Fourth of July celebration kicks off "Summer In New Braunfels" - water recreation, music, rare giraffes, caverns and bats...

Jul 01, 2014, 14:23 ET from New Braunfels Convention & Visitors Bureau

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas, July 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- "Summer" is seldom used as a verb in Texas, but it is absolutely appropriate in New Braunfels. Generations of Texans have spent their summer vacations cooling off in the city's rivers, Schlitterbahn waterpark, and the underground world of Natural Bridge Caverns.

"You can explore underground Texas like the first cavers did and experience the thrill of the most spectacular show cave in Texas," said Travis Wuest, vice president, Natural Bridge Caverns. "Natural Bridge Caverns celebrates 50 years in 2014 and it's a year-around attraction with moderate temperatures in the 70s no matter what's happening at ground level. We also have a zip line, a maze, and a mining sluice where you can keep the treasure you find. This summer don't miss the Bracken Bat Flight – our partnership with the Bat Conservancy provides a rare opportunity to see the evening emergence of the world's largest bat colony when millions of free-tailed bats spiral out of Bracken Cave and take to the skies on their nightly hunt for insects."

Register for a chance to win some tickets to Natural Bridge Caverns and more here, and "Like" In New Braunfels' Facebook Page to keep up with what's happening and win more great prizes including opportunities to enjoy the following New Braunfels attractions:

The spring-fed Comal River – the shortest river in the nation – pours out of one of the largest sets of springs in Texas, clear, cool, and calm – perfect for a relaxing float. Most popular, the exciting Guadalupe River, springs from the northwest Texas Hill Country and ducks into Canyon Reservoir to flow out the bottom so cold that rainbow trout survive year around in the dam's tailrace providing a great antidote to the Texas heat all the way down to the coast and fly-fishing! Local river outfitters welcome visitors and provide information on how to be safe, where to go for what kind of float, raft or canoe ride, or fishing.   

Canyon Reservoir itself serves up fishing, sailing, skiing, jet skiing, and beaches and there many smaller lakes in the surrounding area. Water recreation is the name of the game in New Braunfels! Schlitterbahn was just recognized as a Top Ten Water Park in the U.S. by CNN Travel and has been voted the World's Best Waterpark for 16 years in a row. It's a 2014 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award winner – recognized for consistent outstanding traveler reviews, and the park celebrates 35 years of "hottest, coolest time in Texas" this year.

You can try some "extreme" skiing and wakeboarding at the Texas Ski Ranch – a big cable lake that offers perfect towing and waves. There are summer camps and other extreme action sports like skateboarding the 15,000-square-foot street course-style park. You can even learn to snowboard before heading to the slopes this winter! Check out these folks having some fun!

Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch is celebrating their 30 years with rare year-old twin reticulated giraffes. From the petting zoo to different species from every continent but Antarctica on acres of ranchland, there's nothing like this Texas Safari – check it out!

Scoot a boot across "the oldest dance hall in Texas," Gruene Hall, where George Strait started the career he just topped off with the biggest concert ever. July and August will see rock-a-billy band Two Tons of Steel with swing dance lessons, plus Bob Schneider, the Mavericks, Roger Creager, Radney Foster, Hayes Carll, and Charlie Robison. They're open all year around, too, as are a host of other dance halls and honky tonks in the Texas Hill Country that surrounds New Braunfels.

There are no chain attractions here – no Disney or Six Flags. Natural Bridge Caverns, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, Gruene Hall, Texas Ski Ranch, and Schlitterbahn are all locally owned and operated which makes them all particularly responsive to what their guests like.

Over the years a broad and entrepreneurial hospitality industry has spawned many other supporting attractions to make the area so full of fun that it's hard to fit it all in one visit – there's even a growing and competitive wine industry in the surrounding Texas Hill Country with New Braunfels vintners, too. Nearby Austin and San Antonio provide great day trip opportunities from a family-friendly, economical central location in New Braunfels. It all makes for a value-added vacation or weekend getaway. For most Texans it's an easy drive-to destination and there are two metropolitan airports in Austin and San Antonio within an hour's drive.

Check out New Braunfels' classic "star-spangled" Fourth of July celebration and plan your vacation with the comprehensive New Braunfels Convention and Visitor Center website – it's time to "summer" in New Braunfels. Be sure to register for a chance to win some vacation prizes!

For more information contact Judy Young, Director, New Braunfels Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-572-2626.

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