Located in Central Texas, New Braunfels offers lots of outdoor recreation, like tubing and splashing. From one of the best waterparks in the U.S. to the beautiful and serene Comal River to the parks in between, New Braunfels features lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors. During your stay, sample some German-inspired cuisine, like sausages and potato salad. Located nearby, the quaint town of Gruene is a hamlet along the shores of the Guadalupe River with the oldest dance hall in Texas. If you are looking for more inspiration, here is the Best 3-Day Itinerary for New Braunfels.
The Best 3 Day Itinerary for New Braunfels
Get going early and grab a quick breakfast. I suggest a bakery since New Braunfels is known for its bakeries.
For a quick breakfast, 2tarts Bakery offers a blend of savory and sweet baked goods. From its cinnamon rolls to scones, diners choose from several sweet options. It also serves a daily quiche, frittata and pigs in a poncho (pig in a blanket).
For snacks later in the day, 2tarts Bakery sells assorted scratch cookies like Almond Thumbprints, Drop Cookies like Chocolate Chip along Macaroons. Its cupcakes are swoon-worthy with lots of flavors, including vegan options.
This is a go-to for a cake on the go for birthday parties and other celebrations.
Located at 139 N. Castell Ave. #300 in New Braunfels. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Beat the summer heat in New Braunfels at Schlitterbahn along the shores of the Comal River. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
If it’s warm outside then the best place to be is in the cool water in New Braunfels. My favorite place to splash and scream is Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
As one of the oldest water parks in Texas, there are a lot of ways to enjoy a summer day. In fact, it’s really two water parks connected by a shuttle bus.
The Original Section of Schlitterbahn opened in 1979 and uses the spring-fed water from the Comal River. This part of the park is a favorite with multi-generational groups and my personal favorite.
Its water rides include a series of water chutes that rides use a traditional black inner tube. The rides venture down small falls and twists. As a bonus, the majority of this part of Schlitterbahn is shaded by century-old Cypress trees.
In addition to tube rides, Schlitterbahn features water slides and pools for lounging (including swim-up bars). For those looking for more screaming than splashing, then head to Schlitterbahn East. Packed with all the latest in water rides, kids run from one side to another.
Schlitterbahn Waterpark allows personal coolers, packed with snacks and drinks. This a nice budget bonus for families. The parking is free also.
Located at 400 N. Liberty Ave. Advance tickets offer the best rates. Open every day during the summer and hours vary. Weekends only during the late spring and early fall.
Muck and Fuss
After a day in the water, a burger and beer are a great way to end it. For some of the best burgers in town, head to Muck and Fuss.
In the shadow of the Prince Solms Inn, Muck and Fuss makes the best burgers and fries in town. During my visit, we started with its truffle fries, perfect fries with lemon aioli, parmesan cheese and green onions. If not your jam, then it offers several versions of its signature fries.
Most come to Muck and Fuss for its burgers. It serves a 1/2 pound patty made with Dean & Peeler Ranch beef. During my visit, my kids had the All-American Burger. I sampled the Havarti Jam, with caramelized onions and bacon jam.
Other top items include its signature shakes, served kid-friendly and boozy. For adults, its selection of craft brews is excellent.
Located at 295 E. San Antonio. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Paddling the Comal River
After a day at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, travelers can explore the wilds of the Comal River. Cutting through downtown New Braunfels, the Comal River is spring-fed. Its springs are located in Landa Park and its clear waters are a favorite for recreational tubing.
To protect the waters of the Comal River, the City of New Braunfels enforces a no single-use plastic policy. Visitors using the Comal River will need to use reusable containers for both food and drinks. There is also a size limit for coolers. For more information, visit its webpage.
Before spending the day on the water, grab a good breakfast.
Union Station Diner
With its train memorabilia decorating the walls, this local favorite is a must for a leisurely breakfast. It serves American breakfast favorites, like pancakes as big as the plate. Its menu features one page dedicated to its omelettes.
For lunch, the Union Station Diner serves sandwiches, burgers and lunch specials, like Chicken Fried Steaks. It offers a kid’s menu for both breakfast and lunch.
Located 512 E San Antonio St. in New Braunfels. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Expect a wait for busy weekends.
Float the Comal
I’ve been floating rivers for years. For the best experience, use an outfitter. They will rent you tubes and then provide transportation to and from the Comal River.
The average float takes about 2 to 3 hours with just a bit of paddling. The Comal offers deeper water for swimming and shallower water that floaters can touch the bottom.
There are also three chutes along the route so all tubers need to know how to swim. Weak swimmers and kids under 8 need to wear light jackets.
The first chute near Prince Solms Park features lifeguards during busy times of the year.
Rockin R River Rides
To tube the shortest river in Texas, we used Rockin R River Rides for our tubes and transportation to the Comal River. It rents out several types of tubes and we choose the traditional black tubes with a plastic bottom. These protect riders from scrapes if the tube drags the bottom of the river. It also rents out the tubes with cup holders.
The staff at Rockin R River Rides showed us what we needed to know for our trip (like where to exit). Then we loaded up in its van for the quick ride to Prince Solms Park.
Afterward, we found the van at the last public Comal River exit and rode it back to our car.
Located at 193 S. Liberty St. Open daily during the season from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Transportation and a tube is $25 per person.
Prince Solms Park tubing entrance in New Braunfels. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
Prince Solms Park
One entry point for Comal River floats is Prince Solms Park. It offers lots of shaded areas to picnic along with space for running around.
The City Chute at Prince Solms Park is a water slide carved into the side of the New Braunfels Comal River dam. It is a favorite for tubers.
Located at 100 Liebscher Dr. Parking in Prince Solms Park is $20 per vehicle from May 1 to Labor Day. The river remains open for recreation year-round. Tube and life jacket rental is available at the park though no transportation.
Find a spot at one of Krause’s Biergarten for a local brew and a plate of German classics. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
Krause’s Biergarten and Café
After a day of sliding and splashing, diners can sit down at a long table in a traditional German Biergarten. Krause’s Biergarten features a hall with soaring ceilings draped with flags. Grab a spot at one of the endless long tables then 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. The menu offers German classics paired with Texas favorites, like burgers and schnitzel. For those looking for a lighter meal, it offers salads. There are lots of appetizers for those who would like to snack and sample its beer selection.
Outside the hall, find an outdoor space with a stage for 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, Open Sunday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Paddling the Comal River at night in a clear kayak with Paddle TX. credit: Catherine Parker
Glow Ride with Paddle TX
During our day float on the Comal River, we looked above the water, taking in the scenery. Though it was hard to see under the water’s surface.
We arranged a nighttime clear kayak tour with Paddle TX. It provided clear polyacrylic tandem kayaks along with a guide. The clear-hulled kayaks allowed us to see under the water’s surface.
In addition, each clear kayak is outfitted with LED lights. This lights up the water under the kayak for better aquatic viewing.
During our tour, we saw Guadalupe Bass, Crawfish along with lots of smaller fish that gathered under the kayak. I even saw a small turtle rooting at the bottom of the Comal River.
Above water, I saw several Blue Herons flying overhead. This trip is a must for those interested in marine life and birds along the Comal River. We had the river to ourselves and the experience was quite relaxing and educational.
Paddle TX requires everyone to know how to swim and kids must be 6-years-old to participate. The same rules apply for single-use so pack a reusable water bottle for this trip. The weight limit for each kayak is 425 pounds. This tour is a smooth water tour.
Paddle TX limits its tour to six kayaks with 12 kayakers and private tours can be arranged. Tours are $45 per person.
The Landa Park miniature train is a crowd-pleaser. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker
After spending two days riding the chutes and waves of Schlitterbahn, explore the city parks in New Braunfels. First stop, grab some breakfast at a local favorite.
Head over to the local favorite, Buttermilk Café. It serves hearty portions of family favorites and the biscuits are tender and soft. It also serves up large salads for lunch along with serious sandwiches.
Located at 1324 East Common Street. Open Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. serving breakfast all day.
Landa Park Miniature Train
My kids are teens and tweens but we still ride all the miniature trains we can find. For $5 a person, take the train to tour Landa Park.
Open every day from 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 from September to May.
Landa Park Aquatic Center
Landa Park offers an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 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. This is how kids used to keep it cool back before air-conditioning.
Open daily from Memorial Day to mid-August, 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 for 3 and younger, add $2 for each on weekend days.
Landa Park Boathouse
Take a boat ride with the kids, there are paddle boats at the Landa Park Boathouse.
Open daily from Memorial Day to mid-August and Spring Break in March from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Boat rental is $5 per passenger. Open weekends only mid-May to Memorial Day and mid-August to Labor Day.
Gruene Historic District
Take a stroll along the streets of the Gruene Historic District. With two main streets and a convenient free parking area, it’s an easy area to explore on foot.
The authentic Gruene General Store is a good place to start, with its amazing selection of treats including fudge and old-fashioned candy. It is located at 1610 Hunter Road.
Adults might want to stop at The Grapevine, a wine-tasting room with an outdoor patio area at 1612 Hunter Road.
Visitors can continue shopping in restored buildings, like specialty clothing shops and antiques. There is also Gruene Antique Company at 1607 Hunter Road and Gruene Outfitters, a specialty shop for outdoor sports at 1629 Hunters Road.
On Gruene Road, visitors will find the Gruene Mansion Inn. Originally built by one of the town’s founders, it’s an 1872 Eastlake Victorian. It is located at 1275 Gruene Road.
Grist Mill Restaurant
In the shadow of the Gruene Water Tower, the Grist Mill Restaurant sits on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River. As the remnants of an 1878 cotton gin, this open-air restaurant opened in 1977.
Most diners request a table on its shaded multi-level patio. Though a few tables are inside.
Its menu focuses on American classics so find salads and sandwiches, along with fish, chicken and beef entrees. Though my family always gravitates to the burgers and the Grist Mill onion rings. They are immense.
Located at 1287 Gruene Road. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Gruene Dance Hall
Soak up some authentic Texas vibes while in town. Gruene Hall is the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas.
With live music most nights find everything from 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. The venue offers an outdoor area with a stage too.
Located at 1281 Gruene Road. Open Monday through Wednesday from noon to 9 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. then Sunday from noon. to 8 p.m. Admission.
Where to Stay in New Braunfels
During one of my visits, I stayed at the Resort at Schlitterbahn. 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 used as a headboard. The bathroom features white subway tile with standard bath fixtures. 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 beaten.
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