The scenic Salado Creek in the tiny Central Texas village of Salado has long been a rest stop for weary travelers. Back in the mid-1800s, the likes of Sam Houston and Gen. George Custer were known to hitch up their weary horses on this stop on the Chisholm Trail, eager for some well-deserved rest and a freshly prepared meal. They’d prop up their boots at the Shady Villa Hotel, named appropriately for the many stately pecan and oak trees surrounding the banks of the creek. Nowadays, that same hotel is called the Stagecoach Inn. And it still welcomes weary travelers. These days, they’ll roll in off Interstate 35 often surprised to find this unique gem among the faceless hotel chains lining the highway.
The Stagecoach recently reopened after a two-year renovation. It has 48 guest rooms, many with pleasant garden patios facing the lushly landscaped pool area. It’s set to open a conference center soon. The Stagecoach is also known for its fabulous restaurant and famous recipes created by the folks who first restored the hotel and renamed it back in 1943. While the latest renovation includes a dramatic change to the dining room, several of the classics have remained part of the menu that’s been loved for generations. Whether you indulge in hush puppies, banana fritters, chicken-fried steak or seared salmon with jalapeño corn, you can still seal your meal with a kiss – a Strawberry Kiss, that is. This speciality dessert combines a crispy meringue shell topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and lightly sugared strawberries.
Salado’s Main Street is a lively marketplace with over 60 shops and artists’ galleries. Don’t miss visiting OoLaLa and Restoration Sisters, where you can find a few treasures to wear, decorate your space or give as a gift to a friend. Make just a minimal purchase at these and several other shops in town and receive a “Sirena” charm as a reminder of your trip. It’s a reference to the Mermaid statue in Salado’s Pace Memorial Park. According to legend, Sirena was a girl who turned into a mermaid, and her tears supposedly fill the spring-fed river.
When you’re ready to unwind for the evening, mosey over to the Chupacabra for a glass of wine or a craft beer. Or meet some friends at Barrow Brewing Company where you can also grab some freshly made pizza and hand-dipped ice cream.
Salado Creek has always been a mighty force in the history Central Texas. In fact, it was designated as the first Natural Landmark in Texas, in 1966. Today, it’s open for visitors to hike in or enjoy it’s natural, bubbling spring waters.