In New Braunfels, family traditions abound
From its crystal-clear rivers spring Texas’ treasures that keep families flowing back to the picturesque German town
Warm Texas spring and summer days are ideal for floating down the river or visiting a world-class waterpark, gazing in wonder at baby giraffes or traversing 180 feet down below the earth to view ancient rock formations. From Texas’ oldest dance hall to a retro drive-in theater, New Braunfels offers plenty of family-friendly fun, served up by local family-owned businesses.
“Some of the top attractions in New Braunfels build on the traditions of the families that have lived here for generations,” said Judy Young, vice president of the New Braunfels Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The people here are proud of their heritage and it shows in the one-of-a-kind experiences they share with visitors.”
Here’s a look at four reasons to stay and play a little longer in New Braunfels.
Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch
Go on safari, Texas-style! Amazing animals from all over the world roam over 450 acres of scenic, protected environment at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. From Arabian Oryx to zebras, visitors can observe 500 animals from 40 exotic, native and endangered species, all from the comfort of their vehicles.
The ranch is a Texas Land Heritage Property, certified by the State of Texas for being used for agriculture by the same family for over 100 years. Seven generations call the ranch home.
In addition to providing thrills to visitors, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is dedicated to animal conservation. Their successful giraffe breeding program spawned rare twin giraffes in 2013.
Natural Bridge Caverns
Right next door – and 180 feet below the earth’s surface – is Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest cave in Texas. A guided half-mile exploration takes visitors through huge underground chambers past elaborate ancient rock formations, all created by single drops of water and the slow passage of time.
Back above ground, several other attractions keep the thrills coming. Twisted Trails opened this year and is the largest outdoor sky rail in the world covering over 13,500 feet. The 60-foot high aerial adventure ropes course challenges visitors with 50 elements suspended high above the ground. Multiple zip rails offer aerial views of the Texas Hill Country.
Gruene Historic District
Gruene Historic District in New Braunfels offers another step back in time. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and gently resisting change since 1872, Gruene is home to Texas’ oldest dance hall, which is still drawing top musicians today.
Gruene Hall, like the rest of the town, has been lovingly preserved with a dedication to maintaining its rustic, turn-of-the-century look. Many of Gruene’s shops, eateries and other venues are housed in buildings that date back to the town’s roots as a cotton-farming community in the mid-1800s.
Dig into a hearty meal at the Gristmill, perched high above the Guadalupe River in what was originally a cotton gin, dating back to the 1880s. Gruene General Store occupies the building that housed the area’s first mercantile, built in 1878.
Stars and Stripes Drive-In
Fast-forward ahead in time and you’ll land at another favorite New Braunfels destination: the Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theater, with a vintage vibe and classic movies playing alongside the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
When Ryan Smith founded the theater in 2015, he was inspired by the drive-in theater his grandfather started in 1948. With a calling to revitalize this slice of Americana, Smith purchased a farm just outside of New Braunfels to create a modern, family-friendly drive-in theatre experience.
Get some snacks from the 50’s Café, roll down the windows and sit back to enjoy a beautiful summer’s night under the Texas stars.
For a complete listing of New Braunfels attractions and events visit www.playinnewbraunfels.com.