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Best Things to Do in New Braunfels with Kids

We recently hosted Our Sweet Adventures and her family on a visit to New Braunfels. This post is about their recent visit and is part of a paid partnership with the New Braunfels Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Published Wednesday, July 3, 2024 12:12pm

New Braunfels is one of the best Texas Hill Country and family-friendly destinations in Texas. There are so many fun things to do in New Braunfels with kids.

Get ready for a diverse range of family-friendly activities in New Braunfels. You can have a blast at one of the world’s best waterparks, relax on a river float, get up close with animals on an African safari, experience the thrill of an alpine coaster and a miniature train, marvel at the largest cavern in the state, and so much more.

My guide is more than a detailed list of the best things to do in New Braunfels with kids. It also includes the best place to stay and the best places to eat. Everything you need to know for your family trip to New Braunfels is here!

I hope you enjoy this Texas Hill Country family-friendly destination as much as we did.

A family with three boys walking across the street in front of the historic Greune Dance Hall in New Braunfels.

Full disclaimer –  I was invited by Visit in New Braunfels to feature the city. As always, my opinions are non-biased and my own. I want to thank everyone for following and supporting us on all of “Our Sweet Adventures.” 

Where to Stay in New Braunfels with Kids

Chances are, you are visiting New Braunfels to spend a day at Schlitterbahn, which is easily one of the best things to do with kids in New Braunfels. Therefore, I highly recommend you stay at The Resorts of Schlitterbahn.

Yes, Schlitterbahn is more than a waterpark. It’s an amazing resort! 

Ideally, you should spend two days at The Resort of Schlitterbahn because the park is like the waterpark version of Disney World—it is huge, and you can read more about it below.

The Resort at Schlitterbahn has several accommodation options within walking distance of the park, making your trip a breeze!  From standard hotel rooms to two-story condos, 5-bedroom vacation homes, cozy cabins, and luxury treehouse suites—The Resort at Schlitterbahn has it all!The exclusive perk of staying at Schlitterbahn is the early entry into the park, allowing you to make the most of your day. Additionally, you can enjoy resort amenities like an outdoor family movie night with s’mores, a playground, a volleyball court, and a pool.

Admission to the waterpark is not included during your stay at The Resort at Schlitterbahn unless you book a “stay and play” package.

Best Things to Do in New Braunfels with Kids

New Braunfels is a small city packed with fun things to do with kids and almost endless water attractions. Families can float the river, spend the day at an epic waterpark, swim at unique public parks, and play on a floating water obstacle course. 

A few “land” attractions include going on a safari drive, watching a movie at a drive-in, exploring caverns, discovering new things at a children’s museum, riding a miniature train, and more! You will surely find activities to enjoy with your family at New Braunfels. 

Ride the World’s First Water Coaster for Kids

A kid riding an orange-red waterslide at Schlitterbahn - one of the best things to do in New Braunfels with kids.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort is consistently one of the best waterparks in the country, making it the most popular thing to do in New Braunfels with kids. The flagship location is known for having the largest collection of water rides in the world, and the cool thing about it (no pun intended) is that Comal River’s natural spring water powers the rides. 

Everything is bigger in Texas, which holds true at Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort. The waterpark is so big that it’s two parks in one. There is a west (the classic) and an east (the new) side, and a complimentary shuttle to take you back and forth. 

Overall, there are four distinct sections (two at each side), and every section has a classic lazy river, a children’s area, signature attractions, and a swim-up bar because Schlitterbahn is for adults too! 

The Fur-Bidden Fort at Schlitterbahn, one of the best places for kids in New Braunfels.

The west side has Schatze’s Storybrook Park, a children’s area with three body slides, an aquatic playground, a toddler-friendly splash trail, and the world’s first water coaster for kids. The Bow Wow Blaster water coaster is a pint-sized version of Schlitterbahn’s famous Master Blaster for kids 36″ and taller.

A boy sliding down an octopus tentacle slide at Schlitterbahn New Braunfels.
A pirate ship waterscape at Kiddie Coast at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels.

Our favorite children’s area on the east side is Kiddie Coast. It is a vast, open-wading pool with a pirate ship, a yellow submarine, an octopus with slippery tentacle slides, and other fun water features.

Go on an African Safari

A giraffe walking within the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.

You do not have to travel by plane for an African safari. Instead, drive to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch and find a piece of Africa in the heart of Texas.

Spread across 500 acres in the picturesque Texas Hill Country, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is a haven for over 500 animals and more than 40 species from across the globe. From cheetahs to zebras, giraffes, white rhinoceros, ostrich, American bison, gazelles, squirrel monkeys, and lemurs—are just a few of the diverse wildlife you can see.

A zebra opening its mouth at a car with a mom holding her kids. A fun African safari experience at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a fun thing to do in New Braunfels with kids.

At Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, there are various ways to make the most of your safari adventure. The popular choice is a self-guided tour, where you can drive through the ranch in your own vehicle (allowing multiple entries with one admission). Don’t forget to purchase some food upon arrival to enhance your interaction with the animals!

Join a guided tour of the ranch to enhance your experience. The Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch rangers take visitors on an authentic African safari (Texas style) in a custom-built Safari Rover or Safari Shuttle. During your journey, the ranger will share knowledgeable information about each animal species and ways we can help protect them. 

For the ultimate experience, book the Giraffe VIP, which includes a private guided safari tour and a one-on-one encounter with a herd of giraffes. During your VIP tour, you will have a memorable experience feeding the giraffes and learning about the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch conservation efforts to ensure the survival of these gentle giants.

Explore the Largest Cavern in Texas

Natural Bridge Caverns —The largest cavern in Texas with a pool of water.

Next door to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is Natural Bridge Caverns, home to the largest cavern in Texas. There are several ways to discover the remarkable caverns. You can journey through the caverns on a group tour, go on a lantern tour to feel like the first explorers or delve deep into the caverns on an adventure tour.

Continue your adventure at Natural Bridge Caverns on the surface and enjoy family-friendly activities. Kids can pan for treasure, go on an aerial adventure 60 feet high on a zip rail obstacle course (there is also a smaller version for toddlers), find their way through a maze, and reach new heights on climbing structures.

Tip: I recommend visiting Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch first because the animals are more active in the morning. Moreover, if you visit during the summer, you can explore the caverns in the afternoon to beat the heat.

Ride an Alpine Coaster

A mom and boy enjoying one of the best things to do in New Braunfels - riding Camp Fimfo's alpine coaster.

Camp Fimfo is a premier camping resort nestled in the Texas Hill Country along the Guadalupe River. The resort has fully equipped cabins, RV sites, tent sites, and a plethora of amenities, such as an alpine coaster, water park, mini-golf, gem mining, a swimming hole, and more.Camp Fimfo is one of the best things to do in New Braunfels with kids because anyone can enjoy the resort activities! Camp Fimfo welcomes non-guests to enjoy all the resort amenities with a day pass. Additionally, you can book tickets for the Cliff Carver—one of the best things to do in New Braunfels with or without kids.

The Cliff Carver is the first alpine coaster in Texas. It is a gravity-propelled sled that zooms down the weaving track through the Texas country hillside at up to 25mph. It is so much fun that you will forget to enjoy the stunning scenery!

Float the River

Of course, a trip to New Braunfels is only complete with a float down the river! It is like a rite of passage, especially during the summer, but you can grab a tube and float the river year-round. 

This Texas bucket list activity is not just for college kids and partygoers. Floating the river is a family-friendly adventure. That said, to avoid a bustling party scene, plan your river float on weekdays or Sunday mornings to ensure a more serene and enjoyable experience for your family.

The Comal River has lifeguards on duty from May through August, has calmer water, and is 100% spring-fed with 72-degree, crystal-clear water. It also has the famous tube chutes!

Along the Comal River are three tube chutes to make the lazy river float a little more thrilling. So, hold on tight, and please read the safety guidelines thoroughly!

Safety first! The minimum age to float the Comal River is 4 years old. The tube chute is for children at least 8 years old and strong swimmers. There are entry and exit points to avoid the tube chutes. It is also highly recommended that weak swimmers and children under 8 years old always wear a life jacket during the river float.

Ride a Miniature Train

A miniature train to ride at Landa Park in New Braunfels, Texas.

Landa Park is an iconic 51-acre riverside park in New Braunfels. It is one of the most unique public parks in the country and is full of fun attractions, making it one of the best things to do with kids in New Braunfels.

At Landa Park, families can enjoy a picnic under giant oak trees, play on the playgrounds, rent paddle boats, ride the miniature train, play a round of mini golf, and swim at the aquatic complex.

The miniature train and aquatic complex are two of the most popular activities at Landa Park. The miniature train is a fun activity for all ages. The train conductor takes you on a journey through the park, where you can see deer, ducks, and scenic views of Landa Lake.

You can swim (or tube float) at the aquatic complex in a spring-fed pool, go down the epic Wet Willie, jump from a rope swing, and climb an overhead cargo net. Younger kids will enjoy the adjacent wading pool with a body slide, an aquatic treehouse playground, and a splash area. The aquatic complex also has an Olympic pool and a zero-depth pool with a slide for kids.

Discover, Learn, Play!

A boy spraying water at a castle from the McKenna Children's Museum.

McKenna Children’s Museum is easily one of the best things to do in New Braunfels with kids because who doesn’t love children’s museums? They are a great way to spend time indoors with kids, and McKenna Children’s Museum is one of the best ones we’ve ever been to. 

At McKenna Children’s Museum, children are not just playing, they are learning and expanding their horizons. The interactive exhibits and activities are designed to spark their imagination. Our children had a blast role-playing as bankers, electricians, doctors, and ranchers at the town square.

Another fun indoor exhibit is Destination Space, where you become a Space Cadent and enter a dark room with stars that literally make you feel like you are walking in space. There is also an expansive outdoor exhibit with a playground, rock climbing walls, and a water sensory table where kids can discover the physical properties of water.

Watch a Movie at the Drive-In

Step back in time to the 1950s and watch a movie at Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre. A nostalgic movie experience for everyone!

The Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre has several nightly feature films on three different screens and always includes one family-friendly movie.

You can’t enjoy a movie on an empty stomach, so get to Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre early and grab a bite to eat at their 50s Cafe. Order American classics like cheeseburgers, chicken strips, corndogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, funnel cakes, and more. Families will also enjoy the playground so kids can burn all their energy before the movie starts!

Before the movie begins, treat yourself to a milkshake, your favorite candy, and a popcorn box. Then, find your perfect parking spot and enjoy the show in the comfort of your car.

Dance the Night Away

The iconic Greune Dance Hall in New Braunfels, Texas.

Put on your cowboy hat and boots, and get ready to dance the night away with your kids! The Greune Hall is an iconic landmark and the oldest dance hall in Texas.

The Gruene Hall was built in 1878 and retains much of its original design. Live bands perform at the dance hall every day, some local and some famous. Perhaps you’ve heard of some past performers such as George Strait, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and the Dixie Chicks?

The dance hall is family-friendly and welcomes all ages. Trust me. There is something special about sharing a dance with your family at the Gruene Hall. So grab a cold one, hit the dance floor, enjoy the open-air beer garden, and create memories.

Play on a Floating Aquapark

Texas Ski Ranch is an exciting attraction for families in New Braunfels. You can hit the waves wakeboarding, throw an axe at the bullseye, play a paintball game, and have fun on the floating aquapark.

The floating aquapark is a fun adventure for everyone. Younger kids can enjoy small thrills on the low-profile play structures, while older kids and adults can fuel their adrenaline on the obstacle course and jump into the water from the giant floating platform.

Splash and Play at Fischer’s Park

A boy running through a water feature tunnel with a tipping bucket dropping water at Fischer's Park in New Braunfels, Texas.

One of the best free things to do in New Braunfels with kids is to visit Fischer’s Park. It is the city’s largest park and boasts various amenities for the public, such as the splash playground with a tipping bucket, a dinosaur dig, playscapes for all ages, a fishing pond, and more.

Operate a Train Track

The New Braunfels Railroad Museum is another fun and free attraction for kids (but donations are welcome). Adults will find some displays of artifacts, photographs, and informative railroad history fascinating, while kids will enjoy watching a model train display operate. 

Moreover, the museum hosts a special “kid’s fun day” where children step into the shoes of junior engineers and operate a model train set. This unique event takes place every first and third Saturday of the month.

Outside the museum are a baggage compartment, dining car, rail car, engine, and caboose you can walk through. The dining car is quite impressive and has displays of china and dinner menus from the golden age.

Where to Eat in New Braunfels with Kids

Two boys climbing a rope ladder to play on a playground shaped like pirate ship located at TinTop Burgers in New Braunfels, Texas.

Overall, New Braunfels is brimming with kid-friendly restaurants. Still, these are some of our absolute favorites that give you a taste of everything—local gems, an iconic restaurant, German Biergarten, ice cream, and juicy hamburgers with an outdoor playground. 

Buttermilk Cafe

You know you have found a delicious place to eat when the restaurant is packed on a Monday morning with locals. Welcome to Buttermilk Cafe, a restaurant that cooks with a smile and makes you leave happy. Buttermilk Cafe serves comfort food with an upscale twist for breakfast and lunch.

Must order: buttermilk anything, but definitely a stack of Buttermilk Pancakes, Grilled Banana Bread, Warm Cinnamon Roll, and Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs.

Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar

A favorite dish of Chicken Fried Steak with Loaded Mashed Potatoes from Gristmill River Restaurant.

What was once a three-story brick broiler room from a cotton gin built in 1878 is now the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar—an iconic restaurant in New Braunfels and the entire Lone Star State. When you dine here, you get more than a delicious meal; you get an experience.

There is no bad seat at the Gristmill, but if you can snag a seat outside, you will have scenic views of the Guadalupe River while savoring classic Texas cuisine. Once you finish your meal, you can head next door to the Greune Hall to complete your Historic Greune experience.

Must order: Chicken Fried Steak, Baby Back Ribs, and Jack Daniel’s Pecan Pie

Krause’s Cafe

Enjoy a taste of Germany at this fantastic restaurant and Biergarten. Krause’s Cafe is a New Braunfels staple that pays homage to the city’s German roots, serving German classics and Texas favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There is also an expansive beer tap wall of German and Texas beers, dozens of European crest flags in the Bierhalle, and live music in the Biergarten with plenty of space for kids to run and play.

Must order: Bauern Schnitzel, Bavarian Pretzel, Sausage Plate, Venison Chopped Steak, and Apfel Fritters

Naegelin’s Bakery

A display of European pastries at Naegelin's Bakery in New Braunfels, Texas—the oldest bakery in Texas!

Naegelin’s Bakery is the oldest bakery in Texas since 1868! This historic bakery has every sweet baked treat you can think of. From classic German favorites like apple strudel to fruit and cheese kolaches, bear claws, croissants, pecan rolls, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, pie, cookies, cupcakes, and whole cakes—Naegelin’s Bakery is a sweet stop for your family!

Must order: a fruit strudel, kolache, pecan roll, and anything else that catches your eye.

Tintop Burgers & Beer

Loaded parmesan garlic fries with a Swinapple burger and a can of beer at TinTop Burgers in New Braunfels, Texas.

TinTop Burgers & Beer is one of our favorite places to eat in New Braunfels because it has a gated, outdoor pirate ship playground for kids. The food is also delicious!

TinTop Burgers & Beer offers unique juicy burgers, loaded fries, and craft brews. The burgers are a perfect blend of Nolan Ryan Texas Angus and pork, or you can substitute them for a chicken Smashburger or vegan patty.

Must order: try their Burger of the Month, Jalapeño Bacon Cheeseburger, The Swineapple, and Garlic Parmesan Loaded Fries.

Rhea’s Ice Cream

Two scoops of ice cream on a waffle cone at Rhea's Ice Cream in New Braunfels, Texas.

Rhea’s Ice Cream is in the same space as TinTop so you can have a sweet finish to your meal. You can also grab an ice cream cone from their window service-only location in the Historic Greune District.

Rhea’s Ice Cream is a small-batch premium ice cream parlor serving unique flavors such as Goat Cheese and Raspberry Jam. If out-of-the-box flavors are not your thing, don’t worry—Rhea’s Ice Cream has classic flavors like Hill Country Vanilla and Belgian Chocolate.

I hope you have enjoyed my guide to the best things to do in New Braunfels with kids. As you can see, there are plenty of fun activities to fill your family vacation in New Braunfels. It is truly one of the best family-friendly destinations in Texas, especially for the summer!