Travelers will find a mix of history, modern amenities and heaps of hospitality at the heart of this Salado icon.
Step onto the front porch of the Stagecoach Inn, and you can just feel its rich history. Back in the mid-1800s, it was called the Shady Villa Hotel, named appropriately for the many stately pecan and oak trees surrounding the south bank of the scenic Salado Creek. The likes of Sam Houston and General 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. Today, with a string of familiar yet faceless hotel chains greeting the weary traveler along Interstate 35, it’s rare to find such an easily accessed unique gem as the Stagecoach Inn.
Arriving at the Inn, you will be greeted at the front desk with a smile and a comfortable golf cart that will take you and your luggage right to your hotel room door. Many rooms have pleasant garden patios, which face the lushly landscaped pool area. Here you can relax with a drink or cup of coffee in the morning before you go for a swim or dive into a good book. The serene rooms feature works of art by local artisans while terracotta Mexican tile floors complement the warm textures and colors found in the custom-made cabinetry and bed frames.
Following a two-year renovation, the hotel recently reopened with 48 reimagined guest rooms, expanding its lodging capacity along with the ability to host events of all sizes. Plus, a new conference center is slated to open in 2019. With a fabulous restaurant on-site, all of your catering needs can be found right in one location.
On the culinary front, the Stagecoach is famously known for recipes created by Dion and Ruth Van Bibber who restored the building and opened the inn with the Stagecoach name back in 1943. And, while this year’s renovation includes quite a dining room facelift, several of the classics have remained part of the daily prix-fixe menu, loved for generations. Whether you indulge in hush puppies, banana fritters, chicken-fried steak, or seared salmon with jalapeno corn, you can still seal your meal with a kiss. A Strawberry Kiss, that is. This speciality dessert combines a crispy meringue shell, simply topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and lightly sugared strawberries for a sweet ending. Add a refreshing Lot 10 Hibiscus Margarita to your order for a celebratory toast or simply the end of a long day.
In addition to the formal dinners prepared by a five-star chef, the restaurant offers a Southern-style breakfast that is farm fresh and made to order. Their handmade biscuits have a lightly salted coating, which pays homage to the town’s name. Salado means salted, as in the mineral waters discovered by Spaniard explorers passing through this shaded oasis. Served with a side of Andouille sausage, these biscuits are covered with gravy that packs a punch. Not just any kind of bacon, the house-cured pork belly is the perfect protein to complement the brioche French toast. With apricot-peach jam and vanilla creme, this breakfast treat is one that melts in your mouth.
Add a few cups of hot, fresh coffee and orange juice, and you will be all set for a day of walking to Salado’s many charming shops. Don’t miss visiting OoLaLa and Restoration Sisters, where you can find a few treasures treasures to wear, decorate your space, or gift to your best friend. You can even purchase some supplies to bring new life to an old piece of furniture. Make a minimal purchase at these and several other shops in town and receive a “Sirena” charm as a reminder of your trip. And don’t forget to visit the Indian Mermaid statue in Salado’s Pace Memorial Park. The legend tells of Sirena, a beautiful Indian maiden, now and forever a mermaid, who fills the spring-fed river with her tears.
Ready to unwind for the evening? Then mosey over to the Chupacabra for a glass of wine or a craft beer. Or meet some friends at Barrow Brewing Company —-grab a freshly made pizza and one of their hand-dipped ice creams while you’re there. There’s always something on this microbrewery’s calendar, from weekend bike rides to Paint Your Own Stein events.
You can even get ahead of the holidays in Salado. Visit October 12th or 13th for the Chamber of Commerce Ladies Auxiliary Christmas in October event.
Salado and The Stagecoach Inn offer relaxing local adventures that no longer require days of travel to reach. You can be assured, however, that everyone you meet will go the distance to make sure you are treated with all the warmth and kindness of a small Southern town.
Dana Kent is a graduate of Louisiana State University and lives in Round Rock, Texas. She has a passion for her career in healthcare, LSU Austin Alumni, the Sacred Heart Community Clinic of Round Rock, philanthropy, cycling, and traveling.