San Angelo, Texas may not be the travel destination you dreamed of when you planned your winter vacation, but this small city in West-Central Texas is the ideal winter retreat for the outdoor enthusiast or history buff. San Angelo is nestled between three rivers, a lake and two reservoirs, and its mild winter temperatures, averaging in the low 70s during the day, make it a haven for tourists looking to escape the cold and snow. Whether your passion is the outdoors, historical sites or just sight-seeing, San Angelo has something to offer.
One prime destination for camping, hiking, horseback riding and bicycling is the San Angelo State Park. The State Park is set on 7,677 acres adjacent to the O.C. Fisher reservoir. The State Park features miles of paved trails for walking or bicycling, as well as miles of unpaved trails for hiking or horseback riding. Explore these trails and you may catch a glimpse of the park’s herd of longhorn cattle, or even petroglyphs left behind by the Jumano Indians. In addition to trails, the park has both developed and primitive campsites, and both tents and RVs are welcome.
Lake Nasworthy is the premiere destination in San Angelo for swimming, boating and water activities of all kinds. Bring your speed boat or jet ski for a thrilling ride past San Angelo’s scenic twin buttes, or take it slow and canoe or kayak across one of the lake’s many channels or inlets.
Both Lake Nasworthy and the Concho River offer superior fishing, and you can catch largemouth and striped bass or white crappie, as well as channel catfish. Purchase your fishing license at any sporting goods store.
If walking and sight-seeing are more your speed, you can walk the landscaped riverwalk along the Concho River and explore the sunken garden, or come during the holiday season and stroll along the river at night to see the glittering holiday lights. Each year the city of San Angelo puts up thousands of lights along the river to create large displays such as flowing “fountains” of light or a field of poinsettias made from hundreds of red and green lights.
History buffs can explore historic Fort Concho, which was a frontier fort that was home to one of the first regiments of “Buffalo Soldiers,” or African-American soldiers. Fort Concho hosts a number of winter activities, especially around the holidays. For example, you can enjoy a real cowboy-style chuck wagon dinner at the fort or attend a reenactment of fort life during the frontier days.
Another historical site along the river is the Cactus Hotel. The Cactus Hotel was one of the first Hilton Hotels opened by Conrad Hilton. The 14-story structure first opened in 1921. Today, the hotel has been reinvented as a venue for special events, from gala balls to wedding receptions, and many of the upstairs floors are used as offices.
No visit to San Angelo would be complete without checking out the shopping. The downtown area is home to many antique shops and quirky boutiques that offer something for everyone. Eggemeyer’s General Store is another can’t miss stop. Eggemeyer’s offers everything from cookware to toys and local food specialties.
If you love dining out, San Angelo has something for everyone. San Angelo is host to most of the well-known big chain restaurants but the real culinary gems are its locally-owned cafes and restaurants. Western Sky steakhouse features a variety of grilled steaks and Mexican dishes as well as down-home favorites like chicken-fried steak and fried gator tail.
Miss Hattie’s restaurant is a fine-dining establishment that was once the city’s most popular bordello during the frontier days. Today you can order a dish that is named after one of the girls who worked there as well as visit the on-site brothel museum. Fuentes is a Mexican restaurant that offers all of your authentic Tex-Mex favorites as well as the best margaritas in town. Whatever you have a taste for, San Angelo has a locally-owned restaurant that can satisfy your every craving.
The next time you have the itch to get away from the snow and experience some down-home Texas hospitality, come to historic San Angelo. The scenic views, shopping, dining and the variety of activities will keep you coming back year after year.