Would you like to find a vacation getaway where you can enjoy kitties but without the hassle and risk that comes with traveling with cats?
Leaving the Rainbolt test kitties in the care of our super-competent pet sitter, we headed to Kingsland, Texas. Just a few miles from Marble Falls, we had been told that Kingsland is a peaceful place where you can recharge, take a refreshing dip, enjoy wine tastings or shop, all in the company of kitties. Love water recreation? Marble Falls is strategically positioned among some of Texas’s most-loved water destinations: Lake Marble Falls, Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, and Lake Travis.
Our first stop: the Antlers Inn, a restored 1901 two-story clapboard railroad station, which is now a resort. It’s a recorded Texas Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can stay in the main inn, a private cedar cabin nestled in the woods, vintage cabooses, or the deluxe McKinley private coach railcar.
The Antler offers its guests 18 acres of woods and shoreline access to Lake LBJ. Antlers guests can borrow a canoe or rowboat at no charge. The entire compound lends itself to relaxation and creativity. We stayed in the Texas Writer’s Suite in the main hotel, where I was inspired to start my next novel.
While the hotel does not permit pets, they do have ambassador of the feline kind, a black-and-white longhaired kitty named Baby Doll. She is around six years old, super friendly, and one hard-working girl. She can be found working with closed eyes in the lobby, on the front porch, and in any number of secluded backyard locations. When you call her name, BD’s tail flies upright and she trots over to you. She absolutely loves cat lovers. We even spent an additional night because of her (and the amazing atmosphere).
BD showed up two years ago starving to death, the victim of someone’s BB gun. The Antler’s staff took her to a vet to care for all of her health issues. Fit and healthy today, Baby Doll entertains guests and keeps the grounds clear of rodents and other cats.
The Grand Central Cafe lies across the street from the hotel. The food is great and the recently restored building may be familiar to horror movie buffs. It’s the house where The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed.
If Baby Doll doesn’t provide enough cat hair for you, there’s the Fall Creek Vineyard, just 20 miles away. It was well worth the drive. We enjoyed a wine tasting and the company of a four-year-old shorthaired black-and-white girl named Rocky and a longhaired Siamese-mix, Cotton (Candy Kitty). The feline pair heads the natural pest-control team, but they also keep the kids entertained so parents can enjoy a little bit of grape uninterrupted.
Not only were the kitties friendly and personable, the wine was wonderful and fairly priced. The Twin Springs Moscato was the best I’ve ever tasted. The wine selection varies, but they usually offer between 15 and 20 labels. Rocky, who prefers small parties, is in charge of rodent control and entertaining kids. Cotton is the snake charmer, keeping the ground free of rattlesnakes and copperheads. The winery was so much fun, we’re sure to make the jaunt again next time we’re in the area.
We dropped by Kingsland’s Ace Home Improvement, just two miles from the Antlers, where we met Ace’s warehouse manager, a black Ragdoll named Fugly. (Nobody at the store takes credit for the name, and I can assure you, that rugged feline isn’t fugly.) Fugly is also the store’s official greeter. Proudly displaying his tipped ear, Fugly spends much of his day either napping in the guard shack or monitoring his warehouse employees from high up in a lumber loft.
While Fugly is a little more reserved than the Antlers or Fall Creek kitties, he likes affection, and you can win his trust without too much work. Yard foreman Chris Martin and the Ace guys are certainly happy to show off their little supervisor.
“He opens with us in the morning and closes with us at night,” Chris says. If he leans back on a chair, Fugly will climb up on his chest.
Fugly doesn’t patrol the grounds alone. Ace is the home of a colony of managed feral cats. The ferals roam between Ace, the Mobil station, and a florist across the street. Needless to say, none of these businesses ever have a problem with vermin.
If you forgot to pack a swimsuit or T-shirt or you want to bring home a unique souvenir that will help homeless cats and dogs, drop by the Living Love Animal Rescue Thrift Store, “The Shop with a Heart.” You can buy something, donate items, or give them some money. All proceeds go to support their no-kill rescue organization. In lieu of a live store cat (staff are concerned about the cat escaping), the store mascot is a photo of an orange cat named Oscar, who represents the homeless cats of the Marble Falls area.
They carry a little bit of everything: clothes, books, home accessories, dog toys, and games to keep the kids busy.
The Marble Falls area is a great vacation locale where cat lovers can let their hair down but keep their lint rollers handy. I can’t wait to go back again. Let me know if you know of a destination for cat lovers.
Have you met any wonderful cats at hotels and businesses? Tell us about them in the comments!
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About the author: Dusty Rainbolt, ACCBC, is the vice president of the Cat Writers’ Association, editor-in-chief of AdoptAShelter.com, and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She’s the award-winning author of eight fiction and non-fiction books including her most recent paranormal mystery, Death Under the Crescent Moon.