If you're looking for a romantic weekend or a quiet getaway, the Village of Salado is definitely Worth The Drive.
Head south on Interstate 35 and in just over two hours you will arrive in the very charming, central Texas town filled with a robust selection of restaurants, plenty of B&B's upon where you can lay your head and more shopping than you could shake your debit card at.
If you head down the weekend of Nov. 14, spend some time with Scott Simon, cheesemonger extraordinaire out of Lorena's Texas Cheese House. Between noon and 7 p.m., Simon will have plenty of cheese to sample and pair with wine from the Salado Wine Seller. If you can't get enough, take some home or back to your room -- or just stop by the shop in Lorena on your way back north.
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the wine seller's lawn, sip a glass of vino while enjoying free live music by Harebilly. Snacks, kids, lawn chair's and pets on leashes are welcome ... so take the whole family.
For a casual dining experience on Saturday night, check out Adelea's on Main. Paper menus and mismatched tableware add to the quaint, country feel. Try the beef tenderloin sandwich or chicken and dumplings for your entree and wash it back with one of their wide assortment of teas. If you'd like a nightcap, Adelea's Hemingway's Bar is right next door and offers weekly wine specials and a pretty tempting Raspberry Margarita.
If you're seeking something a little more high-brow, head over to The Range at the Barton House and dine with chef Dave Hermann. You might expect a trained chef in this town to specialize in cowboy cuisine, but Hermann's offerings are more Mediterranean.
Check out the kind words by Southern Living Magazine's Les Thomas.
"An elegant eatery offering some of the finest dining you'll find in this part of the state. I can't help thinking that if Salado had pampered cowboys this much in the old days, none of those herds would have ever made it to Kansas."
Got a sweet tooth that needs satisfying? Head over to Mud Pies Pottery (yes, a pottery shop) and pick up as many of the 50 flavors of Sir Wigglesworth's Homemade Fudge as you can carry. Stuff it in some pottery if need be ... new pottery and amazing fudge is a win-win.
Finding a place to stay while in the village is easy. The historic Stagecoach Inn (founded in 1861) is located right along I-35 and anyone that's driven past it has likely seen it and the large swath of land it covers. Along with lodging, The Stagecoach Inn boasts gastro-pleasures cooked from 150-year-old recipes delivered hot from the kitchen into their rustic dining room. Lodging has all the modern-day amenities, including a fitness center and wireless Internet service in the poolside rooms.
If you want something perhaps a bit more romantic and private, check out one of the numerous B&Bs or cottages available. Some are more private than others with some offering enough room to accommodate up to 25 guests.
A trip to the village wouldn't be complete without checking out the shops on the main drag. There are loads of antique shops, jewelry shops and kitschy Texana peddlers offering enough western-themed souvenirs to cover the refrigerators of both you and your extended family. When trolling through stores such as these, I always seem to come away with at least one magnet or coffee cup that I found irresistible.
If you like preserves, tortilla chips and pecans (not all at the same time) slip into Ya Gotta Have It on Main. You'll find those edible treasures as well a selection of soups, Tex-Mex offerings and Italian treats.
Really, you just need to park the car and explore Main Street. There are a host of shops and at least one of them is bound to tickle your fancy.
Art and antique collectors will find plenty to look over in the village. And, even though I'm not a fan, one must mention the mass-marketed art of California-born "Painter of Light" Thomas Kinkade at the Stagecoach Galleries. Though, if you look, there is a plethora of beautiful art available in the village galleries that is produced by Texas artists.
Finally, a trip to Salado would be remiss without acknowledging Mill Creek Golf Course, designed by world renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr. Mill Creek offers three nine-hole courses, each with several long tree-lined fairways offering a challenging day on the links.
Can't make it next weekend? Check out Salado's community calendar on their Web site to see what's happening in the village -- though we can't promise there will always be something as cool as a master fromagier on hand.