Spice Up Your Life in Dickinson, Texas

As published in The Florida Villager.

Bored with Covid and looking at your significant other across that same old kitchen table night after night?   Well, it sounds to me like you need to experience a shift in your attitude and I know just the place to do it.  It’s called The Birdcage Saloon at Cedar Oaks Inn in Dickinson, Texas. Now, don’t go thinking this is just another B&B because that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Situated on 4 acres of an old dairy farm, Tanya and Jeff Nuss bought the 1897 house in 1995 with a vision.   It has truly been a labor of love and their doors finally opened in June of this year with their vision realized.  As I pulled up to the house, I was a little taken aback as it looked like just another farmhouse and I had been told it was a pretty unique place. Lesson learned, never judge a book by its cover.  I walked to the side of the house where I was looking at a heavy brown door with a little window like back in the prohibition era and knocked.  The door opened and I froze.  I stepped over the threshold and instantly felt like Alice in Wonderland.  What lay before me was no less than magical. There were stone walkways, flowering plants in pots, the sound of running water coming from several strategically placed fountains and the pool was dreamy.  Surrounded by brick, with a pergola encased in ivy and flowering trellises, a firepit and yet another fountain, kept me in my trance.  This was no ordinary B&B.

Tanya led me to my room which actually wasn’t a room at all but a whole saloon.  Yep, you heard me right. I was ushered into the downstairs through a red front door and stood with my mouth gaping. Before me stood a long bar, reminiscent of a saloon, a dart board, pool table, a sofa and chairs that would rival any 1920’s bordello.  The art work caught my attention and I was surprised to find out that Tanya herself had painted them. Absolutely art gallery worthy.

“But, wait, this isn’t all,” I heard Jeff, her husband say.  I was led up a spiral staircase situated by the bar and emerged into a full-blown bordello, replete with velvet curtains and a claw foot tub. In all my travels, I have never seen a B&B like this one.  I had officially seen The Birdcage Saloon in all its decadence.

I unpacked and walked around just taking it all in. The furnishings, the art work and every minute detail was worth my lingering just a little longer.  There was a tray of cheese with fruit and crackers along with another tray displaying 2 miniature cakes. I told myself, just one bite but when it melted in my mouth.. well, no need to air my dirty laundry.  I later learned Tanya had made them using lots and lots of rum.

That night, and for the remaining 3 nights, I spent my time in the pool or by the firepit drinking wine and being mesmerized by the 36 lighted birdcages on the property.  To be honest, Houston and Galveston are only 30 minutes away and I could have easily gone exploring, but I couldn’t tear myself away from such a magical place.  During the day, I read, wrote, talked with Tanya and played with her cats and dogs.  Did I mention a nap or two?  When happy hour rolled around, Jeff would bring me a Margherita at the pool and then make his way back inside or hang around and chat.

One of the things I noticed, is that Tanya and Jeff were up to good fun conversation if that is what I wanted or became invisible if they sensed I wanted alone time.  One of the signs of amazing hosts, although there were many others.  Tanya’s breakfast deserves to be in some food magazine.  One morning she made French toast that was out of this world with a side of fruit.  Not only was the food delicious but the presentation was beautiful.

I could go on and on about The Birdcage Saloon at Cedar Oaks Inn but then I would be taking away your curiosity.  My parting words are this, get up from the kitchen table, pack your bags and have some fun in a bordello.