In Love with Garner State Park


Some places never quite live up to their hype and leave you disappointed.


We just spent the day at a place that not only lived up to the accolades from many friends, but had us clearing off our schedules for more visits in the near future. One day is not nearly enough to soak in the unforgettable Frio River.

My family is undeniably in love with Garner State Park.




I thought that the Frio would be an experience much like tubing on the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers. I have  visited both of these rivers many times over the years but never with my children. I expected crowds,loud music and a lot of college kids when we planned our staycation a few weeks ago. I could not have been more wrong.


Garner State Park has been open since 1941 and is a favorite family destination of hundreds of  thousands of families every single year. It is the busiest of all of Texas’ overnight state parks. I now know why it has earned this distinction.


There is magic under these old cypress trees.




The park is located a little over 90 miles from San Antonio. The drive takes you through the historic towns of Castroville,Hondo and Sabinal. At this point, the terrain starts to change and you see taller hills lined with trees. It was at the point that my daughter said, “Are we in Colorado?”  To which I replied, “No, honey. This is the Texas Hill Country.”

We took a family vacation a couple of years ago to Estes Park, CO and my family hasn’t stopped talking about going back for another vacation. I was thrilled to see something that might be a quick substitute for a place that my kids love so much.



We got an early start since I was told that the park has strict rules about the number of visitors allowed in the park on a daily basis. We wanted to make sure that we were not turned away. As we drove in the park, you could see campers everywhere. Tents,pop-up trailers, RV’s and cabins were all occupied.

We found the picnic area that is designated for “day visitors” and claimed our table for the day. It then proceeded to storm for about an hour. We sought the safety of our car from the lightning to wait it out, getting more and more anxious to spend time among those majestic trees.









Once the rain finally stopped, we literally ran into the Frio River. It was cold. You would think that we should have expected it since “Frio” in Spanish means cold. It was cold,crisp and clear.









Only when you body is acclimated to the temperature of the water are  you aware of the view.

A hill cut from limestone.

It is breathtakingly beautiful.

It doesn’t seem at all real.

Can it be dream?

You close your eyes.




And open them.

It is indeed real.

You close your eyes again.

You thank God for all his creations.

You thank God for the Frio River.




And time stands still.


After about three hours of swimming in the river, my kids finally realize that they are hungry.

We take a short walk to the Pavilion.

It is home to the gift shop,cafe and what we would soon find out, the famous dance floor.




We place our lunch order and find a table in the cafe.

It consists of about 5 tables with a view of the portico.






It is also the room where the jukebox is located.

A Wurlitzer that plays music from summers gone by.

Three songs for a dollar.

Put your coins in and pick an old song.

And see what happens……..






Dancing. Anytime the jukebox is on there is a chance of random dancing.

The bunny hop. A two step.

Anyone that has ever been to Garner State Park has to dance. They can’t help it. We danced too!

The chairs are from people reserving their spots for the nightly summer dances that begin at 8:30pm.

It is a family affair.


When the music stopped, they called out our name.

Our burgers were ready.

They were delicious.





And so was the salad.







We took a peak in the gift shop.










And  walked back to the river.









We rented a paddle boat.

Floated on tubes.






And jumped off of rope swings







All while wishing that the day would never end.

A day of family.

Creating new memories.

And making new friends.

Of a time gone by.

Garner is not just a park but a state of mind.



You can find out more information for this treasured Texas state park at GARNER  and for reservations STATEPARKS.


Stay Sassy Y’all.















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  1. Ok another river I want to go visit. I thank you for posting and sharing your trips this summer. My family loves simplicity….that is cheap adventures which involve water of some sort and some food:0) Oh and I saw that ya’ll visited Estes Park last summer…..not sure if I shared w/ you that my grandma has a home there and I have grown up going there. I have taken the boys twice and they keep asking when can we go back. It’s like a slice of heaven. My grandpa LOVED that place and when he passed away about gosh 11 years ago…..he said he wanted to be creamated (spelling) and have his ashes spread at Bear Lake. Well that was exactly what we did and my mom and grandma went this summer and visited the site we spread his ashes and found a piece of metal that was in his ankle from surgery he had years ago when he broke his ankle. Too crazy!

    • Bear River is magical! What a wonderful final resting place. There is just nothing like nature in vacations. We love them! We are going back the 2nd week in August to camp overnight. We are going hiking this time. This park is much bigger than the Blanco one. So glad you like the stay cation posts!

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