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Leakey Texas is a small town deep in the Texas Hill Country, located on US Highway 83 in Real County. The population is somewhere over 300. A lot of people seem to move in and yet the population sign never changes....***Update, as of yesterday, 6/11/11, the population sign now reads 493! First time in 25 years that I have seen it changed!
If you want to escape the city and chill in the country, this is the town for you. The main attraction?The beautiful Rio Frio River! Float, swim, fish, canoe, do it all on the Frio!
Make reservations to rent a cabin early in the year as they all fill up by the summer. I recommend Crider's Frio River Resort. The owners are friends of ours and they are good people. While you are there, be sure to stop by Bonnie's Bakery for the best baked goods around! Bonnie's cinnamon rolls are to die for!
There are many other cabins around town and along the river to be rented. There are also some motels that you can stay in. Just call ahead because they really do get booked up in the summer. The Chamber of Commerce will give you information on a lot of local Leakey businesses.
There is no five-star cuisine in or near Leakey but you won't starve. There are some pretty good eateries in downtown Leakey Texas. Frio Canyon Lodge is a good place to eat. The locals enjoy eating there so you know it is good.
The best eatery around, in my opinion, is only open in summer. It is in the town of Concan, on Highway 127, several miles down Highway 83 from Leakey.
Beautiful Garner State Park is just 9 miles south of Leakey. Take US Highway 83, turn east on FM 1050 for 2/10 of a mile to Park Road 29 to enter Garner. You can camp there or just go for the day. Swim in the Frio River, hike, just enjoy the beauty. It is an incredible place to visit. I love it there.
If you are in Leakey on a Sunday morning and you want to worship, I suggest attending Church In The Valley right on US Highway 83. Service starts at 10:45am. This is a non-denominational church in a beautiful new facility. My children sing and play there when we visit on Sunday mornings. You will enjoy the warmth of Christ's love there.
If you need prescription medication or you want to visit some bigger stores, you will have to drive 40 miles one way to Uvalde. There is no Walgreen's or Wal-Mart close by.
They have terrific lunches and dinners in a rustic camping lodge type facility. They have a really neat dining area and the food is pretty decent. Neal's also has cabins to rent.
My husband grew up on a ranch outside of Leakey that had a huge vegetable garden with a tall electric fence to keep the deer out. When we moved to Leakey, my husband took over that garden and planted a lot of vegetables. He also helped with the apple orchard that his parents had. They have since sold the ranch and the apple orchard no longer exists. The new owners took down the electric fence and the deer had a wonderful time eating the trees, hundreds of them.
In downtown Leakey Texas, there are shops and stores to browse through. While you are there, be sure to visit the antique shop owned and run by my husband's Aunt Betty. It is called The General Store. Betty Smith has great taste and always carries new things. There are some wooden bird feeders and other woodcrafts for sale out in front of the store made by my father-in-law, John Schulze. If you enjoy rustic wood and metal crafts, be sure to stop by.
The General Store is located on Highway 83 and is a always crowded in the summer. My mother-in-law, Ann Schulze, sometimes helps her sister behind the counter when it gets really busy.
After shopping, you will want a snack. Go right across the street to the convenience store called Frio Canyon Exxon for some soda and pizza. Linda and Will run a nice place to eat and you can fill up your car as well.
The biggest event of the year in Leakey Texas is the July Jubilee. This happens during the week of the 4th of July. There is a big parade and craft fair as well as a street dance and a rodeo, unless these events are rained out. It does happen occasionally. Sometimes the parade is actually on the 4th but it is usually on the Saturday before or after the 4th. You can check for the exact date on the Frio Canyon Chamber of Commerce website.
You can get a deer lease for hunting from some of the local ranchers in the fall. Many of the ranches have cabins to rent while you hunt.
Christmas is a pretty big deal in Leakey Texas as well with the lighting of the courthouse and a visit by Santa in early December.
Leakey July Jubilee
The Leakey July Jubilee is the town's fourth of July celebration, complete with a parade, an arts and crafts fair, a street dance, and a rodeo. It is a time to spend with family and friends and lots of tourists.
My family and I have attended the Leakey July Jubilee many times over the years in Leakey Texas. Of course, when my husband was a boy, he went every year. The arts and crafts fair is held on the lawn by the courthouse and there is always a good number of booths, many from out of town. There is always a lot of food and cold drinks to keep you cool in the heat.
The street dance is held from 8pm to midnight on the Leakey Courthouse square downtown. The Leakey Courthouse is pictured above. The rodeo is usually held after the parade. The parade starts at 10am.
The Leakey July Jubilee is usually held on the weekend, as close to the 4th of July as possible. The street dance in Leakey Texas is usually on Friday or Saturday night close to the Fourth of July at 8pm. There was a $5 charge in 2009 for the street dance.
The kids will love the rodeo. Of course, there is a charge for this as well, but everyone enjoys it. There is still plenty of time to go tubing down the beautiful, clear Rio Frio River and yes, it really is cold. The cold feels fabulous in the heat of July. Every cabin and motel room in the area is completely booked for this important weekend so make your reservations months in advance if you are not fortunate enough to have relatives who live in Leakey.
The parade is the old-fashioned kind that I used to go to as a kid, where they throw candies and necklaces out to the kids and the whole town takes pride in it. Many merchants participate, as well as students and former students of Leakey Elementary School, Middle School, and High School. My mother-in-law was part of the basketball team when she was in high school and about 6 years ago her old team marched in the parade. They had a blast.
One thing not to expect--fireworks. For some reason, Leakey Texas never has a fireworks display for the July Jubilee. However, many residents and tourists go to firework stands on the way to Leakey and buy their own. They set them off the whole weekend. We have done this but to me, it is more fun to sit on a blanket and watch the fireworks display like I used to watch in New York State when I was growing up! You will have a great time in Leakey Texas.
For 2011, the Leakey July Jubilee is from July 1 through July 3. This year, the street dance will be held on Friday night from 8pm until midnight on the downtown square. Cost per person is $5.
On Saturday morning, the Arts and Crafts show starts at 8am. Merchants, both local and from around the country will be there on the square with a wonderful assortment of handmade goods and goodies to eat. The parade starts at 10am. Be sure and bring chairs and cold drinks as it gets miserably hot out there in July. Make sure you have plenty of sun screen on. Make the kids wear hats to cover their delicate scalps from the burning sun.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night of that week at 8pm, there will be a rodeo with Bareback, Calf Roping, Bull Riding, Saddle Bronc, Steer Wrestling and Ladies Barrel events.
Christmas On The Square
Sometime late in November each year, on a Saturday, Leakey has Christmas On The Square of the Courthouse. Santa comes, there is an arts and crafts show, and children of all ages are happy. The whole town comes out, as well as people from neighboring towns. Tourists longing to get away from life in the big city also converge on Leakey.
In addition to Santa, Mrs. Claus also makes the trip down from the North Pole to Leakey to visit with all of the good boys and girls. Of course, on this particular Saturday, all of the kids claims to have been good.
Bring your money to buy handmade crafts for everyone on your Christmas list. Bring money to buy food at food booths as well. Most of the merchants are from out of town and make the circuit, going from one craft show to another all over Texas. They bring a wide variety of Christmas decorations and many other crafts and specialty foods. Visitors are always welcome at these community events so if you will be in the area, be sure and take your children to meet Santa and get some Christmas shopping done!
The locals decorate downtown Leakey with Christmas decorations and lots of sparkling lights and bring in their families from all over the area for the excitement. Dress in your Christmas best and bring your camera to capture a photo of your children with Santa and his wife. Your children will love this day.
There is normally a Christmas lighting decoration contest in December so there should be lots of lights up for you to see as you drive around Frio Canyon. Have fun.
Later in December, the Leakey Independent School District puts on a Christmas musical for the entire community. Sometimes, the local churches have cantatas or Christmas plays for the whole community to enjoy.
Check the Frio Canyon Chamber of Commerce for the specific scheduling each year. For 2011, it was on Saturday, November 26 at 10am through 3pm.
The Frio River is also known as Rio Frio. It is spring-fed and icy cold. It starts in northeastern Real County and flows southeast for 200 miles until it hits the Nueces River. This river is the biggest tourist attraction in Leakey, Rio Frio, Garner State Park, and Concan.
The Frio, as the locals call it, is shallow in most places. Like its name, it is usually cold and crystal clear. It is a gorgeous river that your whole family will enjoy. My husband grew up in Leakey and spent a good deal of time on the Frio.
Tubing the river is the number one tourist attraction. Tubes can be rented in Leakey or you can bring your own. Plan to spend at least a few hours tubing in the river on a hot summer day. It feels great and is so much fun. Don't forget the sunscreen and your camera.
We were at the Frio yesterday, June 11, 2011 and because of the drought this year, the water is very low and yet it was still packed with tourists up in Concan. At the Rio Frio and Leakey river crossings, there were hardly any people in the river. It was sad to see how low the water level is. The river is best when full. All we need are a few good rains this summer and all will be well.
My husband grew up floating on and swimming in the river. Back in 1996, when we briefly lived in Leakey, there was a drought and the river was very low. Officials recommended staying out of the river because people were getting sick from bacteria in the low river. Once the rains came, the water started flowing and all of the bacteria was washed away. When the river is low, check with officials to make sure the water is safe. Right now, no notices have been posted so the water is still healthy.
You and your family will have hours of fun floating the river. Make sure you wear water shoes as it is filled with sharp rocks. Do not go in barefoot and do not wear flip-flops as they will come off. Have a great time!
Garner State Park
Garner State Park is nine miles away from Leakey and is a great place to camp or to spend the day in the Frio River. It is just 9 miles south of Leakey. Take US Highway 83, turn east on FM 1050 for 2/10 of a mile to Park Road 29 to enter Garner. You can camp there or just go for the day. Swim in the Frio River, hike, just enjoy the beauty.
There is a note on the official park website that reads:
09/23/2010 - Garner State Park cabins will be closed until further notice due to remodeling. Customers may experience construction related equipment and noise in certain areas while we work to improve your park.
So I guess this still applies to the cabins as of June 12, 2011.
This park was named after Vice President John Nance Garner who was in office while FDR was president. Garner was born in Uvalde, which is 40 miles away.
The park opened in 1934 and has 1419.8 acres (10 water acres of the Frio River) of recreational facilities in northern Uvalde County, right next to Real County, where Leakey is.
There is a snack bar. The biggest attraction inside the park is swimming in the Frio. It is a great way to spend the day. Camping there is so much fun. Get up, eat breakfast, and hit the river all day long. You and your kids will love it.
There is also hiking, bike riding, and rock climbing. In recent years, several people have fallen to their death off of a very steep rock wall in the park.
Wildlife abounds in this beautiful park. There are White-tailed and Axis deer, Rio Grande Turkey, Morning Dove, Eastern Bluebirds, Golden-cheeked Warblers, Black Rocks Squirrels, Fox Squirrels, Raccoons, and many other animal species.
If you are interested in looking at trees, the park has Mesquite, Texas Red Bud, Bald Cypress, Western Ash Juniper, Spanish Oak, Lacey Oak, Texas Madrone, Cedar Elm, and Pecan, as well as Mountain Laurel and Agarita shrubs.
Garner State Park is open year-round but you will not want to swim except in the heat of summer. The river is called the Frio which means cold and it is.
Here are directions to the park: The park is located in Uvalde County, 31 miles north of the town of Uvalde, 9 miles south of Leakey, or 8 miles north of Concan on the Frio River. From US Highway 83, turn east on FM 1050 for .2 miles to Park Road 29 to the new entrance.
Admission used to be per carload for day use but now it is $6 per person which is a bit outrageous, especially if you have a big family. Camping rates are different and all rates are subject to change. Have a great time at Garner State Park.
Neals Lodges Restaurant
The best place to eat in the Leakey area is Neals Lodges restaurant in Concan. The décor and location are wonderful and the food is great.
If you want great food while you are on your vacation in the Leakey area, this is the place to go. We have been eating here in the summer months for years, probably since they opened. There is a great view of the Rio Frio from their deck. I love to sit out there and watch the river flow by. Unfortunately, this restaurant is closed during the fall and winter months,
My husband's favorite menu item is the chicken fried steak. They make it delicious there and the crust and white gravy are really good.
The restaurant has been remodeled recently and now they have twice the seating capacity as before. The service has always been great and I have never had a bad meal at this eatery.
The fried and grilled chicken dishes are delicious. I always enjoy them. Their Swiss mushroom burgers are out of this world. My kids love the cheeseburgers. Try them when you are in the area. Sometimes, you have to wait out on the deck because they are so busy, but the food is worth the wait! The kids will be happy as well with burgers and fries. My husband and kids always enjoy the food there, as well as my in-laws.
They are also open for breakfast and they have a great selection.
They also have camping facilities during the summer so if you would like to stay there, make your reservations early as they are always booked.
This restaurant is located on Highway 127, near the river crossing in Concan.