One Tank Trips: 5 things to do in the historic district of Gruene


HOUSTONOne tank of gas can take you from Houston to some pretty amazing places. Our ongoing series "One Tank Trips," helps you discover what to do, where to eat and stay in these places.


Distance from downtown Houston to Gruene: 176 miles

Located in New Braunfels, close to three hours outside Houston, Gruene is a historically rich district that may not be on the average Texan's radar. According to Gruene General Store, “Gruene dance hall and saloon, was the only business that continued to operate after the boll weevil destroyed the cotton industry, and thus the town, in 1925. With the exception of the dance hall, the town lay dormant until 1974, when it was restored and established by the State Historical Commission as a Historical District.”

So, if you want to take a look at an authentic Texas town that is historically restored to the way it looked in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s, Gruene could be on your one-tank trip list. The town is recognized in the National Register of Historic Places and a few renowned buildings have been awarded a Texas medallion from the Texas Historical Commission.

To learn more about the history of Gruene click here.

1. Gruene Hall

Gruene Hall opened in 1878 and is the oldest and most renowned dance hall in the state. Gruene Hall still serves as a spot for the town's nightlife scene. The building itself hasn’t changed much and still has advertisements hanging inside from the 1930s and '40s. Previous performers at Gruene Hall include The Dixie Chicks, George Strait, Willie Nelson, Pat Green, BB King and Eli Young Band among many others.

Courtesy of Rock R' River Rides Facebook
Courtesy of Rock R' River Rides Facebook

2. Rockin R’ River Rides

With the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers in such close proximity, there is no better way to cool down on a hot summer day than floating in the river. Rockin R’ River Rides offer tube, raft and stand-up paddle board rentals. There are also guided fishing tours available. Rockin R’ River Rides has five New Braunfels locations, one of which is specifically in Gruene.

3. Gruene General Store

The store reopened in 1989 and since then has served as a Texas staple. From tons of unique products ranging from cookbooks, Texas music and antiques to homemade fudge and 5-cent coffee, the store promises “somethin’ for everybody!” It also is listed under the 40 places to visit in Texas.

4. Gruene Mansion Inn

Located in the heart of the town next to Gruene Hall, this historic hotel offers 33 private rooms with views of the Guadalupe River and a daily homemade breakfast. The mansion was built in 1872. The hotel is now historically restored with antiques, fine fabrics and handmade furniture.

It's going to be a BEAUTIFUL night to dine under the Texas sky. The rain has moved on and the temp is only 75 degrees!! See you soon!

Posted by Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar on Thursday, June 27, 2019

5. Gristmill River Restaurant

Gristmill River Restaurant opened its doors in 1977 and features popular South Texas fare such as chicken fried steak, fried catfish, grilled chicken, Texas-sized sandwiches, fresh fish and their special dishes tomatillo chicken and bronzed catfish. Gristmill has multi-levels and features outdoor and indoor dining with views of the Guadalupe River and a beer garden.The Gristmill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Tips & Tricks

  • According to The Austinot, "Correspond your visit with Gruene market days. They run on the third weekend of every month from February to November."
  • If you love shopping for antiques, The Austinot also recommends visiting the shops on Main Street including Black Swan Antiques and Gruene Antique Company.
  • According to Trip Advisor, parking is a couple blocks down from the historic district. Be sure to have your comfortable walking shoes on.
  • Trip Advisor gave Gruene a high rating, 4.5 out of 5. 69% of people rated their trip “excellent.” Most people enjoyed the music at Gruene Hall along with the fine restaurants and a day of shopping. A lot of people also enjoyed stopping by local bars for wine and beer.