Enjoy a getaway with German flavor in New Braunfels, halfway between Austin and San Antonio. Find lots of outdoor recreation, like tubing or kayaking. Then sample some German-inspired cuisine. Head to quaint Gruene, a hamlet along the shores of the Guadalupe River and home of the oldest dance hall in Texas. Read on for a three-day New Braunfels itinerary for families.
Three Day New Braunfels Itinerary for Families
Schlitterbahn Water Park–Day One
Start your getaway at the best water park in Texas. It’s so big, it’s hard to do it all in one day. It’s really two water parks connected.
If you decide to spend two days, head to the Original Section of Schlitterbahn for the first day. It opened 40 years ago and uses the spring-fed water from the Comal River. In a series of chutes, use a traditional black inner tube to explore throughout the park. As a bonus the majority of this park is shaded by century-old Cypress trees.
Schlitterbahn Water Park allows personal coolers, packed with snacks. And the parking is free. Open weekends during the spring and fall. And open every day during the summer. Located at 400 N. Liberty Ave. Admission and hours vary.
Note: The 2020 Season requires an advance reservation and purchase.
Krause’s Biergarten and Café
Note: Krause’s is temporarily closed. Check out its site for current conditions.
After a day of sliding and splashing, sit down at a long table in a traditional German Biergarten. Enter Krause’s Biergarten and find a hall with soaring ceilings draped with flags. Grab a spot at one of the endless long tables and the attentive staff will help you navigate the beer menu.
With a wall of beer tabs with local, seasonal or traditional German brews, the deciding isn’t easy. And for a bite to eat find a menu of German classics paired with Texas favorites.
Outside the hall, find an outdoor space with a stage for the frequent live music. For those needing to escape the heat, Krause’s offers an indoor space. Though I dined in the middle of summer and loved the outdoor space.
Located at 148 S. Castell Ave, Krause’s Biergarten and Café is open every day and serves breakfast. Open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Schlitterbahn Water Park–Day Two
Baking up goodies since 1868, Naegelins’ Bakery is a New Braunfels institution so start your second day at their bakery. German immigrants settled the area in the 1840s and soon after the bakery opened up shop. Now the oldest bakery in Texas and still at the same location in downtown New Braunfels.
With cases full of German favorites, try the Smiley Faces cookies in several colors. The Gingerbread men are a favorite and German pretzels offer a balance of sweet and spice.Its strudel is an old family recipe. Find sweet and savory kolaches too.
Located at 129 S. Seguin Ave, Naegelin’s Bakery is open Monday to Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Sundays during the school year.
Another day and another water park to explore. After spending the first day tubing old-school at Schlitterbahn West head to Schlitterbahn East. Packed with all the latest in water rides, kids run from one side to another.
Broken up in parts–Blastenhoff and Surfenburg, Schlitterbahn packs in the rivers, slides, a wave pool and a boogie board attraction. With a pair of water coasters and the Boogie Bahn, a ride mimicking an ocean wave, the kids will be wiped out by the end of the day. Then take the longest river ride in the U.S. to get from one area to the next.
A free shuttle runs in-between the parks and park for free. If visiting for two days, consider a two-day pass.
Gruene Dance Hall
After splashing, soak up some authentic Texas vibes. Gruene Hall is the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas. With live music most nights find everything from a local acts to household names. Willie Nelson, George Strait, Garth Brooks and Lyle Lovett have all been on its stage.
Originally built in 1878, the building is still cooled by opening up the windows. Not much has changed with the bar in the front and the stage, dance floor and pool tables in the back. And the venue offers an outdoor area with a stage too.
Located at 1281 Gruene Road and open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. then Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Note: Closed through early July.
Explore the Parks of New Braunfels–Day Three
After spending two days riding the chutes and waves of Schlitterbahn, explore the city parks in New Braunfels. First stop, breakfast at a locals favorite.
Head over to the local favorite, Buttermilk Café. Get hearty portions of family favorites and the biscuits are tender and soft. Serving up large salads for lunch along with serious sandwiches.
Located at 1324 East Common Street. Open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. serving breakfast all-day. Pick-up available.
Landa Park Miniature Train
My kids are teens and tweens but we still ride all the miniature trains we can find. For $3 a person, take the train to tour Landa Park.
Open every day Memorial Day to mid-August, Spring Break in March, Thanksgiving Break and Christmas Break from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Open weekends only in September and May.
Landa Park Boathouse
Take a boat ride with the kids, find paddle boats at the Landa Park Boathouse. Open daily from Memorial Day to mid-August and Spring Break in March. Admission is $3 per passenger. Open Monday through Thursday from noon to 7 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Open weekends only from late March to the end of May and mid-August to Labor Day.
Landa Park Aquatic Center
Landa Park offers a Olympic-sized swimming pool, a free spring-fed wading pool along with a bathhouse. Though the spring-fed pool is tops for cooling off.
Landa Park’s Spring-Fed Pool
The Comal Springs feed the pool originally built in the early 1900s. Now it includes a two-story slide and water depth from zero-entry to 9-feet. See how kids used to keep it cool back before air-conditioning.
Open daily from Memorial Day to mid-August from noon to 7 p.m. And open weekends only from mid-May to Memorial Day and mid-August until Labor Day. Weekday adult admission $6, kids 3 to 12 $5 and free under 3 and add $2 for each on weekend days.
Prince Solms Park
Note: 2020 river parks in New Braunfels are closed.
Visit The City Chute at Prince Solms Park for an authentic New Braunfels experience. It’s a water slide carved into the side of the New Braunfels Comal River dam.
Located at 100 Liebscher Dr. the park’s tubing rentals are open from the first week of May until Labor Day. Admission is $5 per person with tube and life vests rentals available. Open Monday from noon to 7 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Parking in Prince Solms Park is $20 per vehicle from May 1 to Labor Day. The river remains open for recreation year-round.
Walking the Gruene Historic District
After visiting Gruene Hall for an evening show head back to the area during the day to stroll and shop. With two main streets and a convenient free parking area, it’s an easy area to explore on foot.
Start at The Grapevine, a wine tasting room with an outdoor patio area on Hunter Road. Continue to the authentic Gruene General Store, with an amazing selection of treats including fudge and old-fashioned candy.
Then head for the Gruene water tower near the entrance of the Grist Mill restaurant. Then continue down Gruene Road pass Gruene Mansion Inn Bed and Breakfast. Originally built by one of the town’s founders, it’s a 1872 Eastlake Victorian. Behind the main house, find additional historic buildings owned by the bed and breakfast.
Continue shopping in restored buildings, finding specialty clothing shops and antiques. Cross Gruene Road and loop back to Hunter Road to find Gruene Antique Company and Gruene Outfitters, a specialty shop for outdoor sports.
For art collectors, find The Barn Handmade Pottery on Gruene Road offering ceramics and fine arts from local artistis.
Where to Eat in Gruene
In the shadow of the Gruene Water Tower, find the Grist Mill Restaurant. On a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River, the Grist Mill is all that remains of a 1878 cotton gin. Enjoy American classics on the shady multi-level patio.
Or try Mozie’s Restaurant, across from Gruene Hall. The shoestrings fries are a top-notch. My kids loved the Adult Grilled Cheese.
Where to Stay in New Braunfels
During my visit, I stayed at the Resort at Schlitterbahn inside of the water park. I enjoyed a studio overlooking the Comal River with a kitchenette and a dining table for six.
Completely updated with vintage charm, my unit had two queen beds along with a sleeper sofa. Keeping its original windows and decorated with old photos from the park, I loved the old doors it features as headboards. And there’s even shiplap on an accent wall.
The bathroom features white subway tile with standard bath fixtures. And the kitchen offers everything to make simple meals for the family, like dishes and pots and pans. Along with the all important coffee maker find a full range and refrigerator too.
Outside find a picnic table with a BBQ pit to grill up your favorites. And the view can’t be beat.
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