Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, there’s a little city brimming with culture, plenty of waterside activities & scenic views, plus delicious eats. Welcome to New Braunfels, Texas! Founded in 1845 by German settlers, New Braunfels is ripe with old-world charm, and flourishes with the character of its German namesake, blended with Texas hospitality and beauty.
Truth be told, I always knew about New Braunfels solely for two things: the original Schlitterbahn waterpark and Wurstfest. And I’ll admit, that I only had previously been to the city for those two destinations, respectively. So, let me admit, that I was blown away by the abundance of character, variety of delicious restaurants and various activities (both in the water and not), that New Braunfels has to offer.
Want to feel like you’ve been transported to a different culture, yet still be in the great state of Texas? Then New Braunfels is the place for you. Less than 50 miles from Austin, 30 miles from San Antonio and 160 from my hometown of Houston, New Braunfels is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway anytime of year!
We had the pleasure of spending a weekend in New Braunfels, where we got to explore the local sights, eats and preview the new and refreshed Wurstfest grounds, just in time for their 60th anniversary! Whether you plan to visit for Wurstfest in November or float the river in the summer, there is truly something for everyone in New Braunfels. Keep on reading for a comprehensive New Braunfels travel guide; hope you’ll feel inspired to plan a getaway!
New Braunfels Travel Guide
Where to stay
One of my favorite parts of visiting small towns, is checking out local spots, including staying in quaint inns, boutique hotels or bed & breakfasts. We stayed at Sophie’s Gasthaus, a darling and tastefully remodeled and restored rental property, in the heart of downtown New Braunfels.
Originally built in 1906, the home is an absolute gem. Luxurious, with its newly renovated rooms and bathrooms, yet charing, with its original German architecture and character. I truly took photos of almost every inch of the property. I couldn’t get over the wavy glass windows, cast iron air & heat register grills on the floor and original transom windows with brass chain hardware (my architecture buffs will know what I’m referencing!).
The home is situated on a large plot of land with a pool and big yard. With six rooms, plus a suite and a hayloft unit, there’s a place for everyone. The common areas are spacious and tastefully appointed. We enjoyed coffee (from the butler’s pantry in-house coffee bar), on the front porch rocking chairs. Our stay in the Karbach room was just what we needed for a little rest and relaxation.
Where to eat
188 South // Farm to table recipes, with an Italian flair. An adorable spot with an extensive menu, plus a charming patio and centrally located in the heart of downtown New Braunfels.
Gourmage // A quaint little wine bar in the heart of downtown. We popped into this spot before dinner and split a small cheese board and each had a glass of wine. Low-key neighborhood spot!
McAdoos Seafood Company // The original New Braunfels post office is home to this creole seafood restaurant. A brunch, lunch and dinner staple in the downtown area.
Muck & Fuss // Craft beer and burgers, need I say more? Just make sure to get there early, or plan on waiting a bit for a table, as this spot is popular!
Naegelins Bakery // The oldest bakery in Texas! Dating back 1868, this spot bakes up a variety of strudel, pies and other delicious sweets. A must try simply for the traditional German strudel!
Union Station Diner // A small, but mighty breakfast and lunch spot! The building itself dates back to the early 1900s and was once home to Texas’ first drive-thru grocery store. Think your typical diner food, with tons of combinations and selections. Close to the river so you can eat before floating!
Wicked Voodoo Espresso // With a handful of spots around the city, Wicked Voodoo Espresso has the caffeine to give you a jolt! My drink was delicious! Locally roasted beans as well, love supporting local coffee shops.
I can’t share a New Braunfels travel guide without sharing more about Wurstfest! The first Friday of November, for 10 days, it’s a unique celebration filled with tasty food, music, carnival rides & games, and a whole lot of beer, make up this event rich in German culture. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021, Wurstfest is an annual tradition, that you most likely heard of or been to if you’ve lived in Central Texas!
My first visit to Wurstfest was back in college in 2012. I really had no idea what I was in for, except some sort of Bavarian festival, but boy was I surprised! Nestled on grounds situated next to the headwaters of the Comal River, attendees can experience the beauty of New Braunfels, coupled with the unique German culture dating back to the city’s original settlers.
With four stages, and over 40 bands, you might not be able to resist hitting the dance floor! But if dancing isn’t your thing, you can sample a variety of sausages and other Bavarian treats. Feel free to come dressed up in the traditional lederhosen, too! And if you don’t have that on hand, don’t worry, you can buy one of the traditional hats or headpieces on the grounds. Plus, Wurstfest is a huge supporter of local non-profits. Hope to see you there November 5-14, 2021! **Insider tip: for a less busy experience, visit during the weekdays!
What to do
Float the River // New Braunfels has TWO rivers that you can float when the weather is warm enough. Both the Comal and Guadalupe rivers are perfect for tubing and enjoying the sights with family and friends. The Comal is the shortest river in the US, just 2.5 miles long. It’s calm and clear spring waters are perfect for a relaxing tubing experience, along with snorkeling and diving. Meanwhile the Guadalupe has some exciting whitewater rapids, and float trips can be as long as 4-6 hours. You’ll need to rent tubes, and there are a variety of rules that you must follow per the city of New Braunfels. Checkout 444 Tubing Company and Whitewater Sports for tube rentals.
Greune Hall // One of the oldest dance halls in Texas, tucked in the historic town of Greune, Texas. Built in 1878, the 6000 square foot dance hall still features its original layout. This music venue has become a staple for upcoming and established singers and songwriters, including the likes or Pat Green, Chris Isaak or Willie Nelson.
Landa Park // This 51-acre park is situated in the heart of the Texas Hill Country that is New Braunfels. Try your hand at miniature golf, walk the Panther Canyon trail, let the kids play on the playground or take them on the miniature train!
Natural Bridge Caverns // Texas’ largest cave featuring a series of limestone formations. Take a cavern tour and experience other attractions like mining for gems or fossils.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch // Experience over 50 different species of wildlife, on this Texas-style safari experience. Drive-thru in your vehicle and see a variety of exotic animals or take the walking safari and visit the petting zoo.
Schlitterbahn // Since 1979, this waterpark has called the Texas Hill Country home. Right along the bank of the Comal River, and has been voted the number one waterpark for 22 years. A definite must visit for any family, just be sure to check the dates of operation online, because the park closes for off-season!
Texas Ski Ranch // An extreme water recreation complex, featuring water skiing and wakeboarding options with or without a boat!
Wineries & Vineyards // Visit a variety of Hill Country wineries like La Cruz De Comal, Winery on the Greune or Dry Comal Creek Winery & Vineyards for Texas or national varietals, unique vistas, and delicious sips.
This post is brought to you in partnership with the New Braunfels Convention & Visitors Bureau and Wurstfest.