If you’re looking for some historic, small-town charm, Gruene, Texas is the place to visit. Gruene (pronounced like the color green) is a small German settlement deep in the heart of Texas. Though there’s remnants of its historic German past, the town is now fully Texan.
Gruene is located just 45 miles south of Austin and is nestled in between New Braunfels and the Guadalupe River. Gruene’s historic downtown is full of small shops, antique stores and a classic soda fountain with homemade fudge. Gruene, like some other small towns in Texas, is known for its historic buildings, its shopping and antiques, its food and festivals. Unlike most of the other small, German towns in Texas, Gruene has yet to be inundated with tourism. Gruene’s historic charm is preserved despite the droves who float the river in summer.
Another unique aspect of Gruene is the vivacious music scene. In Gruene you can find live music, and often some dancing too, every night of the year. And the historic venue just makes the music sound all the better.
When To Go:
There’s not a wrong time to visit Gruene. There are lots of events year round and special celebrations during the winter holidays in November and December. The shops in the historic downtown are open year-round and you can’t go wrong stopping in just for a quick visit.
If you’re looking to visit a warm place, Gruene is a good bet. Located in south central Texas, most days of the year are warm. During the summer (May-August) the temperatures will range from 85 to 100 degrees fahrenheit during the day and 70 to 80 degree lows at night. During the spring, fall and winter, (September-April) temperatures rarely dip below 50 degrees.
Special Events and Festivals:
Gruene also plays host to some fun events during the year:
Annual Americana Music Jam
This event takes place in the middle of May and has been going on for many years. If you’re interested in Americana music, be sure to stop by for this one day event. The numerous bands all play at the historic Gruene Hall, which has a fantastic stage, dance floor and bar. Proceeds from this event go to support a local charity.
Frank Schlather Day
On June 23 every year the people of Gruene celebrate the birthday of their unofficial mayor. Frank Schlather was a fixture in the social world of Gruene Hall during the 1970s and before. Schlather loved to dance, he was always at the hall and according to legend, no girl ever turned him down for a dance. To celebrate his birthday, Gruene Hall offers 50 cent beers from noon to 2pm on June 23.
Held in mid September, you can join all the other runners and take a beautiful run through the Texas Hill Country.
Gruene Music and Wine Festival
This four day music and wine event has been running for many years and will keep going for many more. Around the first weekend in October, you can stop by Gruene to enjoy some local wines and local music. The festival is full of events from barbeque, to specialty beer tasting to a food truck park called Le Cordon Gruene. Proceeds of the event are donated to the local United Way. (October 8-11, 2015)
Texas Clay Festival
The last weekend of October is another great festival. If you’re looking for local art, great weather and food, this is the event for you. The Texas Clay Festival celebrates local clay artists and potters by gathering them together and providing space for them to exhibit their art and make sales. With over 60 potters in attendance and tents set up with demonstrations of how to hand-build, how to make tea pot handles and how throw on a wheel, it’s an event that all ages will enjoy. Entrance to the Texas Clay Festival is free. (October 24-25, 2015)
Holidays in Gruene:
Though the holidays in Gruene can be a little chilly, the weather is usually very pleasant. If you’re visiting Gruene between November and January, there’s lots of holiday events to enjoy. Be sure to get your picture taken with Cowboy Kringle on the weekends and see the Old Gruene Market Days on the third Sunday of every month to get some Christmas gift ideas.
Gruene Turkey Trot
Start your Thanksgiving off right with a 5k trot through Gruene’s historic district. This event is great for adults and children. (November 26, 2015)
Gruene Town Lighting
In celebration of the beginning of the Christmas holidays, watch as Cowboy Kringle rides in on a horse to light the town of Gruene. (December 6, 2015)
This retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is great entertainment for the whole family. One actor plays all of the characters leading to quick costume changes and some special effects. (December 6, 2015)
What to do:
There’s lots to do for everyone in Gruene and the surrounding small towns. If you’re looking to shop, eat, relax, listen to great music, dance, swim, fish or enjoy local wines at a festival, you’re looking at the right place.
You’ll find the best shopping around Gruene’s historic district. There are lots of small shops with unique goods, antique stores and a classic soda fountain that makes homemade fudge. If you’re looking to refresh your closet, there are a handful of apparel and jewelry shops. Be sure to visit the toy shop for kids 0 to 102.
If you’re seeking to explore your artistic side, be sure to stop in at Buck Pottery. This pottery studio and store has been owned and operated by the Buck family since 1982. Located on the banks of the Guadalupe River, you can see a variety of clay creations. The potters all use Texas clay, some pieces are hand built, others are built on a wheel and you can find pieces that are fired in a gas kiln and others that are fired in a wood-burning kiln.
Most people don’t think of Texas as a wine producing state, but there are lots of vineyards in the heart of Texas. The Grapevine offers complimentary tastings of local wines every day. Be sure to stop in, they sell by the glass, bottle and case. If you’re not interested in the wines, they also offer specialty beers, champagne and small gifts. On the third Thursday of every month (excluding January) The Grapevine offers an event called Come and Taste It. During this event you get to meet the best local winemakers, a different one each month. These events take place on the outdoor patio, include complimentary tastings, small bites that pair with each wine and live music. If you’re interested to know the secrets of producing wine in Texas, be sure not to miss this event and opportunity to mingle with the Texas wine makers.
If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, there lots to do in Gruene. Gruene is located right near the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers, which gives lots of opportunities for swimming, tubing and canoeing. If you’re interested in renting a tube or canoe, check out Rockin ‘R’ River Rides or Gruene River Company and they’ll help you out. You’re welcome to bring a cooler of drinks and food on the river with you, but be sure to check the rules. There are strict rules against glass and littering on the rivers. Tubing the river is a great way to cool off after being in the hot summer sun but be sure to bring lots of sunscreen!
There are also great opportunities for fly fishing on the river. Gruene is home to the stream with the most southern Trout in the northern hemisphere. With a little gear and guidance, you can fish for Rainbow Trout or other warm water fish year round. If you need gear or advice, stop into Gruene Outfitters.
If you’re looking to get away from big city life, breathe the fresh air and relax, you might want to stop in at Gruene Day Spa.
There’s lots to do in Gruene, but the one thing you must do while there is stop by the historic Gruene Hall for some great music, drinks and possibly some dancing. The Gruene Hall offers free shows every week night. On the weekends, you can buy tickets at the door. You never know what unknown band you’ll see at Gruene Hall who will be famous tomorrow. Gruene Hall has become known internationally as a stage for up and coming or established artists. Many big names have graced the stage including Garth Brooks, Jerry Lee Lewis and Willie Nelson. The Gruene Hall is the longest continuously running dance hall. Built in 1878, the building has retained its original layout. There’s a bar in the front, stage in the back, side flaps for outdoor dancing and a beer garden. It’s not uncommon to see locals drinking in the bar while someone films a movie outside in the beer garden. Gruene Hall feels like it came straight out of the past. There are still signs up on the walls advertising bands who visited the hall in the 1930s and 1940s. Gruene Hall has a long history with its community, it held weekly dances in the 1800s, has been used for graduations and even badger fights. If you’re stopping through Gruene, be sure to check out this website for a list of upcoming artists at Gruene Hall: http://gruenehall.com/calendar/
Gruene Hall also sometimes puts on special events. If you’re looking for some great dancing, be sure to visit during the summer. On the Two Ton Tuesday, you can get swing dance lessons and listen to a live swing band.
Where to eat:
This building has seen a lot of history. Originally, it was used as a cotton gin, processing crops from local farmers until 1922 when the wooden structure burned down. The brick building that was not destroyed was renovated to become the Gristmill restaurant in 1977. Located on the banks overlooking the Guadalupe river, the restaurant gives patrons the feeling of returning to the wild south. Their indoor and outdoor seating offers sweeping views of the Guadalupe river. Cuisine here is classic southern comfort food such as fried chicken, fried catfish, tomatillo chicken and their specialty dessert: Jack Daniel’s pecan pie.
This casual restaurant is known for its sliders, hot dogs and whiskey. You can get homemade salsa and guacamole for appetizers and their famous sliders, which are mini cheese burgers, along with a drink. Mozie’s is a great place for a quick lunch while watching sports on the many TVs, a drink before a show at Gruene Hall or a relaxing meal after spending all day on the river.
This restaurant is a great place to take the family for a meal of fresh Tex-Mex. There’s a comfortable patio with play area for the kids and award winning margaritas for the parents.
Gruene Coffee Haus
If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up so that you can do some more shopping, this is a great little stop through.
Fickle Pickles Antiques and Pickles
These pickles are known around the world for being some of the best. They regularly ship pickles as far north as Alaska and to the troops in Iraq. Be sure to stop in, browse the antiques and grab a Fickle Pickle on your way out.