Historic Gruene, Texas
Before pulling in the slides in San Antonio we made a few day trips to Gruene, Texas. Gruene was established in the 1840s by German cotton farmers. New Braunfels became crowded back then and the Guadalupe River made the area the perfect place to settle. Gruene prospered until the 1920s when a boll weevil infestation destroyed the crops. Then, the Great Depression hit. It was the nail in the coffin of the once-thriving economy. By 1950 the town was abandoned.
Gruene, Texas Almost Lost
In 1974 contractors moved in to purchase the vacant land with a plan to tear down the buildings and construct modern residences. Fortunately, a UT Austin student named Chip Kaufman happened upon the deserted town and marveled at its historic significance. Thanks to one college student the developers realized the historic value. The area and buildings were entered into the National Register of Historic Places. Investors began to act and the town was restored to its former glory. Today Gruene is considered a historic district as part of the city of New Braunfels.
It is just such a cool place. Their economy is almost completely supported by tourists and is thriving once again. The two days we visited the streets were filled with tourists enjoying the 1800s ambiance. Most importantly, there’s plenty of parking.
A “Must Do” Day Trip
The restored buildings house a variety of shops and restaurants. In addition, there are several nearby RV Parks. But if you need a night out of your house on wheels the Gruene Mansion B&B is the recommended experience.
Plenty of activities are available to fill a day or a weekend in Gruene. For example:
- Specialty Shops
- Great Food
- Wine Tasting
- Day Spa
- Live Music
- River Tubing
- Gruene Weekend Market Days
We planned to go back for a float down the Guadalupe River, but my husband’s job moved us to the next job site. Consequently, we could only run back to pick up some salsa from the General Store. We couldn’t leave the area without it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to pick up the homemade salt scrub at The Best Li’l Bath Haus. I intend to place an order online.
The oldest dance hall in Texas deserves a special mention. The hall was almost torn down in the mid-1970s. Gruene Hall is a 6,000 square foot dance and concert hall built in 1878. Live music is playing in the big hall every day. Gruene Hall has hosted the likes of Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Leann Rimes, and even the “mellow tones” of Kevin Costner.(?)
August 2019 opens with Billy Bob Thornton and his band’s visit to Gruene, Texas. The huge hall is located under the Gruene water tower. Click here for a Gruene Hall Calendar of Events.
In closing, I wish we were closer. It’s a great place to spend the day, especially this fall when it gets cooler. If you’re around New Braunfels or even San Antonio, plan some time for Gruene, Texas. First stop in Gruene. Second, check out New Braunfels.
Certainly, this historic district seems like one of the best-kept secrets in the area. We’ll be back one day. Until then, thank God for online shopping!
Check out our other posts on the Texas Hill Country including Fredericksburg. Watch for more posts as we continue our journey, currently in West Texas. We’ll be touring this new (to us) section of enormous Texas and parts of eastern New Mexico.
Enjoy the journey!