New Braunfels is known for its abundance of modern amenities and recreational opportunities, from shopping and restaurants to waterparks and natural wonders like the Guadalupe River and Canyon Lake. One of the city’s most beloved treasures, however, is the area of the town’s first settlement, which is now the Gruene Historic District.
A Brief History of the Gruene Historic District
When German settlers first arrived to the New Braunfels region in the mid-1840s, they made a living farming. New Braunfels was a newly established city, and there was scarce acreage inside the city limits. Ernst Gruene, one of the first farmers to arrive in the New Braunfels area, purchased large parcels of land just down the river from the new settlement. Gruene and his two sons built Fachwerk-style homes (one is now the Gruene Mansion Inn) and planted the surrounding areas with cotton – the number one cash crop of the time.
Once established, other farmer families flocked to the lands to help maintain the profitability of the farm. Gruene slowly built what would become a town within a town – homes for his foreman (now the Gruene Haus), a mercantile store (now Gruene General Store) and even a cotton gin (now the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar). Finally, the addition of a dance hall and saloon (Gruene Hall) helped prop up the town’s social scene.
Development skidded to a halt in the early 20th century due to several factors – the death of the Gruene patriarch, the boll weevil, and the Great Depression. Today, the Gruene Historic District has been revitalized and replaced with shops, restaurants, and other landmarks that celebrate the town’s rich history. Gruene is a member of the National Register of Historic Places and is a prime tourist destination for those planning a visit to Texas Hill Country.
Things to Do in the Gruene Historic District
Whether you are coming in from out of town or just looking to spend a day in the district, there is never any shortage of things to do.
Gruene Mansion Inn
The Gruene Mansion Inn, which is one of the first structures ever built in Gruene, is now a 30-room bed and breakfast that delivers Southern charm and hospitality. A stay includes full, gourmet-style breakfasts, and the Inn is just steps from shopping, restaurants, and Gruene Hall.
No historic district would be complete without antique shops, and Gruene is no exception. There are three main antique stores within the district, and each has a distinct style. Black Swan Antiques gets its Old World collectibles directly from Europe, while Fickle Pickles specialized in delivering antique Southern Charm (as featured in Southern Living Magazine). The Gruene Antique Company offers over 6,500 square feet of treasures and is in the old Gruene mercantile building.
If you’re looking to do some shopping while you’re there, don’t fret – in the Gruene Historic District, there truly is something for everyone. Got Toys prides itself on selecting developmentally appropriate, enriching, and fun toys for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids. The Gallerie at Gruene is your one-stop shop for all things from local artisans, including paintings, pottery, sculptures, and pottery.
Looking for a treat? Try the Texas Pecan Co, which serves up freshly made pralines and pecan-themed candies daily. If savory is more your style, try the Gruene Olive Tasting Room, which offers premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars (makes a great gift!).
Shopping can whip up an appetite, and there is something in Gruene to satisfy every craving. Some of the local favorites include:
- Cantina Del Rio. Enjoy tasty tacos, burgers, fajitas, and other south-of-the-border bar fare. Voted best margarita in New Braunfels for the past seven years!
- Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar. It is hard to compete with the natural ambience of the old cotton gin resting directly beneath the Gruene water tower. Take in the breathtaking views of the dining decks seated on the Guadalupe River and enjoy seasonal live music with your meal.
- Gruene Coffee Haus. Satisfy your caffeine craving at this cozy shop serving up espresso, roasted coffee, smoothies, cold brew, and more.
In Gruene, there is a little something for everyone. Come to shop, dine, and explore everything it has to offer, all in a historic setting. Whether you’re a tourist planning a trip or a New Braunfels resident looking for something new to do, adventure awaits in Gruene.
For more information about Gruene, visit Vintage Oaks. Vintage Oaks is a 3,900-acre masterplanned community featuring Texas land for sale from one to 14 acres priced from the $90s and a variety of custom and semi-custom homes, plus spectacular Hill Country views and towering oak trees. Owners enjoy amenities including three pools, a lazy river, children’s playgrounds, five miles of nature trails, tennis and basketball courts, sporting fields, and the stunning Tuscan clubhouse. The year-round calendar of events and activities for all ages includes the Summer Concert Series in Timber Ridge Park, dining out groups, Bunco groups, swim-in movies, yoga classes, Wine Night, Halloween Trunk-or-Treat, and the annual holiday event in the community, complete with a snowy sledding hill.
The new Fitness Club at Vintage Oaks gives owners a world-class facility right in the community, with 7,800 square feet of space including: large indoor/outdoor classrooms; a lap and fitness pool; Precor cardio and Life Fitness weight equipment; a hot tub; locker rooms; and more than 100 group exercise classes per month including yoga, water aerobics, and boot camps.
The fastest-growing community in the Hill Country for five consecutive years, Vintage Oaks has no city taxes and offers the ability to choose your builder and build when you're ready.
See the latest information on land for sale below.