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Make a splash in New Braunfels with water parks, river floats, and more

Published Tuesday, June 21, 2022 3:00pm

By CultureMap Create   Jun 21, 2022, 12:00 pm

Founded in 1845 by a German prince, New Braunfels is a charming oasis in the Texas Hill Country with no shortage of fascinating history and lovely Texas German architecture.

Unique shops, cute cafes, and lively bars line the tree-shaded streets of downtown, while fascinating museums and unique walking tours help keep the history alive.

And just up the road from downtown New Braunfels, you’ll find historic Gruene (pronounced “Green”), home to Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas and one of the most famous live music venues in the world.

Don't miss these seven additional ways to capitalize on summer fun during your New Braunfels vacay.

Float the river
New Braunfels boasts two beautiful rivers to hop into for family fun and floating around: the Guadalupe River and the Comal River, affectionately known as the "longest shortest river in the world.”

BYOT — bring your own tube — or head to one of the many river outfitters for tube rentals, parking, transportation to and from your car, life jackets, and more to make your river float easy and fun.

You can also get in on other river recreation for any mood, like kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and paddle boarding.

Hit a different kind of trail
You may be familiar with its thriving wine scene, but the Texas Hill Country is also coming into its own with local craft beer.

Experience more than a dozen breweries in and around New Braunfels on the Hill Country Craft Beer Trail.

Go on a self-guided tour or book a programmed itinerary, where luxe shuttle buses take you on a scenic journey through river crossings, wildflower fields, and rolling hills as you hit the best of the best sips around, all while enjoying convo, live music, and food.

Embark on a Texas-style safari
A short trek from town is Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, where you can get up close and personal with more than 500 animals, including 40 different exotic, native, and endangered animal species from across the globe.

On the six-mile drive, you’ll also get to see all the rolling hills, creek beds, and magnificent live oak trees on the ranch.

Find wakeboarding paradise
When it comes to wakeboarding and cable parks, Texas Ski Ranch is consistently ranked as one of the top facilities in the world.

With three cable systems and a boat lake, there is truly something for all levels of water sports enthusiasts. And first-timers are welcome, too; they have incredible coaching and beginner cables.

Go underground
Chill out — deep beneath the surface of the Earth — at Natural Bridge Caverns. With a variety of tours, you’ll see the illumination of massive, otherworldly formations along with all the stalactites you could hope for.

They even have an adventure track that takes you to undeveloped portions of the wild caves. Above ground, there’s a Twisted Trails aerial ropes course that will get your adrenaline pumping — again.

Get splash’d
New Braunfels has bragging rights to one of the most popular water parks in Texas (and the world): the original Schlitterbahn, which grew out of the spring-fed Comal and the German heritage of the Hill Country.

With an eclectic resort and two distinct waterpark experiences, it's a destination in its own right with 51 attractions that include uphill water coasters, wave pools, lazy rivers, kids' play areas, and speed slides.

And when you book an overnight stay at one of Schlitterbahn's accommodations between May and September, waterpark admission is free.

Refuel in the best ways
There’s no shortage of places to savor amazing food in New Braunfels, where you can dine on Texas barbecue along the banks of the Guadalupe, go for delectable Tex-Mex, or pair your dinner with a side of history.

Naturally, authentic German fare can be found at places like the Alpine Haus Restaurant and the oldest German bakery in Texas, Naegelin’s.

Discover even more to love about this getaway-perfect town here.