Texas has long been a destination for would-be colonists, who revere the Lone Star landscape for its thick rivers of barbecue sauce and sloping baby back hills. Feast on local history and culture with today’s Groupon: for $10, you get admission for two to The Sophienburg Museum and Archives in New Braunfels (a $20 value). Each admission includes a visit to the museum and the archives. Active-duty members of the military are admitted free.
When Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels arrived in central Texas in 1845 to build an opulent home for his new fiancée, the German colonist could hardly have imagined that he would instead establish a town whose vibrant history carries on to this day. The Sophienburg—named after the Princess of Salm-Salm who would never see her castle in person—now overflows with photographs, maps, and documents that chronicle the early days of New Braunfels and Comal County. The area’s cultural heritage is on full display in museum exhibits that house artifacts ranging from an antique carriage to Price Carl’s extensive collection of pickled lederhosen.
After exploring the intimate museum galleries, visitors can head to the archives to peruse one of the world’s largest repositories of information about the wave of German migration that swept over central Texas in the 19th century. A veritable forest of family trees and county records take root in a 1,200-book reference library, where visitors can hack through the genealogical fauna to trace their ancestry back to famous explorers and exiled Prussian pop stars.
Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market
For three days in November, the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market brings Olde World Christmas spirit to New Braunfels. Vendors set up cheery red and green booths in the German-style holiday market, where they sell homemade wares such as aromatic roasted nuts, unique toys, vintage cameos, and homemade toffee. Nearby, authors sit ready to discuss their novels or sing their favorite Christmas carols at the on-site book fair and kids of all ages can visit a jolly Santa at his workshop.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Sophienburg Museum and Archives, which serves as the hub for immigration ship logs, photos, and documents of the first German Americans who found their way to Texas.