New Braunfels and Gruene, Texas

Where German heritage gets served up Texas-style.
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Where German heritage gets served up Texas-style.
braunfels

Day 1:Naegelin’s Bakery opened in 1868 and has been serving its goods ever since. Grab a bite and enjoy the morning in the Main Plaza, established in 1845 when Prince Carl of Germany’s Solm-Braunfels region founded the town. Then, score some early-bird deals at the Red Rooster Antique and Design Center. New Braunfels is full of antiquing opportunities and its history lives on at the Sophienburg Museum, where visitors can join Prince Carl on his arduous journey to build a new life on the edge of Indian Territory. Understandably, you may need to follow up your eventful morning with a relaxing afternoon in Landa Park—it has something for everyone. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling through in November, the park is also host to the world-renowned Wurstfest, where German food, music, and beer flow for days. If not November, check out the Brauntex Theatre in December and January when Hal Ketchum and The Oak Ridge Boys grace the stage.

Day 2: Starting in March, New Braunfels and its rivers become a waterman’s paradise. The 70-acre Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort has been voted the world’s best waterpark for 16 years. If you’re looking for a more natural way to enjoy the water, head to Tube Haus to float its famous Horseshoe Loop. Or, you can always just enjoy the views of the water from your saddle when riding with The Farmyard Trail Rides in Bulverde—they can take care of the whole crew, as can the Natural Bridge Caverns, which offer tours through one of Texas’s largest caverns.

Day 3: After such an exhausting Day 2, park the car and enjoy Gruene’s Historic District—you can walk everywhere. Begin your day at Gruene Coffee Haus, and then hit the shops on Hunter Road. No doubt, you’ll find that special something at Texas Homegrown, Lone Star, or Cotton Eyed Joe’s. Wine tastings are available at Winery on the Gruene, or catch some weekend tunes at Oma Gruene’s Secret Garten. For dinner, the Gristmill River Restaurant is a must, as is its signature Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie. But for a real treat, top off your evening with a jaunt to Gruene Hall; built in 1878, it is Texas’s oldest continuously operating dance hall and is where the likes of George Strait and Lyle Lovett cut their teeth as up-and-comers. This December, don’t miss the legendary Jerry Jeff Walker or the new Texas phenom, Aaron Watson.