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