Work in one last summer trip before you start shopping for uniforms. Tubing down the Texas waterways has long been a summer tradition, and New Braunfels is the go-to place for escaping the sweltering heat. Families can get the real river experience rafting down the Guadalupe and Comal rivers, or head to the legendary Schlitterbahn Waterpark for a theme park take on the tubing fun. When it’s time to dry off, you can still keep cool with plenty of nonaquatic activities to round off a long weekend.
Whether you plan to float the river or ride the rides, Schlitterstein Lofts located on the Schlitterbahn property are the perfect place to call your home base. Nestled along the banks of the Comal River, these twobedroom condos have full kitchens and space to spread out. The private patios with views of the river and the close proximity to the action are the icing on the cake—and in the summer, a tram will take you straight to the park.
Once settled in, it’s time to hit the river. Local outfitters like Rockin’ R River Rides offer trips ranging from two to five hours with plenty of put-in and take-out spots on both the Guadalupe and Comal rivers. The Comal River is recommended for beginners and families, where little floaters as young as three can enjoy the gentle 1.5- to 2-hour float. Rental companies can provide all of your equipment needs, from toobs (the local spelling), rafts and sup boards to shuttles that return you to your car at the end of the day.
Early admission to the network of Schlitterbahn Waterparks is a perk of staying on-site, so plan to start your day early. The Blastenhoff and Surfenburg sections of the park offer rides for the speed demons in your group, with attractions such as a boogie board wave machine and extreme uphill water coasters. Just in case you’ve forgotten that everything is bigger in Texas, you can hop on The Falls, the longest waterslide in the world. A three-quarter-mile stretch of rapids and waterfalls connect the parks of Surfenburg and Blastenhoff in a continuous loop, allowing parkgoers to escape the heat by riding around again and again.
If you prefer the old-school river water park, a tram travels to the original Schlitterbahn where tube rides shoot visitors through swirling eddies and thrilling waterfalls. Kids will enjoy the Congo River Expedition, a lazy river ride that features mechanical animals and fog machines that immerse you in a jungle river exploration, while the littlest visitors will be entertained in one of the three shallow-water kiddie parks.
After two days in the water, it’s time to see the sites on land. Fortunately, you can explore the beautiful Hill Country surroundings from both high and low in New Braunfels.
Harness up for adventure at Wimberley Zipline Adventures. A series of 10 zipline crossings make this the largest zip-line course in Texas. A walking tour exploring the trails around the zip lines is also included, which means you’ll learn a bit about the flora and fauna of the area. Reserve your group tour ahead of time online.
After spending time above the earth, it’s time to go below—200 feet below to be exact. Natural Bridge Caverns is the largest show cave in Texas, and with active water flow and drips throughout, the cavern is constantly changing and growing. Not only can you enjoy tours, but you can also pan for precious gems or take a canopy challenge. Stick around until dark to watch millions of bats spiral out of Bracken Cave for their nightly insect hunt.
For another (on-the-ground) spot to take a break from the Texas heat, head over to McKenna Children’s Museum for indoor play fun. Mini astronauts can simulate going up, up and away in a flying saucer, practice their counting skills at the bank or play doctor at the emergency room. Admission into the museum is $7.50 for everyone over age 1.