Many know New Braunfels for the slip and slides of Schlitterbahn, but that’s just one slice of this German town. A passion for the past mixed with many new adventures await you in a town that will make your day trip truly das beste. To download this episode or purchase it on DVD — CLICK HERE.
To start your day, visit Naegelin’s Bakery, the oldest bakery in Texas dating back to 1868. The fresh baked goods are made with age-old German recipes. The apple strudel is amazing and the old-fashioned German cookies like “spingerles” and “Pfeffernusses” will have you thinking you’re back in the motherland.
If you’re looking to add a little spice to your day, then stop by the Phoenix Saloon, a chili parlor housed in the building where chili powder was invented in 1894. They serve it the Texan way (read: the right way), as every bowl of chili is served bean-free with chunks of sirloin and lots of spice. Be warned, the “ring of fire” bowl requires a waiver. They’ve also got burgers and sandwiches for all those who don’t like chili (if that’s even possible…). 😉
The best way to learn about the German roots of New Braunfels and Prince Carl, the German Prince who settled the area, is to visit the Sophienburg Museum. Here, you’ll see tons of German artifacts such as a recreation of the ship that families took to arrive in Texas.
Another place that is historic in its own right, and one of America’s most iconic roadside attractions, is Snake Farm (cue the Ray Wiley Hubbard). This zoo sits right on the highway and has been curing snake fears since 1967. They’ve got a wide range of the world’s creepiest snakes from Black Mambas to Rattlers and Cobras. If snakes aren’t your thing, step outside to an incredible zoo with lions, hyenas, and more. Don’t miss the weekly gator feedings. CHOMP!
One can’t mention New Braunfels without mentioning the famous Comal River. At 2 miles long, it’s the shortest river in Texas, and perfect for an afternoon float. The most popular place to start your float is Prince Solms Park. Grab your tube, your beverage of choice, and hop in. While most of this river is slow moving, the city tube shoot near the beginning will give you all the whitewater you can handle and has been known to flip many a floater. You might want to hold onto your stuff, or else be prepared to make an involuntary donation to the river depths.
For a more adrenaline-pumping experience, head to the Texas Ski Ranch, where you can learn to wakeboard without a boat. Just grab a board and hold on tight as a cable-system pulls you around a circular lake. My advice for first timers: watch out for the turns, and be prepared to spend more time under the water than on top of it!