Road Trippers: Journey to Gruene

George Strait got his start in Gruene, TX!
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Steven and Pooja found out quickly that the Gruene area's charm is impossible to miss.

GRUENE, Texas (KTRK) -- Within the city limits of New Braunfels and just 175 miles west of "H-Town" - you'll find the old town of Gruene, Texas. The area's charm is impossible to miss and a quick easy day trip from the Bayou City. Gruene is nestled right along the lush Guadalupe River, which is a popular spot to go tubing.

An old water tower still hovers over the most well-known eatery.

The Gristmill Restaurant is an adorable venue which sits on the site of Gruene's old cotton gin. Larry Abel works at the restaurant. He said you say "Gruene" just like the color green.

"You can call it Gruene, Greenie, or Green," laughed Abel. "It doesn't matter. We'll take care of you."

Next door to the Gristmill Restaurant is the Lone Star State's oldest dance hall. The Gruene Dance Hall helped launch country star George Strait's career. The dance hall was built back in 1878.

Little has changed inside the building today. It's like walking back in time.

You can still catch live music acts every day of the week, grab a cold beer, and dance your heart out.

Digital Extra: Pooja and Steve enjoy wine tasting in Gruene

Mary Jane Nalley is one of the dance hall's owners. Nalley said they want to keep the venue as authentic as possible.

She reminisced about the days when Strait first played the hall.

"He played here for one or three years," said Nalley. "They were playing New Year's Eve one time. The next thing I know there's a woman on stage and she's proceeding to kind of unclothe herself. Here's George playing his guitar, and here's Clay Blaker playing his guitar. So I get up on stage and I say, 'Hey, guys!' and they're going, 'Well M.J., why do we have to stop?' And they just keep playing. Oh my gosh!"

Gruene is also the perfect place to find antiques. The Gruene Antique Company is free to browse, and you never know what you'll stumble across.

Inside The Grapevine, take a taste of the latest Texas wines on the house. Ashley McCafferty works at the wine tasting room.

"Texas wine has grown a lot over the past 10 years or so," said McCafferty. "We're up to over 230 wineries. The grapes are grown all over the state."

It will take you about six hours round-trip to get to Gruene, and if you're interested in visiting, you can plan your trip here.