Though this Hill Country town was just named the ninth fastest growing city in the US, New Braunfels still has the same small-town charm as it did when German settlers founded it in the 1840s. Outdoorsmen, foodies, and all-around Texas enthusiasts will find plenty to do in New Braunfels for a weekend.
The town is situated on both the Guadalupe and Comal rivers, and in the scenic Hill Country. So spending a weekend here without exploring the great outdoors is a Texas sin. Floating the river in an inner tube will likely be the highlight of any trip to New Braunfels, so check water levels online before you go to ensure prime floating conditions.
Visitors looking for more of a party should head to the Guadalupe River. Not only is it more winding and adventurous, but the culture of floaters on this river is younger (read: lots of beer and loud music). First-time tubers will prefer the Comal River for its less treacherous conditions and shorter duration of about two or three hours. The Comal is a wider, more leisurely, float, making it great for families.
Every tubing company operates a little differently, but most take online reservations. Comal floaters can book through Comal Rockin’ R, Chuck’s Tubes, Comal Tubes, and Landa Falls. Guadalupe floaters can book through Whitewater Sports, Riverbank Outfitters, TubeHaus, and Shanty River Center. Shop around to find the best deal for your party’s size and steer clear of businesses that don’t include a return shuttle to your car (though most do). For both rivers, bring lots of sunscreen, drinking water, and waterproof bags to hold valuables. Don’t forget a trash bag for empty cans.
If you need a little more structure to your outdoor adventure, Schlitterbahn water park has pools and rides to please everyone. With on-site lodging and plenty of food options within the park, Schlitterbahn could easily be the centerpiece of your trip to New Braunfels.
Localvores will go nuts at the New Braunfels Farmers Market on Saturdays and Sundays. With goods like kettle-fried doughnuts, smoked meats, fresh lemonade, and gourmet pizza, this farmers market is as much a food hall as it is a produce market. It's also the perfect spot to stock up on snacks for tubing.
After spending an afternoon in the summer sun, you’ll have worked up an appetite. With German, Mexican, and Southern influence, there’s no shortage of good food in New Braunfels.
Taqueria El Sazon Tapatio, tucked away in a strip center, has breakfast tacos and fajitas for your Tex-Mex fix. Suffer through meat sweats for the tasty brisket, beef, and sausage at Granzin Bar-B-Q. Inventive dishes at McAdoo’s, like cajun enchiladas, and seafood staples, like oysters and shrimp étouffée, will get you in the right state of mind for a river adventure.
The recently reopened Krause’s Biergarten and Cafe has a decent assortment of German plates and American standards. For southern fare, get the fried sampler or pulled pork grilled cheese for brunch, dinner, or late-night bites at the Downtowner. Treat yourself to a chocolate torte, thumbprint cookie, cream puff, or strawberry lime cupcake (or anything, really) at 2tarts Bakery.
If your exploration of downtown lasts into the night, bar hop at some local favorites. Hear live music and grab a drink at the first bar in Texas to serve women, Phoenix Saloon. Play patio games while sipping local beer at Pour Haus. Bowl while you drink at Downtown Social.
Several tube rental sites, such as Roy’s Rentals & Campground and Jerry’s Rentals, also have camping accommodations, but if that's not your thing, New Braunfels is also home to many charming B&Bs and inns. Stay in the cottage-like Historic Kuebler Waldrip Haus, a few miles north of town, or the Comal Inn in the center of town. Lamb’s Rest Inn fronts the Guadalupe and has direct access to the river, as well as a pool and hot tub.