When I moved to Belton a year and a half ago from Fort Worth, I enjoyed the relaxing slow pace of the small city. My husband and I always say it’s the perfect place for us to live, just short drives away from our family, outdoor activities, the music scene in Austin, the Gulf Coast and Big City Lights to the north and south.

However, after awhile, the laid-back pace began to feel more like the nerve-wracking crawl of a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam on I-35 than a Sunday drive in the country. I began to wish we lived just a little bit closer to Austin or another big city, just for easy access to nightlife.

Then we discovered The Gin at Nolan Creek.

Tucked into downtown Belton, The Gin complex is made up of two restaurants, a frozen yogurt shop, a wine bar, a kitschy retail shop and a spa. The businesses sit around an open-air courtyard filled with tables and chairs and flowering landscapes. Between The Gin and Nolan Creek is a large covered pavilion where live bands play on Friday and Saturday evenings from March through October. On Thursday nights, a musician plays in the courtyard.

The restaurants, The Gin and Coronas de Oro, and the wine bar, Nolan Creek Winery, have covered patios for dining and sipping cocktails and wine. The complex is small enough that the live music can be heard from both inside and outside any of the businesses without being annoying to courtyard patrons.

Needless to say, The Gin is now one of my favorite places in my new hometown.

A few weeks ago, hubby and I had sushi in Temple and then headed to The Gin for some frozen yogurt. We were pleasantly surprised to find the live music already in full swing courtesy of Rockin’ Rick, a one man band. Although Rick, dressed in Hawaiian shirt and draped in colorful leis, did not have a stellar singing voice, his witty sense of humor made up for the shortfall.

As we sat out under the stars on that balmy spring night, eating our frozen yogurt, people-watching and singing along to “Hotel California,” I didn’t miss Austin at all.

The Gin at Nolan Creek is at 219 S. East St., Belton.

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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