An utterly charming town nestled at the confluence of two of Texas’ most popular (and gorgeous) rivers, New Braunfels was always, always, always destined for tourism obsession.
Despite its humble beginnings (2 leagues of land purchased for just over $1,000 by German nobility in the 1840’s), the wee little town of New Braunfels has since grown and blossomed into a Texas gem that’s part Hill Country charm, part action-adventure, and part cultural icon.
However, despite its practically legendary reputation, sometimes “the real New Braunfels” can be elusive amidst the sparkling water parks and overhyped tourist traps.
Which is why we figured a local guide to true “hidden gems” and simple joys of our favorite Hill Country town was well overdue. Packed with both classic and quirky “things to do”, consider this list an insider guide on how to spend the perfect day in New Braunfels, TX.
Image Courtesy of The Downtowner
Known far and wide for being a culinary “melting pot” of local culture (from German to Tejano), New Braunfels offers plenty of options for the best meal of the day. If breakfast tacos are your thing, please (like, we beg you) do not miss out on Taqueria El Sazon Tapatio. Like most stellar taco joints, what it lacks in trendy aesthetic it more than makes up for in flavor. If upscale comfort food is more your thing, head to The Downtowner’s brunch (served till 4:00 PM!) and try the pulled pork & duck egg biscuit. (For more breakfast and coffee recommendations, check out this New Braunfels breakfast spotlight.)
Image Courtesy of the NB Journal
Leisurely Art Stroll
Whether you’re into history, public art, or just an excuse for some post-breakfast exercise, we recommend a leisurely stroll around the “New Braunfels Historic Outdoor Art Museum”, a collection of 7 beloved murals scattered around Downtown. With the recent addition of a new mural celebrating New Braunfels’ Mexican heritage, this group of paintings truly communicates the spirit of New Braunfels, its history, and its vision moving forward. (Take a peek in the morning before it gets too hot!)
Image Courtesy of Float Away Studios
Vintage and Antique Shopping
After you’re done congratulating yourself on being oh-so-cultured, we recommend wandering through New Braunfels’ unique boutiques and antique shops for a little treat-yo-self moment. If vintage goods are your thing, head to Encore Antique Co, the Downtown Antique Mall (check out My Sister’s Closet Vintage booth), Hausita Antiques, Gruene Flea Antique Mall, and Traveling Gypsy. No matter your old-school style, we’re willing to be you’ll strike retro gold. (Oh, and if vinyl is your thing, don’t forget to stop by StingRay Records!)
Tasty Midday Meal
We don’t know about y’all, but we’re a fan of breaking up the shopping and the afternoon adventure with a few slices of the ultimate crowd-pleaser: pizza. It’s quick, cost-effective, undeniably tasty, and it’ll fuel you up for an active afternoon. Depending on your tastes, we recommend New York Pizza Pub’s thin-crust glory or Inferno’s wood-fired goodness. (Tip: If you like spicy, Inferno is “Home Of The Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Sausage”!)
Image Courtesy of Corky Sandpiper
Okay, okay, we know: a day in New Braunfels is absolutely wasted without at least a few hours in the embrace of one of its gorgeous Hill Country waterways. Located at the intersection of the Comal and the Guadalupe Rivers, New Braunfels is inherently filled with aquatic fun at nearly every turn. But where do you jump in? Most tourists head straight for the Guadalupe chute, armed with Yeti coolers and (hopefully) sunscreen. But if you’re looking to enjoy the cool waters without the loud tourists, we have a few alternative options. Ambitious tourist-avoiders may want to check out the upper section of the Guadalupe, which stretches for miles before reaching the crowds. Other leisurely floaters may opt for the shorter (but no less gorgeous) Comal River, which tends to be less party-centric. For those who want to skip the whole tubing thing altogether, head down River Road and stop off under some age-old cypress trees for some old-school swimming.
Image Courtesy of Pourhaus
Wow. After an afternoon in the sun, there’s nothing quite like relishing in your newfound freckles and friends with a local brew. Thankfully, no matter the day of the week, New Braunfels offers some kind of “Happy Hour” for you and your crew. Our favorite spot is Pourhaus, featuring an impressive craft beer & signature cocktail menu (along with indoor and outdoor seating, depending on your mood). If you’re lucky enough to stop in on a weekend, you can also head to The Grapevine’s Friday afternoon happy hour (4:00 -7:00 PM) or Guadalupe Brewing Company’s tasting room (open Friday-Sunday). For those with kids (or a major sweet tooth), 2tarts Bakery is a local favorite that offers delicious cinnamon rolls (not to mention high-quality coffee and ‘spro for a little afternoon pick-me-up).
Image Courtesy of Krause’s Cafe
Okay, y’all. This was a tough one. New Braunfels is practically singing with delicious local food options, and it’s hard to make just one blanket recommendation. That being said, our two favorite local spots always seem to knock it out of the park: Krause’s Cafe and McAdoo’s Seafood Co. Bearing the traditional mark of New Braunfels’ Deutsch heritage, Krause’s is both “German classics and Texan favorites”, living up to its reputation with a lively outdoor garden and of the largest tap walls in the city. On a different historic note, McAdoo’s Seafood Co & Oyster Bar offers incredible creole fare in a restored century-old Post Office in downtown New Braunfels.
Image Courtesy of Stars & Stripes Drive-in Theatre
The Drive-In Theatre
If you’re exhausted from the day’s shenanigans, Stars & Stripes Drive-in Theatre is hands-down the local spot to relax under that big Texas night sky. Playing both classic movies and brand-new Hollywood releases, this nostalgic drive-in theater also features a playground for kids and 50’s cafe!
If somehow, some way you’re still awake and alive come late night, the Phoenix Saloon is a historic Texas bar with Austin vibes and old-school country tunes (plus, they make a killer bowl of chili). Stop in for some live music and a midnight order of fries! If you’re lucky, you’ll also be able to catch some karaoke (check the schedule here).
Image Courtesy of Geronimo Creek Retreat
Head to Bed
In town for more than just a day? Well done, you Hill Country explorer. While you’re on the whole “adventure train”, you might as well aim higher than a typical bed-and-mini-fridge setup. Given New Braunfels’ gorgeous location and creative residents, it should come as no surprise that our little town is full of alternative accommodations, from treehouses to tipis to insanely gorgeous Airbnbs. To peruse these off-the-beaten-path options, check out our list of NB Getaways and Staycations You Haven’t Thought of Yet!
And, if you’re ready to live in a town that feels like a “getaway” most days of the year, we’d be honored to be the ones to help guide you through the whole process, from connecting with a lender to signing the closing papers. Plus, we’ve created an exclusive guide just for the New Braunfels buyer! Let us know how we can help your search for the right home as seamless as possible.