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New Braunfels, Jewel of the Texas Hill Country

Published Thursday, November 12, 2020 1:00pm

The German Heritage of New Braunfels

With New Orleans to the east, Galveston to the southeast, and Dallas up north, residents of the Houston area have many choices for some outstanding road trips. More and more are drawn to the Texas Hill Country every year, with so much to see and do.

In addition to the major metropolitan areas of San Antonio and Austin, the Hill Country offers many small towns, each with its own unique character and personality. World class wineries, water and amusement parks, scenic landscapes, fascinating museums, great food, and so much more. With the recent restrictions due to Covid, the Hill Country is even more desirable with its open spaces, fresh air, and multiple activities. Obviously, precautions are still taken to protect locals and visitors as we all pull together to deal with the pandemic.

On this trip, we visited beautiful New Braunfels. With its deep German heritage, New Braunfels is  one of the shining stars of the Texas Hill Country. We went to the Natural Bridge Caverns, checked out the shopping and attractions of historic Gruene, toured the really cool Guadalupe Brewing, and ate at several great restaurants in this friendly hill country town. After our full days, we settled in at the fabulous Gruene Homestead Inn to relax and rest our weary bones.

Map of New Braunfels

New Braunfels is a rapidly growing town of about 85,000 people in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. The Hill Country roughly encompasses the area within the borders on the east from San Antonio to Austin along I-35, on the north along Highway 29 west to US 83, and then south to Highway 90, and back to San Antonio. 

New Braunfels is located in the southeastern part of the Hill Country, about 30 minutes northeast of San Antonio and an hour southwest of Austin. In addition to locals who live in the area, New Braunfels attracts numerous visitors from the Houston area, which is about a 3 hour drive west on I-10 or Highway 290.

Natural Bridge Caverns

In 1960, a group of four college students from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio got permission to explore a small cave near New Braunfels from the owner, Clara Wuest Hindemann. Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell Jr., Al Brandt and Joe Cantu kept poking and prodding until, on the fourth visit, found an opening to the expansive interiors. Sixty years after its discovery, Natural Bridge Caverns is recognized as the largest and most spectacular cave system in Texas.

Discovery Tours, Hidden Passages and Private VIP Tours

Today, visitors can explore with a trained guide on the Discovery Tour, Hidden Passages Tour, or a special VIP Tour Experience for their own small group. Matt Carr, the Director of Operations, gave us a special tour full of engaging stories and descriptions of the history and structures in the cave.

We were fascinated with the story of how the cave was discovered by four college students and by the many cool formations throughout the caves.

At the end of our Private VIP Tour, we were treated to a fabulous Charcuterie Board and bottle of wine, a fitting climax to a wonderful experience.

Twisted Trails Zip Rails and Ropes Course

In addition to the spectacular caverns, there are many adventures and treasures to find above ground. Twisted Trails Zip Rails and Ropes Course is a recent addition to Natural Bridge Caverns along with shops and other activities. Young and old alike can find something that tickles their fancy on this four level playground. Guests are rewarded with expansive views of the Texas Hill Country as the zip, shuffle, and climb on this colorful structure. Visitors can also shop at the Trading Post or gift shop, grab a bite or drink at Big Daddy’s Sweets, Treats, and Brews, or relax under a tree soaking in the beautifully landscaped grounds. We were treated by a show from hummingbirds and monarch butterflies on our trip.

26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd

Guadalupe Brewing

Beer is big in Texas, and Guadalupe Brewing takes pride in bringing customers the best. Opening its doors in 2012, Guadalupe Brewing offers traditional brews like Kolsch and Texas Honey Ale. They also get very creative in the brew kitchen with tasty treats like the Banana Cream Pie, Smores, and German Chocolate Cake selections.

In addition to inside seating, the lovely grounds are the perfect place to relax and enjoy your favorite brew outdoors. Check the schedule for live entertainment, or just sit back with your friends and family with delicious food and drinks. Also, the future pizza kitchen is already framed and ready for completion to provide fresh hot pizza to go along with your beverage of choice. It doesn’t get any better than this!

1586 Wald Road New Braunfels, Texas 

Gruene Homestead Inn

Welcome to the Gruene Homestead Inn, the perfect place to stay for your Gruene and New Braunfels adventures. During your stay, you will understand why Gruene Homestead Inn was the Herald-Zeitung Readers Choice Best of New Braunfels Winner in 2019.

Guests can choose from a collection of historic homes dating from the 1850’s to the early 1900’s. Ten buildings with 20 guest rooms have been lovingly restored on the beautiful eight acre spread less than a mile from historic downtown Gruene. Full size, Texas-style hot breakfast elegantly presented in the Faust dining room is a real treat. (Check when you make reservations if the hot breakfast is offered during these times of Covid restrictions. If not, the wonderful chefs will prepare you a breakfast in a basket.) 

Gruene Homestead Inn will make you feel right at home for your visit to Gruene and the New Braunfels area.

832 Gruene Road, New Braunfels, Texas 

The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar

The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar is one of the best loved restaurants in Oldtown Gruene. The former boiler building for the old mill, it was restored in 1979 and grown in popularity ever since. Texas classics like steaks and burgers, chicken fried steak, bronzed catfish, and other delicious dishes are served to hungry guests. With spacious grounds and many seats overlooking the Guadalupe River, The Gristmill is a great place for lunch or dinner.

1287 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX

Muck & Fuss Craft Beer and Burgers

Muck & Fuss is one of the most popular restaurants in New Braunfels since opening next door to the Prince Solms Inn in the heart of downtown. Known for their delicious burgers and tasty craft beers, Muck & Fuss will put a smile on everyone’s face in your party. Special treats like jalapeño tater tots, Havarti Jam Burgers, Breakfast burgers, and hand-made onion rings make every visit to Muck&Fuss and special occasion.

295 East San Antonio, Suite #101, New Braunfels

Krause's Cafe and Biergarten

Since New Braunfels was founded by German immigrants, it is fitting that Krause’s Cafe and Biergarten has become one of the largest and most popular places in New Braunfels. There huge hall and outdoor dining areas can accommodate large groups and live events. For top quality German Food including bratwurst, schnitzels, reubens, sauerkraut, and pretzels are just a few of many choices on the menu. And, of course, Krause’s has a huge selection of beers and wines from Germany, Texas, and throughout the globe. If you are in New Braunfels on the weekend, check out the weekly Farmers’ Market at Krause’s every Saturday

148 S Castell Ave, New Braunfels, TX

McAdoo's Seafood in downtown New Braunfels

Although seafood may not be your first thought when you hear the name New Braunfels, this German town delivers fantastic seafood at McAdoo’s Seafood. Just blocks from the courthouse in downtown, McAdoo’s has earned a reputation for fresh, flavorful seafood creations. Housed in a renovated Post Office built in 1915, this fabulous restaurant serves fine Texas Creole and fresh fish to hungry diners. Try the always tasty shrimp and hushpuppies or one of their First Class Seafood dishes like Chilean Bass or the popular Redfish Pontchartrain.

196 North Castell Avenue, New Braunfels

Plan Your Trip to New Braunfels in the Texas Hill Country

So come Jump In! There are so many fun, interesting, and relaxing things to do in New Braunfels. For more information, go to the friendly folks at  InNewBaunfels.

- Scott Kendall | PLAY STAY