Located in the Texas Hill Country, one of the best things to do in San Marcos is to head on a fun day trip to New Braunfels. The New Braunfels river weaving its way through the city center is called Comal River. Surrounded by picturesque parks, it’s overrun by tubes in the summer.
If you’re looking for the best New Braunfels restaurants and New Braunfels hotels, head directly to downtown New Braunfels. As for New Braunfels shopping, check out the Gruene Historic District. One of the best things to do in New Braunfels when it’s raining is to head inside to the McKenna Children’s Museum. Here are many more fun things to do in New Braunfels.
1. Natural Bridge Caverns
One of the state’s most popular natural attractions is the Natural Bridge Caverns. The name comes from the 60ft limestone bridge that spans the cavern’s entrance. Sitting at 70 degrees year-round, the cavern’s deepest part is 180 feet below the earth’s surface. There are several tours available at Natural Bridges Caverns, including the popular Discovery Tour, the Hidden Passages Tour, the Lantern Tour, and the Adventure Tour, for people eager to get down and dirty.
2. Gruene Hall
Established in 1878, Gruene Hall is official Texas’ oldest continuously-run dance hall. It’s also a music venue for up-and-coming and established artists. Over the years, Gruene Hall has hosted the likes of Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Lyle Lovett. Today it features multiple live music events every day, as well as weekly dance lessons. A visit to Gruene Hall is one of the best things to do in New Braunfels any night of the week.
3. Landa Park
Sitting on the Comal River and surrounded by ancient oak trees, the 51-acre Landa Park is one of the city’s most popular recreation areas. There are many fun things to do in Landa Park, including walking along trails like the Panther Canyon Nature Trail; taking to the lake on a paddleboat; going for a ride on the miniature train; visiting the Landa Park Aquatic Complex; or hitting the links at the Landa Park Golf Course.
4. Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo
Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo is home to an eclectic mix of animals, including one of the country’s most diverse snake collections. Just some of the animals and reptiles you can see include the Burmese python, dromedary camels, the black mamba snake, white lions, jaguars, and Grant’s zebras. Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo hosts daily animal encounters. It is also home to the Two Rivers Mining Co, where guests can pan for treasure.
5. McKenna Children’s Museum
McKenna Children’s Museum focuses on hands-on exhibits in the space, technology, and science realms. The fun learning environment is specifically designed to “build healthy young minds and wholesome bodies.” Some of the exhibits available include Kids Clinic with a hands-on hospital, Wonder Shop the art studio, the Aquarium, and the Lend-a-Hand Ranch with a live Texas longhorn. A visit to McKenna Children’s Museum is one of the most family-friendly things to do in New Braunfels.
6. Gruene Historic District
The thriving Gruene Historic District was established by Henry D. Gruene in 1872, but German cotton farmers originally settled in the area in the 18th century. Its historic buildings are home to a range of interesting places, like the aforementioned Gruene Hall for an unforgettable night out; Gruene General Store for fun (and yum) souvenirs; Gruene Coffee Haus when you need your caffeine fix; Gruene Antique Company; and The Grapevine, a popular wine tasting room.
7. Comal River
Called the “world’s longest shortest river” by locals, the Comal River is the state’s shortest navigable river at 2.5 miles long. A tributary of the Guadalupe River, the Comal River runs through the city’s center. It’s also spring-fed, which means it has crystal clear water and remains at 72 degrees year-round. One of the most popular things to do in New Braunfels in summer is to grab a tube and float down the river.
8. Schlitterbahn Waterpark New Braunfels
Sitting on the banks of the Comal River, the city’s Schlitterbahn Waterpark has repeatedly been named one of the world’s best waterparks. It features over 50 rides and slides, with select attractions in the waterpark’s Original Section powered by water directly from Comal River. Float down the Torrent River, enjoy the thrill of the Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster, or fly high on the Skycoaster. There are also several heated pools and children water playgrounds.
9. Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theater
For a fun way to watch a movie and a really great thing to do in New Braunfels with kids – You can visit the Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre. Bring a picnic dinner, some lawn chairs, and have a blast! While many drive-in movie theatres have fallen into disrepair over the past decades since they were popular, many of these old theatres are being brought back to life and the Stars and Stripes is no exception. For an unusual thing to do in New Braunfels, the Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre should definitely be added to your list. You won’t be disappointed.
10. Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake is known as The Jewel of Texas Hill Country. It’s the name given to the lake located on the Guadalupe River, as well as the town on its banks. There are eight parks on Canyon Lake’s shoreline, which are home to campgrounds, sandy beaches, boat launches, and picnic areas. Popular things to do in Canyon Lake include swimming, hiking, hitting the golf course, fishing (it’s one of Texas’ deepest lakes), and wildlife watching.
11. Texas Tubes
As mentioned above, one of the best (and most fun) ways to experience the Comal River is to float along its crystal clear waters in a tube. Texas Tubes is a local company offering tube rentals during spring break and the summer holidays. Start from their private river entry point and float down to the famous Tube Chute. Then the shuttle service takes you back to the beginning, so you can keep floating all day.
12. Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre
Built in the late art deco period in 1942, Brauntex Theatre is a former movie theater-turned-performing arts venue. With iconic art deco signage, Brauntex Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Place. It hosts a range of performing arts events every year, including music tribute shows, local musical productions, national touring acts, ballet performances, and even magic shows. Visit the official Brauntex Theatre website for upcoming event information and to purchase show tickets.
13. Faust Street Bridge
The Faust Street Bridge is a 640-ft historic bridge that connects Faust Street to Porter Street. Crossing the Guadalupe River, the impressive combination truss bridge, with two main Whipple truss spans, was built in 1887. Constructed by Cleveland’s prolific King Bridge Company, the Faust Street Bridge is known as one of the state’s rarest and most important bridges. Restored in 1998 for non-vehicular use, today the bridge is used by pedestrians and bicycles only.
14. Prince Solms Park
Prince Solms Park is another park lying on the banks of the Comal River. Follow the river east from Landa Park and you will quickly find yourself at Prince Solms Park. It’s home to the infamous Tube Chute, which was briefly mentioned above. The Tube Chute is a unique water slide located on the side of the city’s dam. Surrounding Prince Solms Park, there’s the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, Hinman Island Park, and casual riverfront dining options.
15. Fischer Park
At 62 acres, Fischer Park is the city’s largest park. The hilltop park is home to over two miles of walking trails, the Fischer Park Nature Education Center, a children’s playground, the Fischer Park Splash Pad, and scenic city views. At the Nature Education Center, fish at the two ponds (fishing license required) and visit the Archaeology Dig with kids. Definitely head to Fischer Park if searching for family-friendly things to do in New Braunfels.
16. Texas Ski Ranch
Texas Ski Ranch is a large action sports center. With three cable systems, it’s one of the world’s top wakeboarding and cable parks. Some of the activities on offer at Texas Ski Ranch include wake surfing and cable and boat wakeboarding at the Wake Park, snow-less snowboarding and tubing at the Snow Park, paintball, and axe throwing at Loki’s Axe Haus and Bar. If you’d prefer to simply relax, there’s conveniently a one-of-a-kind beach too.