A March 2002 trip
to New Braunfels by Taylor252
Quote: We wanted to take a train trip, so with relatives in the area and Hill Country Resort close by, it seemed we were bound for New Braunfels, Texas (actually the train went to San Antonio, about 20 minutes away). As I researched what activites were available, I was surprised at the variety. I'll try to discuss some of them in the following entries.
Hotel | "Silverleaf Hill Country"
Another interesting twist to this vacation, we came in on the train. The train got into San Antonio about 1:45 am. We still had to pick up our rental car and drive out to a resort, about 40 minutes away, which we had never been to before! We knew this was a potential problem before we left home and had spoken with Hill Country about it. So, when we arrived, very, very tired, at the check in around 2:30am, a security guard was there to help us and show us our unit. No problems.
We were very impressed with the resort and its staff. We didn't spend a whole lot of time in the unit because there was so much to do, but I would add that we didn't hear our neighbors at all. Daily activities are provided for both adults and children. There is a good playground, video games, movie theater and much to entertain people right at the resort. There is an enclosed, heated swimming pool, children's wading pool, heated spa, lighted tennis courts, shuffleboard, basketball and volleyball courts, horseshoes and ping pong, not to mention a destination type lake -- Canyon Lake. We were out and about a lot, so we didn’t take advantage of these things. We did, however, buy some cutesy stuff at their small souvenir/trading post. March is still blue time at this resort, but it looked pretty full to me. Maybe others are discovering Texas in the winter.
Directions: From the North: Take I-35 south to Hwy 306 (exit just north of New Braunfels). Take Hwy 306 northeast for 17 miles to Hill Country Resort on the left.
From the South: take I-35 north to Hwy 306. Take Hwy 306 northeast for 17 miles to Hill Country Resort on the left.
From the Airport: take east Hwy 281 north to Hwy 306. Take 306 east 16 miles to the resort.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 24, 2003
Silverleaf's Hill Country Resort
17545 Fm 306
Canyon Lake, Texas 78133
Restaurant | "Tower of the Americas Needle"
The entrees were varied. My husband had a steak which he said was well cooked and tasty. I had salmon with a wonderful fruity glaze on it. Another one of our party had Prime rib and the fourth had a pasta dish. All were well prepared. In the evening there is also a wine steward who recommended a wine for our meal. I don''''t drink much, but the others said it was worth the price. (some $40 dollars a bottle.) Apparently this restaurant is well known locally for its wines.
Anyway,the food was very good, the service excellent, and overall we had a good time--but then the other couple we were with paid the bill!
PS We looked at the lunch menu, which had entrees below $10. Much more family friendly.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 9, 2003
Tower of the Americas
600 HemisFair Park
New Braunfels, Texas 78201
Attraction | "An Amtrak Train Adventure"
You need to be patient when riding the train. We are the only Western country where the passenger trains don't have their own tracks. As a result, Amtrak has to pull over anytime there is a freight train coming through. Does that make commerce more important than . . . well . . . people? Everyone on the train had a different answer for that question. Since we had made the train ride a portion of our trip experience, we loved it and will do it again. (Next time I think we'll take the California Zephyr across the Rockies in the winter. It's supposed to be beautiful.) P.S. Plan any train trip 8-12 months ahead. The price goes up the closer to departure you get, and the deluxe cabins will sell out early and quickly.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 8, 2003
St. Louis To San Antonio
New Braunfels, Texas
Attraction | "Animal Interactions at Sea World San Antonio"
There are two encounters each day. We chose the first one. We arrived at the park about a half hour before it opened and someone from the encounter was there to meet us and let us in. We then walked a short distance to the encounter area which is behind the scenes at the park (not available for casual visitors to see). Everyone who was actually getting into the water as well as anyone who came with them was seated in a room and a short movie was shown about the animals and how we should act and react while in the water. If I could boil that down to a few words it would be "have fun and OBEY the trainer!"
Those of us getting in the water then went to the changing room where a wet suit (a lined wet suit) was fitted. The water these animals are used to is Arctic cold. The water temperature, if I remember correctly, was REALLY cold, around 58 degrees! But the lined wet suit made it seem more like just cold. I enjoyed it, but then I have a bit more meat on me than several of the children there. Not to worry though, after the first shock everyone adjusted and the water seemed fine.
There are other interactions available. Currently you can swim with sea lions or have a close encounter with sharks or stingrays. Shortly before we visited the park they had a dolphin encounter as well. However, all the trained dolphins were shipped to Orlando for the opening of Discovery Cove which is a huge dolphin encounter theme park in Orlando. They told us that the dolphin encounter will be available again as soon as they train a new bunch of dolphins how to interact appropriately with humans.
Now just a word for a potentially worried parent. The trainers keep very good control of the situation. We had to stay on a ledge in the pool that was about 3 feet deep. The whales came to us. Try this with you family.
SeaWorld San Antonio
10500 Sea World Dr
San Antonio, Texas 78251
Attraction | "Natural Bridge Caverns-A Great American Cave!"
The cavern hours of operation are: Open every day but Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years from 9am-4pm and 9am-6pm June through Labor Day. Ticket prices: adults (13-64) $12; children (4-12) $7; seniors (65 and over) $10. Tours depart every 30 minutes.
As we stepped up to purchase our tickets the conversation went something like this! "Now Ma’am, it will be hot in the caverns," says the ticket seller.
"I thought caves were about 68 degrees year round," I said.
"Well, this is an active cave, still growing formations. The temperature is in the 70s, but the humidity is so high it will feel like 88-90 degrees."
Disliking hot temperatures, I frown, but I frankly don’t believe him. But . . . he was right . . . boy, was he right! I sweat through my hair so it looked like I’d been in a pool, but, oh, this is a beautiful cavern! It is about a one and a half hour tour and about 3/4 a mile in length. Of course there is a bunch of up and down as well which makes it a bit longer, but you don’t really notice with so much to see. The first major formation is after a series of switchback trails that takes you down 108 feet. It is called Pluto’s Anteroom. Down some more to 180 ft and you find Sherwood Forest (many stalagmites.) Further into the Cave you can see formations called "Castle of the White Giants", "Hall of the Mountain King", "The Chandelier", "The Wizard", "Fried Eggs", and so on. The cavern is very safe with paved walkways and handrails -- definitely kid friendly.
In addition to the cavern, there is an area where you can pan for gold or other semi-precious stones which occur naturally in the area. It wasn’t open when we were there in late winter, but it looked like a lot of fun. There is also an animal park, which you can drive through, but we didn’t have time for that. I’ve included some pictures below and would recommend this as a great adventure for young and old if you’re in the area.
Website: www.naturalbridgecaverns.com (coupons at website).
Directions: Located 8 miles west, off I-35 at exit #175.
Natural Bridge Caverns
26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd.
Natural Bridge Caverns, Texas 78266
St. Louis, Missouri