Growing up, Salado was a fun place to get away during the summer months. My parents could easily drive the two hours down the freeway to stay for a long weekend. The only place to stay once you arrived off the highway was the Stage Coach Inn. You couldn’t miss it – there was an old Stage Coach right in front perfect for photos. All the rooms faced the kidney shaped pool. We’d swim all day, eat hot hushpuppies dripping with butter for snacks, and wander over to float in the creek before dinner. We’d shop in the little stores along Main Street, and sometimes Mother would buy a new dress at Grace Jones – a haute couture clothing boutique.
For a long time I think the then owners of the Inn relied on the kitsch of their motel because that’s what people liked, but over the years the interiors and exterior of the Inn became tired. Coupled with the highway construction that was supposed to only take three years but is still going on five years later, moved the Inn into foreclosure. You can read all about the history of the Stage Coach Inn here.
But, have no fear – the Stage Coach Salado is under new ownership. All 48 guest rooms have been renovated with a mid-century West Texas vibe. The pool is brand new featuring gorgeous landscaping surrounding the pool deck and each 1st floor patio making guest space private. There’s even a bar open on the weekends for poolside sips. It’s definitely got a fresh-new feel, but you can still see the old Stage Coach Inn you loved back in the day.
They moved the entrance to Main Street so don’t be deceived if you cannot enter through the access road like in the past. We were immediately greeted by Jared who drove us to our room via golf cart. You can no longer drive up motel-style and park outside your room which makes for a more upscale vibe that I liked. When we opened the door to our room I was completely surprised, and very impressed, at how different the rooms are. Gone is the carpet and in-room sinks. The floors are covered with gorgeous saltillo tile throughout the entire unit. We had a 2nd floor room with a pool view, but it felt very private with the addition of the landscape. My favorite touch on the patio was the hanging lantern. It was the perfect spot to sip my evening coffee and read.
The accomodations are very resort like – plush towels, matching robes (Mr. Bee gifted me with one for my birthday), luscious smelling soaps, and crisp white linen bedding. Next to the bed was a tiny journal, a pencil and a postcard — all that was missing was the rotary dial phone. Even the ice in our ice bucket was a nod to Mad Men – big chunks of ice perfect for a bourbon and coke. I totally crushed on the bathroom tile – shades of teal, turquoise and cream – made me want to cry out for Don Draper to bring me that drink, and a towel.
We enjoyed cocktails and dinner in the Stage Coach dining room. Most of the menu items from back in the day are gone, and they no longer recite the menu, but it was still enjoyable. I sipped the Lot 10 hibiscus margarita with Cimarron blanco tequila, Hibiscus Caruacao and lime – quite thirst quenching. They still have their famous hushpuppies which did not disappoint, and since it was my birthday weekend they surprised me with their famous strawberry kiss for dessert. The 250 year old tree is still standing at the center of the restaurant.
The next day we did some shopping in town. After chatting with a few of the locals – the highway construction has negatively impacted many of the business owners. Most of the shops were closed or had minimal inventory. However, the Texas Highway Department has responded to this and will be installing all new sidewalks, street lighting, widening the streets and repairing the bridges. Hopefully, this quaint little town can regroup after all the updates.
We got a great tip to drive out to The Vineyard at Florence for a tasting and dinner. About 20 minutes from Salado, the vision for The Vineyard at Florence comes from two ladies who loved their own experience in Italy so much they wanted to share it at home. Sloping hills of limestone and clay surround the valley with its gentle breezes, perfect elements for successful grape growing. Four grape varieties, Blanc du Bois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Norton, and Lenoir were chosen for their affinity for Texas weather and their potential for producing exceptional wines. Thirty-two lush acres of vines remains the focal point for the private homes, Villa Firenze, Villa Ella Amore and guest accommodations. You have got to go see this place for yourself! We enjoyed a few glasses of Merlot and brick oven pizza while we enjoyed the view.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at Lively Coffee House and Bistro. We each ordered delicious breakfast sandwiches and Americanos. We made a quick stop at the Salado Library – you may not know this, but everytime I visit a new town, I must take a peek at their library. It’s fun to see how different each one is. They had a nice bookstore of used books in the back and we loaded up on history and self-help books (I picked up a few copies of Brene Brown books for about $5!). Then, we were back on the road for home.