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ABUNDANT adventures



Becharmed by the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, New Braunfels punches above its weight class with outdoor fun. Abuzz with revelers and lined with cypress trees, the streams attract tubers and launch visitors around Schlitterbahn West. But the city is more than a water wonderland. Once you’ve dried off, stroll through historic Gruene or the awe-inspiring Natural Bridge Caverns. Or wander by the German-themed festivals like Wurstfest and explore a charming downtown at Wassailfest. Check out why you should add New Braunfels to your travel plans in 2024.


Not all donuts are glazed. Some are inflatable inner tubes, hitched together with rope, gliding groups over the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. Many outfitters offer parking lots and shuttle rides for a fee, with tubes and other necessities also for rent. Bring your tube to dip into the river’s varied access points and keep cold drinks at hand with small coolers with a top (no foam) for netted tubes. Floats range from one to four hours long, depending on entry and exit points.


Get ready to shimmy to the chicken dance — originally called Der Ententanz. At Wurstfest, you’ll hear nonstop music by German bands over multiple stages and see lots of lederhosen and dirndls. Der Ententanz is a favorite and gets tons of audience participation from kids and adults. Alpine hats also make a heavy appearance, pinned with long, colorful feathers and tons of little metal pins. A few Oktoberfest and Dunkels are available at Das bar (Prost!), of course, but this festival also features a craft area for tons of fantastic local souvenirs, a small carnival, and a kid’s entertainment area.

Literally a sausage fest, Wurstfest history goes back to 1961, when, according to the festival’s website, the city meat inspector honored links with a special event. Now a yearly ten-day party, the celebration features heaps of sausages in different styles served on a stick or with a pretzel. To complete the feast, vendors offer savory treats like potato pancakes with applesauce, pork chops on a stick, and even delicious German pastries for dessert.


Opened in 1979, the flagship Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels boasts 70 acres of thrilling water luges, boogie boards, twisty slides, relaxing swim-up bars, lazy rivers, heated pools, kiddie areas, and more. Fed by spring water from the Comal River on the original West Section of the park, the entire playground is a tidal wave of family-friendly fun. Visit Blastenhoff, Surfenburg, and Tubenbach in the East Section of the park for the newest rides and book a stay right in the Schlitterbahn resort to get day passes to the park included in your nightly rate. The park usually opens after the first week in April.


The underground caverns at Natural Bridge are breathtaking. It’s a little humid, and the air thins slightly, but that’snotwhatwemean.Chambersas big as ballrooms should impress even the most unreachably cool teenagers, and the massive formations are a must- see. Kids love the Twisted Trails Zip Rails and Ropes Course.


Founded in the 1870s, this tiny cotton town fell victim to the boll weevil’s insatiable appetite for the crop by the 1920s. The Great Depression compounded Gruene’s woes, leaving it a shell of its former self. Revived in the 1970s by University of Texas students who used the historic dance hall to draw people in and protect the historic structures — both business and residential — Gruene is now a popular trip back in time through antique architecture while featuring modern shopping, dancing, and dining.

Grab a bite to eat at the site of the old cotton gin, Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar, and then walk over to Gruene Hall, the historic dance hall, for a night two-stepping or just listening to singer-songwriters. Over the years, more than just a few famous musicians have played the hall, including Lyle Lovett, Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen, and Lucinda Williams. Stay the night at the Gruene Mansion Inn and then browse boutiques.


If you haven’t gleaned it yet, New Braunfels is proud of its German heritage. Downtown is a feast for the eyes with murals, restored historic buildings, and preserved architecture. Visit for annual community events like May’s Wein and Saengerfest or December’s Wassailfest. First Fridays offer great shopping, antiques, and accessories. Diverse dining destinations like Krause’s Cafe and Mcadoo’s Seafood Company have recently earned praise from food critics.

New Braunfels could be your quick day trip or full weekender, serving heaps of outdoor adventure, German- themed food festivals, and old-school charm. At just under 200 and 250 miles east of Houston and south of Dallas, respectively, this piece of the Hill Country is a unique and fast-growing city worth a visit.


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