- Float a stretch of the Guadalupe (arrange equipment and logistics through Rockin’ R River Rides). Pick up a Gruene T-shirt or a new hat at Gruene Trading Company, built in the 1880s as a home for H.D. Gruene’s foreman. Have a pulled-pork sandwich and a Shiner Bock at the Gristmill Restaurant. Then go dancing or see live music at Gruene Hall. Stay at downtown New Braunfels’ Faust Hotel & Brewing Company (rates start at $99 per night).
- Start off with an espresso and a muffin at Gruene Coffee Haus. Spend a few hours exploring Gruene Antique Company (check out the antique vault, a relic from when the building was a bank), then inspect the cool fossils and geodes at Natural Selections. Chow downy on Shiner Bock onion rings and a Char-King burger at Mozie’s Bar and Grill. Stay overnight at the Gruene River Inn, where private decks overlook the Guadalupe (rates start at $145 per night).
- Shop for toys (finger puppets! boomerangs! disco balls! Oscar Wilde action figures!) at Got Toys, have a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream at the Gruene General Store (the original town post office), take a fly-fishing lesson from the pros at Gruene Outfitters, enjoy a plate of nachos at Adobe Verde (turn the kids loose at the playground), pose for an old-West family portrait at Smiling Eyes Photo Gallery (prices for four people start at $51), then play a game of horseshoes at Gruene Hall. Kid-friendly hotels abound in New Braunfels proper.
- Book a massage at the Gruene Day Spa, then shop for something sparkly next door at Hillbilly Chic. Admire English and French country antiques (and look for ghosts) at Black Swan Antiques, then pick up a sturdy, beautiful coffee mug at Buck Pottery. Update your wardrobe with affordably priced, women’s on-trend casual wear and accessories at Simply Detailed. Sample a flight of wines at The Grapevine—a wine shop and tasting room with a heavy focus on Texas wines—then tuck into a T-bone at the Gristmill. Stay overnight at the Gruene Mansion Inn (rates start at $190 per night).
From the January 2013 issue