Haus Party: Schlitterbahn Brings Luxury to the Comal
When we were wee, our parents used to take the whole family and a picnic lunch to Schlitterbahn for $20 a day. It was a soggy summer fairyland that consisted as much of giant shady oaks and fantastical mushroom castles as it did of awesome tube rides. Prices have gone up a bit and the quality of amenities has skyrocketed, but the magic remains. The now-expansive water park has stayed true to their aesthetic, especially when it comes to the newly opened Treehaus Resort accommodations. The suites are spacious, up-to-date, and elegant. With fully equipped kitchens, proximate barbecue pits, and only a handful of units, they feel more closely akin to a tasteful vacation rental home than an impersonal hotel. The exteriors retain an element of whimsical kitsch, while the interiors integrate the tree house theme in a sophisticated way. Driftwood-esque architectural detail successfully evokes both the Black Forest region of Germany and good old Central Texas at the same time. Counters and tables use the organic curves of plank wood, and the patio furniture is actually fashioned from salvaged trees felled by last summer's wildfires. Lodging is available from studio rooms to three-bedroom, two-bath suites – all with treetop views of the peaceful river and a playful tube chute. A stay at the Treehaus includes admission to the park and beat-the-line extended hours for the big rides, including the popular Master Blaster. We were nervous to witness yet another expansion on what was, to our eight-year-old selves, summer fun perfected. Not only do our sacred childhood memories remain undisturbed, the future has been significantly upgraded by this newest addition to Schlitterbahn. – Raven Hinojosa
Schlitterbahn No matter where you turn or burn in Texas these days, there is a Schlitterbahn within schlitting distance. And all three of the Texas parks have rolled out new features, like the limbs of the gorgeous live oaks that drape the original park:
New Braunfels launched The Falls, the longest waterpark ride on the planet ever. It stretches over 3,600 feet in a 25-minute ride loop on which visitors can shuttle between the Surfenberg and Warneke Pavillion (née The Rapids) sections of the property. The western U-turn of the Falls arcs under the balcony of the new Treehaus luxury resort (see "Haus Party," above).
Galveston's indoor waterpark gussied up her outdoors with the expansion of the cabanas, ample thatched huts that can be reserved by small groups for the day for a modest fee.
South Padre Island's Schlitterbahn is also growing its luxury accommodations with a new seaside hotel.
Last week, the slippery empire opened its first out-of-Texas park in Kansas City, Kansas.
And closer to home, there's the exciting news of a ground-breaking in Cedar Park in the works. We schlitt you not. Adult admission (12-54 years old), $47.99; children (3-11), $37.99; seniors (55 and older), $37.99. Group rates, multiday and season pass discounts are available. Resort accommodation package deals are available online. 381 E. Austin St., New Braunfels, 830/625-2351 33261 State Park Road 100, South Padre Island, 956/772-7873 2026 Lockheed, Galveston, 409/770-9283 14353 S. Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi www.schlitterbahn.com
We awarded this New Braunfels outfitter (located near the Comal River, Hinman Island Park, the Prince Solms Tube Chute, and Schlitterbahn) "Best River Shuttle" in 2008, and it still provides door-to-door service for your group all along the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Austin. Daily tube rental, $10-17. Contact for group rates and door-to-door shuttle service. 120 S. Liberty Ave., New Braunfels, 830/626-6687 www.cornertubes.com
You can choose your own "Proud Mary" adventure on the magnificent Guad: Nice and easy... or nice and rough. And depending on the day and time, it can be as lazy and pristine as those first few moments on the river in Deliverance or as raucous as – well, we hope not the climax of Deliverance. Burt Reynolds not included.
Prime tubing from various put-ins, between Canyon Lake and New Braunfels www.texasoutside.com
The Krause family has held this piece of sheer Texas swimming-hole heaven in their care for over 50 years. It's easy to imagine leprechauns or elves creeping out from behind the craggy rocks and mossy ferns to take a turn on the rope swing over the icy, spring-fed pool. Adults, $7; children 4-11, $5; under 4, free. Camping: RV site, $14; primitive: adults, $14; children, $6. 404 Krause Spring Rd., Spicewood, 830/693-4181 www.krausesprings.net
Watsu at Travaasa
If your mom delivered you via water birth, prepare for some serious flashbacks. For the rest of us, imagine a mermaid intensive or an Esther Williams reincarnation. At the very least, it's the best thing you can do while wearing a nose plug. Delivered here at Travaasa by certified therapist Laura Syrgley, at its best, Watsu is unique and tender underwater massage therapy, a potentially transformative experience. $135 add-on 13500 FM 2769, 877/261-7792 www.travaasa.com