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Labor Day Road Trip: Best Things To Do In Gruene, TX

Long weekends like Labor Day weekend beg for road trips and exploring your surroundings. After all, isn’t that what Labor Day is all about? 

Relaxing and enjoying time away from work and school. Whether you’re in the mood for a little rest and relaxation or some movin’ and shakin’ Gruene, TX (pronounced ‘green’) is the perfect place to plan your getaway.

Less than an hour away from Austin, Gruene is a town with so much history, culture, and beautiful scenery to captivate your attention. Gruene is an ideal destination any time of year for families looking to enjoy local festivities, couples looking for a romantic getaway, or for friends looking to enjoy some downtime.

The History

This area of the Texas Hill Country was settled by German farmers in as early as 1840. Along with his wife and sons, founder Ernst Gruene planted the fertile land and surrounding areas with cotton, a valuable and very sought-after crop at the time. Between 20 to 30 families moved to the area afterwards to promote the cotton industry that the Gruene family had founded, and to build their own fortune. 

Many of the landmarks you’ll visit in Gruene were crafted by these original inhabitants. From the ever-popular Gruene Music Hall to some of the more Victorian-style housing, each of these buildings were crafted by hand with love and care. Thanks to years of thorough upkeep and modern preservation efforts, guests can still enjoy this amazing architecture and experience what it must have been like to live in the heart of Texas over 100 years ago. Best Things to do in Gruene, TX

Things to Do in Gruene, TX

Ride the Toob

Tube down the Guadalupe River with Rockin’ ‘R’ River Rides. Rent a tube, raft, or inflatable kayak and float down the Guadalupe River. You’ll be shuttled from the parking lot and upriver where you’ll float back to the parking lot or choose the longer ride and float downriver where another shuttle will bring you back. 

Float times are available throughout the day and guides are available upon request. This family-owned business provides everything you need to enjoy a weekend of relaxation. 

Not only do they provide the gear needed to get your float on, Rockin’ ‘R’ River Rides has one of the prime RV Parks in Gruene, TX with full hook ups. You’ll also have access to campgrounds, cabins, picnic sites, and leisure activities like beach volleyball and horseshoes.

2-Step Back In Time

Gruene Hall was built in 1878 and is Texas’ oldest and most famous dance hall still in operation today. The 6,000 square foot hall has kept all of its original and unique features including a high pitched tin roof with side flaps that open up for open-air dancing. Today, the hall plays host to live music of all genres for both up and comers and established artists including Leann Rimes, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, BB King, and more. 

Plan to arrive to Gruene Hall on Friday to be a part of the Friday Afternoon Club that features happy hour drink specials, prize giveaways, and a live radio broadcast that includes a special guest interview. You never know who might show up!

Shop at the Old General Store

With so many families settling into this town, Henry Gruene established a General Store to provide necessities for cotton sharecroppers living on the land. But when the boll weevil infestation and Great Depression hit, the entire town was abandoned until it was revived in 1974. The General Store was restored and re-opened in 1989. 

Visit this store and you’re sure to feel the nostalgia of yesteryear while you shop for souvenirs, and handcrafted Texas gifts like jalapeno jelly and a variety of salsas and pickles. Visit the old-fashioned soda fountain where you’ll find candy, ice cream, sodas, homemade fudge, and so much more. At the Gruene General Store, there’s “Somethin’ for Everybody!”

Feel Like Royalty at the Gruene Mansion Bed & Breakfast

On the banks of the Guadalupe River is the Gruene Mansion Inn Bed & Breakfast which is one of the first buildings erected in the late 1870s as Henry Gruene’s Eastlake Victorian home and cotton plantation. The Inn is located right in the middle of Gruene and within walking distance of everything including antique stores, restaurants, and famed Gruene Hall. A weekend at this B & B surrounded by antiques, fine linens, clawfoot tubs, and pedestal sinks will have you feeling as if you’re living in the lap of luxury with the charm of the olden days. 

Many rooms feature rocking chairs to enjoy the view of the Guadalupe River and daily breakfast buffet. Whether you’re looking for a family trip or a romantic weekend, this B & B is the perfect place to stay during your trip. Gruene Mansion in Gruene, TX

Enjoy a Meal at the Gristmill Restaurant

The Gristmill Restaurant is right at the base of the town’s iconic water tower. The restaurant itself was once the town’s cotton gin before a fire shut down the gin in 1922. The gin itself was replaced by a mechanical version in another area of town. The building was restored and in 1977 turned into a picturesque indoor/outdoor dining facility. The restaurant prides themselves on their fish, chicken, steaks, burgers, and fresh-squeezed lime margaritas.

View Some Local Art

Visit The Barn for handmade pottery and fine art. Many of the pieces are produced onsite by owners and operators Angie and Kyle White and former owners, Dee & Terry Buck, many other artist’s works are displayed and available for purchase as well. Walk through the studio and get an up-close look at how the pottery is made from start to finish including throwing, glazing, or loading the kiln.

Get a Glimpse Into The Past While You Shop

Stop into the Gruene Antique Company store and shop for antiques and other collectibles. Located across from Gruene Hall, this antique store-meets-museum of sorts is over 6,000 square feet and offers an array of antiques, collectibles, gifts, and décor. The building is an antique itself, built in 1903 by Henry D. Gruene as a mercantile shop. Today, the shop takes up most of the center of the building where dry goods were once sold. The east wing is most notable for housing the town’s original bank vault.

Anytime is a Good Time to Visit Gruene

If you can’t make it out to Gruene this Labor Day weekend, plant to visit during one of Gruene’s many festivals and events. 

Gruene, TX Events in 2020

  • June 2 – August 18 25th Annual Two Ton Tuesdays & Swing Dance Lessons
  • Every 2nd Sunday – Gospel Brunch with a Texas Twist
  • Every 3rd Weekend – Old Gruene Market Days
  • Every 3rd Thursday – Come and Taste It Wine Tastings
  • September 12th – Gruene 10K
  • October 8 – 11 Annual Gruene Music & Wine Fest
  • October 24 – 25 Annual Texas Clay Festival
  • November 21 – 22 & 27 – 29, December 5 – 6, 12 – 13, & 18 – 20 – Photos with Cowboy Kringle (Gruene’s very own Santa)
  • November 26th – Annual Turkey Trot
  • December 5th – Annual Gruene Pony Express Ride
  • December 5th – Gruene Town Lighting   
  • December 5 – 6 Gruene Christmas Market Days 
  • December 12th – St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Jingle Bell Run
  • December 31st – New Year’s Eve with Gruene Hall
  • January 1st – Hair of the Dog Day at Gruene Hall