Several country western legends got their starts at Gruene Hall. “Come dance with history” its brochure declares -- after all it’s the oldest dance hall in the great state of Texas. Lyle Lovett and George Strait started their careers in this dance hall. The old wooden floors are glossy from wear and signed celebrity photos line the walls.
The Dixie Chicks, Jerry Lee Lewis, Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson have all played at Gruene Hall.
Gruene provides a large lot of free parking just off the main drag. This town caters to day-trippers by providing a large lot with free parking, lots of great shops, sidewalks, hearty food and music.
Several large River outfitters are just across the river. There are hundreds of folks renting inner tubes (Toobs) and setting off with their coolers down the river. The largest outfit is the Rockin’ R River Rides. If you arrive before lunchtime, go tubing down the Guadalupe and then turn you toobs in and head into Gruene by foot or the briefest of car trips over the bridge for a late lunch.
"Gently resisting change since 1872."
This historic town is an idyllic get-a-way situated on the shores of the lazy Guadalupe River. Cross over the river and enter another world. The town refuses to get a stop light even though cars stream continuously into town to enjoy the peace and beauty of Gruene (pronounced GREEN).
Friendly police, dressed in shorts and T-Shirts, manage traffic on the weekends and make Main Street safe for pedestrian to explore the town.
Gruene is located 52 mins southwest of Austin -- 40 mins north of San Antonio
There are fabulous restaurants, casual and upscale. The Gristmill Restaurant sits on the banks of the Guadalupe River.
There are 10 unique dining areas, inside and outside -- some with river views. Make sure you are comfortable with the outdoor temperature and humidity before choosing to sit outside. There are fans but at 95+ degrees you might be more comfortable indoors.
The brick façade is weathered and crumbling in areas, which only adds to the allure of this rustic old Cotton Gin. Expect to pay $6.50 for a burger and about $8-$10 for chicken and sandwiches. They also have beef, fish, soups and salads. The atmosphere is casual.
The shops cater to day-trippers and vacationers with antique shopping, the General Store which serves hand-dipped ice cream and the Buck Pottery shop. We found Annabelle’s tucked in behind Cactus Jack’s -- the shop owner and her novelties were delightful. She has a variety of unique items, mainly geared to women shoppers, slippers, bath potpourri, baby gifts, cards, teas and more.
The Grapevine Wine Bar is packed with people looking for their 3 free tastings. Each additional taste is $1. Buy a bottle or a glass to enjoy out on the front porch and watch the people pass by. Take a bottle home to remember your trip.
Thinking about spending the night? The Gruene Mansion Inn, also situated on the river, is an impressive establishment. A large white Victorian sits at street side with several additional buildings, some on the river. The breezeway between the “Hay Loft” and the “Hide Out” was especially enticing with two Adirondack chairs pushed up close to the edge of the deck and overlooking the clear waters below in the Guadalupe. Rooms range from $165-$235.
Do some shopping and then catch some music and a beer at Gruene Hall. Better if you spend the night at the end of a full day.
Another bed and breakfast opened called the Gruene Apple Bed & Breakfast. It is situated a short block from Historic Gruene. I didn't get a chance to peek my head inside, but it looked very inviting from the road.