Once a major cotton producer settled by German farmers along the Guadalupe River, the historic district of New Braunfels known as Gruene is now a tourist town that’s cornered the market on quaint. While throngs of visitors search for “toob rentals,” you might just prefer to drift down the town’s main strip, with its old water tower and hand-painted signs beckoning visitors inside rustic cottages-turned-boutiques, wine bars, and eateries.
Live music in the courtyard of The Grapevine is a must, as is a complimentary Texas wine tasting—we liked the decadent blackberry offering from Texas SouthWind Vineyard in Refugio. Down the street, we hit the Winery on the Gruene, which pours award-winning fruit infusions including a green apple gewürztraminer and watermelon white Merlot.
Sizzling fajitas at Cantina del Rio and white truffle fries at Mozie’s both hit the spot, but you won’t want to leave town without a visit to The Gristmill for a feast of Polish wedding sausage and ribs. Nestled on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe, this 41-year-old establishment was once a three-story brick boiler room for a water-powered mill that fueled the town’s cotton gin.
Neighboring Gruene Hall, Texas’s oldest operating dance hall, drips with old-timey charm. Acts like George Strait and Lyle Lovett cut their teeth at the 6,000-square-foot space, open since 1878. Order a Shiner Bock and dried sausage, kick up your boots, and take in Gruene for what it is: a piece of living history.
The brand-new condos at Old Mill Resort, full of rustic Hill Country charm, are secluded—you’ll spot deer here after dark—but just a short walk to the historic district. Spacious two- and three-bedroom suites come equipped with all the necessities, like a full kitchen stocked with cookware and excellent java from Gruene Coffee Haus down the road. Suites from $300.