15 Best Things to Do in Garner State Park, TX

Garner State Park, TX
Richard A McMillin / shutterstock.com

Are you looking for a great holiday destination for the entire family that’s easy on the pocket?

Choose Garner State Park in Concan, Texas, the most popular state park for overnight camping, especially during the peak season.

Among the reasons people flock here are the activities on the Frio River and the nightly dances, especially during the summer and spring.

Speaking of the river, Garner State Park rents out standup paddles, kayaks, and paddleboats for you to enjoy the water.

You can also relax in the pavilion, built in the 1930s by the CCC, a gem in the state park, offering you tons of souvenirs and gift items.

If you want to bring your picnic basket, go ahead.

However, if you wish to explore the food options here, the Garner Grill is behind the pavilion.

The grill serves the best burgers you can ever have.

There’s an ice cream shop and a candy shop nearby your kids will love.

Here are the best things to do in Garner State Park, TX:

Check Out the Bats at Frio Bat Flight

Hundreds of bats emerging from Frio Cave
Verabeth / Shutterstock.com

This spectacular sight happens before sunset at the Frio Cave near Concan, Texas, where free-tailed bats fly into the evening sky.

The Frio Bat Flight shows the world’s second-largest bat population that the public can see.  

Millions of these nocturnal creatures fly out of the cave to hunt for the night.

Bats flying out Frio Cave
dizfunkshinal, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Though you won’t be able to enter the cave, your guide can tell you more about this occurrence.

Usually, the experience starts with an interpretive talk from your guide on the history of the Frio Cave and about bats.

It’s not only a tourist destination but is also a great opportunity, especially for children, to learn more about these creatures.

Take a Dip in the Concan Swimming Hole

Go swimming in the Concan Swimming Hole, located along the banks of the Frio River.

Imagine being so close and connected to the river with expansive lawns that lay flat to the edge of the river, complete with a concrete riverside landing, a kayak launch, and two ladders that go into the water.

It’s only five minutes from downtown Leakey and has its own frontage to the Frio River on both sides.

The Concan Swimming Hole is a great place that offers respite from the tourist-busy areas and the scorching heat.

It also serves as a relaxation spot with a great indoor and outdoor space.

You can also experience the cool and refreshing natural springs that feed into the river, letting you have the perfect backdrop for your family photos.

Explore Garner State Park

Mountain views at Garner State Park
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Garner State Park is proud of its lovely nature, characterized by rolling hills, chalk cliffs, crystal clear rivers, and ancient Cypress trees.

You can find it in the Texas Hill County River Region, whose main objective is to promote Uvalde County as a year-round overnight tourism destination.

The waters of Frio River at Garner State Park
Richard A McMillin / Shutterstock.com

The area includes the Frio River, Nueces River, and Sabinal River.

The Frio Bat Flight is also in the area.

Welcome sign of Garner State Park
University of College / Shutterstock.com

Learn about History at the Briscoe-Garner Museum

No place ever becomes great without great leaders in its government.

Uvalde County is proud of Vice President John Nance 'Cactus Jack’ Garner and Governor Dolph Briscoe.

The Briscoe-Garner Museum, located in the home of John and Ettie Garner, documents the life of the two-term US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In the past, this house welcomed many prominent politicians, which has earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Atlee Ayres designed the house, built in 1920.

Today, the museum offers excellent opportunities for students, families, history buffs, and scholars to learn more about these great people of history.

Enjoy an Extreme Adventure with Happy Hollow Frio River Outfitters

Do you like feeling adrenaline rush through your body?

Do extreme sports keep you on your toes?

Visit the Happy Hollow Frio River Outfitters and experience all these and more.

Your excursion begins at the Happy Hollow Grocery.

Interestingly, this place has nothing to do with groceries or grocery shopping.

It is a family-oriented, full-service river outfitter for lots of fun and adventure.

Thanks to its tubing and kayaking activities for all ages, water fun has never been this good with Happy Hollow.

Its location on the Cypress-lined banks of the Frio River will treat you to some of the most spectacular views you’ve ever seen.

Catch a Show at the Uvalde Grand Opera House

Exterior of Uvalde Grand Opera House
Bas van den Heuvel / Shutterstock.com

The arts also speak a great deal about a place.

Uvalde County has preserved the Uvalde Grand Opera House, established in 1891, to enhance the lives of the residents and visitors.

Its programs and presentations of quality live theatre enrich the people’s appreciation for the community, specifically in arts, music, drama, education, dance, community service, and historic preservation.

Located on W North Street, you will surely want to return to this place.

Shop for Souvenirs at the Garner State Park Gift Shop

Are you looking for a souvenir?

The Garner State Park Gift Shop is here to help you out.

The store is in a historic building whose floors, doors, and walls are still the original.

Moreover, the store takes pride in the designs and graphics for its shirts.

They also work with vendors who keep their products exclusive to the gift shop.

You can relax knowing that the items you buy are unique to this place.

Besides shirts, the Garner State Park Gift Shop also offers fashion jewelry, footwear, apparel, unique gift and home items, and candies and toys.

Speaking of toys, the kids will love their plush skunks, some travel games, and wildlife toys that make realistic sounds.

Your Garner State Park expedition won’t be complete without stopping at the gift shop.

Ride Horses at the Elm Creek Stables

Not all places offer horseback riding activities for their visitors.

If you come to the Elm Creek Stables, you’ll love the experience of pony rides, petting horses, and going on high and low trails.

Located some two miles from Garner State Park, the stables take care of several horses, giving them the care and affection they need.

Whether you’re a professional or a first-time rider, you need to have tons of patience to learn how to handle a horse.

But the rewards once you’ve done it are incomparable.

Go Camping in Garner State Park

Two camping chairs near the waters of Frio River
TeacherKarla / Shutterstock.com

One of the must-dos at Garner State Park is camping.

There are tons of options to choose from, all guaranteed to give you a lot of adventure and fun memories.

Among these are campsites with electricity in Old Garner, which feature picnic tables, a fire ring, an outdoor grill, and water hookups.

There are also campsites with electricity in New Garner, featuring water hookups, fire rings, an outdoor grill, picnic tables, and lantern posts.

Do every exciting thing you want to do while camping and make memories with your family.

Enjoy Water Fun at the River Oaks Resorts

River Oaks Resorts offers you opportunities to relax and unwind.

You can either relax in one of the river house rentals or play in the pool and splash pad.

Opened in 2017, the pool and splash pad is filled with 71,000 gallons of water, featuring a tanning ledge that lets you lie under the sun, close to the pool, and bathe under the gorgeous Concan sun.

You shouldn’t miss playing through the rings next to the splash pad.

Ideal for the young and the young at heart, these rings dump cool water to refresh you now and then.

If that isn’t fun enough, you can also try your swing at the 9-hole miniature golf course just across the way.

Join a Frio River Float Trip at Andy’s on River Road

Get ready to embark on a grand adventure with the family that lets you make memories like no other.

Andy’s on River Road brings to reality those fun things you usually watch in movies like kids jumping into rivers from hanging ropes, “treasure hunting,” fishing, and enjoying making s’mores in campfires.

The owner, Andy, aims to share this experience with others, so he created this business.

Andy’s on River Road is in the Frio Canyon’s plush hills, catering to campers who want to experience closeness to nature.

You can also find a newly expanded gift store that sells jewelry, Circle E Candles, and beautiful dresses.

It’s a great place to find gifts for the family, such as t-shirts, bling, flip-flops, and kids' toys.

Conquer Mt. 'Ol Baldy

Daytime view of Mount Old Baldy
Robin Cravey / Shutterstock.com

With an elevation of 1,849 feet, you’ll enjoy this moderately-challenging route that takes an average of 38 minutes to complete.

It’s a great hiking trail that tests your endurance while rewarding you with magnificent scenes from the top.

Elevation sign on Mount Old Baldy's summit
Cruise Planner / Shutterstock.com

Though it’s only a half-mile trek, it can be strenuous and steep and may not be for all ages.

However, once you’re already at the top, you can look down and fall in love with the aqua blue waters of the Frio River, with red trees bordering the river during the fall.

It’s truly a magnificent sight.

Cool Off with an Ice Cream at Frio Float

After a great day of adventure, cool off with delicious ice cream at the Frio Float.

Try their Blue Bell ice cream, cupcakes, and candies and realize that you can’t have enough of their sweets.

Mangonadas, sundaes, floats, and milkshakes, anyone?

Visit the Aviation Museum at Garner Field

In honor of Vice President Garner, Garner Field opened in 1941 and served as a pilot training school for WWII.

It now houses the Aviation Museum at Hangar #1, preserving everything in military and civil aviation.

Spot the restored and flying WWII aircraft, the Fairchild PT-19 cadet training plane, and an L-4 Piper target spotting plane.

You can also see artifacts from the compass of the 1944 USS Uvalde ship and the fur-lined uniform of the civilian tasked to teach military cadets to fly.

Mix Fun and Adventure at the Star Rentals and Sweet Summer Spot

It’s always a great idea to combine fun and adventure with delicious treats.

You can do this at Star Rentals and Sweet Summer Spot.

Star Rentals is a family-owned tube and kayak rental business, offering tubes and kayaks to vacationers in Frio, Leakey, and Concan.

In 2019, they expanded their services with six RV sites and the Summer Sweet Spot, their new snack shack.

Visitors enjoy the adventure and then finish with a bountiful snack at the snack shop.

Final Thoughts

Garner State Park is not your average state park.

These activities and destinations prove that it is the ideal holiday destination for the family year-round.

Don’t delay your vacation, and start planning your excursion to Garner State Park!

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