On the edge of New Braunfels is a fun little town called Gruene. Locals pronounce it Green. Only a 2.5 hour drive from Houston and 45 minute drive from Austin, this old-town-country, tourist-friendly spot is a great weekend getaway.
German farmers settled the area in the 1840s. The area is advertised as being bona fide Texas. My sister-in-law’s maid-of-honor reserved a cottage for us girls to enjoy a relaxing few days together before Sarah gets married.
We stayed at the Gruene Cottages. This put us half a mile from town, so on the first night we walked! Our cottage had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and living room. The other cottage choices can sleep 2 to 8 people. Rates are between $165-$285.
There seemed to be plenty of other sleeping options, but one of the popular ones is the Gruene Mansion Inn. This Victorian-style Bed and Breakfast has 30 rooms and was the home of the town’s namesake back in the day. Their rooms run anywhere from $200-$320.
My favorite meal of the weekend was at River House Tea Room. We had lunch at this quaint place, and I took a risk by ordering the duck wrap. It was fabulous! Though tea rooms generally appeal to women, I think men would enjoy the food here as well.
For dinner, my friends and I sat at a nice round table at Gruene River Grill, and the atmosphere made for good conversation. From our spot, we could see the sun setting. I enjoyed a burger with gorgonzola cheese and bacon. Yum.
The town’s 1870s cotton gin is now the popular Gristmill River Restaurant. It was dark and pouring down rain the night we visited, so I did not have the ideal experience. Supposedly you can see the Guadalupe River below, and the restaurant sits beneath the water tower.
It takes less than 10 minutes to drive to the center of New Braunfels from Gruene. You definitely want to make the short trip because right by the center circle of town is Naegelin’s Bakery. People line up to get the strudels, kolaches, and other baked loveliness. It’s been a New Braunfels “institution” for 144 years.
To sustain us through the drive home, we made a stop at Buttermilk Café in New Braunfels for breakfast. Breakfast just makes me happy.
Who doesn’t love a farmer’s market? After eating a cinnamon role at Naegelin’s Bakery we happened upon the New Braunfels Saturday morning farmer’s market. Live music, food samples, and people walking around with their dogs… fun! I bought my husband a little gift from a guy who has creatively put wine corks to use.
There are over 30 stores within walking distance in Gruene. We checked out the Gruene General Store, and I agree that it has an “ambiance of yesteryear” with its soda fountain, homemade fudge, and unusual gifts.
If you like Texas Hill Country wines, they’ve got them at The Grapevine. We took advantage of the complimentary tastings and then sat outside in the shade.
If honky tonkin’ is your thing, then you’d love Gruene Hall. It’s advertised as Texas’ oldest continually-operating dance hall. We didn’t go in, but I could see the 6,000 square foot hall was full. The first night we were in town the line to get inside went far down the street for a special concert. The second night it looked rowdy and packed. Unless you drive into New Braunfels, this looked like the only place to go late at night.
Conversation and silly bachelorette games at the cottage kept us occupied for a good amount of time. Most people know about New Braunfels for its waterpark, Schlitterbahn, and for the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers where countless people float on tubes every summer. By the end of September, the waterpark was closed for the season, but I still saw people floating on the river. As for us, we decided getting pedicures sounded more relaxing.