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Tiny Pies Serves Up Austin Thanksgiving Flavor

Large size pumpkin pie from Tiny Pies in Austin, TX

November: when families across America come together to eat. Yes, lofty reasons exist for gathering and tasty dishes are made for savoring but face it: no Thanksgiving table is complete without pie.

But what kind of pie?

Austin’s locally owned Tiny Pies owner and founder Amanda Bates answers that question handily.

“Thanksgiving really goes with the Tiny Pies idea, our whole business concept, which is that everyone can have their favorite. No one has to be stuck eating their aunt’s favorite pie….We’re in the best business, and our storefront says all–‘We’re baking up smiles.’ That’s truly what we do.”

Tiny Pies is Austin Grown

Front view of Tiny Pies Burnet Road store in Austin, TX
Tiny Pies original shop on Burnet Rd. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

 

Tiny Pies founders and owners Amanda Bates and her mother Kit Seay have lived in Austin since 1976. Both women graduated from The University of Texas at Austin, and this mother and daughter duo has always loved baking. Since 2011, Tiny Pies has been the family business and a labor of love.

Listening to Bates talk about pies reveals the depth of that love. Just try to nail down her preferences:

“My favorite pie changes seasonally, along with the local produce. Right now it’s cherry (I love how really bold and tart the flavor is). Pear cranberry is delicious, and I’m a pumpkin pie kind of gal, so there’s that. But year ‘round, coconut cream is one of my favorites. In the summer, I go for something that’s not too sweet, like our summer peach pie and the strawberry rhubarb.”

Large size pumpkin pie from Tiny Pies in Austin, TX
Pumpkin pie at Austin’s Tiny Pies can be big, too. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

 

Bates and Seay developed Tiny Pies to solve a problem: how to pack pie in school lunches (truly, this is a family of serious pie lovers). Answer: handheld pie. Production started small but grew exponentially in 2012 after national exposure (Oprah Winfrey’s magazine). Tiny Pies moved out of Austin’s farmers markets, into retail locations (Burnet Rd. flagship and production facility, plus South Lamar shop), and expanded their offerings.

Still, Tiny Pies remains a family business. “‘Mom and I do pretty much everything,” Bates said. “I’m marketing and business development, and I oversee catering. Mom makes sure we’re on track—she’s involved in so much it’s hard to list it all.” Regular staff numbers about 20 employees, though ranks swell somewhat during busy times.

Tiny Pies box of pecan bites packaged for holiday gift giving
Pecan bites are perfect holiday host gift. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

 

“We’re still a very hands-on shop,” Bates explained. “Nothing goes out of the kitchen without me knowing about it.” And if you’re arranging a catered event or corporate-branded gifts, that’s Bates on the Tiny Pies end.

“This is the time of year when we’re shipping pies all over the country for businesses to say ‘thank you’ to their clients. Working out those details (selection, shipping, price point, dates, etc.) is a very back-and-forth process. I do tons of that,” said Bates. “And I love working with customers; if I could, I’d work the store every day.”

Pie Beyond Thanksgiving

Platter of empanadas and savories from Austin's Tiny Pie company
When Austin temperatures drop, savory is on Tiny Pies menu. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

 

December is a busy pie time, too. According to Bates, “we try to bring in more rich and hearty flavors,” tastes that pair well with a hot chocolate or a nice after-dinner toddy on a winter day. She mentioned a Christmas-y chocolate cream pie with peppermint whip is in the works. One of her favorite fruit pies, cranberry pear, and cherry are traditional choices for festive tables.

Don’t forget Pi Day (March 14). This national math-focused celebration is like Tiny Pies’ Super Bowl. “Pi Day is even harder than Thanksgiving, because it’s all compressed down to one day, “ Bates explained. Tiny Pies gets into Pi Day in a big way; each pie sports a pi cut out, perfect for that photo op. While stores normally carry 12 to 15 flavors, Tiny Pies adds some additional flavors so every pi lover can find the perfect treat.

What’s New at Tiny Pies

South Lamar location of Austin's Tiny Pies store
South Lamar Tiny Pies location in Austin, TX. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

Not into sweets? November’s featured savory tiny pie is the Texas Pete (vegetarian chili and cornbread). How ‘bout spinach ricotta empanadas (half-moon filled pastries)? Or there’s the 5-inch veggie potpie, full of whatever seasonal goodness local resource Johnsons Backyard Garden has produced. At that size, potpies are a hearty solo meal or nicely shared by two.

“A lot of people don’t know we’re full-on lunch and dinner,” explained Bates. While the Burnet Rd. store is primarily for pick-up, the South Lamar location has indoor and outdoor seating, perfect for lingering.

The Tiny Pies team keeps baking up new ideas. “Oh, yeah, we take requests,” replied Bates when asked if customers ask for specific flavors.

Though the November menu is locked down, Bates pointed out that’s not usual: “ If people want to start seeing something in store or need a specific flavor for a party, sure.” She quickly added a caveat: Tiny Pies won’t compromise quality, so “everything has to be vegetarian, locally sourced when possible, and meet standards.”

Though Bates herself eats gluten free, there’s not currently a gluten free Tiny Pies option. Why? Too much flour flies around and Bates would hate to risk kitchen cross contamination. But in January, Tiny Pies hopes to add cups packed offsite with gluten-free pie fillings and cookie crust as an option.

How to Build the Perfect Holiday Pie Platter

Sampler of handheld pies from Austin's Tiny Pie
Pick up a sampler at Tiny Pies. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

 

Austin’s Tiny Pies provided tips for a tasty no-fuss pie platter.

Provide an assortment. Bates says to choose an assortment of nut, fruit, and cream pies: “Everyone’s going to have a favorite; this covers your bases.”

Think about transport. Cream pies need refrigeration, so if you’re traveling for 30 minutes or more, these have to be kept cold. Tell the shop staff about your travel plans so they can assist with selection and packing (boxes work well for flights).

Choose size. Lots of tiny pies or a few big ones (Tiny Pies has 9-inch pies, too)? This Thanksgiving, pick up a box of 6 or 12 in-house assorted tiny pies Monday through Wednesday; you can pre-order selected assortments until Nov. 15. Would you like a bite? Tiny Pies has pecan pie bites for those who just “want a taste.”

Opt for seasonal. Bates gave November-specific recommendations. “Fruit, go with pear cranberry and cherry; someone always wants apple. We have two pumpkin varieties: chai whip and pumpkin cheesecake. Nut, choose Sweet Texas Pecan or the Texas Two-Step (pecan with brownie). And for cream, coconut and chocolate cream are always crowd pleasers.”

Top Trip Rentals Recommends

Measure Up Strong Man street art at Tiny Pies in Austin, Texas
Austin loves a good mural and Tiny Pies delivers. Photo Credit: Annie Ray Photography

 

Austin’s known for its wonderfully Instagrammable spots. Stop by the Burnet Rd. store to experience the original Tiny Pies vibe. Savor wonderful pie smells, pick one out, and snap an iconic Austin pic against the “Measure Up Strong Man” wall.

You can also bake your own Tiny Pie in our vacation rental home kitchens. Pick up a Tiny Pie in a jar and make your Austin “home away from home” smell heavenly.

Mmmm, pie.

 

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November 13, 2017

Parkside Projects: An Austin Local We Love

Chef Shawn Cirkiel stands in his Austin restaurant, Parkside

New to town? Naturally, you need to find a great place for food. Austinites love to eat out, and the city is chock full of possibilities.

One of our pleasures at Top Tip Rentals is cutting through the noise to recommend uniquely Austin places. Destinations that go above and beyond in providing that special taste of the town that keeps people coming back. That’s why it’s always a pleasure to direct Top Trip Rentals visitors to Parkside and the various Parkside Projects family of restaurants.

Plate of food with wine glasses on table at Austin's Parkside restaurant
Photo Credit: Parkside Projects

Introducing Chef Cirkiel’s Parkside Vision

Chef Shawn Cirkiel is a nationally known and celebrated chef who brings simple yet artful, good, fresh food to the table. In Austin, he’s also known as an innovative restauranteur with an impressive array of businesses.

Chef Shawn Cirkiel stands in his Austin restaurant, Parkside
Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s guilty food pleasure? Casey’s New Orleans Snowballs, a seasonal Austin family business around the corner from Bullfight. Photo Credit: Parkside Projects

 

After years of honing his craft in famed restaurants on the East and West Coasts, Cirkiel returned to his native Austin to run (and eventually own) the popular Jean Luc’s French Bistro. That experience led him to envision Parkside Projects, an investment properties concept based on bringing people together through great food and authentic atmospheres.

“We cook what we like to eat,” explained Cirkiel, “and provide a space for people to celebrate and enjoy life.”

Meet Parkside Projects

Parkside restaurant cards
Parkside Project attention to detail extends from food to decor. Photo Credit: Swng Productions

 

At a time when others were masking downtown’s noise, Cirkiel created a space to embrace and enhance that hustle and bustle. His first project, Parkside (301 E. 6th St., just two blocks from Top Trip Rentals’ Littlefield Lofts), broke new ground with its vibrant city scene embrace.

“Downtown is loud, energetic, and exciting, “said Cirkiel. “We are that beacon on the corner that celebrates it.”

Martini at Austin's Parkside bar.
Carefully crafted cocktails make a happy hour. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler

And celebrate Parkside does—with really good food: “You feel like you are a part of the action, so it’s the perfect spot to soak in the atmosphere, grab a great martini and oysters before a show, or stay longer for dinner.”

Several other properties comprise Cirkiel’s project, each in a unique location.

Inspired by his childhood love of matadors, Cirkiel transformed his grandfather’s former gas station and body shop on Airport Blvd. into Bullfight (4807 Airport Blvd.), a Spanish tapas bar. Go for paella; enjoy the daily happy hour; have wine and cheese on the patio.

Other Parkside Project businesses include The Backspace, an intimate pizzeria in downtown, near 5th and San Jacinto. A short drive from downtown Austin, upscale Italian restaurant Olive & June features more refined dining (think pasta, pork meatballs, and hamachi crudo) on a large terrace under one of Austin’s signature oak trees. In addition to the restaurants, you may encounter Parkside Projects’ event venue, 800 Congress, where Austin’s warehouse aesthetic meets chic style.

The latest Parkside Project venture is Jugo, a “grab-and-go destination” where busy, hungry people can pick up quality, healthy juices, smoothies, sandwiches, and more–all with that signature emphasis on fresh, organic, local, and seasonal ingredients.

Take a Parkside Seat

People like fun and flock to it, so Parkside can be bumping. Reservations are always recommended. Should you have to wait, stroll down 6th St. to see what’s shaking (you can always stop at the window in front of Esther’s Follies and take part in the comedic shenanigans). Another option? Go casual and enjoy your food at the bar.

In the kitchen with Parkside owner chef Shawn Cirkiel in Austin
Fresh ingredients inspire chef Shawn Cirkiel. Photo Credit: Parkside Projects

Top Trip Parkside Pick

The raw bar at Parkside has us raving. Oysters! With as many as 16 varieties to choose from, Top Trip Rentals recommends a little of each to hone your palate.

Share Your Food Porn!

Tables and chairs in Austin's Parkside restaurant
Mixing old and new at downtown Austin’s Parkside restaurant. Photo Credit: Parkside Projects

 

How many of native Austinite Shawn Cirkiel’s projects did you visit? Show us at @TopTripRentals what flavors you ingested and which atmospheres you soaked up at these signature spots: Parkside, Olive & June, The Backspace, Bullfight, and Jugo. Go ahead; take a picture of that amazing food and share!

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November 3, 2017

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