Hotels in New Braunfels, USA
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Texas lifestyle meets German heritage in New Braunfels
Situated at the gateway to picturesque Texas Hill Country, New Braunfels is a growing city with proud German roots plus seasonal festivals to match. It also boasts popular attractions like scenic parks, interesting shops and live music venues. Adventurous summertime visitors can go tubing along local waterways or enjoy making a splash at a major theme park crammed with waterslides. Conveniently located off highway I-35, this outpost of German culture in Central Texas offers a variety of hotels. In addition, it’s less than 50 miles from Austin, the state capital of Texas, and San Antonio International Airport is even closer.
Discover a treasure trove of German-style restaurants, shops and culture
New Braunfels was founded in 1845 by pioneering Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, who named the new settlement after his hometown in Germany. The community started back then by hundreds of settlers maintains strong cultural ties with Germany to this day, and visitors can expect to see German street names and architectural influences throughout the historic downtown area, where several popular hotels are located. Many restaurants in the city centre specialize in cooking from Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and on the menu, are authentic dishes like schnitzels, sausages, soups, cakes and strudels. Moreover, downtown New Braunfels boasts interesting independent shops, many selling gifts and curios with a Germanic twist. German speakers might even be able to use the language with certain shopkeepers who like to keep the old traditions alive. The city’s specialist antique shops and art galleries are another popular draw for tourists.
The rich history of the community can be researched at the Sophienburg Museum and Archives in Academy Avenue near downtown. It houses a broad collection of artefacts, photographs, documents and maps detailing the city’s origins. Meanwhile, at historic Gruene village, now a suburb of New Braunfels, holidaymakers who love music can enjoy regular live performances by up-and-coming and well-known artists, particularly those from the country and blues scenes. The Gruene Hall venue dating back to 1878 proclaims itself to be the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas. Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett are among the stars to have graced its stage down the years.
A packed calendar of winter events
Wintertime visitors to New Braunfels can delve into a packed programme of annual events. Hotels tend to fill up quickly in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when the city’s German customs and traditions are honoured at annual festivals. Wurstfest is a week-long knees-up which began in the 1960s. It has since grown into one of the largest German festivals in the USA. Taking place each November at the dedicated Wurstfest Festival Grounds, this fun event honouring the humble sausage typically attracts thousands of visitors to this part of Texas. Besides dozens of stalls serving many kinds of traditional German sausages, the festival is characterized by lederhosen-wearing oom-pah bands, local craft beer producers and children’s entertainment. Another November highlight is the Weihnachtsmarkt, which is a German-style Christmas market held at New Braunfels Civic Center. Here, visitors can stock up on Christmas decorations, gifts, toys and treats for loved ones.
In December, historic downtown New Braunfels becomes the backdrop for Wassailfest. Rooted in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic folklore, it sees dozens of booths selling wassail, a hot mulled punch made with apples. Festivalgoers are invited to sample the different brews. At the end, the best-loved wassail is hailed the winner, earning bragging rights for the successful producer, at least until the next festival rolls around.
Wet and wild attractions in and around New Braunfels
New Braunfels is the perfect summertime haunt for making a splash because it’s home to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort. This pioneering, family-friendly theme park opened in 1979 and was among the first of its kind in the world. Between April and September, thousands of travellers flock to its many waterslides and rides. Elsewhere, adventurous types can try their hand at tubing along local rivers. Many summertime visitors love nothing more than perching themselves in the hollow of a large inflated inner tube and floating downriver to take in the area’s natural beauty at a more leisurely pace. The calm waters of the short Comal River are perfect for beginners who just want to glide along with fewer hazards. More advanced tubers can pit their wits against the faster-flowing waters of the Guadalupe River, which is longer and also has some sections of rapids. Outdoors enthusiasts can also enjoy fishing, boating and walking trails at nearby lakes and reservoirs including Lake McQueeney, Lake Placid and Lake Dunlap.
Situated at the edge of Texas Hill Country, New Braunfels is the perfect launch pad for exploring attractions in the city’s hinterland. Wine lovers can try Texan tipples at many of the wineries operating in the rolling hills to the north-west of the city. Alternatively, the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo is located about five miles south-west of downtown. It offers family-friendly fun for visitors of all ages, who can get up close and personal with a wide range of creatures including snakes, otters, lions, alligators, monkeys and lemurs. The Natural Bridge Caverns, located about a 30 minutes’ drive west of New Braunfels in the suburbs of San Antonio, is one of the largest known cave systems in Texas. Visitors can take tours of this eerie, subterranean world filled with natural geological features like stalagmites and columns.