Texas Hill Country: Best Things to Do around New Braunfels, TX

We decided to go to the Texas Hill Country for vacation and found a bunch of fun things to do in New Braunfels, TX. This is part 1 of a series covering New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Dripping Springs and San Antonio. New Braunfels, TX has an absolute ton of fun and historic things to do. Join Erin and I as we show you some of the really fun things to do in and around New Braunfels, TX.

The City of New Braunfels is a town incorporated in 1845 and is known for it’s German and Hispanic roots.  New Braunfels covers roughly 45 square miles and has a growing population close to 100K. The Comal and Guadalupe rivers both run through New Braunfels where you will see lots of tubers or others out enjoying the water.   The City also features 41 parks including the 62-acre Fischer Park overlooking the city and the 51-acre Landa Park located within walking distance of New Braunfels’ historic downtown area.

Artistic mural
Murals

New Braunfels is on the eastern most edge of Texas Hill country (#1 on the map below) and sits between Austin and San Antonio on I-35. It is a primo location with lots of attractions and a great starting point for many of the Texas Hill Country attractions. 

Four starting point hubs for the travel

The Historic Faust Hotel and Brew Company

We stayed 2 nights at the historic Faust Hotel and Brewing Company while in New Braunfels. Shortly after World War I, New Braunfels’ community leaders, led by Walter Faust Sr., developed the Traveler’s hotel which opened on October 12, 1929.  The Travelers Hotel was renamed after Mr. Faust in 1936. The historic Faust Hotel has been designated a Texas Historic Landmark as well as has placement on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  Their newly redesigned guest suites feature 1920’s Art Deco design with modern amenities.  The Faust Brewpub is an onsite bar and restaurant featuring beer-inspired cuisine with a German Brauhaus flare. We enjoyed a dinner there after checking in on our first night. 

Front of Faust Hotel
The front of the historic Faust Hotel
Lobby of historic Faust Hotel
Front lobby of the historic Faust Hotel
Lobby of historic Faust Hotel
Front lobby of the historic Faust Hotel
Lobby of historic Faust Hotel
Front lobby of the historic Faust Hotel
Lobby of historic Faust Hotel
Front lobby of the historic Faust Hotel
Bedroom at historic Faust Hotel
Our room at the historic Faust Hotel
Official Historical Medallion for historic Faust Hotel
The Texas Historical Commission Official Historical Medallion
Historic Landmark at historic Faust Hotel
National Register of Historical Places

New Braunfels Farmers Market

We decided to visit the New Braunfels Farmer’s market which was just on the next block over from the historic Faust Hotel and Brew Company. The New Braunfels Farmers Market is dedicated to building a healthy community by providing a Market for local Farmers, Ranchers, Growers, and Artisans to connect with the people of New Braunfels and surrounding areas. We always make a point to try to visit a local Farmer’s market as it helps support people like us. ​The Market is held every Saturday, year-round, 9am – 1pm in Historic Downtown New Braunfels at 186 S. Castell Avenue.  

New Braunfels Farmers Market
Welcome sign for New Braunfels Farmer’s Market
Smoked Meats and Boudin at New Braunfels Farmers Market
A smoked meat, German sausage and boudin vendor.
Produce  at New Braunfels Farmers Market
A vendor with beautiful fresh produce for sell.
Chicken feet dog treats at New Braunfels Farmers Market
A Dog food and treats Vendor.
Goat milk at New Braunfels Farmers Market
A Goat dairy and cheese vendor
Smoked Meat and Cheese at New Braunfels Farmers Market
A smoked meat vendor

The Fischer Store

Fischer Store is still owned by Hermann Fischer’s descendants, who are focused on preserving and sharing the history of the general store, the family, and the community. The current store was built in 1902! Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we visited but is an extremely cool looking building.

Fischer General Store
Fischer General Store
Fischer General Store
The Fischer Store Texas Historical Landmark sign.

The Gruene Historic District

The Gruene Historic District was on our list of must visits and has to be on your’s!  This beautiful little historic town is on the outskirts of New Braunfels right on the Guadalupe River.  It’s definitely a popular attraction as I think we had to park in the back 40. 

Gruene itself has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the buildings have been awarded a Texas medallion from the Texas Historical Commission. It has also been recognized by the Texas travel industry as a premiere attraction for visitors, which is no surprise to its merchants and guests. 

Houses were built in various styles — a Victorian cottage (now Lone Star), a large brick home, and a frame house (now Gruene Haus) for the foreman of the cotton farm.

Gruene Mansion
Gruene Mansion

The Gruene Hall, built in 1878, is Texas’ oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall. It has a 6,000 square foot dance hall with a high pitched tin roof still.  It still has the original layout with side flaps for open air dancing and a bar in the front. 

historic Gruene Dance Hall
The Gruene Hall
Gruene Water Tower
Gruene Water Tower

A cotton gin (now the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar) powered by the Guadalupe River was built which supported the cotton industry in the Guadalupe valley.

Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar in Gruene
Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar

In 1922, the original cotton gin burned and was replaced by a modern electric model down the road (now Adobe Verde).

Gruene Cotton Gin in Gruene
Texas Historical Medallion for Ruins of Gruene Cotton Gin

These are ruins from the original Gristmill.

Ruins of Gruene Cotton Gin in Gruene, Texas Hill Country
Ruins of Gruene Cotton Gin

We had a nice lunch sitting in the Gristmill restaurant.

Cold beer at Gristmill Restaurant in Gruene
Cold beer at Gristmill Restaurant in Gruene

The first mercantile store (now Gruene General Store) was built in 1878

We picked up some extremely tasty black cherry infused black balsamic vinegar and some fig infused white balsamic vinegar. It is quite tasty!!

Gruene Olive Tasting Room
Uptown Gruene
Interesting Name for a Nut Vendor

Canyon Lake Dam

We next made the short trip over to the Canyon Lake Dam. Construction of Canyon Dam on the Guadalupe River Mile 303 began in 1958. Canyon Dam was dedicated on April 20 1966. The total cost was $20.2 million. 

It was constructed to serve two purposes – flood control and water conservation. Flood protection is provided to 157,250 acres of land downstream from the dam. The high canyons of the upper Guadalupe have a channel capacity of 40,000-50,000 cubic feet per second. The channel on the lower Guadalupe River has a capacity of only 13,000-30,000 cubic feet per second; therefore, the lower Guadalupe River Basin had been especially subject to serious flooding. The construction of Canyon Dam on the edge of the Balcones Escarpment has been very effective in protecting the lower Guadalupe River Basin. 

Canyon Lake Dam
Marking Memories on Canyon Lake Dam
Canyon Lake Dam

The Historic Faust Street Bridge

The Historic Faust Street Bridge, built in 1887, is an impressive Whipple Truss Bridge that towers high above the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels. It was constructed by King Iron and Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio in 1887. This monumental truss structure extends more than 640 feet in length across the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels.  It was scorched in a fire more than 20 years ago, the majestic structure now carries pedestrians and bicyclists. 

The county built the Faust Street Bridge within feet of the Guadalupe River crossing of the Old San Antonio Road (or Camino Real). Prior to the completion of the bridge in 1887, travelers often had to wait long periods of time at this crossing until the waters were low enough to ford. The bridge served as a major crossing for all traffic between Austin to San Antonio from 1887 to 1934.

East entrance to the historic Faust Street Bridge
Faust Street Bridge Texas Historical Site
View from the Faust Street Bridge
View from the Faust Street Bridge

Landa Park and Murals

The New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department operates the City’s recreation, athletic, aquatic, and nature programs, along with maintaining 41 parks, including the Landa Park Golf Course, comprising over 700 acres of park land.  There are murals painted in various locations on this beautiful park within the city and downtown as well.

Landa Park
Landa Park
Landa Park
Deer on the Landa Park Golf Course

There were various murals painted on the sides of building. It is some incredible art that you have to see for yourself. The pictures doesn’t give them any justice!

Mural in Landa Park
Mural in Landa Park

Downtown Square and Murals

We next went on foot near the Town Square. This is the Camal Country Courthouse. It was built in 1887 and is still in use today.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in Comal County, Texas in 1976 and designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1993.

This is New Braunfels’ town square and has a number of monuments to the town’s founders and leaders as well as people that have given their live fighting in various conflicts to keep everybody else free.

Whether you’ve lived, visited, or merely passed through New Braunfels, you’ve probably noticed the colorful displays of public art lining the downtown area. But do you know the story behind them? More than just lively additions to the area’s aesthetic, these murals trace the vibrant history of New Braunfels and invite residents and visitors to revisit the colorful stories and people who have shaped the town’s culture.  They are a part of a walking museum so-to-speak. The details are listed in the link below:

New Braunfels Historic Outdoor Art Museum: https://www.nbmurals.org/

Murals
Murals
Murals
Murals

Krause’s Beer Garden

We were walking around and saw a number a murals on the backside of a building. As we walked around to the front, we realized there was an entrance to Krause’s Cafe. As we went a bit further, we noticed the incredible and fun Krause’s Beer Garden. We stopped and had a refreshment or two. We had a great time in this fun place.

Krause’s Beer Garden
Krause’s Beer Garden
Krause’s Beer Garden

Conclusion

Erin and I wanted to check out the Texas Hill Country but wasn’t sure what all it had to offer. We planned our trip around 4 hub cities which included New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Dripping Springs and San Antonio. It was an absolute blast and we didn’t even come close to seeing all the great attractions. I’d strongly consider New Braunfels, and Texas Hill Country in general, for making memories on a trip with your significant other and family.

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