#TravelTuesday: Get Away in San Saba

by Nick Bailey on July 19, 2016 in Living Texas, Travel,
Courtesy Photo

For many Texans, life can get a bit hectic in the day-to-day — due dates, appointments, expenses and so much more add onto the daily chaos. When it’s time to get away from it all, one of the most peaceful options around is available just west of Austin, in the beautiful town of San Saba. When you arrive in San Saba, you’ll quickly notice the small town beauty that the community has to offer. Original buildings in full beauty, southern hospitality in full flare and just a completely relaxed atmosphere.

The rooms are beautiful and reminiscent of a busy city loft. Photo by Mitch Hallmark
The rooms are beautiful and reminiscent of a busy city loft. Photo by Mitch Hallmark

San Saba is indeed small — there’s no getting around that, and I love it. You won’t find major hotel chains here, so say goodbye to Omni and Marriott properties for miles. What you will find, however, is the Dofflemyer Hotel. This beautiful boutique hotel has combined the craftsmanship of the original building with more modern accents to make guests feel like they’ve lucked into a one-of-a-kind downtown loft. The hotel is settled on the second floor of the building just above the lobby area and Oliver & Co., a delicious little eatery, but more on them in a moment. The hotel boasts six rooms — yes six — so it’s understandable that availabilities can fly, but this is the place you want to rest your head during your weekend getaway.

Jenifer Osbourn and the rest of the staff made Oliver & Co a uniquely delicious stop during the trip. Photo by Nick Bailey
Jenifer Osbourn and the rest of the staff made Oliver & Co a uniquely delicious stop during the trip. Photo by Nick Bailey

While San Saba may be small, there is no shortage of delicious southern food options here. We’re not talking southern inspired or “southern accented dishes.” We’re talking true, down home southern cooking worth writing home about. When morning came, we went downstairs to check out Oliver & Co. for breakfast. It’s really a beautiful place to grab a bite, and the staff is very welcoming. One thing that makes this place stand out among pretty much any place you’ll ever eat is that the owner makes just about everything on a single hot plate. You read that right — and it’s delicious.

If you’re wanting a good meal on your outing, then Bar D Brewhouse is your go-to for lunch. Grab a burger and some delicious sides and ask about trying out their beer selection which is all brewed by the owner. I’m no beer drinker by any stretch of the imagination, but even I couldn’t resist some of the options on the menu. Bar D offers beers across the spectrum with a full and diverse taste, and I was impressed. This is the place to be on Fridays, as they offer all-you-can-eat catfish that will leave you satiated for the whole day.

For dinner, there’s no better place in town than Digg’s Restaurant & Club. You’d be hard pressed to find a place to eat that offers options ranging from quail to chicken fried steak and in such hearty portions. I couldn’t finish my chicken fried steak because it was just too much, but I gave it my all — definitely a first for me. The staff here is very friendly and upbeat and they do great to liven up the atmosphere. Tiny, the head chef, was nice enough to come out and say hi to us and tell us a bit about the menu and his process. He even sent out a basket of new wings he was testing out for us to enjoy, and they were a hit. The owner is also quite the lively character, roaming around shaking hands and welcoming familiar faces. If by chance you don’t see him don’t fret — he’ll be sure to find you and introduce himself.

If you’re looking to add to your wardrobe, then Harry’s is the place to go for western wear and accessories in this town. The store has long been an important part of San Saba, having been owned by four families — all of whom also headed by men who went on to become the Mayor of San Saba. Founded in 1939, this San Saba staple came about when Ike Shapiro purchased  two buildings in the heart of downtown — J.W. McConnell’s grocery store and a men’s clothing store — turning them into what is known today as Harry’s, but it wasn’t until 1970 that Shapiro’s son Harry purchased the business from his father, officially giving it the namesake that has held strong to this day. Now the torch is passed to Ken Jordan and Clay Nettleship to maintain and grow this Texas legacy known as Harry’s.

One on the most interesting things we were shown as we toured the store was an original wall near the back that had been used as far back as December 27, 1939 to record odd weather in the area. From unusual rain highs and lows to measuring snowfall, this fall had recorded the oddities up until about 2014. Needless to say, Harry’s is a great place to go if you want to grab a great set of boots or soak in some local history.

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Another amazing feature of San Saba is Risien Park. It’s a beautifully maintained stretch of land along the banks of the San Saba River that was donated by Edmond E. Risien, an amateur horticulturist, who settled in San Saba back in 1875. This is the place to go to truly get away from it all. Take a friend to relax with, and you’re likely to share a moment of tranquility that won’t soon be forgotten. The sounds of the river can be heard just about anywhere along the trials, and some of the settings are perfect for aspiring filmmakers.

This scenic area is a much appreciated moment of relaxation. Photo by Nick Bailey
This scenic area is a much appreciated moment of relaxation. Photo by Nick Bailey

Give your day some fun by heading over to Mill Pond to enjoy an awesome swim in natural water or grab a kayak from Up A Creek Adventure Sports Rentals where you’ll get to meet Braiden Johnson, the young man who made it all possible. Mill Pond houses a spring-fed lake with a waterfall that cascades over rocks landscaped with ferns, moss, canna and caladium, and the folks over at Up A Creek have played a major role in making it all happen. Kayaking around the lake is a fun way to spend the day, as you’re sure to come across a paddling of ducks and spot a turtle of two.

All-in-all, San Saba is a tranquil escape from it all. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a much needed day trip, this is a town that should be on your may before summer ends — but I’m sure it’s just as amazing all year round.

Pro Tip: While you’re in town, stop in at Alamo Pecan & Coffee. This shop sells a wide variety of personalized Texas pecan gifts, holiday gift baskets and seriously some of the best fudge you’ll ever find in Texas. They do have online ordering, so even if you don’t get to San Saba, you can experience their goodies at home.