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Texas Travel: San Saba Summer Edition

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Summer brings the longer days and the promise of adventure. So many great things happen between June and August – even in the unforgiving Texas heat. Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the road less traveled, setting out to explore the hidden gems that await just past the city bustle. One of the best places to visit in Texas during the summer is right here at the top of the Texas Hill Country. A true Texan gem, San Saba is less than three hours from Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio and is perfect for a day trip or a long weekend. (It’s a little over four from Houston, but we think it’s worth the wait…).

For such a small town, you’d be amazed at how quickly a couple of days fly by. With artisan springs, a river, and two award-winning wineries, we’ve got plenty to entertain any Texas traveler. Not only do we have a ton to offer just off of the town square, but San Saba is a perfect launch spot for exploring nearby state parks and wineries without massive crowds. 

Summer Fun (Around Town)

Outdoors

First things first, Texas heat is a real son of a gun. Luckily, we know how to cool off here in San Saba. Adults and kiddos alike love to cool off with a refreshing dip in the cool artisanal waters of Mill Pond. The swimming hole features a beach area for sunning and sand castle building, waterfalls and plenty of places to wade. We also have a public swimming pool right next to the park. Up A Creek Adventure Sports is on hand until Labor Day to rent pedal boats, stand up paddle boards and kayaks.

If you’d like nature, seek out a shady spot in the 80-acre Risien Park to pitch a blanket, pick up a good book and throw some Texas beef on the grill. Or take in a round of golf under a shaded canopy of 2,600 pecan trees at the San Saba River Golf Course.

Indoors

If you aren’t the outdoorsy type, we’ve got entertainment in spades (particularly if your idea of a good time is down-home cooking and excellent wine and craft beer served with a side of Texas hospitality). Work up an appetite browsing fine western wear at Harry’s Boots, antiques at J.C. Campbell & Mercantile, home goods and gifts at Madeline & Me, sweet and savory treats at Alamo Pecan & Coffee before heading for some Texas-style nourishment. 

Summer Eating (and Drinking…)

Enjoy long lunches and longer happy hours all around town. Every Friday through June, Young’s Burritos and BBQ will have live music alongside delicious homemade fare ranging from barbecue to burritos and inventive desserts (don’t miss the bread pudding). Oliver & Co. and San Saba’s new Bread to Dough Bakery both offer refreshing breakfast and lunch options like smoothies, salads and gourmet sandwiches.

Photo: Samantha Saenz/Austinot

You can also pick up a charcuterie platter from Oliver & Co. to enjoy over happy hour at Wedding Oak Winery and Old Man Scary Cellars. If you want one of the best burgers in Texas, head to Dairy Mart for their infamous Jalapeño Cheeseburger on Sourdough. Sip cold craft brew and play cards with locals at Bar D Brewhouse and end the night with a mesquite-smoked Texas steak at Digg’s Steakhouse.

Summer Stompin’

Speaking of Digg’s, you’ll want to head here for some weekend boot-scootin’. Back in April, San Saba launched our first ever Summer Music Series. Each concert benefits a local nonprofit organization and tickets are $15. We’ve got a few more stomping summer shows for y’all. On June 23, The Dirty River Boys bring their Texas punk-Americana jams to San Saba.

Then on July 21, we’ll be stomping the roof off of Digg’s when the Rift Music Group Showcase swings through town. Grab a cold one and hit the dance floor as Shea Abshier and the Nightowlers, Giovannie and the Hired Guns, Ryan Wilcox & The Sunday Shakes and Dillan Poe perform good ole country tunes from 8 pm until late night.

Summer Fun (Just a Stone’s Throw Away)

If you love the outdoors but appreciate air-conditioned beauty rest, booking a room at the luxurious Dofflemyer Hotel and using San Saba as home base for a few summer nights is the perfect compromise. Not only do you have all the entertainment San Saba proper offers, you’ve got three Texas state parks an easy hour drive away. You can head out for a hike in the morning, be back for a late lunch, an afternoon dip and happy hour at the wineries! If wine is what you’re interested in, we’re a perfect home base for a wine-filled weekend with two in town and close proximity to seven more!

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Kiddos and adults alike can enjoy hiking, caving and spelunking in two different state parks within an hour of San Saba. (Photographers will also love the photo tours and scenery at both. Longhorn Cavern State Park, used by the Comanches as a cool escape from the summer sun, is a geological wonder offering beautiful subterranean caves and formations. Tour options are plentiful and include wild cave tours, photography tours and even a paranormal tour. On your tour, be on the lookout for a two-million-dollar treasure rumored to have been hidden by the outlaw Sam Bass in the 1870’s.

Photo: Do512 Family

Inks Lake State Park

Inks Lake State Park, just under an hour from the Dofflemyer, spans more than 1,200 acres and offers boating, swimming and hiking. Even better, it’s a constant level lake and, therefore, unaffected by droughts. There is plenty of space in the parking lot behind the Dofflemyer to park your truck and boat trailer if you want to but the old girl in the water for the day. 

Colorado Bend State Park

Gorman Falls is a world-renowned waterfall just 1.5 miles down a hiking path in Colorado Bend State Park. It’s truly a sight to see on any Texas travel bucket list. The park also offers guided wild cave tours offering speleo-adventure crawling, sliding and climbing through small caves and large chambers.

So folks, if you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Texas during the summer – look no further than our little town with a big personality at the top of the Hill Country.

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