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Wet, White and Blue

We plan on staying at the park the full 10 hours it's open. But after eight hours, we're exhausted. We figure we'll rest an hour, hurry back for an hour's worth of thrills, then finish off the day by gently tubing the Comal until dark.

We head to downtown New Braunfels, where we find that our room at the Prince Solms Inn, a Texas heritage landmark, has a big, comfy wrought-iron bed. We won't make it out of the room that night, and we never see the park again -- at least not this trip.

Ride the waves at Schlitterbahn, one of the world's biggest water parks. (Schlitterbahn)

_____Water Parks_____
A Ride at Schlitterbahn
7 Top U.S. Water Parks
Local Water Park-O-Matic (pdf file)

Neither I nor my younger companion will be able to do a full 10 hours, I think, until they create yet one more innovation: waterproof escalators to replace the stairs to the tops of thrill rides.

Details: Schlitterbahn

GETTING THERE: Most major airlines fly from D.C. to San Antonio, about a 30-minute drive to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Tex., and to Austin, about 45 minutes away. From D.C., summer fares begin at about $230 round trip.

PARK INFO: All-day admission is $29.95 for 12 and older, $24.85 for ages 3 to 11, with midday and multiple-day specials. Info: 830-625-2351, www.schlitterbahn.com.

WHERE TO STAY: On-site, Schlitterbahn offers riverside motel rooms from $120 a night, and cottages, duplexes and vacation homes ranging from $170 to $730 a night. The best bet in Gruene and New Braunfels: a variety of charming, historic B&Bs. We were happy with our stay at the Prince Solms Inn (295 E. San Antonio St., New Braunfels, 800-625-9169, www.princesolmsinn.com), where rooms with breakfast start at $121 a night. We'd like to return and sleep at the Gruene Mansion Inn (1275 Gruene Rd., 830-629-2641, www.gruenemansioninn.com). Doubles at the Victorian mansion start at $145.

WHERE TO EAT: Don't miss the Grist Mill (1287 Gruene Rd., New Braunfels), where American-style entrees with a Texas emphasis range from $8.50 to $16. For good home-cooking on a budget, Pat's Place (202 S. Union, New Braunels) serves burgers for $3 and full meals -- including fresh-cut fries -- for $7.25.

INFO: Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, 800-572-2626, www.nbcham.org.

-- Cindy Loose

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