An Artist Oasis: Salado, Texas – Salado, Texas, USA

An Artist Oasis: Salado, Texas

Salado, Texas, USA

It is hard to be impressed with much while traveling the 270 miles of Interstate 35 that connects Dallas and San Antonio. There seems to be perpetual construction along endless stretches of the route, the road is far too crowded with 18-wheeled commercial traffic, and the uninspiring flatness of the brown scrubby landscape is interrupted only by the chains of gas stations, fast food establishments, and highway overpasses that lead to little Texan towns forsaken by destiny. What few places of interest exist along the route can be easily missed with a blink of the eye. Yet one small town along this route is one that should not be missed. If you blink and pass it, turn back around at the next exit because historic Salado Texas is a place you do not want to miss. Salado is not merely a pleasing stop on a journey north or south; it is in itself a desirable final destination.

Salado is real gem that is often passed by people who only catch a glimpse of the Stagecoach Inn from the highway. For hundreds of years the local Native Americans prized the area for prime hinting and the curative powers of the clear spring that flows year round. Stagecoaches played an important role in the early days of the village. Salado was established in the 1850s, mostly due to its prime location. The private college and surrounding community that developed became an important stopping point for the stagecoaches that shuttled people along the main trails, as well as for cattle drives, army caravans, settlers and merchants. Salado seems to have embraced an entrepreneurial spirit early in its youth. The college is long gone, remaining only as picturesque stone ruins on the edge of town, but the early spirit of Salado lives on. The village is now a sophisticated, artistic oasis on the prairie. At the first encounter of Salado’s shopping, dining, and lodging opportunities one will realize why this village has become the weekend getaway location for people all over the state.


Charles explores the ruins of Salado College
Charles explores the ruins of Salado College
Main Street is often referred to as the “Mile of Shops”, with shopping opportunities in a variety of venues including jewelry, custom furniture, home and garden shops, antique stores, gift shops and several art galleries. Salado boasts more than 100 shopping venues. Many of the shops feature custom goods produced by more than dozens of renowned artists working and living in the surrounding area. The variety of shops can accommodate all sorts of budgets, whether you wish to spend ten dollars or ten thousand. The eclectic inventories of notable shops like Main Street Place and Accents of Salado will guarantee that you leave with something in your shopping bag. Many of the smaller shops are off the beaten path of the main strip, so be prepared to walk.

Bed and Breakfast
Salado is blessed with dozens of great bed and breakfast lodges, many of which were once private homes built in the mid 1800s. Two notable locations are the suites of the popular shop Accents of Salado, and the equally convenient Inn at Salado.

Accents of Salado is not only one of the village’s most popular shopping spots, it also stands as one of the best lodging options in the area. On the side of this oft visited shop is a discreet stairway, which leads up to two suites overlooking the creek and water garden, obscured from street level onlookers by a thick canopy of live oak. Accents of Salado has two rooms for rent. The Gazebo room overlooks the gently flowing Salado creek and is a choice destination for people seeking a romantic boudoir. The surprisingly large Riverside Suite boasts two large rooms and a small loft. One benefit to these fabulously decorated rooms is that all the decorations showcased in the suites are for sale at the store below. The $150 a night price is a bargain during the festivals because these rooms offer an amazing amount of privacy and unbeatable access.

For a more traditional bed and breakfast experience consider The Inn at Salado. This beautiful residence was built in 1872, sits on the frontage of Main Street and stands very close to the action. Rooms are meant for relaxing – no clocks, no television, no phone. Waking up to the aroma of the gourmet chef’s breakfast is a truly wonderful experience. The balcony overlooking Main Street is a great spot to rock and relax in the shade of the trees. Rooms start at $100 per night.

Texas has dry or wet cities, a reference to whether or not alcohol may be served in a public premise. Of course even most dry cities allow alcohol in private clubs, which you will find in virtually every restaurant. You may be required to prove your membership in the club, which is easily done by applying for a free “Unicard”, a simple registration that allows you to drink in most private clubs statewide. Don’t be confused by the Unicard system. Many Texans from wet areas have never of it and will be just a surprised as tourist when they are asked to jump through hoops to buy a Shiner Bock beer.

The two most notable restaurants in town are the The Mansion and The Range. Like many other businesses in the area, both of these eateries occupy well preserved old homes. The Mansion features traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. The popular patio is usually full, and long waits are common. The crowds don’t seem to mind the wait as the surroundings are quite lovely.

The Range is a newer location in yet another refurbished older mansion. With a cultured menu at The Range you can start your meal with a Mediterranean Appetizer Platter consisting of “Hobb’s” prosciutto, marinated goat cheese, Kalamata olives, roasted garlic and crostini. In modern Salado you won’t find the salted beef and hardtack from the cowboy days of past.

Salado hosts numerous festivals and functions year round that are worth visiting to see. The annual gathering of the Scottish Clans brings in Scottish descendants from around the state. Scottish clans gather in several locations around town during one three-day weekend in November. On these days kilts outnumber cowboy hats 20 to 1. Each year the village becomes a temporary haven for Scots and those seeking a hearty helping of Scottish music, food, dancing and crafts. The Highland Games, dancing, and bagpipe contests run all weekend. Some who can’t find a hotel room pitch a tent by the creek.

The Salado Christmas Stroll is a town-wide festival that occurs the first two weekend of December, and aims to make visitors feel as if they were in Victorian England in Christmastime. At sundown the main street turns into a winter wonderland. Carolers parade the avenue and merchants keep their stores open late. Music fills the airs, outdoor fireplaces warm the cold night air as crowds of people hurry from one shop to the next. The holiday season can be capped off with a live performance of A Christmas Carol at Table Rock Amphitheater, an open air stage that hosts theatrical events year round.

You Will Want to Return
Salado has a little something for everyone. Whether you simply stop in for a quick lunch or spend a weekend relaxing, once you visit here you’ll never miss the highway exit to Salado again.

On the web