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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

On the Town with Parkside, Mattie’s

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

Tips to Enjoy Austin Like a Local

Crowd enjoying picnics on Auditorium Shore in Austin on 4th of July

The people, the attitude, the winter weather, the music–there’s a lot to love about Austin. So, how do locals narrow down what to do when entertaining out-of-town friends and family?

Whether visiting for a few days, traveling for work, or enjoying Austin’s signature festivals and events (ACL, SXSW, F1, The University of Texas Longhorn games, and more), our Top Trip Rentals’ staff members can guide visitors to live like a local.

Here to help are some of our favorite places and things to do in ATX. #goplaystay

Postcard that says "Go Play Stay" and #toptripping for Top Trip RentalsRebecca’s Top 5

  1. Walking the Barton Creek greenbelt (and stopping for swims in Barton Creek along the way).
  2. Wednesday night margaritas and “Texas Radio Live” at Guero’s Oak Garden.
  3. Shopping the monthly specials at Room Service Vintage.
  4. Counter Cafe’s brunch (she recommend the mango mimosas and Counter Benedict).
  5. Strolling Lady Bird Lake trail in the evening, with a stop at Alta’s Cafe for a drink.
Austin Skyline from the hike and bike trail
The 10-mile hike and bike trail circles Lady Bird Lake and gives spectacular views. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Sandra’s Top 5

  1. Drinks at Javalina Bar on Rainey St.
  2. Mountain biking at Walnut Creek Park.
  3. Exploring Barton Creek greenbelt with my dog (with snacks and water).
  4. Barbacoa tacos from La Esperanza, across from St. Edwards University on S.Congress.
  5. Dancing the night away at Highland Lounge.
Bike path with compass rose at Walnut Creek Park in Austin
New bike trail runs from Walnut Creek Park to South MoPac. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

Brenda’s Top 5

  1. Enjoying the show at Esther’s Follies.
  2. Angie’s Mexican Food on East 7th Street.
  3. Visiting the Texas State Capitol (the grounds and the building).
  4. Time with friends at Grove Wine Bar.
  5. Climbing the steps at Mt. Bonnell.
View of Lake Austin from the top of Mt. Bonnell
Sunrise from the top of Mt. Bonnell is worth climbing those 99 steps. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

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. Dining at Fonda San Miguel Restaurant.
  4. Austin City Limits!
  5. October weather.
White peacocks on the porch at Austin's Mayfield Park.
Peacocks rule the roost at Austin’s Mayfield Park. There are even white peacocks! Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

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September 30, 2016

Stroll Austin’s West 6th Street Shopping District

Interior view of Jonathan Adler boutique in Austin TX

Twenty years ago, Austin’s shopping options were pretty basic.

Now, if you needed camping or backpacking equipment, plenty of choices for water purifiers and tents existed. But Austin was not exactly known as a destination for high fashion and design.

That, my friends, has changed.

New Shopping Options in Austin

In the last few years, Austin has seen amazing retail growth. The newly developed (and constantly expanding) Domain Shopping area north of town, Hill Country Galleria (near Hwy. 620 and 71), and an amazing and unique number of small boutiques around downtown offer something for just about everyone.

Some of the most interesting and unexpected shopping can be found near Top Trip Rentals’ Littlefield Lofts, located at 6th and Brazos. One option for shopping is known as the West End (or West Sixth Street.).

Street signs in front of Austin's Littlefield Lofts on 6th and BrazosWandering Austin’s West End Shopping

Where is the West End? Start from the Littlefield Lofts building on 6th Street. Take a long walk (or catch a pedicab) heading west; your destination is the intersection of 6th Street and Lamar and Blvd.

Taking in a few boutiques and shops along this expanding downtown shopping corridor is a wonderful way to pass a few hours. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Walton’s Fancy and Staple (owned by Austin’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock) before stopping in at stores.

Housed in a historic building, Walton’s has a little of everything: food, pastries, coffee, antiques, garden supplies and other curios. Get some Southern comfort food, like the shrimp and grits (their specialty, it seems), or go for the  breakfast tacos.

Interior view of Jonathan Adler boutique in Austin TX
Shopping in Austin at the gorgeous Jonathan Adler boutique.

After filling up on breakfast and cappuccino (the coffee is good!), I was ready to walk toward my ultimate destination– the Jonathan Adler Boutique on West 5th Street. My companion was  destined for BookPeople, a well-known locally owned book store, so we strolled by not-yet-open bars and not-yet-finished condo construction one our way to 6th and Lamar.

This busy pedestrian- and traffic-filled intersection is surrounded by a few women’s clothing stores (chains like Anthropologie, Free People, and Title Nine, and local shops, such as  By George). But nothing caught my eye.

At  5th and Lamar, I made a quick dash into West Elm before entering the shiny explosion of cool next door that is Jonathan Adler’s Austin store. Oh, I want to buy everything in there! From subversively messaged cross-stitch pillows to candles vodka-scented candles, this shop has everything a downtown Austin loft needs to shine–sparkly, modern, and cleverly crafted furniture and accessories.

And if you are still in the market for camping supplies, never fear. Austin hasn’t quite let go of its roots. REI is housed between BookPeople and Anthropologie.

From the outdoors to the outré and outlandish, Austin’s got you covered.

Shop on!

May 2, 2016