say “hello” when you book your stay.

January 21, 2017

ACL Memories: Reflecting on 2016

Clouds at sunset at ACL 2016

Now that the dust has settled (literally), let’s take a moment to reflect on Austin City Limits 2016.

This year, ACL festival managers went for a younger crowd and the music skewed heavy on EDM. I wandered around and saw a number of bands: Catfish and the Bottlemen, Melanie Martinez, and Cage the Elephant all played fabulous sets, full of energy and showmanship.

Why You Need an ACL VIP Pass

There wasn’t a must-see band for me; honestly, I went because I had a Top Trip Rentals VIP pass.

I LOVE the VIP area of ACL. If you have the money, it is so worth it (a VIP pass is about $450 per day versus $100 per day). Just beyond the VIP gatekeepers lies the promised land–air conditioned flush toilets; free drinks from Tito’s Vodka and Troublemaker Wines; free food from local vendors, like Ranch 616, and catered meals from Central Market. It’s called the “Grove,” and the area’s shady and relatively quiet. There are even big-screen TVs showing the stages and others set up for football.

It’s an oasis for sure in a sea of people and heat.

ACL Venue is the Big Star

Clouds at sunset at ACL 2016
Sunset at ACL 2016

There are moments of pure transcendence at ACL.

Ironically, I ended up spending as much time watching the crowds and clouds as I did the bands.

Don’t get me wrong–the music is great. But Austin has a lot of great music happening at all hours in all places all across town most of the time.

What makes ACL such a great experience music is the setting. Austin’s Zilker Park, nestled on the edge of Lady Bird Lake, provides a great view across the water of Austin’s ever changing skyline.

It’s really a gorgeous site to experience live music.

October 13, 2016

The Best of Austin

Javelina Bar on Rainey Street in Austin

There is a lot to love about Austin. The people, the attitude, the winter weather, the music, and more. So, what do locals do when entertaining friends and family from out of town? I posed this question to Top Trip Rentals’ staff members and here’s some of our favorite places. Happy Travels!

Rebecca’s Top 5 favorite Austin spots:

  1. Walking the Greenbelt and stopping for swims in Barton Creek along the way!
  2. Margaritas and “Texas Radio Live” at Guero’s Oak Garden on Wednesday nights.
  3. Shopping the monthly specials at Room Service Vintage.
  4. Brunch at Counter Cafe. I recommend the mango mimosas and counter benedict.
  5. Walking the Butler Trail in the evening with a stop at Alta’s Cafe for a drink.
Sandra’s Top 5:
  1. Exploring the Greenbelt with my dog (with snacks and water).
  2. Drinks at Javelina on Rainey St.
  3. Biking on the Walnut Creek Trail.
  4. Barbacoa tacos from La Esperanza on S. Congress across from St. Edwards.
  5. Dancing the night away at Highland Lounge.
Outdoor patio at Javelina Austin on Rainey Street. Photo from www.Javelinabar.com
Outdoor patio at Javelina Austin on Rainey Street. Photo from www.Javelinabar.com

Brenda’s Top 5:

  1. Hike up Mt. Bonnell
  2. Angie’s Mexican Food on East 7th Street
  3. State Capitol – Both the grounds and the building.
  4. The Grove Wine Bar
  5. Esther’s Follies

Rene’s Top 5:

  1. A trip to Mayfield Park to see the peacocks.
  2. Touring the outdoor exhibit at AMOA’s Laguna Gloria location.
  3. The dining room of Fonda San Miguel Restaurant
  4. ACL!
  5. October weather

Whether you’re here for a few days or for one of Austin’s big music or film festivals like ACL or SXSW, check out some of our staff’s favorite locales in Austin and live like a local.

September 30, 2016

ACL 2016 Is Almost Here

C3 - ACL Weekend 1

ACL 2016 is coming up fast. And that means it’s time to pick your favorite bands.

When equally interesting bands are playing at the same time at opposite ends of Zilker Park (the ACL venue), it’s hard to pick who to hear. And it’s impossible to run between stages during performances  to see two acts at once (well, it can be done but not easily).

The only way to manage your band picks is through a careful review of the ACL website lineup page including bios and videos. Then, download the app and set up your schedule.

Top Trip Rentals Recommends

Who are we psyched about seeing at ACL? Here are a few of our staff recommendations.

Sandra’s Top 5:

  1. Die Antwoord
  2. Bomba Estereo
  3. Kendrick Lamar
  4. The Chainsmokers
  5. Mumford & Sons

Rebecca’s Top 5: 

  1. Radiohead
  2. Kendrick Lamar
  3. Band of Horses
  4. Willie Nelson
  5. Wild Belle

Rene’s Top 5:

  1. Willie Nelson
  2. Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats
  3. Quaker City Night Hawks
  4. Luisa Maita
  5. Corrine Bailey Rae

Cara’s Top 5:

  1. Haim
  2. The Chainsmokers
  3. Kendrick Lamar
  4. Tory Lanes
  5. Conor Oberst

As you can see, our crew at Top Trip Rentals is looking forward to a real mix of bands and styles. We guarantee that, no matter your taste, you won’t find a bad band at ACL.

Not much of a planner? Not sure what you like? Wandering the park and staying at a stage that sounds interesting could yield a great new find.

ACL Tips

The kind ACL folks have put together a great guide. With the festival now in its 15th year, they know a thing or two about having a great time. The ACL guide includes FAQ for getting the most out of the festival. Read this to learn details such as how to get from downtown Austin to Zilker Park, what items can and cannot be taken, and additional programs to music during the event.

See you there!

C3 - ACL Weekend 1
C3 – ACL Weekend 1, 2015

September 16, 2016

Make Dripping Springs Your Hill Country Day Trip

Postcard that says "Go Play Stay" and #toptripping for Top Trip Rentals

Dripping Springs was once a sleepy ranch town. Located 25 miles west of Austin, the town is on the way to the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. But as with all things near Austin, Dripping Springs has changed.

Today, it’s thriving town in it’s own right. With a new string of vineyards dotting the landscape, a thriving wine community exits. Only a short drive from downtown, Dripping Springs is an easy spot for a day trip getaway.

Local Wine and Food Festival

If you are looking for an excuse to explore Dripping Springs, this weekend provides the perfect opportunity. This Saturday, September 10, 2016, the city is hosting the 9th Annual “Dripping with Taste Wine & Food Festival”. The Food and Wine Festival showcases more than 75 food, wine, and spirits vendors made or produced in nearby Dripping Springs.

The festival takes place at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park & Event Center, located on Ranch Road (RR) 12 (see the map on this website link for the Event Center). 

Happy trails and #toptripping to you!

September 9, 2016

The 410: House Cocktail for Historic Graeber Home

The 410 drink created by Mixologist JR Mocanu.

We love a good cocktail!

When it came time to create a specialty cocktail for 410 E. 6th Street, our historic Graeber Home, Top Trip Rentals chose Barmadillo partner and mixologist JR Mocanu. His mission–to merge  traditional and modern elements to accurately reflect the downtown Austin building’s historic significance and modern updates.

Presenting The 410

With these requirements in mind, we present a mix of locally-sourced spirits that looks sweet but tastes substantial (it’s the bitters).

In keeping with the historic provenance of the building, The 410 in made of ingredients available to barkeeps in the 19th century. The combination, however, is a modern celebration of the home’s mid-20th century remodeling and renovations.

When you book your Top Trip Rentals stay at the Graeber House, request a batch of “The 410” to get you in the spirit. Cheers!

The 410 drink created by Mixologist JR Macanu.
“The 410” cocktail, created by mixologist JR Mocanu.

September 2, 2016

At Home with Art: Cornelius Carter at the Graeber Mansion

Artwork by Cornelius Carter of musician Prince at Austin's Grabber Mansion

At our Sixth Street vacation rental, the Graeber House, we are honored to display works from Cornelius Carter’s “Faces Series” including this portrait of the late musical genius Prince on the walls of our 4,800 square-foot 19th century home located in the heart of downtown Austin. Carter’s works are exhibited at the Graeber and on loan by his gallery IEI Austin.

Through the Graeber’s partnership with IEI Austin, our guests have enjoyed a rotating inventory of artwork including the canvases of William Stidham and Larry Graeber. At Top Trip Rentals, we value the contributions of the creative community as a part of what keeps Austin great and are happy to showcase local artists at our properties. Top Trip Rentals’ Graeber house has served as a pop-up gallery during the famous WEST shows and hosted IEI Austin gallery openings.

“Guests to the historic mansion can see Carter’s works of musical icons while staying in the heart of the entertainment district in a section of Austin that glorifies musicians,” says Top Trip Rentals owner and Graeber property manager Chereen Fisher. These rock star paintings grace the walls of the Graeber House, and are available for purchase through IEI Austin, Rhonda Rougeau gallery owner.

Cornelius Carter is an Austin-based, classically-trained artist with a style rooted in the traditional portraiture paintings of European masters while depicting subject matter dealing with societal struggles around race and class. From his eponymous website, Carter describes how he “weaves together imagery from history, mythology, childhood, and life experience to create images that are thought provoking, captivating, and beautiful. People and their relationships are a central theme…”

About the Artist: Carter was born and raised in 1970s Memphis, choosing to leave the South for more opportunities by attending the prestigious Minneapolis College of Art and Design on a partial scholarship. He moved to New York and sold paintings as a street artist in Greenwich Village before moving back to Memphis and finally choosing Austin as a place to raise his son and pursue his art. In 2015, Cornelius unveiled, “The Death of the King,” a large-scale portrait of the shooting of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Austin City Hall in a press event opening the “People’s Art Gallery” where Cornelius was chosen along with two others as a featured artist for 2015 from the approximately 1,250 entries submitted by more than 300 local artists and art organizations. “The Death of a King” was displayed at the Austin City Hall for all of 2015.

Prince photo
“Prince” by Cornelius Carter

August 4, 2016

Live like a local at our SOCO home

Remodeled 1930s bungalow front door view

Where in Texas is the BEST place to visit according to Conde Nast Traveler magazine? Right here, South Congress Avenue shopping. Our updated 1930s era SOCO bungalow is one block off of Austin’s famous South Congress Avenue and right in the heart of all that this incredibly cool, fun and weird. You are moments from Big Top Candy, the Continental Club, Perla Restaurant and so many more than we can list in one blog. Also, some of the best boot shopping in the state as mentioned in the Conde Nast article. It’s old Austin meets new.

Top Trip Rental's Soco Bungalow
Top Trip Rental’s Soco Bungalow

July 23, 2016

Now How Do I Get Around Austin?

Postcard that says "Go Play Stay" and #toptripping for Top Trip Rentals

Have you heard? Uber and Lyft suspended operations in Austin after voters weighed in on Proposition 1. As a result, the Austin City Council is proceeding with more stringent security requirements. (This Texas Monthly article provides excellent coverage about the debate. Welcome to Austin, folks; we have lots of civic engagement!)

What Are My Ride Options without Uber and Lyft?

If you’re navigating Austin without a car, what are the transportation options?

  • Austin has public transportation (take Capital Metro for both bus and light rail)
  • Try a newer ride hailing service (like GetMe and RideFare;  Wingz goes to and from the airport only)
  • Pedicabs work well in the general downtown area (there are several companies)
  • Austin’s primary cab services are Yellow Cab and Austin Cab (note that Austin’s cab companies gets less than stellar reviews on Yelp. From the complaints, cab services seem to take a long time, so allow plenty of lead time when requesting a pick-up)

TIP: Top Trip Rentals hasn’t tried it yet, but Shire Cab Company gets great reviews. The driver, Al, is a local musician (and, we hear, a character), so try Shire Cab Company for that uniquely Austin experience.

June 30, 2016

Seaholm Development Brings New Shops, Restaurants to Downtown Austin

View of the decommissioned Seaholm Power Plant

It’s been a long time coming, but one of Austin’s newest transformations is the Seaholm EcoDistrict near West Avenue and 3rd Street. (Sure; the district’s bigger, but if you want to tell a driver where to drop you off, that’s a good corner.) Commissioned in 1948, the Seaholm Power Plant produced power until 1989. It closed in 1996 and became a Texas Historic Landmark and National Historic Place. Now, it’s becoming a downtown destination.

View of the decommissioned Seaholm Power PlantEstablished highlights of this downtown area already exist: salons (Jackson Ruiz has a location in this development), grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, and restaurants, including True Foods Kitchen. You can enjoy a lovely outdoor dining experience with a view of the decommissioned power plant steam pipes. The Seaholm Power Plant sign is still there. Commissioned in 1948, Seaholm produced power until 1989. The plant closed in 1996 and became a Texas Historic Landmark and National Historic Place.

A quick trip these days reveals an ongoing construction site. The new Austin Central Library is in final stages (that completion date keeps changing); the entire area, once completed, will be a pretty cool spot and interesting mixture of iconic and cutting-edge Austin architecture.

Austin Central Library sign lit up in early morning.
Austin’s new Central Library waits behind construction fences for new patrons. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Once the dust has settled, the Seaholm District will be an amazing gem of a destination for locals and travelers alike.

 

April 28, 2016

Stroll the West Sixth Street Shopping District

Interior view of Jonathan Adler boutique in Austin TX

Twenty years ago, shopping was pretty basic in Austin. If you wanted to go camping or backpacking, then there were plenty of choices for buying water purifiers and tents. Not exactly a spot for high fashion and design. Well, that my friends has changed. The last five years has really seen the growth of shopping options explode, from the newly and constantly expanding Domain Shopping area north of town, to small boutiques around downtown, there’s something for everyone now. And some of the most interesting and unexpected shopping can be found a short distance from our Littlefield Lofts vacation rentals at Sixth and Brazos. For a leisurely stroll from the LL building, start off with a pedicab or long walk heading west on Sixth Street toward the intersection of Lamar and Sixth Street. This is an area near a shopping region known as West End or West Sixth Street.

For a nice way to spend a few hours, we at Top Trip Rentals highly recommend taking in a few boutiques and shops along this expanding downtown shopping corridor. Never one to preach what I don’t practice, I spent a leisurely breakfast recently at Walton’s Fancy and Staple on Sixth Street with a friend before heading out for a few stores on West Sixth Street. Walton’s is housed in a historic building and has a little of everything–food, pastries, coffee, antiques for sale, garden supplies and other curios. Not having eaten yet that day, I ordered the breakfast tacos, but once my friend’s shrimp and grits arrived, I knew I’d made a mistake. Get some Southern Comfort food at Walton’s…it seems to be their speciality.

After filling up on cappuccino (the coffee here is good!), I was ready to walk toward my ultimate destination–birthday shopping for a friend at the Jonathan Adler Boutique on West 5th Street near the Lamar intersection. As my companion was headed on to BookPeople after breakfast, together we strolled down West Sixth by not-yet-open bars and not-yet-finished condo construction to make our way to the intersection of Sixth and Lamar.

Around this busy pedestrian and traffic-filled crossing, there are a few women’s clothing stores, like Antropologie and Title Nine where I stopped in to see if anything caught my eye (it didn’t) and then finally headed over to 5th and Lamar, making a quick dash into West Elm and then onto the shiny explosion of cool that is Jonathan Adler’s Austin store. How I want to buy everything in here! From subversively messaged cross-stitch pillows to candles that smell like Vodka, Jonathan Adler has everything that a downtown Austin loft needs to shine the brightest. Not much in the way of camping supplies, but this Austin outpost of JA has everything a downtown loft craves–sparkly, modern and clever furniture and accessories.

And if you are still in the market for camping supplies, never fear, REI is housed a block away in between BookPeople and Anthropologie. So, now, Austin’s got you covered from the outdoors to the outlandish! Shop On!

Shopping in Austin at the gorgeous Jonathan Adler boutique.
Shopping in Austin at the gorgeous Jonathan Adler boutique.

May 2, 2016

Brunch is a Must

Long bar with chairs in Isla Restaurant in Austin

In the “blink and you missed it” category, none is changing more rapidly in Austin’s food scene than the offerings for brunch. Every good restaurant in town now has some kind of option for this Sunday meal that is better than breakfast and more important than lunch. It’s a verb. It’s brunch.

For the best lineup of brunch locales in Central Austin, check out this “Eater” article that provides several locations close to our Littlefield Lofts vacation rentals on 6th and Brazos Street. Three are within an easy stroll of our lofts: Italic (#2), Isla (#7) and Wu Chow (#8) are all recommended. Enjoy!

Isla Restaurant Interiors Photo credit: Andrea Calo
Isla Restaurant Interiors
Photo credit: Andrea Calo

 

April 11, 2016

Parking options near Littlefield Lofts

Screenshot of map with downtown Austin parking noted

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Looking for a simpler way to park downtown? Top Trip Rentals has parking available for purchase with our Littlefield Lofts vacation rentals or you can find parking through this handy website–Best Parking. All you do is choose which part of town you’re in, and it gives you rates and locations. (Shown above is the area of Austin near Littlefield Lofts). The site is organized by price range and area of town. Parking in Austin can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be! This is also available as an App (Best Parking) for both Android and iPhone.

March 23, 2016

SXSW Review

Interior of chairs at Graeber House in Austin set for SXSW Interactive
Lounge at Graeber House during Spark Capitol One's Small Business House for SXSW Interactive.
Lounge at our Graeber Home during Capitol One’s Spark Small Business House for SXSW Interactive.
Getting ready to host Anthony Bourdain at the Spark Small Business panel during SXSW Interactive.
Getting ready to host Anthony Bourdain at the Capitol One Spark Small Business House panel during SXSW Interactive.

 

We had a great week with the folks from Capitol One Spark Small Business program who held their VIP reception with author, chef, raconteur, Anthony Bourdain at our historic Graeber Home on Austin’s famed 6th Street. Here are a few pics from the Capitol One Spark Small Business House they set up for SXSW Interactive 2016. Hope to see everyone again next year!

March 18, 2016

SXSW is here!

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In 10 days, our city is going to be bursting at the seams with musicians, techies, film buffs, actors, travelers, fans, geeks, and more. All will converge on our humble city and turn it into the place to be in the universe for 10 days in March.

There are so many amazing people in town for this extended week’s programming. Two panels that I would love to see are Daniel Pink on Friday, March 13 and the Bill Gurley and Malcolm Gladwell’s featured session on Sunday, March 15. For all other offerings, here is a panel summary for SXSW 2016. Get planning!

 

March 1, 2016

Downtown Austin Farmer’s Market Held Every Saturday

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Every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m., you can buy yummy, healthy and local food brought to you by local farmers and one of Austin’s best non-profits the Sustainable Food Center. The SFC/Downtown’s Farmer’s Market is at Republic Square at 4th and Guadalupe.

If you’re staying with us at our Downtown Properties like Littlefield Quarters or 410 E. 6th Street, you’re within easy walking distance. Enjoy!

Photo from Sustainable Food Center’s FB page. Thanks SFC!

410 E. 6th Street Now Available for Rentals:

featured

Former 19th Century Saloon and 20th Century Architect’s Private Home now 21st Century Private Rental Available through Top Trip Rentals

March 5, 2014, Austin, Texas—For the first time in 60 years (perhaps 130 years) the private residence at 410 E. 6th Street, is available for nightly rentals and special events. Top Trip Rentals, an Austin-based vacation rental company, is representing the property. 

The limestone building at 410 E. 6th Street began life in the 19th century as the rough-and-tumble Shamrock Saloon and more recently was the private residence of the late architect and urban planner David Graeber, founder of GSC Architects.  

Today, this rare residential townhome on East 6th street, is available for guests and special events. The home’s first major booking is by an LA-based digital media company reserving for this week’s SXSW Interactive Conference. 

 “Space plays an important role in the creative process,” says Chereen Fisher, owner of Top Trip Rentals. “Our SXSW guests were interested in the house’s unique character, history and location to give them a chance to connect with business partners and to entertain clients in a memorable space right on Sixth.” 

This residential home, with the feel of a small boutique hotel, is located in the heart of the Famed Sixth Street Entertainment District and is protected as an Austin Historic Landmark. It features 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, 2 separate wings, an indoor pool facing the 19th century structure, 2 kitchens, 4,623 square feet on two floors of living space and is decorated with original art provided by IEI Austin.

“The building at 410 E. 6th Street is a time capsule with references to times and lives lived over 130 years in this one location,” Fisher added, “When guests stay with us, they too add to the story of this home, so we hope they have a great time and make it a good story.”

Dear First Time Austin Guests

first-time-austin-guests

Welcome to our weird and wonderful town! We’re excited that the first time you’re coming to Austin, you’re staying with us. To get you started on enjoying your time here, we have oodles of ideas for all kinds of interests.

The best way to get a quick idea on what kinds of fun you can get into in Austin is posted on our social media sites like our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (with tons of ideas tagged) andInstagram accounts. My favorites are in the Pinterest account. You can choose any Austin type experience you want and look through the images to see if anything catches your eye.

Also, check out our blog that’s on our website. You can just wander through the archive of our blogs and see if anything else we’ve written about that strikes your fancy.

We also regularly compile a list of our favorite things that we call our “Top 5″ and we have them archived on our Pinterest board, Austin’s Top 5. These lists give a one-word description of our recommendations on the best beer, BBQ, breakfast spots, coffee houses, local pools, etc. to try or visit while you’re in ATX.

So, once you’ve taken a look, if you still have questions or want more ideas, post your questions to ourFacebook page, and we will be happy to investigate and find you an answer. Other ideas obviously include music, culture, visiting the Capitol, UT sports, loud events, quiet off the beaten trail, weird, ..There really is something for almost everyone here.

Make it a Top Trip Day!

Photo taken at the Eastside Showroom bar.

Top Trip Rentals announces partnership with KEY Concierge

119 E 6th St-small-014-14-Street Signs and ExteriorsBW-666x424-72dpi

At Top Trip Rentals, we strive to provide our guests with the most amazing stay possible. We know that time away from life is limited and that vacations are precious opportunities to reconnect with friends and loved ones or simply to unwind from the stress of life. 

To enhance your stay, we have partnered with KEY Concierge.  They not only handle the essentials…pre-arrival grocery + stocked bar, transportation, food delivered in, etc…they also deliver five-star experiences curated by local concierge.  Whether it’s a customized taste of Austin, guided hill country hike + picnic, live music crawl, breakfast taco + bloody marys delivered to your door or waiting in a five-hour line for the infamous Franklin BBQ, the sky’s the limit. To make your trip seamless and experience the best of Austin, let their local concierge team handle the details so you can arrive + relax.   austin@key.co | 512.640.4888.

“We are excited to provide concierge services for guests staying at Top Trip Rental vacation homes,” says Erin Kotzur, KEY Concierge Director of Business Development. “We make stays memorable by crafting the perfect itinerary and handling the details so guests don’t have to,” she added.

Top Trip Rentals will continue to provide guests with Austintacious ways of enjoying their stay through information found on our blogFacebookTwitterPinterest boards and Instagram. “At Top Trip Rentals, we continue our commitment to giving each guest personal assistance, so we’re always just a phone call away to help you, but for more elaborate requests, we wanted to be able to give guests additional services, like access to KEY Concierge, that will improve their stay,” says Chereen Fisher, Founder of Top Trip Rentals.

Ways To Chat

ways-to-chat

Let us know your favorites during your trip or your own #top5list for a chance to win a $50 VISA gift card. Just add #toptriprentals to your post of Austin. Drawing in May.

ACL Bands

Top Trip Rentals card with list of Top 5 ACL Bands for 2016

Phoenix
from Versailles, France
Playing Sunday, October 6, 7:00-8:30 PM (Bud Light Stage) & Sunday, October 13, 7:00-8:30 PM (Bud Light Stage) + Waterloo Autograph Tent
http://www.aclfestival.com/2013-artist/phoenix/

Fun.
from New York City, NY
Playing Friday, October 4, 4:00-5:00 PM (AMD Stage) & Friday, October 11, 4:00-5:00 PM (Lady Bird Stage)
http://www.aclfestival.com/2013-artist/fun/

Vampire Weekend
from New York City, NY
Playing Friday, October 4, 6:00-7:00 PM (AMD Stage) & Friday, October 11, 6:00-7:00 PM (Lady Bird Stage)
http://www.aclfestival.com/2013-artist/vampire-weekend/

Kodaline 
from Dublin, Ireland
Playing Sunday, October 6, 12:00-12:45 PM (AMD Stage)
http://www.aclfestival.com/2013-artist/kodaline/

Max Frost
from Austin, TX
Playing Saturday, October 5, 12:00-12:40 PM (Austin Ventures Stage)
http://www.aclfestival.com/2013-artist/max-frost/

2 years ago