Son’s River Ranch is an extension of the Son’s Travel group in the middle of South Texas and I rented a cabana and glamping tent with my partner to soak up this one of a kind experience.
After spending an entire day and overnight stay, I’ve gathered up useful tips on how to have the most relaxing trip to Son’s River Ranch and shared them below.
What Is Son’s River Ranch?
Located in the small Texas town of Kingsbury, Son’s River Ranch sits on a 150 acre lot with a half mile of the San Marcos River bank where you can grill, swim, fish, kayak and tube.
It’s a tropical vibe with tons of cabanas, picnic tables, and hammocks that ride the river bank. The cabanas have real palm leaf roofs and bar tops with stools.
Try to go when it’s a bit warmer outside; the spring-fed water of the San Marcos River runs at a cool 72 degrees year round.
There are other places in Texas you can go tubing that have dedicated portions of the river where people pack in tube-to-tube. Son’s River Ranch has their own tubing and kayaking haven where you can float 2-3 hours downriver all the way to their sister site, Son’s Blue River Camp.
Picnic tables with canopies decorate the bank and a neighboring campground brings plenty of chances to meet someone new at the north end of the grounds.
The site is owned by the Son’s Travel Group, who manages three other properties similar in style and theme. Son’s Island is the most well known and popular of the properties, but tends to get booked up quickly because of its notoriety.
You rent out a cabana or covered picnic table for the day and have access to the river and all the rented features like a grill, hammock, and chairs. Son’s River also rents out large tents for overnight glamping that are next to most of the cabanas.
What Can you Do There?
You could easily spend all eight hours of your day rental at River Ranch full of refreshing waters and good food and still feel like you didn’t quite fit enough in. They offer several family-friendly activities that come with your rental.
The main attraction at Son’s River is jumping in the cool 72 degree waters of the San Marcos River. If you’ve ever taken a dip in some of the other Texas State Parks you’ve probably felt how cool these waters can get. Although water flow is not going to be consistent across the half mile bank at Son’s River.
The south part of the river (immediately to the right when you drive in), near cabanas 17-22, is more shallow and has a rough current. We saw some younger children needing to hold on to the picnic tables in the water so they could stay in one place.
Pretty much everyone that walked into that part of the river had a hard time relaxing in one place. So if you have little ones I recommend staying in the water near cabanas 1-10.
If you walk in at the tubing drop off point and head north, you’ll find yourself in about 6’0” of water where you can relax and soak up the beautiful atmosphere. I wouldn’t swim in the waters past sunset because snakes swim in the river once the sun goes down. I had a pretty heroic and scary encounter with a snake during my trip I’ll talk about later.
One option for tubing is to simply walk to the north end of the river near cabana #1, jump in with your tube, and float down the half mile to the south end for a quick ride. You can continue to run this route as many times as you want as long as you don’t mind walking back and forth.
The other option is to float down to the sister site Blue River Camp, which is about a 2-3 hour ride. When we went, Son’s River wasn’t allowed to offer shuttles so we would have had to either bring a second car or arrange an Uber with the staff. They claim the latter as an option on the site.
When we went, we weren’t able to rent any tubes but Son’s River was selling tubes for the price of a rental. There is pricing listed for all activities in the section below.
Kayaking works very similar to how tubing works. Call ahead just to make sure they are actually allowing rentals, but be prepared to bring your own kayak if you want to follow through. You can enter at the tube drop off point and kayak down to the sister site.
It will be difficult to paddle upstream because of the strong current in several areas. If you aren’t an experienced kayaker I would plan on taking a car ride back up to your site.
Each cabana and covered picnic table has its own BBQ pit you can use to cook up some of your favorite camping meals. They are charcoal only though, so make sure you have what you need to get your fire started.
All the spots have a hammock you can lay in while waiting for your meal to finish. With a sleeping bag for your hammock, you could spend the whole night under the Texas stars.
The grills themselves are large and should fit enough food for a group of about 8 people. I misjudged my lighter fluid situation and didn’t have enough to get my charcoal started but I talked with the staff and they let me borrow theirs! There’s also a store nearby I’ll talk more about in another section below.
I’m not sure how much luck you’re going to have in these waters but Son’s River Ranch allows you to bring your fishing poles and throw a few casts to see if you can have fresh fish fillets for lunch or dinner.
Best times for this are going to be early in the morning or when it starts getting dark because that is when you won’t have anyone in the waters and it will be safe enough to throw out your lures. Not to mention all the moving bodies will be scaring away any potential fish during the day.
There’s one cornhole station with some beanbags that you and your group can take over for a short while. If you’re not familiar, cornhole is a game where you have two small wood structures that are set up about 10 feet away from each other.
They have small circular holes in the middle and the goal is to stand at one end and throw your beanbag into the hole at the other end. Surprisingly fun when you’re hanging out in the beautiful scenery of the San Marcos River.
Rental Cost and Details
Hours: M-S 10:30 am – 6:30 pm / F-S 7:30pm – 10:30 pm
Phone Number: (877) 577-7667
Prices are going to vary pretty wildly throughout the seasons. The summer months are the most popular and is where you will have the highest prices. Especially during any kind of holiday or weekend. Spring/fall months are cheaper but you will still find that prices will vary depending on the day you choose like Thursday vs. Saturday.
Below is a screenshot where you can see the different months and days available on the Son’s River website for renting their different options.
Cabana Day Rentals
Rentals for any of the 22 day cabanas will start at 10:30 am and end at 6:30 pm so you get a full 8 hours with your rental. They have actual palm leaf roofs and include a hammock, lounge chairs, BBQ pit, extra seating, a bar top and stools.
Your rental automatically includes up to 8 people to join but you can add up to 15 people at $10-$25 per additional person depending on the week and season. Like I mentioned above the prices will vary for each season and the specific day of the week you want to go. Below are some prices I pulled from the website for September.
Cabana Day Rental Prices:
- Friday – $99
- Saturday – $198
- Sunday – $145
Cabana Evening Rental
The evening rental includes all the same features of the day rental like BBQ pit, lounge chairs, bar top and more. The only major difference is that the evening rental will start at 7:30 pm and last till 10:30 pm.
If you rent an overnight tent then it will automatically come with an evening cabana rental and hopefully it will be right next to each other for convenience. The price for the evening cabana is significantly lower than the day rentals but unless you live close by you are probably not going to want to pack everything up and drive all the way to the site for only 3 hours of fun. Then you have to pack everything up and drive home.
Evening Cabana Rental Prices:
- Friday – Sunday – $60
Covered Picnic Tables
All of the 19 covered picnic tables on land have a large canopy to provide some crucial shade so you can enjoy your time outdoors. The picnic tables come with a BBQ pit, 2 reclining chairs, 2 wicker chairs, a coffee table, and side table.
There are also 17 picnic tables with canopies that are located in the actual water. These are not for rent though and anyone can claim these spots for themselves.
In between the water picnic tables and those on land are a set of two chairs and an umbrella. These are not for rent either and anyone can grab a spot and relax next to the water. There’s about 20 sets of these chairs and umbrellas.
You’re able to bring up to 6 people for each picnic table rental but you can also bring two extra people for an additional cost per person. Below are prices I have pulled from the website for the month of September
Picnic Table Prices:
- Friday – $49
- Saturday – $79
- Sunday – $69
Son’s River Ranch did not offer shuttles for tubing when we went but they do mention on their website that you can talk with them to set up an Uber to pick you up and drive you back to your site.
They also could not rent any tubes to individuals but what they will do is sell you a tube for the price of a rental. Not only do you get to tube but you can actually keep it for another day.
I mentioned above a couple ways of tubing in the San Marcos River for you and your group. One way is to head to the north side of the river and coast down till you reach the other end. A short float but you can also do it as many times as you want.
The other way is to bring two cars and set up a system so that one car is waiting for you when you float all the way to the sister site, about 2-3 hours away. Then drive everyone back up in a single car.
No children under 3 years of age are able to have their own kayak or tube for obvious reasons and all minors under 13 are highly encouraged to wear a life jacket or PFD. For the most part the waters are calm but a few areas of the float can have some strong currents.
You can bring pretty much whatever you want on your float but glass containers and styrofoam coolers are not allowed because of Texas law.
Kayaking works very similar but Son’s River is not offering any rentals for kayaks at this point. You will need to bring your own if this is your preferred method of floating on the river. The prices below were pulled from their website for the month of September.
- Tubes (buy to own) – $25
- Uber – $25
- Kayak 1 person (unavailable) – $30
- Kayak 2 person (unavailable) – $40
One of the more unique aspects (and safest) of Son’s River Ranch is the overnight glamping tents you can rent out. You don’t want to have to drive all the way back home after a long day of water activities and drinking.
There are 16 different 14’x9’ tents set up along the north side of the site that are back to back with their cabana counterparts. Cabanas 17-22 don’t actually have any tents nearby so if you want to easily transition from your cabana to your tent at the end of the day you will need to reserve a cabana in the 1-16 range.
The tents include 2 queen size cot mattresses that would fit any couple, 2 bed side tables, 2 powerful fans, 2 lanterns, and an extension cord. But you’re going to have to bring your own sheets, blankets, and pillows which I honestly prefer.
You can officially start glamping at 7:30 pm and checkout is 10:00 am and the staff will place a card with your name on your tent when you arrive. This shows that you have reserved the tent and when they have cleaned everything at 7:30 you can start to move in for the night.
The transition out of the cabanas and into the tents from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm isn’t an organized affair by any means. No one provides much information about what is going on but I will say the staff was very nice when I needed their help. We had to change tents because a group was going to be in the cabana next to our tent for the entire night. We didn’t know that. And when we changed tents so we could use our rented evening cabana we ended up by another group that happened to party well past midnight which made for a terrible sleeping experience.
The cots are hard to sleep in as well if you aren’t used to it. My partner had a hard time getting comfortable because there is always a middle pole in double sized cots. This can create a slant at the bed sides because they can get caught in between the poles and you might feel like you’re falling out all night. What you could do is bring your own lightweight sleeping pad to even out the slant for a better night’s sleep.
Overall I would say the tents are not the highlight of the stay but they are great for avoiding a long drive home after a long day. And you get an evening cabana included where you can grill some dinner. The prices below are pulled from their website for the month of September
- Friday – $139
- Saturday – $149
How Does It Work?
You have several options when you are looking to have a unique experience at Son’s River Ranch. You can rent a cabana for the day or evening, you can rent a covered picnic table, or you can rent a glamping tent overnight that comes with an evening cabana.
In order to book these rentals you can either go to their website or you can try calling. If you are booking through the site they recommend using a desktop browser because it will show the available dates in green.
When you turn off onto the dirt road you will need to drive down about half a mile to get to the site. You will see signs along the way to reassure you.
Once you get your option booked you should receive confirmation emails about your booking that will include important information about their rules and policies. You don’t need to print these out but I would screenshot them on your phone for easy reference because when you drive out to the river you might not have great reception.
When you get to the site you will drive up to a staff employee who will ask for the name on the account and confirm the type of rental you’ve booked. Then he will guide you to exactly where your rental is going to be located.
Once you drive down the initial hill you can pull up right to your site and unload all of your belongings right next to your cabana.
You will be required to park in the dirt lot that is further up on the hill behind the cabanas and tents. There aren’t any official spots so you will need to make your own space. If you need to go to your car for any reason you could be in for a decent walk to the parking lot and back depending on where your rental is. Sites 17-22 are the furthest from the parking lot.
Once you get settled in it’s time to enjoy yourself and forget about your worries. Day rentals end at 6:30 so when you time is up you simply pack everything up into the car and head out. Because there is an evening rental option for cabanas and tents the staff will come by and clean out and wipe down all the cabanas that were used during the day.
If you have a day cabana rental and a tent rental then more than likely your tent will be right behind your cabana so you can easily transition and even set it up earlier in the day.
When we went our cabana was #20 so we didn’t have a tent by ours. The staff puts a name on each tent rental to reserve it for the evening but it’s not officially available till after 6:30. This process was actually pretty confusing for us and wasn’t very organized.
Our tent happened to be by a cabana where the group rented it out for the evening. So we didn’t originally have a cabana right by our tent which was a pretty big bummer and the group next to our tent was pretty loud.
We ended up asking a staff member if we could change our tent and cabana to an open slot that wasn’t being used and they allowed us without any issues. It really saved the trip because we were not enjoying being by a loud cabana group and we also didn’t fully understand how the process worked. Talk to the staff if you have issues and they may be able to help out.
What Should You Bring?
This is going to depend on exactly how long you stay and what makes an outdoor experience a good time for you. We brought an entire cooler full of food and drinks, small speaker for music, water gear, sun protection, grilling materials, sleeping gear, and extra clothes.
If you’re staying overnight, bring a headlamp or camping flashlight so you can navigate around camp without any problems. Even though you have a large tent to stay in, if you plan on sleeping in the hammock overnight you’ll want to bring a bug net to keep you covered.
The below is what Son’s River Ranch has on their website:
Water shoes to protect your feet, beach towels, charcoal, lighter fluid, BBQ utensils, ice, ice chest, favorite drinks and food, bug repellent and a smile – it’s time to have some fun!
There are some nearby stores listed you can grab essentials from if you or your group needs anything last minute in the next section.
The corner of FM 20 and the San Marcos Highway is where you’ll find the closest spots to help you out in a pinch. But if you are looking to try some local spots you wouldn’t normally get a chance to try then I recommend heading into Luling which has the closest local restaurants worth their salt. And Lockhart isn’t too far away either.
Frank’s Place – 5 minutes away – At the corner of the San Marcos Highway and FM 20 is Frank’s Place. It’s a BBQ joint that also has some good southern cooking like fried catfish and chicken fried steak. Ask anyone what their favorite dish is here and you’ll get a different answer every time. Everything is good.
Original City Market BBQ – 15 minutes away – One of the favorites of Luling, the Original City Market BBQ has a menu that reminds you of what restaurants in the 1950’s used to look like. Brisket, ribs, and sausage are the big players and they have an assortment of classic sides to choose from. If you’re looking for BBQ and can’t make it to Lockhart this is your next best bet.
Daya’s Snow Cones – 15 minutes away – It’s hard to top a relaxing day at the San Marcos River in a cabana but a drop by Daya’s Snow Cones will help you understand why this is a must on your trip to Son’s River Ranch. You ask and they’ll make it for you with any of their dozen plus flavors.
Sac N Pac – 5 minutes away – Your typical gas station convenience store with snacks, drinks, gas, and other essentials you might need for your camping experience.
Family Dollar Store – 5 minutes away – If you’ve never been to a family dollar they provide a larger range of options than the Sac N Pac and will provide anything from clothing to celebration cards to medicine and more. It’s a discount chain as you might have guessed from the name so you will find lower than average prices and lesser known brands.
H-E-B – 15 minutes away – If you live in the southern area of Texas there is a good chance you’ve been to an H-E-B. The grocery chain from San Antonio will have any food or drink choice you need and pretty much any other essential products you’ve missed on your outdoor checklist.
Ascension Seton Edgar B. Davis Hospital – 17 minutes away – Located in the town of Luling, the Ascension hospital is the closest one in case of an emergency. The reviews aren’t great but when you need medical help they have the proper equipment and staff to be able to take care of you.
Central Texas Medical Center – 25 minutes away – Located in San Marcos this is going to be a step up from the Luling hospital but is also an extra 10 minutes away. If you’re not in as big of an emergency it might be better to take the extra time to head here.
Guadalupe Regional Medical Center – 27 minutes away – The farthest away but also the highest rated in the area this is going to be the best option for your medical needs. The problem is that it is a full half hour away and if you need the help in a tight situation this might not work for you.
- There are porta potties located all throughout the site so you don’t have to bring your own camping toilet. There’s only one for all cabanas in the 17-22 range and I would say about 4 or 5 more for the rest of the cabanas.
- Bring some water shoes with you on the trip. There are rocky areas that don’t feel good on your feet right around the tube drop off point and near the south end of the river.
- Don’t forget your sunscreen! Sunburn is one of the biggest day after bummers about having a great trip in the outdoors in South Texas. Not to mention the health implications.
- Drink lots of water! It might seem odd to be in water all day and still be dehydrated but that is exactly what can happen if you don’t bring and drink tons of water during your trip.
- Son’s River recommends bypassing or avoiding any of the ropes, bridge, swings, trees, cliffs, and other high-risk ventures for their own safety.
- There are no lifeguards or fences or signs that will warn you of any danger. Safety is going to be you and your group’s responsibility. The bottom of the river can pose certain danger too so just make sure you’re taking precaution.
- Within 24 hours of making the original booking: 95% refund or credit
More than 15 days notice prior to the booking date: 90% refund or credit
Between 7 and 14 days prior to the booking date: 50% refund or credit
Less than 7 days notice prior to the booking date: No refund or credit
Same day reservation – no refund will be given (less than 7 days)
- Rain-checks are given if it actually rains on the day of your reservation enough to warrant Son’s River Ranch to cancel. This is at their discretion though and even if the forecast calls for rain this will not be a reason for rain-checks to be given. Rain-check amounts will be for the exact dollar amount of the original reservation. Any credit will not be refunded and any difference must be paid.
- Right around sunset I was setting up my tent and I noticed a small crowd gathering close to my cabana. I went to check it out and it turns out there was a snake slowly coming towards the cabana! Everyone else was just watching it so I took off looking for staff who might be able to hand it but at this point I didn’t see anyone. So I had to battle off a snake with a long branch someone handed me and forced the snake back into the water. I didn’t hear of any actual accidents but keep an eye out at night for any critters that might make their way towards your site.
- The staff have a trailer that someone attends pretty much throughout the whole day. You can purchase a tube from them or ask any general questions. I borrowed some lighter fluid from them at one point. There are maybe 3-5 staff total for the whole site so you won’t get a ton of support but we didn’t need any once we were settled.
Son’s River Ranch Summary
Son’s River Ranch is a fantastic idea for us Texans who desperately need a break from the summer heat and don’t want to always go to the same watering holes or have to set up everything ourselves. BBQ, swimming, hammocks, tubing, and more can make it feel like summer camp for the whole family. The tents aren’t the most comfortable sleeping option and you might end up next to a noisy neighbor but to at least have an option like this is extremely valuable. Large groups should stick with a full cabana rental but smaller groups can get by just fine with a covered picnic table. I recommend Son’s River Ranch for families or for friend groups looking for a unique experience during those hot months.