No matter the time of year, you can make good use of a free Saturday or Sunday by taking a day trip. Forty-five minutes north of Austin lies the village of Salado, a quaint town whose main street offers a variety of attractions that will interest visitors of any age. The street itself is only about one mile long, but browsing the shops and cafes can fill a whole day.
Where to Eat in Salado
McCain’s Bakery & Cafe
Main street has plenty of free parking spaces in front of shops, as well as larger lots near the north and south ends. Start your day with a hearty meal, then start walking. At McCain’s Bakery & Cafe, you’ll find lots of friendly locals enjoying mostly traditional American fare, homemade kolaches, and other bakery items, for breakfast and lunch.
417 North Main, Salado, TX – Yelp
Lively Coffee House & Bistro
Lively Coffee House & Bistro lies at the middle of main, tucked behind a shop called Magnolias (walk underneath a series of flags to find it).
With its inviting atmosphere, this cafe is a respite from the heat and another opportunity to jump on the toast train. You can build your own toast, with a variety of sweet and savory toppings, ranging from Nutella to Brie. Sandwiches are available for those wanting a little more substance.
21 North Main, Ste 4, Salado, TX – Website
Johnny’s Steaks and BBQ
If you prefer barbecue with breakfast, Johnny’s Steaks and BBQ is on the other side of I-35. They have a full breakfast menu, but I recommend stopping there on the way home. Their cheeseburger on a homemade jalapeño cheddar bun will guarantee you don’t get hungry heading south, especially when paired with crispy fried okra and blackberry cobbler.
If visiting on a Saturday night, check the live music calendar. Recent concert headliners have included Pat Green and Gary Allan.
301 Thomas Arnold Rd., Salado, TX – Website
Where to Drink in Salado
Chupacabra Craft Beer
Walking along main street, you’re bound to get thirsty. Chupacabra Craft Beer features only Texas draft beers, with flights to aid indecisive drinkers. Not a beer connoisseur? Wines from different regions are available, as well. Bring your dog; bring your squad. This pooch-friendly hangout has ample seating and free popcorn, so everyone can hang out for a bit.
401 S. Main St., Ste. 105, Salado,TX – Website
Things to See and Do in Salado
Every shop along main street has its own unique vibe. Locally-owned and locally-loved, you’ll find products personally made or curated by the owners.
Mud Pies Pottery
Mud Pies Pottery has been in business for over 20 years. Owner Titia Arledge showcases her own pottery and that of her students, from a university class she teaches. While you’re browsing stone bakeware and serving dishes, make sure to sample Sir Wigglesworth’s homemade fudge, too.
18 N. Main St., Salado, TX – Facebook
Ro Shaw Clay Studio
Ro Shaw Clay Studio offers functional ceramics, such as beer growlers perfect for filling up at Barrow Brewing Company across the street, as well as individual raku and wood art pieces. Open studio wheel sessions and scheduled classes are available for those interested in learning the craft or needing a fun date idea.
#2 Peddlers Alley, Salado, TX – Website
Salado Glassworks hosts their popular Blow-Your-Own events alongside their gallery, which showcases custom pieces created by Gail Allard and Aaron Gist. Reservations for events can be made online, and aspiring artists can blow their own glasses and mugs in September, pumpkins in October, and ornaments in December. Reservations go quickly, but if you’re not able to get a ticket, you can purchase products in the gallery.
#1 Peddlers Alley, Salado, TX – Website
Oo la la Gifts
Several shops, such as Oo la la Gifts, showcase a Sirena Shop designation. The Salado Sirena Shops consist of independent retailers who are just a little off the beaten path of main street, and have formed an alliance to support each other through customer patronage. Each shop gives customers a complimentary necklace or charm with purchase, along with offering excellent merchandise and customer service.
Lisa Jackens, owner of Oo la la, is part of the relatively new Sirena Shop program. The name is a nod to the actual Sirena of Salado (an Indian mermaid from local legend whose sculpture is located by Salado Creek).
555 Pace Park, Salado, TX – Facebook
Troy Kelley’s bronze sculpture of Sirena welcomes visitors to Salado Creek, which intersects main street. With picnic tables and shallow waters, it’s a great place to take a break from shopping. Don’t be afraid to act like the locals and take off your shoes. I saw several families in the creek with water chairs and rafts, so consider packing yours, too!
Chalk Ridge Falls Park
For more privacy, drive 10 minutes north to Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Belton. One exit north of main street, go west on FM 2484 for about one mile; turn right onto FM 1670 north for about 3.5 miles; then right again at the park entrance.
After driving into the park, a parking lot will appear, and the trailhead will be right next to it. Only a quarter mile of hiking will lead you to a small fall, and the shady trails and relatively quiet atmosphere will be the perfect ending to your day.
5600 FM1670, Belton, TX
Nearly every block of main street in Salado houses a locally-owned eatery, brewery, gallery, or boutique. I spent a day browsing just a few blocks’ worth and listening to the business owners tell their stories. I’m already planning a return trip (for a weekend, not just a Saturday) to explore the rest.
If you haven’t taken the short drive up north yet, expect to be pleasantly surprised! With a variety of festivals and events, Salado is worth the 45-minute trip. Just be aware that shops close around 5 p.m. on most days, and some are closed on Sunday.
For information about upcoming events, individual shop information, and lodging, visit salado.com.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is your favorite place in Salado, Texas?
Danielle Fritz enjoys exploring new places and eating all the things. Follow her on Instagram and let her know your favorite places to try.