New Braunfels is a resort town in the Texas Hill Country.
New Braunfels is usually considered a vacation destination. While it has no university of its own, it has a distinct college town feel, probably due to the huge numbers of students from universities in nearby San Antonio and San Marcos. As the name implies, it has a German heritage, and many of the local attractions capitalize on this. Most of the town's revenue comes from tourism drawn by the incredible rivers.
New Braunfels is situated on IH-35 at SH-46, near the Comal and Guadalupe rivers. Unless you charter a bus or small plane, personal vechicle travel is really the only way to get in. From San Antonio, head north on IH-35 about half an hour (30 miles) until you reach the SH-46 exit. From Austin, head south on IH-35 for about an hour (60 miles), past San Marcos, and exit SH-46. From Houston, head west on IH-10 about two and a half hours (150 miles), exit SH-46, and head north for about half an hour (30 miles more).
Personal vehicle travel is the only effective motorized transportation in town. Print, download, or buy a local map and brave the roads. Traffic during summer weekends is very heavy. Prince Solms Park often has free parking after the for-pay lot is full. Parking costs $5-$10 depending on location. Many tube rental shops offer free parking all day with rental.
With heavy traffic and crowded roads, bicycle and foot are appealing travel options. There are few, if any, bicycle rental shops in town, so if you want to use one, bring your own. Remember that bicycles are considered vehicles in the eyes of law enforcement, so obey all traffic laws (in practice, most officers are happy to have the reduction in motor vehicle traffic, and offer extreme leniency to any cyclist who is not doing anything very stupid or immediately life-threatening).
The Comal and Guadalupe rivers offer beautiful sights when they're not packed with tubers (that is, people - often quite drunk - floating down the river in inflated innertubes, not starchy plant roots). While locals and authorities are very proactive at removing trash and assisting the public in proper trash disposal, litter is a big problem. If you want to see rivers in a more natural state, you might consider San Marcos.
- Schlitterbahn, ☎ 830-625-2351, . Consistently called the best waterpark in the world. See web site for various ticket prices, reserve rooms early to ensure availability.
This seems to be what the comal river was created for. People get (or rent) a large innertube, stuff a loaded cooler in another innertube, hop in the water, and float a few miles down the river. The services of a tubing shuttle are often employed to get from the end back to the insertion point, but because of loops in the river it's a very short walk. If you can't or don't want to bring your own tube, there is a nearly endless array of rental agencies to choose from. Most offer personal and cooler tube rentals, shuttle service, and parking. Note a recent ordinances prohibit carrying coolers with a capacity over 16 quarts on the river in city limits , and consumption or carrying an open container of an alcoholic drink in city parks .
- City Tube Rental, Liberty Ave. (Liberty, between Common and South). Run by the city of New Braunfels. Tube rental also has a $10 deposit, returned when you return the tubes - you are asked to write your name on the receipt, which is kept on file for the day, and your deposit is returned when you provide the rented tubes and name on the receipt. Parking: $7/vehicle, Admission: $5 (not required for tubing), Shuttle: $10/trip, Tube rental: $7 (plus $10 deposit).
- Felger's Tube Rental, Liberty Ave. (Liberty, between Common and South). Offers tubes, shuttles, and parking.
- Wurstfest, ☎ 800-221-4369, . German for "sausage festival", is held for ten days, beginning the Friday before the first Monday in November. Consessions are sold throughout the grounds. Admission: $8/person.
- Landa Park. A large park along the Comal river. It has lots of trails and open spaces, but is not very secluded.
- Fair Park. On the Gaudalupe.
- Cypress Bend Park. On the Guadalupe
- Historic down town New Braunfels, (West San Antonio/Spur St. at Bus. 46). A large variety of shops along the streets.
- San Marcos Outlet Mall, IH-35 (About 15 min north on IH-35).
- Pat's Place, 202 S. Union St. (Union at South, right by Prince Solms Park), ☎ 830-629-1491. Caters to tubing groups. Proper attire is of course required by law (that is, shirts and shoes), but they take to-go orders. Their burgers come highly recommended, and they have a variety of local beer.
- Oma's Haus, 541 S. SH-46 (SH-46 just west of IH-35, before Freiheit Rd./FM 1101), ☎ 830-625-3280, . A bavarian restarant near the edge of town. The food comes highly recommended, and a wide variety of imported German beers are available. $10.
- Clear Springs Texas Seafood, 1692 S. SH-46 (SH-46 just north of IH-35), ☎ 830-629-3775, . Known for its fried catfish.
- The Faust Brewing Company, 240 S. Segun Ave., ☎ 830-625-7791, . New Braunfels' only microbrewery.
- Pat's Place, 202 S. Union St. (Union at South, right by Prince Solms Park), ☎ 830-629-1491. Has a full bar with several Texas beers.
- On the Half Shell, 203 S. Seguin Ave. (1/2 block south of the square), ☎ 830-627-7766. Known as the "OB" to locals, this bar has a full bar with a fun atmosphere.
- The Other Place, 385 Other Place Dr., ☎ 830-625-5114, . Has cottages on a bend in the Comal river. Low-cost tube rentals and shuttle service are available for guests.
- The Faust Hotel, 240 S. Seguin Ave., ☎ 830-625-7791, . An historic hotel, built in 1929 and decorated in 30s style. Don't forget to check out the in-house brewpub.
- San Antonio is a nearby city with a lot of history and attractions.
- San Marcos is a college town and has larger stretches of river in a more natural state.
- Austin is the capitol of Texas, has endless quirks and is definitely worth at least a day trip.
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