New Braunfels not only overflows with old-world charm but also offers the most amazing nature and recreation. The drive from San Antonio is just over an hour and you can park in the small town and then head straight to the water. There are two rivers, the Comal and Guadalupe which are both beautiful to swim in or picnic alongside. Enjoy tubing and kayaking, and there are tons of nature trails for walkers, hikers, and cyclists. Downtown New Braunfels has a large selection of restaurants including waffle houses and ice cream parlors, craft beer bars and farm style delicatessens. There are tons of specialty stores with, you’ve guessed it, a lot of emphasis on fishing! If you’re a fisherman you will fall in love with the rivers here. And if you’re after a bit of adventure, you’ll fall in love with Schlitterbahn, a state of the art water theme park with water roller coasters, giant hot tubs, sky coasters, water skinning and wake boarding. Head out in the early morning, spend a few hours at the waterpark or at the rivers, head into town for lunch and then enjoy a couple more hours wandering and rambling the town. Take a change of clothes so you can flit between the water and the town.
San Marcos is only an hour out of Austen but it feels like a different world. Start off at the San Marcos Visitors Bureau. The two is a little like New Braunfels in that there is a lot to do on the water! The San Marco River in San Marvelous is crystal clear, bubbling up from the Aquarena Springs and you can swim, canoe, kayak, and tube. There are also glass bottom boat trips, scuba diving and snorkeling on offer. Spend the morning by the river, enjoy lunch in town and then perhaps take a walk, hike or cycle ride on one of the many marked trails in the San Marco Park. You can visit Dick’s Classic Garage Car Museum if you’re into old cars, there are several vintage stores in the town and one of the biggest retail shopping outlets in the USA. No visit to San Marcos is complete without a stop at Middleton Brewing with 13 craft beers brewed on site. Take sunblock, a hat, good walking shoes, swimming costume and a change of clothes.
Lockhart is known as the ‘Barbecue Capital of Texas’ and for good reason. There are four well-known Barbecue places that put new meaning to the word HUNGRY. Go armed with your appetite because the meat here is good and the servings are huge. Lockhart is prime cowboy area too and you can horse ride, shoot a rifle, visit the Caldwell County Court, hear stories from the old cowboy days, buy yourself a cowboy hat from Manny Gammage’s Texas Hatters and then wander the streets of the town. You may well feel like you’re about to be challenged to a duel. When you’re hungry, and we mean really hungry, choose to eat at either the Kreuz Market, Smitty’s Market, Black’s BBQ or Chisholm Trail BBQ. Use your fingers! When you leave, buy a few cold cuts or brisket to go. The Lockhart State Park is lovely and if you want to walk off a bit of your meal, go for a nice hike before heading home. Take your wallet so you can maybe buy a new nice leather one!