New Braunfels is a top destination city of the Lone Star state, and for good reason—the cold spring rivers that wind through this Texas Hill Country town offer endless recreation, as do the exciting family-friendly attractions nearby. Settled by German immigrants, New Braunfels holds fast to its historic roots with plenty of traditional German fare, and even “Wurstfest”, a German sausage festival every November and Wassailfest every December. In a convenient location—30 miles northeast of downtown San Antonio and 48 miles southwest of Austin—the small-town charm of the city is a calm yet convenient refuge from big-city life, yet it offers so many exciting things to see and do that you might not ever want to leave.
Gruene Historical District is the gem of New Braunfels, and strolling through this postcard-worthy main street here feels like stepping back in time. Kick up your boots on the hardwood floors of legendary Gruene Hall, the oldest Texas dance hall, which has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson, George Strait, Townes Van Zandt, and more. Historic Gruene also boasts quaint B&Bs for a weekend getaway, with plenty of antique shopping and unbeatable cuisine—at local favorite the Gristmill, a former cotton gin, you can dine on upscale American fare on the scenic patio overlooking the river. For traditional German fare, try Alpine Haus, Friesenhaus, Krause’s Café, River Hofbrau, or Naegelin’s, the oldest German bakery in Texas. For some live music with an incredible view, check out the top-bill bands at Whitewater Ampitheater, set against the backdrop of the Guadalupe. On a low-key night, catch a play at Circle Arts Theater, or hop in the car for a classic movie night at Stars and Stripes Drive-in Theatre.
For outdoor fun, nothing beats the natural beauty of the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers that wind through the city and offer endless fun, whether for tubing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing. Adrenaline junkies will love the Texas Ski Ranch, where you can wakeboard, skateboard, water ski, or play paintball. For some good old-fashioned fun, Schlitterbahn Water Park is a Hill Country summer staple, with thrill slides, roller coasters, inland surfing, and more. Just down the road, take a drive-through safari at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, check out the creepy-crawlies at Animal World Zoo and Snake Farm, or re-enact your favorite Jurassic Park scenes at the space and dinosaur museum Spacetime Park.
New Braunfels, Texas—sure, it’s a perfect destination for a day trip or even a long weekend getaway, but with all its fun and small-town charm, why would you ever want to leave?