Co-written by Travel Journalist Jeff Game
Unplugging is not something we do well in our warp-speed, over-caffeinated and abundantly scheduled lives these days. Even vacations can turn into a long to-do list of activities, eating, sight-seeing and of course, more eating. We then end up taking our hundreds of social media friends and followers along on our travels, as we post every stunning sunset, iconic landmark and of course, more eating pictures.
Sometimes we all need to escape the hustle and bustle of our daily lives to find a place where the pace is not so frantic, the locals are a lot friendlier, and the beauty of nature envelopes your soul with a warm Earth Day-esque hug.
We recently decided to leave our city slicker lives behind for a few days, unplug and explore the quintessential Americana Texas Hill Country River Region, located in Uvalde County. And, it kind of ruled!
As we hopped in our rental car for the hour and a half drive from San Antonio to Texas Hill Country River Region, cranked up our Willie Nelson playlist and could already feel the stress fall away along the roadside.
Here is a little taste of how we unplugged and experienced the Texas Hill Country River Region on our road trip of Texas-awesomeness fun.
Get Er’ Done
Tubing down the Frio River near the town of Concan is like a religious experience of the water gods and their motto is, “no beer left behind." Great way to take in the natural beauty of the river and knock back a couple of Lone Stars along your many rides.
Get your inner cowboy on with the fine folks at Elk Creek Stables, where your salt-of-the-earth hosts Beverly and George will take you for a spin on the trails near Garner State Park on one of their many rescue horses.
Holy Texas bat cave Batman! Instagram one of the prettiest sunsets in the Southwest as millions (up to 24 million at its peak) of Mexican Free-tailed bats take to the skies on their nightly feeding frenzy flight at the Frio Bat Flight.
Biking, hiking, tubing, stand up paddle boarding and wildlife sightings during the day and Texas two-step dancing at night is the name of the game at the stunning Garner State Park.
Cowboy poet, singer and storyteller Lee Haile will weave astonishing local folklore tales through, songs, stories and jokes at your very own Cowboy Campfire Storytelling as you eat s’mores under the Texas starry night.
“The Texas Hill Country River is really the biological crossroads of North America. This is where east meets west and north meets south right here on the edge of the Hill Country,” declares the exuberant Lee Haile.
If you feel the need for speed, the 100-mile loop motorcycle ride along Twisted Sisters Highways is one of the most challenging rides in the state with jagged canyon climbs, twisty curves and sheer drops.
Texas Foodie Nirvana
Not only did we discover the city of Uvalde, is the hometown to Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey, they also have some of the best Mexican food restaurants in these parts of Texas. Now, we're doing "alright, alright, alright."
A real hidden gem and one of the most unique culinary experiences that your foodie taste buds will ever have at Chef Laurel Waters Laurel Tree Restaurant. Oh, and there’s a treehouse dining room that seats six in the backyard. Drive up Highway 187 in the small town of Utopia, and you may think that you’ve crossed over into the French Countryside, passing fields of poppies that line the winding pebbled driveway up to the European inspired manor that houses this outstanding restaurant.
“One of my favorite things about this area of the Hill Country is the abundance of stars,” so says Chef Laurel Waters. Especially in a smaller town where we are in Utopia. Sometimes there are so many stars that you cannot pick out the constellations.”
Along the majestic Frio River in Concan, Hippie Chicks River Shack is a great place to stop for some breakfast tacos or one of their signatures burgers like the Psychedelic Cowboy, Mick Jagger or C’mon Baby Light My Fire.
Neal’s Dining Room is one of those notable restaurants where the family recipes are abundant and so are the views outside their massive patio seating area.
Old school Tex-Mex is what’s for dinner at El Herradero De Jalisco, a staple of the food scene in Uvalde.
We had never heard of buttermilk pie before we tried a couple of slices at the famous Los Maples Café, but we fell in deep, deep love with this new sweet tooth addiction.
Two Sister Twisted Bar in Camp Wood has become one of the best watering holes and a perfect place to grab an adult beverage after you take on the Twisted Sisters Highways motorcycle ride.
Music soothes the soul and is a great way to unleash your hidden honky-tonker.
For nearly twenty years the House Pasture Cattle Company has been featuring legendary country acts like Merle Haggard, Tanya Tucker, and the king himself, Willie Nelson and is the go-to place to boot scoot your boogie.
Every spring the Rio Frio Music Festival unleashes a Texas-size load of fun, food and fully packed days of some of the best country music around, like the 2018 highlights of the Read Southall Band, Wade Bowen, and Kody West.
The Uvalde Grand Opera House is one the oldest theatres in Texas and one of the premier arts venues in the area featuring plays, musicals, cultural events and of course, live music touring acts.