A group of people kayak and canoe on clear water beneath green trees

Garner State Park offers easy access to the Frio River, a popular summer destination for paddling, tubing, and fishing. Photo by Will van Overbeek

When I think back on favorite weekend trips, it’s often simple moments that stand out. Last fall, my husband and I took our children, then 7 and 9, to Garner State Park for the first time. On a Friday night, we drove to Kerrville and checked into the Inn of the Hills—a throwback to the heyday of the travel lodge. Built in 1964, it’s since been updated but retains a rustic charm. The rooms form a square surrounding a tree-lined courtyard where my kids played tag and hide-and-seek past dusk.

We headed south toward Garner the next morning with a quick stop for gas at the Garven Store, a 90-year-old mom and pop shop at the crossroads of US 83 and State Highway 41. While my husband fueled up, my kids marveled at the peacocks wandering the parking lot, and I purchased some of the store’s famed beef jerky for the road.

By the time we arrived at Garner, a light rain had begun to fall. We donned our raincoats and sped through the quick trail to reach the crystalline waters of the Frio. Though the rain limited our hiking options, it didn’t dampen the joy of seeing our kids take in the beauty of one of Texas’ most beloved rivers—or stop them from eating ice cream cones as big as their heads under the cover of the park’s ice cream shop porch. The rain brought the added benefit of driving away the crowd on the typically packed weekend before Thanksgiving. We spent the afternoon leisurely hiking a 2-mile trail and spotting as many different shades of yellow-orange-red leaves as we could find, only rarely meeting other hikers.

This month’s cover story is an ode to the weekend road trip with 18 pages of itineraries to fuel your summer wanderlust. And if you’re looking for your own solitary park sojourn, read an exclusive web feature on less traveled state parks. We’d love to hear about your favorite weekend destinations; email your recommendations to [email protected].

Emily Roberts Stone
Editor in Chief

From the June 2023 issue

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