New Braunfels was founded in 1845 by a German prince looking to start a colony in the Republic of Texas. Despite the fact that his dream of “New Germany” never happened, New Braunfels’ German influence has stood the test of time. Today, this small Central Texas town is one of the most authentic German-American communities in the country.
New Braunfels is a fun destination, with adventures for every type of visitor. Located between Austin and San Antonio, it’s a short drive for those coming from either city. New Braunfels is perfect whether you’re on a weekend trip, or planning your next epic summer day trip.
What to Do in New Braunfels
When Germans were immigrating to America, Central Texas was a hot destination, providing all the necessary features for a thriving town. Nowadays, there’s plenty of antique shopping, a 70-acre water park, and two rivers with dozens of tubing operators. The fun just doesn’t end in this Texas Hill Country town.
While a visit to Schlitterbahn might take up a good part of your day, there are plenty of smaller adventures you could undertake during a day trip to New Braunfels.
Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture
Located on a shady 11 acres in New Braunfels, the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture showcases a stunning collection of artifacts from some of the first German migrants who settled in the area. The museum has tons of hand-crafted pieces from New Braunfels’ own historic German immigrant community. Items include several stunning creations from locally famous Tischlermeisters (master carpenters), which were handcrafted in the traditional mid-19th century German style.
The tour takes a quick 30 minutes, perfect to squeeze in during your New Braunfels day trip. Whether or not you’re a history buff, you will find something interesting about the way of life “back then.” All I kept thinking was, “And without A.C.!”
1370 Churchill Dr., New Braunfels, TX – Website
Downtown Antique Mall
This antique mall is housed in a massive 16,000-square-foot building in central New Braunfels that dates back to the early 1900’s. Downtown Antique Mall has over 61 dealers selling everything you could imagine: antique glassware, jewelry, linens, books, toys, pottery, tools, coins, records, primitives, and all sorts of furniture.
The mall is open daily, and you could easily get lost spending hours in here.
209 W. San Antonio St., New Braunfels, TX – Website
New Braunfels Farmers Market
Enjoy a relaxing weekend morning listening to live music, eating delicious food, and enjoying time with friends at New Braunfels Farmers Market! With more than 75 vendors, the market is a one-stop-shop. Local farmers pick produce on Friday to sell fresh on Saturday. Find goods such as local meats, eggs, pantry items, skin care items, home and laundry care, baked goods, and even hot food.
During my visit, I ran into an incredible plant stand bursting with the brightest colors. Since I had brought the Chevy Equinox, on loan to me for my day trip, I knew I had a perfect excuse to load up on greenery.
I ended up with quite the farmers market haul: several new plants, a few bushes, and even a banana tree. I had to carefully back up the Equinox to the gardener’s stall, watching for all the shoppers. Thank goodness the vehicle came with the new Surround Vision camera. I had a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the lively market around me and didn’t cause any accidents.
186 S Castell Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
Floating the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers
New Braunfels has two beautiful rivers–the Comal and Guadalupe–and they’re both perfect for all sorts of water activities. The Comal River winds through the city of New Braunfels and by Schlitterbahn, so choose it if you want floating to be only a part of your day trip.
Fun fact: the Comal is “the longest shortest river in the world,” so it’s a short ride. The only fast part is a man-made chute that diverts tubers around the dam. Depending on the group, a float on the Comal River can last anywhere between two and three hours, and cost under $20.
If there is one thing to know about the other river in New Braunfels, it’s that the Guadalupe is the party river. Alcohol, music, and fun-loving groups are allowed and in no short supply. There are great views during this float, but it includes intense rapids in some parts.
The longest float on the Guadalupe River can take five to six hours, so plan accordingly. Do some shopping or research beforehand to find the best deal for you and your group’s needs. But keep in mind that you shouldn’t have to pay more than $20 a person.
Schlitterbahn is nestled along the beautiful Comal River and features world-famous attractions, epic river adventures, kid’s water playgrounds, and beautiful spots to relax and share a picnic. If you’re curious about the name, the water park was named “slippery road” in German because of the local German influence. Schlitterbahn originally consisted of just four waterslides, but since then, the park has expanded three separate times.
If this water park is on your New Braunfels day trip list, it can take your whole day. But it’s worth it. There’s free parking, free inner tubes, and picnics are welcome! (No glass containers or alcohol, though.) There are over 70 acres of fun for the everyone.
400 N. Liberty Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
Where to Eat and Drink in New Braunfels
In New Braunfels, several authentic German restaurants and bars offer a break from standard American food and beer.
The walkability of this small town is what makes New Braunfels an easy day trip for the serious foodie. Most of the following spots are a few shorts blocks from one another! For a town this small, it is packed with great drinks, eats, and–of course–beers.
The oldest bakery in Texas is located in New Braunfels, and the town’s heavy German influence is present in the bakery’s selection of fresh-baked goods. Arrive early at Naegelin’s Bakery for the best selection of treats. There’s everything from donuts and kolaches, to more traditional German baked goods, like pretzels and strudels.
129 S Seguin Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
The two bakers at 2tarts Bakery in New Braunfels are sisters, and both are dedicated to making everything from scratch with only the best ingredients. This bakery is one of the most adorable spots in New Braunfels, and all of their pastries are just as cute as the building they’re made in. You’ll struggle to pick out which pastry to share on Instagram, but devouring your sweet haul is a much easier feat.
The staff members here are bright and bubbly, and the prices are just right.
139 N. Castell Ave. Suite 300, New Braunfels, TX – Website
The Downtowner is may be the hippest and most chic restaurant in New Braunfels. The highlight here is easily the delicious and fluffy biscuits. Even better, they’re served every way you like them!
This restaurant in New Braunfels is a great option for an upgraded, but classic, American breakfast. Come here to load up on hearty eats before you hit the river.
208 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
This cafe and beer garden is located right next to the New Braunfels Farmers Market. It’s another must-stop during your day trip to New Braunfels. Krause’s Cafe has an expansive outdoor garden house that features what must be the largest tap wall in New Braunfels. Along with local craft beer and imported German styles, the restaurant offers an impressive selection of German eats.
148 S. Castell Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
Guadalupe Brewing Company
Guadalupe Brewing Company was a dream born in 2009 by Keith Kilker and his wife, Anna, during their beer travels in Europe and the Pacific Northwest. The two have had one passion and focus since: providing the best quality beer available, with local ingredients whenever possible.
The New Braunfels brewery’s flagship beer, Texas Honey, has Texas ingredients like honey from an Amish community in Beeville and wheat from Marion, Texas. If you’re a fan of stouts, Guadalupe Brewing is your New Braunfels craft beer paradise.
1580 Wald Road, New Braunfels, TX – Website
Friesenhaus has the most authentic German food and beer experience you will get in New Braunfels. Seven days a week, Friesenhaus opens at 8 a.m. to start your day off with a hearty German breakfast. For lunch and dinner, entrees include ten different kinds of the most popular German dish, schnitzel.
1050 S. Seguin Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
McAdoo’s Seafood Company
McAdoo’s Seafood Company is an upscale restaurant that was once a post office built in 1915. Offering an incredible selection of Cajun-style seafood, McAdoo’s meals are a feast for both the eyes and taste buds. Plus, the eatery can put together a crazy-good “fancy” cocktail if you do choose to indulge during your day trip to New Braunfels!
196 N. Castell Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
@Bigwrldsmallgrl wants to know:
Have you ever been to New Braunfels? What’s your favorite spot?