Historic Gruene

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Gruene Texas

Shopping, dining, wine tasting and walking in the historic town of Gruene, Texas

The historic town of Gruene, with its western style and Victorian buildings, unique shops, wineries and restaurants, is a popular day trip in Texas’s Hill Country. Gruene, pronounced “green”, is listed among the Historic Places in the National Register and lies within the city limits of New Braunfels along the Guadalupe River. It is 25 miles north of San Antonio and 40 miles south of Austin.

The area around Gruene was settled by German farmers. Ernst Gruene and his sons bought land and opened businesses in the latter part of the 1800s. The community of Gruene was established in 1872 and served as a commercial centre for cotton farmers in the area until the 1930s.

Gruene Antique Store
Gruene Antique Store

The first mercantile store (now Gruene General Store) was built in 1878 by H. D. Gruene. Later the store moved across the street to the Gruene Antique Store building.

Economic disaster from boll weevils in the 1920s followed by the Depression resulted in the closure of the various businesses and Gruene became a virtual ghost town. In the 1970s, an architecture student working with the Texas Historical Commission discovered Gruene while kayaking on the Guadalupe River. His delight with the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century buildings eventually led to Gruene being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as an entire district. Developers moved in and worked to preserve the turn-of-the-century feel of the town.

Gruene Texas shops
A sample of modern day shops

The modern-day shops of Gruene carry an eclectic mix of goods – art, kitchenware, home decor, clothing, tourist trinkets and antiques. I visited Gruene with a group of women friends and the theme on that particular day seemed to be “shabby chic”.

Gruene Hall
Gruene Hall

 Gruene Hall, a bar and dance hall, was built in the 1880s. Gruene Hall never closed when other business did in the 1930s. It now bills itself as the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas. Many country-singing stars and legends have performed here over the years, including Willie Nelson, George Strait and Lyle Lovett. A complete list of singers is displayed inside the hall.

By design, not much has physically changed since the hall was built. It has a 6,000 square foot wooden dance floor and a high pitched tin roof. It has wooden walls with wide side flaps for open air dancing.

Grapevine in historic Gruene
Grapevine in historic Gruene

The Grapevine, a wine tasting room in the heart of historic Gruene, has a large selection of Texan wines available for tasting or purchase. You can select three for a free tasting, pay for additional tasting, buy a bottle to take home, buy a glass to sip on the premises, or get a glass to go and sip as you explore the town. There are also a couple of wineries in the town.

Guadalupe River at Gruene
Guadalupe River at Gruene
Gruene River Company has rafts, tubes and kayaks available for rent.
Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar
Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar waiting area, with live entertainment

The Gruene cotton gin processed crops until 1922 when the wooden structure burned to the ground. All that remains of the water-powered mill today is the three-story brick boiler room, which has become the Gristmill Restaurant & Bar. The multi-level restaurant has lots of seating, both indoors and out, on tiered patios.

View from Gristmill Restaurant
View onto river area from one of patio areas at Gristmill Restaurant
giant onion rings
Giant onion rings at Gristmill (everything is bigger in Texas?)

Gruene makes a nice day trip from either San Antonio or Austin. Have you visited Gruene?

PIN ITThe historic town of Gruene, Texas is a fun day trip with shopping, wine tasting, dining, and scenic buildings #Texas #Gruene #history


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  1. This looks absolutely charming! I’ve been in San Antonio a few times but never heard of Gruene! Next time, I’ll make it a point. If nothing else, I’d like to try those giant onion rings! They made my mouth water!!

    1. I don’t know if there is any barbecue in Gruene. I didn’t notice any, but I am not a huge barbecue fan. I’m sure there is some good barbecue in the area, if not in Gruene itself. Enjoy the Texas hill Country.

  2. Gruen sounds like an interesting place to visit! The dance hall is especially intriguingā€¦it would be great to see Willie Nelson, George Strait or Lyle Lovett play there.

    1. Michele, I didn’t look at the playbill of who was playing in the next while at the dance hall. Perhaps the next Willie Nelson or George Strait.

    2. I’m with you, Michele! Listening to music legends in nostalgic venues really adds to the experience! I’d love to go to Gruen, or to Austin, as I’ve not been there either.

  3. I’d like to have a wander through here. I have imagined there being wineries in Texas. I’d love to try some of the locally bottled.

    1. Five of us shared the plate of onion rings as an appetizer and could easily have gone with a smaller plate!

  4. I lived in Texas for 2 year and Gruene is only 1.75 hours away but never went. I now regret it! Thanks for showing it to me!

  5. Looks like a movie set! I try to stay away from foods like that, but there is no way I could turn my back on those gigantic onion rings!

    1. Suzanne, the Gristmill has some healthier options on their menu as well. I don’t eat foods like that very often either, but the onion rings were delicious.

  6. I love learning about places like this! The “shabby chic” theme is perfect – such a charming town to visit, and those onion rings – wow! Thanks for sharing this with us šŸ™‚

  7. I think the Gristmill has some of the best Chicken Fried Steak in the world. I’ve been meaning to take a daytrip there from Austin but haven’t had a chance. Shabby chic is a good way to describe the feel of the town. I’d love to visit Gruene in the evening and do a little two stepping in the Hall. It’s funny that I posted about Fredericksburg today because I had some free time and was trying to decide between Gruene and Fredericksburg. I need to do Gruene soon now that you’ve got me all raring to go after reading about it.

    1. I have never had chicken fried steak at Gristmill or anywhere else. I will have to try if I visit Gruene again.. And I would like to visit Fredericksburg next time I am in the area.