25 Best Things To Do In Gruene TX For A Weekend Getaway

Are you planning a trip to Gruene TX sometime soon? If not, you should! This little historic town is absolutely PACKED with charm and character! It's home to the oldest dance hall in Texas and a bunch of adorable shops and restaurants. I've lived in Texas my whole life and I've made plenty of trips to Gruene. I'll share some of the best things to do in Gruene TX for your next weekend getaway. 

Gruene Hall

The town of Gruene is pretty small. Actually, you'll probably be shocked at just how tiny it is when you arrive. For as much press and publicity as it gets, Gruene Historic District sure is a teeny little place. But there's power in personality, and Gruene definitely isn't lacking there! 

From the river culture to the music scene (psst: there's more than one good music venue here!) to my own guide to the best restaurants in Gruene to the adorable bars, here are the best things to do in Gruene, TX. 

A Brief (Fun) History Lesson

Super short and fun lesson, ok y'all?

Gruene is OLD! I mean, by Texas standards.

German farmers settled in the 1840s to grow and pick cotton.

Ernst Gruene and his sons built the first house there (it still exists and you can book a room in it!!) and a frame house (which is now an adorable little shop!).

A Cotton Gin was built and the town was basically booming, all the way to the 1900s.

Gruene General Store

And then...decline. 

A particular species of beetles (boll weevil) killed the cotton industry in the 1920s. And the Great Depression wasn't a huge help, either. 

It was pretty much a ghost town for the next 50 years.

But then... ! In the 1970s, thanks to a UT architecture student, some businesspeople, and some good ol' PR, the town of Gruene had a revival. The old buildings were restored and renovated, and word started spreading about this adorable historic town in the Texas hill country. 

Gruene TX

Honestly, here's exactly what to do in Gruene

I'll share more details below, but here's a (very quick) synopsis of the best things to do in Gruene. 

The Barn Gruene TX

It's a tiny town. You could be fine just spending one day here, or maybe an overnight stay (so you can stay up late, go to the dance hall, crash somewhere fun, and eat brunch the next day.) 

Gristmill River Restaurant

There are really only 4 main things that visitors love to do in Gruene: 

  1. See a concert at Historic Gruene Hall. It's the oldest dance hall in Texas and some pretty legendary people play at this no-air-conditioning music venue. 
  2. Browse the shops in the historic district. It really is so darling. 
  3. Eat and drink at the Gruene TX restaurants and bars. 
  4. Float the river. 

That's really about it! Of course, I have plenty of recommendations for the best restaurants and unique places to stay. For more details and specifics, read on! 

5 Insider Tips For Visiting Gruene, TX

Like I mentioned, it's teeeeeny little place and it's absolutely packed with charm. But there's not a whole lot to know about this place (unlike planning a trip to, say, NYC or Chicago.) However, there are a few things that you should know before you visit Gruene: 

1. Gruene isn't a city.

It's actually just a historic district within New Braunfels. So when you're looking for establishments and addresses, everything will be listed as "New Braunfels, TX" on the address. 

Gruene TX

It's a town within the city of New Braunfels. So if you're looking for more fun things to do in Gruene TX, you could easily go to Landa Park or do any of these New Braunfels activities because they're all nearby.

2. You could walk the entire downtown in 5 minutes.

The entire town of Gruene is just 25 acres! When you're browsing the antique shops and restaurants in the historic downtown, you'll probably spend a few hours walking around.

But if you're walking with purpose from one side to the other, you could cover the entire historic downtown district at Gruene Road and Hunter Roads in about 5 minutes. Yup! 

Gruene TX

3. Avoid the weekends, if you can.

Try to go to Gruene on the weekdays and avoid a Friday or Saturday trip. This is true for any tourist town or destination, but it's especially true for little-bitty Gruene Texas.

Since this town is so small, it doesn't have a lot of space for the weekend crowds...and it gets packed. (Ha - have we established that Gruene is small yet?) 

4. It's a good pit stop on the way to/from another Texas destination.

If you're driving to/from Austin, Dallas, or San Antonio, you're going to be going up or down I35. Gruene is an excellent place to add into your trip because it's also on I35! 

It's not the type of place you'd want to visit and stay for a full week. It's fun for a day trip, or maybe a short weekend, but there's not a lot to do here to fill up more than about 48 hours. 

Fickle Pickles

5. You'll get sick of the "Gruene" puns.

Gruene is pronounced "green," and businesses take advantage of that. Gruene Grove. Winery on the Gruene. Gruene Light. The Gruene Door. 

THEY JUST DON'T STOP. 

Simply embrace it and laugh and know that most establishments will have a "Gruene" pun in the title. I mean, they have to, right? 

Gruene Hall

25 Best Things To Do In Gruene TX For A Weekend Getaway

1. See A Show At Gruene Hall

Gruene Hal

Gruene Hall is the oldest dance hall in Texas. Its stage has welcomed George Strait, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Garth Brooks, and many (many!) other live entertainment icons. 

It has live music every single day, including some free shows on the weekdays. 

Gruene Hall

Honestly, this is just a must-do bucket list item for every single Texan. The dusty wooden floors, ancient stage, low ceilings, and cash-only bar are the most iconic part of Gruene, TX. You simply can't go to Gruene without going to Gruene Hall! 

Gruene Hall stage

In  the afternoons they open the front door and you can wander inside, get a drink at the bar, and see the space. So even if you're just stopping by Gruene for a quick afternoon visit, be sure to at least peek inside and see this piece of Texas history. 

WEBSITE | 1281 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

2. Tubing with Rockin R River Rides

Rockin' R River Rides

River culture is a whole thing in Gruene. Folks love to float the river in a tube or a raft, or just enjoy a lazy afternoon of river sittin' with an ice cold beer. 

The Guadalupe River runs right through the middle of Gruene. In fact, the Guadalupe powered the historic Cotton Gin back in the 1800s! 

Rockin R River Rides

Nowadays, you can float the river and enjoy a few hours of sunshine and relaxation. Rockin' R River Rides is the company I typically use. They're consistently good.

As far as all the details, like bringing alcohol or cans on the river, rules about music, what to pack, how long the river ride will last, prices, etc., just check the Rockin R website for the most up-to-date details. 

WEBSITE | 4484 River Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78132

3. Go to the Secret Speakeasy in Gruene

The Gruene Grove

Did you know there's a speakeasy in Gruene? It's really cute! Head to Gruene Grove and they'll direct you toward Goodwins, which is open 7 days a week starting at 7 pm. You can enjoy craft cocktails, bites, and live music. 

By the way: Goodwin was actually the original name of Gruene! The town changed names eventually because the Gruene family played such a big part in establishing it.

WEBSITE | 8400 N New Braunfels Ave, San Antonio, TX 78209

4. Or...Grab A Meal at Gruene River Grill

Gruene River Grill

If you care more about food than ambiance, I think that Gruene River Grill offers some of the best dining in Gruene. It's been open since 2004, so it doesn't have the same charm as Gristmill River Restaurant. But it has a lively ambiance, a well-rounded menu, and a great staff. 

Most people who visit Gruene dine at Gristmill River Restaurant. It's right next to Gruene Hall, so it's convenient. And yes, their onion rings are kind of famous. And the fact that the restaurant is inside an 1878 cotton gin is cool. HOWEVER, as far as quality of food goes, Gruene River Grill surpasses Gristmill.

Try the tri-fecta to start (queso, guac, and roasted salsa) and go for the Gruene chicken enchiladas if you want a bit of Tex Mex while you're in town. Their hand-cut steak is a great choice, too. This isn't a fancy restaurant, but they do a great job in their niche. 

WEBSITE | 1259 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

5. Go Antique Shopping

Gruene Antique Co

It's pretty much impossible to NOT go to an antique store while you're in Gruene! "Antiquing" for souvenirs and furniture and art and other gems is a huge part of the culture in this little town. 

Gruene Antique Co

Gruene Antique Co. is one of the major attractions for antique lovers. You can also check out Black Swan Antiques and Traveling Gypsy. 

WEBSITE | 1607 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

6. Buy a Pair of Texas Boots

Gruene Boot Co

Grab a pair of cowboy boots before you see a show at Gruene Hall! If you're new to Texas and you haven't bought your boots yet, Gruene Boot Co. is definitely the place to go. 

WEBSITE | 1601 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

7. Stay at the Gruene Mansion Inn

Gruene Mansion Inn

The Gruene Mansion Inn is the cream of the crop when it comes to adorable bed and breakfasts in this town. It was the original home that Henry B Gruene built when he and his dad were first establishing this town in the 1800s... and now it's been converted into a beautiful inn. 

Gruene Mansion Inn

Every room has unique historic touches like clawfoot tubs and handmade furniture. Plus, Gruene Mansion Inn is literally next door to Gruene Hall. You can't get a better location! 

For the absolute best place to stay in Gruene, the 1872 Gruene Mansion Inn is your best bet. 

WEBSITE | 1275 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

8. Listen to Live Music at Gruene Grove

Sure, Gruene Hall is always going to be listed as the best place to listen to live music in Gruene. But Gruene Grove is a close second! 

The lively outdoor space is a family-friendly spot with live music, brats, Texas wine, cold beer, and delicious cocktails. (And you already read about their fun downstairs speakeasy, Goodwins...remember?) 

This is a casual spot that's good for a last-minute thing to do in Gruene, TX. 

WEBSITE | 1263 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

9. Olive Oil Tasting At Gruene Olive Tasting Room

Gruene Olive Tasting Room

This is one of the more unique things to do in Gruene, and it's definitely worth it! Stop by the adorable Gruene Olive Tasting Room to taste their olive oil and vinegar on tap. It's a great spot to get Christmas gifts if you're in Gruene during the month of December! 

WEBSITE | 1641 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

10. Stay At a Bed & Breakfast in Gruene

Gruene River Hotel And Retreat

I already mentioned Gruene Mansion Inn, but there are MANY fantastic little bed & breakfasts in Gruene. 

If you're planning an overnight stay in this little town, I recommend booking a fun and unique inn where you can get a good feel for the city. 

11. Stop By Old Gruene Market Days

Gruene Antique Co

Old Gruene Market Days are so much fun, and it's worth planning your trip to Gruene around this little weekend! 

It features 100 artisans selling handmade items like crafts, food, and art. There's free parking, free entertainment, and lots of great gift ideas! 

Old Gruene Market Days happen on the 3rd weekend of the month from February - November, and then on the first weekend of the month in December. 

WEBSITE | 1724 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

12. Load Up On Fickle Pickles

Fickle Pickles

Hear me out on this one: THESE PICKLES ARE INSANE! I'm not even a "pickle person" and I can't. stop. eating. them. 

In fact, a lot of local folks say that they have out-of-town friends and family who request them to buy Fickle Pickles and send them in bulk. So if you're in Gruene, be sure to stop by and enjoy a free sample! 

Fickle Pickle

The secret recipe is a bit sweet at start, but then the garlic and chili kicks in and your bite finishes with a bit of spice. The whole thing is insanely satisfying and you'll probably eat your way through a jar in no time at all. 

WEBSITE | 118 S Main St, Boerne, TX 78006

13. Head to The Grapevine Wine Bar

The Grapevine Gruene

The Grapevine is an adorable spot where you can drink wine from 25+ Texas wineries in downtown Gruene and enjoy some live music. It's shaded by dozens of big, magnificent trees and has a sprawling outdoor patio.

The Grapevine Gruene TX

Disclaimer: the Texas wine culture is still evolving, and a lot of wine bars in small Texas towns still feature mostly sweet wines. That's the case here (although it's not 100% sweet wines!) so manage your expectations. If you're used to drinking wine in California or Washington, this isn't the same experience. 

14. River Sittin' in the Guadalupe

Gruene TX-2

If you don't feel like floating the river (or you're unable to float the river), how about some river sittin'? Here's how it works: you grab a lawn chair, get a cooler full of beverages, and you sit in the river.

This works especially well if you've booked an Airbnb that backs up to the river. That riverfront access is golden! But if not, you can just look around for public access. Enjoy watching the tubers float down the river while you lounge, cool off, listen to your Spotify playlist, and sip on your beverage of choice. 

15. Gruene General Store

Gruene General Store

There are a few original historic buildings in Gruene, and the General Store is one of them! It's a must-see Gruene attraction. 

Gruene General Store

Stop by the soda fountain for a cream soda, or browse the store for gift ideas, nostalgic candy, and the fun goodies.

WEBSITE | 1610 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

16. Browse the Boutique Shops

Gruene boutique store

The Gruene GOAT is one of my personal favorite boutiques in Gruene. They just always have something fun and unique! From tees to hats to home goods to mugs with funny phrases, this is a great place to stop by for a souvenir. 

Pomegranate is another cute one. It's named after the adorable pomegranate tree in front of the store. They sell mostly women's items, but there are a few things there for the guys and kids, too.

And Barbelles is another popular on. It's full of all sorts of women's clothing and accessories.

WEBSITE | 1263 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

17. Rhea's Ice Cream

Rhea's Ice Cream

Rhea's makes the BEST ice cream in Gruene. The small batch artisan ice cream, homemade waffle cones, and freshly-baked cookies and brownies are out-of-this-world insanely delicious. 

Rhea's Ice Cream

The menu rotates seasonally, but try the Circus Animal ice cream if it's there when you stop by. Need a dairy free ice cream option in Gruene? They have those, too! The vegan avocado coconut is delish. 

WEBSITE | 283 S Union Ave #105, New Braunfels, TX 78130

18. Make Sure You Go To Uptown Gruene

Gruene TX

A lot of Gruene tourists get "stuck" in the little intersection of Gruene Road and Hunter Road. This makes sense, because it's where the "big" attractions exist, like Gruene Hall, the General Store, Gristmill restaurant, and Gruene Mansion Inn. 

But be sure to walk the extra few hundred yards north and arrive at Uptown Gruene! This area is typically a bit less crowded, but it features some unbelievably cool stores, fantastic restaurants, and the only coffee shop in town. Speaking of...

19. Get Coffee at Gruene Coffee Haus

Gruene Coffee Haus

There's one coffee shop in Gruene, and it's adorable. Be sure to swing by Gruene Coffee Haus for a morning (or afternoon!) cup of Joe.

Gruene Coffee Haus

WEBSITE | 1720 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

20. The Great Texas Pecan Company

Great Texas Pecan Candy Co

This Texas gem is the place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth. From pecan candy like chocolate dipped chewy pralines to the favorites like cake balls and chocolate covered coffee beans, you'll definitely find something delicious to munch on.

WEBSITE | 1633 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

21. Get Outdoor Gear at Gruene Outfitters

Gruene Outfitters

Whether you love fishing, camping, or boating...or you just want to look the part, you can find pretty much anything you need at Gruene Outfitters!

WEBSITE | 1629 Hunter Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

22. Gruene Day Spa

This fun thing to do in Gruene is especially great if you've booked a couples getaway weekend...Gruene has a day spa! They are very popular (book early!) and offer all of the day spa favorites you might expect: massages, facials, waxing, and even prenatal massages. 

WEBSITE | 1633 New Braunfels St, New Braunfels, TX 78130

23. The Gruene Haus

The River Haus

Sure, there are lots of fun boutique shops in Gruene, but this is the only MUST-visit one that I will put on my list. The Gruene Haus is adorable! It's actually the original frame Haus that H.D. Gruene built in the 1870s.

Gruene River Haus

When you walk inside, you can imagine the layout of the house and which rooms used to serve which function. There are all sorts of nooks and crannies that are filled with fun, boutique items to purchase and bring home. 

WEBSITE | 1297 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

24. Margaritas at Cantina Del Rio

Cantina Del Rio

Everyone loves margaritas! Cantina Del Rio is the most popular spot in Gruene for Tex Mex. It's right next to Gristmill and just a few steps from Gruene Hall, so the location is very convenient.

Disclaimer: Cantina Del Rio is cute, but the Tex Mex food isn't awesome. However, if you're craving a cold margarita on a hot afternoon, Cantina Del Rio fits the bill. And it's pretty hard to mess up a margarita. I just can't wholeheartedly recommend the food here. 

WEBSITE | 1299 Gruene Rd, New Braunfels, TX 78130

25. Rent A Golf Cart And Cruise Around Town

Gruene TX

You definitely do NOT want to try to drive your car around Gruene during the weekends. It gets packed here! 

A great alternative is renting a golf cart. They're smaller and can zip around town easily. If you have trouble walking long distances, a golf cart is a fun way to see the town of Gruene. 

Gruene FAQ

Gruene Hall bar

When is the best time to visit Gruene?

In the summer! There aren't a lot of things to do here, and floating the river is at the top of the list. I recommend visiting in the earlier part of the summer (May/June) before it gets ridiculously hot. 

Where can you park in Gruene?

There are free parking lots all over town. They do tend to fill up on the weekends, which is one more reason to visit on a weekday if you're able. Otherwise, try to arrive early on a Saturday to snag one of those parking spots. Or leave your car at your airbnb or bed & breakfast and walk into the historic district. 

How to pronounce Gruene?

"Green." 

Gruene TX

Why is Gruene Hall famous?

Gruene Hall is famous because it's the oldest continually operating dance hall in Texas. 

The list of people who have performed there is pretty impressive. And once you visit, you'll be even more impressed by the list of names...because this is a no-frills place! The tin-roof building is only about 6,000 square feet. It has no air conditioning, just side-flaps on the sides and lots of fans to keep it cool. It really does feel like a dance hall from the 1800s. 

Gruene TX

What river runs through Gruene?

The Guadalupe. Although, technically, Gruene is a town within the city of New Braunfels, and the Comal River also runs through New Braunfels. You can float on either the Guadalupe or the Comal.

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