Ultimate Southwest Hill Country road trip, from floating the Frio to finding Utopia
Spring in Texas is in full swing — time for a road trip. Here's the ultimate guide to Uvalde County, from exploring Uvalde and camping in Concan to floating the Frio River and finding Utopia. While spring is a great time to visit, you can enjoy these suggestions in the summer and fall too.
Your first stop is Uvalde, less than three hours from Austin. The county seat of Uvalde County boasts a quaint main street that has the old-school vibes we love about small-town Texas. While there are accommodations in Uvalde, we suggest you start the trip early, take your pick of the options below, and then head to the next destination.
For the history enthusiast: The Briscoe-Garner Museum, an affiliate of the University of Texas at Austin museum system, is a must-see for lovers of Texas history. You can also visit El Progreso Memorial Library and the Briscoe Art & Antique Collection inside the First Bank of Uvalde.
For the outdoorsy type:Fort Inge Historical Park (open weekends only) is a unique destination along the Leona River. It has been the site of activity since prehistoric eras and most recently served as a base for the U.S. calvary in the 1800s. If you enjoy bird-watching, Cook's Slough Sanctuary lives up to its name.
For the hungry:Hangar 6 Air Cafe is a themed diner near Garner Field Airport where you can eat breakfast, burgers, and Southern faves and watch planes take off. The Local Fix is a cute coffee shop serving drinks and hearty lunch options.
Pro tip: Uvalde is the best place to stock up on provisions for the rest of your trip.
Thanks to its convenient location on the Frio River, Concan is a hot spot for Texas tourists, especially during the summer when the cold river water offers a reprieve from the heat. Camping is the way to go. Spring breakers should check out Rio Frio Fest in March.
For the first-timer:Neal's Lodges should be your first choice, as it offers resources for tubing, horse-back riding, and more; there's also Neal's Cafe for grub and Joe Jimmy's, a friendly evening hangout for drinks. The gorgeous Garner State Park has campsites, shelters, and cabins. You can swim, float the river, or hike Old Baldy. While there tends to be a party atmosphere, both locations are still family-friendly.
For a break from it all: Sometimes you just want to get away from it all. Frio River Vacation Rentals and Frio Country Resort are great sites to check out for a more private slice of paradise, but a little more digging will get you cabins and campsites farther out of Concan.
For the floater: If you don't have river access where you're staying, you need to get down to the Frio at least once. Gain day access via Garner State Park or check out low water spots like Magers' Crossing, which also serve as tubing access points.
For the hungry: There are a few dining options in town. House Pasture Cattle Company serves chicken-fried steak with a side of live music, and Hippie Chic's River Shack boasts burgers, sandwiches, tacos, and snacks. Sweet tooth? Order a creation from Concan Pies.
Pro tip: A quick drive up US Highway 83 will get you to the small town of Leakey. Here you'll find even more camping and lodging along the Frio River, as well as shopping options, specifically the Leakey Mercantile and neighboring liquor shop (don't forget that Concan is a dry town).
This aptly named Hill Country oasis is the final stop on your road trip. It can be done in a day, but if you have time to rest up one more night, check out Bend O' the River Bed & Breakfast or the cabins at Utopia River Retreat, which offer easy access to the Sabinal and Frio rivers.
For the adventurer: The gorgeous Sabinal River winds around the Utopia area. Located in nearby Vanderpool, the Lost Maples State Natural Area is a great spot for hiking, camping, birding, and more.
For the festivalgoer: For the ultimate boutique festival experience, snag tickets to Utopia Fest in September. This BYOB, kid-friendly camping and music fest nestled inside a Hill Country valley is capped at 2,000 attendees, meaning no crazy crowds.
For the hungry:Saint Jo's Picnic is a cute little food truck for appetizers and sandwiches. Lost Maples Cafe is a comfort food staple. Want something fancier? Make a Saturday reservation at The Laurel Tree, a fine dining destination open one night a week.
Pro tip: Utopia is a small town, so visit on the weekend for all the action.