Rough Creek Lodge and Resort
When I hear the phrase “catch and release,” I’m more inclined to think of the knots in my shoulders than unsuspecting fish in the lake. Fortunately, Rough Creek Lodge is ideal for both rest and recreation. My travel buddy and I took quite a shine to its 11,000 acres of pure Texas adventure, with all the amenities we expected, like hayrides, and quite a few we didn’t, like model rocket launching. You can pretty much do it all here, whether your goal is to end up worn-out, zoned-out, or both (in which case you’ll want to schedule a post-hike margarita pedicure—yes, there’s tequila in the foot soak—or a hot-stone massage after your lesson in tomahawk throwing).
We spent our day duffing golf balls, manhandling the adorable resident goats, and floating round and round on the maybe-fifty-foot-but-who’s-counting “lazy river,” at which point we were ready to be fed and watered in the lodge’s restaurant, which is a destination in itself. Settling into our substantial leather chairs, we marveled at the arched ceiling, which made us feel as though we were inside a giant, glass-walled wine barrel. Presiding over the lofty space is chef Gerard Thompson, who sources raw materials from near and far and, together with his crew, expertly wields cast-iron skillets and wood-burning grills to bring forth dishes like crispy-skinned quail painted in a sherry–maple syrup glaze, meaty swordfish on a bed of mascarpone polenta, and pecan pie with maple ice cream.
(Marshmallow-roasting at Rough Creek Lodge / Photograph by Kate LeSueur)
After dinner, we and our respective glasses of wine wandered out to the patio and relaxed alongside a group of marshmallow-roasting ER nurses (the lodge is popular with corporate retreaters, because nothing says “team building” like driving cattle with your co-workers). But eavesdropping on their graphic fireside chats soon had us hightailing it to the safety of our room, where we attempted nothing more risky than counting stars from our rocking chairs on the back porch and wondering how it could be that the Metroplex was a mere sixty miles away. —Courtney Bond
Eat: Dinner, served nightly, is a three-course prix fixe for $75 (price included in your room rate if you stay; à la carte dining also available to non-guests). Beer, wine, and cocktails extra. Reservations required. 5165 County Road 2013, 877-907-0754.
Stay: Rates start at $325 (plus 21%) per person and include dinner, a breakfast buffet, and a slew of activities (if you’d like to spend more money, there are also suites and cabins and giant homes with names like Silver Pheasant).
Play: Field and stream,trail and lake, spa and poker table—there’s a lot to do out here. Many of the activities are included in your room rate (zip lines, fossil hunting) and many, many more are offered for an extra fee (paintball, aoudad hunting). If you manage to get bored, though, you can go antiquing in Granbury or Glen Rose, gape at life-size fiberglass dinosaurs at Dinosaur World, pay a call to Davy Crockett’s widow at Acton Cemetery (Texas’s smallest state park), and counteract all that nature with a tour of Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.