From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Less than 40 minutes from San Antonio and less than an hour from Austin, New Braunfels is truly the best of both worlds — and a wonderful place to settle if you’re looking to experience as much of the populated heart of Texas as possible. Of course, the town itself also offers plenty of amazing places to explore and things to do, operating as so much more than a glorified suburb!
Below, find some of our best suggestions for those looking to get acquainted with New Braunfels.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
One of the best things about calling this part of Texas home — for any amount of time — is the great diversity of outdoor activities there are right in your virtual backyard. Here are some of the best state and national parks in and around New Braunfels.
One of the biggest fishing destinations in Texas, especially for anglers looking to reel in Guadalupe bass, channel catfish and rainbow trout, Blanco State Park is less than an hour from New Braunfels and a great spot for outdoor activities of all sorts. Another popular option: tubing the river, a fun and mostly lazy way to enjoy the Texas summer sun.
Winding about 230 miles through the Texas countryside to its terminus in the Gulf of Mexico, the Guadalupe River is a sight to behold… and Guadalupe River State Park makes for a great opportunity to do so. Along with the riverfront, this park is also home to about 2,000 acres of land, offering visitors the opportunity to hike, bike, and horseback ride — not to mention the chance to see some local wildlife!
Less than 40 miles from New Braunfels, Lockhart State Park makes for a quick (but worthwhile) outdoor getaway offering a wide range of outdoor activities, including a golf course that was originally designed and constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The Corps also built a recreation hall, stone water tower, and several bridges, amongst other structures, making this a historically intriguing visit. There’s also waterfront to enjoy!
While Texas might not be the first place you think of when you think of waterfalls, make no mistake: there are some beautiful ones right in your backyard! McKinney Falls State Park features upper and lower falls along Onion Creek, as well as a variety of other visit-worthy features, such as Smith Rock Shelter, a limestone overhang that was used by local indigenous peoples as a shelter for centuries.
From tropical-looking forests to the paddle-and-tube-able riverway of the San Marcos, Palmetto State Park offers an easily accessible outdoor adventure that will make you feel like you’ve flown several thousand miles rather than simply driving a few. Although most popular during the summer months, this park is also a great place to go when the winter brings cooler temperatures, especially if you prefer to hike or mountain bike without a giant crowd.
Encompassing more than 5,000 acres of beautiful Texas countryside, Pedernales Falls State Park is another option for those hoping to go chasing waterfalls without leaving the state (or even venturing very far from the greater San Antonio metro area!). Once a working ranch, this green space now offers visitors the chance to relax by fishing, swimming, wading, tubing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and more.
It feels like everywhere you turn in this part of Texas, there’s another beautiful path to wander down. Here are some of the best hiking trails in and around New Braunfels!
Short but sweet, the Dry Comal Creek Trail meanders a little less than a mile and a half all told and sees very little elevation change, making this an easy hike that’s doable for many fitness and ability levels. With a beautiful forest setting and great opportunities for bird watching, this is a wonderful place to take in some fresh air, even if you’re short on time.
Another short but lovely hiking option, tucked away inside Landa Park, the Panther Canyon Nature Trail runs a little less than two miles and sees about 150 feet in elevation change, making it an easy-to-moderate hike that is still doable by most and a good option for beginners looking to get their legs under them. Along with hiking, this trail is also popular amongst trail runners and birders, and features a lake. Well-shaded and well-maintained, but it’s still always a good idea to bring sun protection and a map!
The Spring Lake Preserve Loop is the best way to get a look at Spring Lake Preserve, meandering about four miles and seeing about 400 feet in elevation gain. With its slightly undulating terrain and moderate length, this hike is a great option for advanced beginners, or those looking to take on a slightly longer adventure than the two listed above.
Despite its devilish name, hiking Dante’s Trail through Purgatory Creek Natural Area is a heavenly activity. Covering about eight miles and seeing a little more than 450 feet in elevation change, this hike is firmly in the “moderate” category and requires good boots and an ample supply of water. Sights along the way include upland meadows, towering canyon bluffs, dense juniper thickets, champion oaks, and a flood control dam, as well as a river. Enjoy!
A little closer to San Antonio, the Morningstar Boardwalk offers a unique way to get a look at the marshy local landscape without getting your feet wet! Meandering about two miles and seeing almost no elevation change, this wooden footpath is a great way to view wildlife and get some exercise, and is also a good option for those pushing strollers. Keep an eye out for cyclists, however, who tend to zip along the pathway at a fast pace!
We’ve all gotta eat — might as well eat well, right? Fortunately, there are tons of great places to get your grub on in New Braunfels. Here are just a few of the best restaurants in town, from Italian to Mexican and everything in between.
A beloved local breakfast-and-lunch spot, Buttermilk Cafe is owned, operated, and adored by Certified Executive Chef Chef Carol Irwin, who fell in love with the Historic Gruene neighborhood (where the restaurant resides) while on vacation. Specializing in dressed-up versions of classic Southern comfort foods, such as fried green tomatoes, this is a great spot when you’re looking to start your day with something hearty and made with care.
In need of a fresh and authentic Mexican dish? The best place to get it in New Braunfels is Taqueria Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, which has been serving up delicacies to the community for over a decade. Along with its namesake tacos, this joint is also known for its fajitas, rice, refried beans and more. Plus, it’s all served in enormous and affordable portions.
Whether it’s date night… or just any old night, Italian cuisine is always hearty, delicious, and comforting. Gennaro’s La Cucina Italiana is the best place to enjoy some scrumptious Tuscan delights in New Braunfels, with a menu that’s been handed down the family through generations. From ravioli to chicken parmigiana, you can’t go wrong with anything you pick!
One of the best-known barbecue joints in not just Texas, but perhaps the entire world, Coopers BBQ now operates a location right in New Braunfels… so you don’t have to go very far at all to enjoy an epic feast! A classic pit barbecue serving brisket, ribs, chicken, steak, and so much more, the sides are also worth saving room for — especially the mac & cheese and corn on the cob.
Looking for fresh and authentic sushi in the heart of the Texas countryside might sound like a challenge… but not at Shogun Japanese Grill & Sushi Bar! This joint serves up both classic and specialty rolls as well as a variety of hot Asian dishes for those who (somehow) remain a little put off by the whole “raw fish” thing. They offer a great line of cocktails, too!
Great food? Check. Great outdoor recreational opportunities? Check. Now it’s time to find out what else is great about New Braunfels. The good news is, the short answer is: a lot! Here are some of our top things to do and places to explore in New Braunfels.
This part of Texas is a great spot to raise a family: affordable and outdoorsy with plenty of room to roam. Here are some of the best things to do in New Braunfels and the surrounding communities with kids of all ages.
A learning environment that merges the line between education and entertainment, the McKenna Children’s Museum offers little ones the opportunity to get curious about their surroundings — and find out exactly what’s going on with their own senses. With a range of interactive exhibits and fun events to explore, there’s no end to the possibilities at this place!
Everyone wonders how to get their kids to be more active… and hey, most adults could use some exercise that feels more like play themselves. At Spring Loaded Trampoline Park, the whole family can get in on the fun that is bouncing yourself into bliss, with over 15,000 square feet of nothing but trampolines.
There’s no end to the things to do in New Braunfels during the daylight hours… but there’s lots to see and explore at night, too! Here are some of our favorite after-dusk options.
A night at the movies? Awesome. A night at the movies… with the accompaniment of good, hot grub and a full bar? Way, way better. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema may technically be in Austin, but it’s less than an hour away from New Braunfels — and a great ending to a quick day trip up into town! Screening both new releases and indie favorites, this is a great spot to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
Looking for things to do as a couple in New Braunfels? Any activity is made a little bit more romantic with the addition of wine… so why not head out for a sip (or several)? Although it might not be as well-known as, say, Napa Valley, this part of Texas is actually renowned for its wine production, and there are a variety of great tasting rooms in the area to visit. Winery on the Greune is a favorite, as is Water 2 Wine and The Grapevine. (Sip responsibly!)
It can be easy to overspend while you’re enjoying New Braunfels… but you don’t have to! Here are some great options for those looking for things to do in town on a budget.
Also known as Old Gruene Market Days, these beloved local farmers markets and craft fair events have been going on for years. Stop by to see what the locals have been up to… and to buy some of their wares!
Open your eyes to a whole new world… that’s been hidden right under the surface of the one you know so well. At Natural Bridge Caverns, you and your family can explore the inside of the stunning local caves, which are the largest known commercial caverns in the state of Texas!
There’s plenty to see and do in New Braunfels without spending a single cent! Here are a few of our best suggestions.
Along with all the great state parks listed above, there are also some excellent local and regional parks in the New Braunfels area. For example, Cypress Bend Park comprises more than 16 acres of Texas countryside, including ample riverfront area, and Fischer Park, the largest in the New Braunfels park system, hosts a variety of amenities including playgrounds, spraygrounds, fishing ponds, kayak rentals and more. (Rentals may come at an additional cost, but the parks are free to enter!)
Everyone needs some TLC from time to time. Here are some of the best day spas and salons to get pampered at in New Braunfels.
Offering a wide range of massage treatments, including hot stones and herb-infused facial towels, The Body Shoppe Spa is a local go-to for those in need of some rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. They also have a number of special packages to help you get the most enjoyment for your dollar — win win!
A full-service spa and salon offering everything from massages and facials to hair color and nail care, The Retreat Salon & Day Spa will help you get ready for your big day… or just to face your Tuesday. Whatever you need, they’re on it!
Want to get in shape — or just get your head in the game? A great sweat sesh can help with either; here are the best gyms and yoga studios in New Braunfels to help you achieve your goals.
The best gyms aren’t necessarily the ones with a lot of frills. Straightforward and effective, American Fitness Center offers you all the equipment and motivation you need to get a move on toward your goals in a friendly and professional environment, from strength training to cardio and more.
Hot yoga is just the beginning at Gypsy Waltz Hot Yoga Studio, which also offers hot rowing, hot indoor cycling, and hot barre classes. Guaranteed to help you work up a sweat, this place is also committed to mindfulness and helping each member get truly connected with both their minds and their bodies.
While you certainly don’t need to leave New Braunfels to stay entertained, there’s plenty to see within an easy drive! Here are a couple of our favorite day trips for folks in New Braunfels to consider.
It may only be an hour away… but that’s exactly why it’s such a great day trip! Austin is home to some excellent bars, restaurants, and entertainers, as well as a range of outdoor activities and also the flagship Whole Foods (bet you didn’t know!). We have a whole Austin guide to get you started! It’s less than an hour away from New Braunfels, so what do you have to lose?
Maybe better for a weekend getaway than a day trip, these two towns both have plenty to offer — from the urban landscape of Houston to the beautiful beach fronts of Galveston. Meander along the sand or enjoy the festive boardwalk area, complete with amusement park rides and, of course, fair food. You can find our Houston guide here.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in New Braunfels that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in New Braunfels? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal!