About halfway between San Antonio and Austin, the town of New Braunfels is pretty well known, thanks to its Schlitterbahn water park and the Gruene historic district. I probably should have made a quick pass through Gruene, but on a quiet Sunday morning, there’s a good chance that most of the historic area would have been closed. Instead, I headed to downtown New Braunfels, where things were also very quiet.
As you probably guessed by all those German-sounding names, New Braunfels has some solid European roots. It was founded in 1845 by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, who arranged for hundreds of other Germans to follow him to Texas. As a result, the town has the feel of a small European town. On one corner in the center of town, you’ll find the Comal County courthouse, built in 1898…
… and across the street, there’s a town square.
Just a couple of blocks from the center of town, you’ll find New Braunfels’ most historic place to stay, the Faust Hotel. It was originally known as the Travelers Hotel when it opened in 1929, but was renamed a few years later in honor of the man who built it, then kept it open through the Great Depression.
Take a few minutes to walk around downtown New Braunfels, and you’ll spot a few old ghost signs…
… and murals. This one depicts the German tradition of Spass und Gemutlichkeit, or Fun and Fellowship — both of which go hand in hand with sausage-making, apparently.
The Phoenix Saloon dates back to 1871, and was the first bar in Texas to serve women. It’s just been recently restored, after years as a department store.
The Brauntex Theatre now hosts live performances, instead of films. It originally opened in 1942, and was extensively remodeled around the turn of the 21st century.
The railroad tracks run next to the Brauntex…
… where you’ll also find the New Braunfels Railroad Museum. It was closed when I was there, but you can still peek through the fence to see the old rail cars and engine on display.
Henne’s Hardware probably provides the most authentic historic experience in town.
Since I was visiting early on a Sunday morning, all I could do was peek through the front door. Obviously, Henne’s hasn’t changed much in the past few decades.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Live Oak, through New Braunfels, to the San Marcos area: