Gruene, Texas, was once a thriving agricultural town but is now incorporated into New Braunfels. It is a registered National Historical Place with a rich German-Texan heritage reflected in the architecture and many of the descendants who still live there.
Henry D. Gruene, a son of the founder, was responsible for many of the original buildings in Gruene, including his own Victorian-style home, three other houses, a mercantile store, and a dance hall. All these still stand and are part of the tourist attractions of this charming town.
About Gruene Texas
Gruene (pronounced “Green”) is named after a German farmer Ernst Gruene, who arrived in New Braunfels in 1845 with his two sons but could not find suitable land and settled alongside the Guadalupe River. Their cotton farm became a magnet for other families, and the settlement flourished.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Gruene had become a bustling commercial, banking, and farming town. However, the dreaded boll weevil decimated the cotton industry in the 1920s, and the Great Depression was the death knell of Gruene. When a new highway bypassed it after World War 2, it became a ghost town.
A concerted drive to restore Gruene to its former beauty began in the 1970s, and in April 1975, it was registered as a National Historic Place. New owners were brought in, and Gruene was reborn as a tourist destination today, attracting many visitors looking for a glimpse into Texas’ past.
Facts About Gruene Texas
- Location: Both sides of Seguin, New Braunfels, and Austin Streets, New Braunfels, Texas
- County: Comal
- Town: New Braunfels
- Land Area: 25 acres
- Zip Code: 78130
- Population: 90,800 (New Braunfels – no separate figure available for Gruene)
- Crime Rate: 16,03 per 1000, making it safer than 37% of US cities (the figure is for the zip code area, as no specific figure is available for Gruene)
- Average Temperatures: June 82.4 deg. January 50.1 deg.
- Airport: San Antonio International (32 miles)
- Universities: Wayland Baptist University-New Braunfels Campus
- Best Hotels: Gruene Mansion Inn, Gruene River Hotel & Retreat, Gruene Cottages, Gruene Outpost River Lodge
- Best Restaurants: Gruene River Grill, Gristmill, Mozies Bar & Grill
What Is Gruene Texas Known For?
Gruene is best known for being Texas’ most successful ghost town! Abandoned in 1950, it remained a time capsule, untouched by progress, until it was rediscovered in the 1970s by investors who saw the tourism potential in the Victorian architecture and quaint charm and started to rebuild and renovate the buildings.
- The Gruene Hall is among the oldest dance halls in the country and certainly the oldest in Texas, featuring live music daily.
- The Gristmill, now one of Gruene’s top restaurants, built on the ruins of the original mill on the Guadalupe River.
- The General Store, built by Henry D. Gruene, and the many antique shops in Gruene
- The historic buildings, restored and housing a pottery, wine shop, and various boutiques.
- The iconic Gruene Water tower, which has symbolic significance and a fascinating history.
People From Gruene Texas
Because Gruene was a farming community, there are no famous names directly connected with the town. However, some very big names have appeared at Gruene Hall:
- Willie Nelson
- Lyall Lovett
- Leann Rimes
- Loretta Lynn
- Chubby Checker
- Garth Brooks
Where Is Gruene Texas?
Gruene is in Comal County, Texas, and is a historical area incorporated into the city of New Braunfels. Access is from exit 191 off Interstate Highway 35 at New Braunfels, 1.5 miles, and left into Hunter Road, then 1 mile to Gruene Historical District.
- Austin – 46 miles
- San Marcos – 16 miles
- San Antonio – 37 miles
- Canyon Lake – 21 miles
Layout of Gruene Texas
The historic district is only 25 acres in extent and is rectangular in shape, with the Guadalupe River on the longer western boundary. It is bisected east to west by Hunter Road and north to south by Gruene Road.
Being so small, Gruene is not divided into specific areas. Most of the buildings are historical and open to tourists all year round, but a small number of residential properties have been newly built or are re-modeled older buildings.
Getting About In Gruene Texas
Getting to New Braunfels is most accessible by car, but there is a bus and taxi service from San Antonio, the nearest international airport.
Once in Gruene, though, the only practical way to get around is on foot, as there is much to see in a few blocks, and a car is not really an option. Even getting down to riverside restaurants involves only a short walk.
Over weekends there is a free shuttle service from the parking area over the Guadalupe River into Gruene to Gruene Hall.
Parking in Gruene is limited, and in summer, when the peak tourist season brings thousands of visitors, finding somewhere convenient to leave your car can be problematic.
What To Do In Gruene Texas
Because Gruene was reborn purely and simply as a tourist attraction, there are plenty of places to see and things to do. For those wanting a glimpse into Texan history, it’s a fantastic destination and a marvelous experience.
- Gruene Hall
- Gruene General Store
- Gruene Mansion Inn
- Gristmill Restaurant
- Tubing on the Guadalupe River
Gruene Hall has a unique claim to fame – it never closed, even when Gruene became a ghost town, and is the oldest continuously running dance hall in Texas. Built in 1878, it boasts a 6000 square dance floor and hosts live music every night of the week. It’s hosted big names, such as Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson, and Leann Rimes, and is a must to visit.
Gruene General Store
Built to supply the needs of the sharecroppers in Victorian times, it closed when Gruene became a ghost town but reopened in 1989 and is a treasure trove of antiques, mementos, and souvenirs together with gourmet coffees, homemade fudges, and delicious treats.
Gruene Mansion Inn
The home Henry D. Gruene built for his family, this magnificent house is now a 3-star hotel and offers an unforgettable stayover for tourists to Gruene. The only hotel in the historic district, it boasts 33 individual self-contained units, each decorated differently in the late Victorian style.
If you have to choose one venue to have a meal in, look no further – the Gristmill is Gruene’s favorite restaurant, for good reason – set on the banks of the Guadalupe River, steeped in history, and renowned for its extensive menu and fine food. Built on the site of the original mill, which burnt down in 1922, the restaurant occupies the three-story boiler room which survived the fire and opened its doors in 1977.
Tubing On The Guadalupe River
When you’re through shopping, sightseeing, and eating, you can hire tubes and kayaks and relax on the Guadalupe or Comal Rivers. River tubing is great fun, and you can hire all the equipment you need from local companies in Gruene.
Where To Eat
- Gristmill Restaurant and Bar
- Mozie’s Bar and Grill
- Inferno’s Woodfired Oven and Spirits
- The Grapevine
- Gruene River Grill
- The River House
Where To Stay
- Gruene Mansion Inn
- Gruene Cottages
- Gruene River Hotel and Retreat
- Gruene River Inn
- Gruene Homestead Inn
- Gruene Outpost River Lodge
Is Gruene Texas A Good Place To Visit?
Gruene is a marvelous place to visit if you’re interested in history, enjoy buying antiques, and want to get out of the city for a day or a weekend. It’s specifically designed to attract visitors and has been carefully restored as a small German-Texan town to give an insight into Victorian times in a farming community.
Is Gruene A Good Place To Live?
As mentioned, there are residential properties in the historic district, but for families, Gruene is not a suitable place to live, as there are no schools in the immediate area, and it is essentially a tourist site.
Clearly, as part of New Braunfels, all amenities are nearby. New Braunfels itself is a very good place to live, but Gruene is a unique pocket in the larger city and unlikely to be the best part to raise a family.
- Things to do in Gruene: https://www.playinnewbraunfels.com/articles/post/gruene-texas-texas-most-successful-ghost-town/
- The Rebirth of Gruene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ojeQiYKXQM
- History of Gruene: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruene,_New_Braunfels,_Texas