Texas is big – really big. Bigger than many nations throughout the world. Yet, there’s more to the Lone Star State than Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. With our Texas City Guides series, we’re going to explore some of the smaller and more far-flung parts of the state. We hope you come to appreciate the variety of local color you can find across Texas.
With an art scene rivaling that of much larger cities, San Angelo’s culture offers something for everyone. Rodeo, fishing, ballet, and symphony are just a few things to do when you find yourself in this part of Texas, so pack your jazz shoes and your fishing line as we head for the “Oasis of West Texas.”
Creative Culture Abounds
Like any home to a university, San Angelo’s culture benefits from its proximity to Angelo State University, which breeds a culture of liberal arts, diversity, and vibrant energy.
For a city with a population less than 100,000, the amount of music and musical programming the city generates each year is rather incredible. The San Angelo Symphony produces up to 8 concerts a year and attracts world renowned artists to add to its programming.
Each April, the Concho Valley Bluegrass Festival takes place, and for those lovers of the blues, you’ll find the Simply Texas Blues Festival happening in May. For over 20 years, the world class jazz performances of the Cactus Music Series take place year-round in the historical Cactus Hotel. Did you ever think you’d hear someone say “head for West Texas to hear that big city jazz?”
Ballet also has a home in San Angelo, with the San Angelo Civic Ballet staging performances and offering workshops and classes in ballet and pilates. Their performances appeal to audiences both young and old, so be sure to check their calendar of events when you are heading their way.
Also on stage is San Angelo’s Civic Theater. Founded in 1885 with a committed purpose to serve its community, this theater adds to the spirit of San Angelo’s vibrant art scene.
Home to the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo is also a hub for fine art. Known to be a long-time collector of ceramics, they also hold an American glass collection dating from the Colonial Period to the 1960’s, along with a collection of Texas Art. The museum offers Family Days and participates in the Downtown & Cultural Arts District Stroll that happens on the third Thursday of each month. In general, most local galleries and museums stay open late, offering drinks and activities.
And then there is the Chicken Farm Art Center! Founded in 1971, this is a unique place located on three acres where artists live and work. The grounds include two galleries along with a bed and breakfast called The Inn at the Art Center. The Silo House also lives on the grounds of the old chicken farm, a fine-dining restaurant offering a five course meal.
The San Angelo Stock Show & Rodeo was founded as a way to raise scholarship funds for students who graduated from Texas high schools and wanted to continue their education. The Cinch Roping Fiesta takes place on the last full weekend in October, and it’s steeped in history as the longest running stand-alone roping event of its kind. Attracting folks from far and wide, this is an event you have to experience for yourself. The rodeo also sponsors the Rodeo Slack, while also featuring a livestock show, a midway with rides and other attractions, and a Saturday Night Dance. This is small town Texas, after all.
So if all this rodeo and art culture has got you itching for the great outdoors, then head west to the San Angelo State Park for camping, swimming, picnicking, hiking, and fishing in Javelina Pond. You can also go horseback riding along multi use trails.
The park also includes ancient animal tracks and American Indian rock art as well as bison, giving this park a truly prehistoric vibe. This is also one of four parks that is home to the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd. You can also access O.C Fisher Lake via the park for swimming.
A National Historic Landmark, Fort Concho was a United States Army post built in 1867. Strategic to the stabilization of the area, it has been called one of the most beautiful and best ordered posts in Texas. It was also once known as the headquarters of the now-famous Buffalo Soldiers. Open for tours throughout the year, it hosts a Christmas at Old Fort Concho the first weekend in December.
For casual dining, the Peasant Village Restaurant is located in an old bungalow style home. The place serves rustic dishes including a rack of lamb with a citrus fig glaze, wild mushroom ravioli, aged ribeyes, and fried green tomatillos. The restaurant started when owner Pops Helfer found his great-grandparents hand-written cookbook in his grandmother’s attic, dated 1780. There, a commitment to delicious, old-world food began. It would be a shame not to order dessert considering they offer a jalapeno chipotle raspberry cake, too
If I went on any further about how great San Angelo is, this city guide would cease being a blog post and would become a love story. In few words, head west and douse yourself in some fine west Texas culture. We are certain you’ll have a fine, worldly, cultured time.
Up Next in our Texas City Guides series: Laredo!