Here in Central Texas, we’re lucky--we’ve got one of the largest networks of rivers and lakes in the state. These vast networks also happen to make for some pretty amazing swimming holes. It would be a shame not to take advantage of them during the dog days of summer. However, when looking for swimming hole guides around Austin, we noticed that they either lacked information, were inefficient, or didn’t have that personal touch that Austinites crave. That’s why we’ve decided to put together this comprehensive list of the best swimming holes in Austin, Texas. Through our own personal research and utilizing resources online, we’ve come up with the definitive guide to the best swimming holes within an hour of downtown Austin. We hope you enjoy!
A local favorite in Austin, Barton Springs Pool has been attracting all walks of life since its inception in 1837--from free-spirited, topless hula hoopers to congressmen to famous film directors. You can always count on a place to swim at Barton Springs Pool, and you can also always count on the water being a brisk 68 degrees. The short of it is this: If you haven’t been to Barton Springs Pool, go ASAP. Visit the Barton Springs Pool site.Entrance Fee: $3 per person.Hours: 5 am to 10 pmDirections: Take Barton Springs Rd from downtown Austin and turn left into the park entrance. For newcomers, it's just on the other side of the road from the massive field at Zilker Park. 2201 Barton Springs Rd. Austin, TX 78704.Pro Tip: A lot of things are prohibited at Barton Springs Pool, so go with as little on your person as possible. They also offer an hour of free swimming every night from 9pm to 10pm, so you can easily avoid the crowds and fees. Back to top.
A popular spot for owners to bring their dogs, Barton Springs Spillway is a great little spot to enjoy the brisk water of Barton Springs Pool without paying the $3 entrance fee. Bring your tube, jump in the cold water, and enjoy the day for free. Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: Head to Barton Springs and stay east of the actual pool area, outside of the gates. Pro Tip: Barton Springs Spillway can get very crowded. Visit on off hours for a more relaxing experience. Back to top.
Upper Barton Springs is a sprawling spring bursting from the bed of Barton Creek just north of Barton Springs Pool. This spring appears to be the only remaining Edward’s Aquifer spring that still has the appearance of a fountain. Though hundreds of people visit Barton Springs Pool every weekend, only a handful of more adventurous people make the their way through the woods to visit the Upper Springs. Visit the website.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: Located just 1,200 feet upstream from Barton Springs Pool on the south bank of the creek.Pro Tip: It’s worth the trek, even if only for local bragging rights. Back to top.
While not as popular as Barton Springs Pool, Deep Eddy Pool is also a notable and historic swimming hole that provides locals with a fantastic spot to swim during the summer. Since the Colorado River provides the water for this man-made pool, you can always bet on water temperatures being around 70 degrees. If you’re looking to wade in the water or swim laps, Deep Eddy Pool is the swimming hole to visit. Visit the website.Entrance Fee: $3 ages 18+, $2 ages 12 to 17, $1 under 12, Free under 12 monthsHours: 8 am to 9 pm, though hours fluctuate throughout the year. Directions: From downtown Austin, head west on 6th Street and cross under Mopac Loop 1. Here, 6th, 5th, and Cesar Chavez converge to form Lake Austin Blvd. Just after the intersection at Mopac, turn left onto Deep Eddy Ave. 410 Deep Eddy Avenue, Austin, TX 78703.Pro Tip: During the summer, Deep Eddy Pool provides Splash Party Movie Nights, showing family-friendly films on an inflatable screen. Check their website for showtimes. Back to top.
One of the more popular leash-free dog parks in town, Red Bud Isle is also a great place to swim in Lake Austin. Located just before the Lake Austin Dam, Red Bud offers easy parking and access to the less traversed area of Lady Bird Lake just outside of downtown. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: Take Lake Austin Blvd west from downtown and turn left onto Redbud Trail. You can also take Enfield Rd toward the lake and turn left onto Lake Austin Blvd, then a quick right onto Redbud Trail. You’ll see the entrance to the park on your left. 3402 Redbud Trail, Austin, TX 78703.Pro Tip: Near the southern tip of Red Bud Isle, along the eastern shore of Lady Bird Lake, there is a rope swing that you can only get to via boat or swim (unless you know the secret entrance by the apartments). Enjoy it! Back to top.
The baby brother to Sculpture Falls, Twin Falls is one of the best swimming holes in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. This swimming hole comes equipped with a rope swing, a jumping rock, plenty of sun and shade, and your fair share of crusty hippies (if you're into that kind of thing). It can get fairly crowded on the weekends, so try to visit Twin Falls away from peak hours. Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From downtown, take Highway 71/290 West to the exit for Highway 360. Take 360 to the light where it intersects with Mopac Loop 1 and turn left onto the South Mopac access road. Don't merge onto the highway. Stay right and park close to the trailhead. Head down to the creek and stay right toward Twin Falls for about five miles. If you're feeling lost, check out the maps at the entrance and they’ll tell you where to go.
Pro Tip: For the most part during the summer, the Twin Falls swimming hole will be dry, but in early fall (September/October), it's a beautiful swimming hole after a big rainfall. Hide your valuables in your car; break-ins have been known to happen. Back to top.
Gus Fruh Trail is the access trail to the Barton Creek Greenbelt from Barton Hills Dr. It offers easy access for folks looking for great climbing and a superb swimming hole from the Lamar Blvd side of the greenbelt. While it is also pretty dry during the summer, it becomes an intimate swimming hole after a heavy rainfall in the early months of fall. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From downtown, your best bet is to take Barton Springs Dr west toward Zilker Park, turn left onto Robert E. Lee Rd, and then right onto Barton Hills Dr. You’ll see the trailhead on the right. 2642 Barton Hills drive, Austin, TX 78704.Pro Tip: This place is great for wading and soaking during the summer, especially since there’s plenty of shade. Be sure to check water levels before you head over. Back to top.
West Lake Beach is a great place to take the family. Located along Lake Austin, just north of the Lake Austin Dam, West Lake Beach features a roped-off swimming area that gets up to six feet deep. Visit the website.Entrance Fee: $8 for adults, $5 for children under 12Hours: Saturday 10 am to 7 pm, Sunday 11 am to 7 pm, open during the week by special arrangementDirections: From Mopac, take 15th/Enfield Rd west to Lake Austin Blvd. Turn left onto Lake Austin Blvd, then a quick right onto Red Bud Trail. Follow Red Bud Trail until you get to the intersection of West Lake Dr (a gas station is on the corner). Follow West Lake Dr for 1.9 miles and keep right at the split. Follow it along the water to West Lake Beach. 2509 Westlake Drive, Austin, TX 78746.Pro Tip: Call ahead before you go. West Lake Beach is often rented out for private events. (512) 327-9004. Back to top.
Moderately hidden away down a one-mile hike in the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Sculpture Falls is one of the choice spots for Austin natives to cool off during the summertime (though it’s rather gorgeous all year round). You’ll find people doing everything from relaxing in the water to throwing a football to canoeing after a heavy rainfall. Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From downtown, take Highway 71/290 West and exit at Highway 360 North. Take a left onto Scottish Woods Trail off of Hwy 360 until it meets 1710 Camp Craft Rd. Park your car on the street and walk up the road until you see the entrance to Greenbelt Trail. Follow the stoney steps down about a mile, making sure you always fork to the right. Once you hit the bottom, take another right and keep on walking. Follow it down until you hear people or running water. Pro Tip: Only go if it has rained in Austin recently, because Barton Creek tends to dry up during summer droughts. As a general rule of thumb, wait a couple days for the bacteria to clear from the water after a heavy rain. Back to top.
McKinney Falls is one of the closest state parks to central Austin that you can actually enjoy a nice swim in. It’s also great for hiking, camping, and simply catching a break from the city. If you're looking for a nearby but more remote swimming hole in Austin, McKinney Falls is sure to please. Visit the park site.Entrance Fee: $6 for adults, and children under 12 get in free.Hours: 8 am to 10 pm (unless you are camping)Directions: From downtown Austin, take I-35 south to Highway 71/290 East (Ben White Blvd). Exit for Montopolis Dr. Take a right on Montopolis Dr, left onto Burleson Rd, and then right onto McKinney Falls Pkwy. You'll see signs for the park. 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, TX 78744. Pro Tip: Take the path to the Lower Falls for better swimming. Back to top.
Bull Creek weaves in and out of gorgeous Highway 360 for 12 miles, beginning in north central Travis County and ending in Lake Austin, where it merges with the Colorado River. That being said, there are a lot of incredible water spots along Bull Creek. If you’re looking to explore some fantastic trails and swimming holes in Austin that don’t get as much attention, Bull Creek might just be your new favorite spot. Visit their site.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From downtown, take Highway 360 north until it hits Spicewood Springs Rd. Once on Spicewood Springs Rd, take an immediate right onto Old Spicewood Springs Rd and follow that down until you see trailhead parking on the left.Pro Tip: Choose to get lost in this beautiful creek system. After a little exploring, you’ll find a lot of trails to go down. They usually lead to some pretty awesome and unexpected swimming holes and secluded spots. See if you can find the abandoned car. Back to top.
Georgetown’s Blue Hole is located along the South San Gabriel River in Blue Hole Park in Georgetown, TX, north of Austin. It’s mostly a wading area, as you’re no longer allowed to jump off the cliffs due to low water levels, but there are great limestone bluffs, plenty of trails nearby, and close parking. It’s a very popular local swimming hole in the summertime. Visit the site.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From Austin, take I-35 north through Round Rock and exit University. Turn left onto Austin Ave. From there you should be able to see the Blue Hole Park five blocks north of Georgetown Square. If you have trouble, call and ask: (512) 930-3595. Intersection of 2nd Avenue and Rock Street, Georgetown, TX, 78626.
Pro Tip: Now that jumping off cliffs is against the law, there are nasty rumors about the hole being a police trap for jumpers; it’s not. Just don’t go there if you’re looking for jumping and rope swings. The Blue Hole is really best when you’re there to relax and wade in the water. Back to top.
Hippie Hollow is a “clothing optional” park located in the gorgeous Hill Country of Lake Travis. This beautiful park is situated among 109 acres of pristine land only 20 miles from downtown Austin. This self-proclaimed “safe, nudist atmosphere” is a beautiful spot to take a dip and spend an afternoon right outside of the city. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $12 per vehicleHours: 9 am to sunsetDirections: From downtown Austin, go north on Mopac Loop 1 until you reach RM 2222. Head west on RM 2222 until it turns into Bullick Hollow Rd. Continue on Bullick Hollow Rd until you reach Oasis Bluff Dr. Take a left on Oasis Bluff, then a right on Comanche Trail.7000 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732.Pro Tip: Since this park is clothing-optional, it is 18+ only! Back to top.
St. Edward's Park is a hidden gem in Austin. Not only is it beautiful and perfect for those looking to hike, bike, and run, but it has some amazing swimming holes too. If you’re the wandering explorer type, St. Edward's Park was made for you. After a heavy rain, it’s hard not to find a swimming hole here. Visit the park site.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From downtown, head north on Mopac Loop 1. Take the exit toward Highway 183 North (Research Blvd). Follow 183 for about a mile and then turn left onto Highway 360 (Capital of Texas Highway/Great Hills Trail). Turn right onto Spicewood Springs Rd and you'll see the park entrance on your left.Pro Tip: It’s easy to get lost in St. Edward's Park. When you’re going down the trail, merge to the right until there is a huge open field. Follow that path to the right and straight for about a half mile. When you see another dirt path, take a left. Enter Rope Swing Heaven. Back to top.
Arguably the only swimming hole in Austin with a true “beach” shorefront, Emma Long Park sits along Lake Austin providing cool water to swim in year round, even when the water level is relatively low. Though it can get crowded during the summer, it’s fairly easy to find your own spot to enjoy the water along the long strip of land. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $5 per vehicle Mon-Thurs, $10 per vehicle Fri-SunHours: 7 am to 10 pmDirections: From downtown Austin, take Mopac Loop 1 north. Exit for RM 2222 (Northland Dr) and turn left. Follow 2222 through the hills, cross Highway 360 (Capital of Texas Highway), and turn left onto City Park Rd. Follow it four miles and you'll dead end into the park. 1706 City Park Road, Austin TX, 78730. Pro Tip: Walk up the river about half a mile to escape where the majority of the crowd swims and find your own private swimming hole to enjoy. Back to top.
Bob Wentz Park is located in the basin area of the scenic Hill County of Lake Travis. This water-recreation hotspot is popular for windsurfing, sailing, scuba diving, and swimming during the summertime. The sandy shoreline of Bob Wentz Park provides pedestrians with a beautiful spot to sunbathe, play volleyball, go for a peaceful walk, or just spend a lazy summer afternoon with friends. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle, $3 per bicyclist/pedestrian. Hours: 8 am to sunsetDirections: From downtown Austin, go south on Mopac Loop 1 until you reach RM 2222. Go west on RM 2222 until it turns into Bullick Hollow Rd. Continue on Bullick Hollow Rd until you reach Oasis Bluff Dr. Take a left on Oasis Bluff until you reach Comanche Trail. The destination will be on your right. 7144 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732.Pro Tip: Parking often reaches capacity during peak summer months, so be prepared to wait up to an hour if you don’t get there early, as they operate on a “five in, five out” basis. Back to top.
Located adjacent to the Mansfield Dam on the main body of Lake Travis, this popular boating spot is also a fantastic spot for swimmers. Providing a roped-off swimming area away from boats for pedestrians, this beautiful park is perfect for those looking to escape the city for an afternoon to clear their minds. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle, $3 per bicyclist/pedestrian. Hours: 8 am to sunsetDirections: From downtown Austin, go south on Mopac Loop 1 until you reach RM 2222. Go west on RM 2222 until it turns into RR 620. Turn left onto RR 620 N for about four miles until you reach Commanders Point Dr. Keep going until it turns into Mansfield Dam Rd and you reach your destination on the left. 4370 Mansfield Dam Rd., Austin, TX 78734. Pro Tip: When the water gets low on Lake Travis, many new islands appear. Bring your tube and a camera and let your inner explorer run free! Back to top.
Pace Bend is located northwest of Austin along the southern shore of Lake Travis. It boasts over nine miles of shoreline, which means that there’s plenty of swimming to be had. Pace Bend is also great for the avid cliff jumper. The limestone cliffs of Lake Travis form the perfect setting to enjoy a safe cliff jump into Lake Travis. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: Entrance fees vary, but day use is $10 per vehicle. You can get a full list of prices by visiting the website.Hours: Day use is sunrise to sunset, but Pace Bend also offers overnight use.Directions: From downtown Austin, take Highway 71 West for about 20 miles, then head north on FM 2322, and then hang a right onto Grisham Trail. Pace Bend Road North, Spicewood, TX 78669.Pro Tip: Pale Face is one of the more notorious spots to jump. Be aware that the climb back up is pretty difficult. Also keep an eye on water levels. Pace Bend is known for being a great place to cliff jump, but with current water levels, you’ve got to take extra caution when picking your spots. Back to top.
Reimer’s Ranch is an open parkland located along the Pedernales River, and it’s actually the largest parkland acquisition in the history of Travis County. Mostly known for its rock climbing, Reimer’s has an awesome beach area where swimmers go to stroke, soak, and sunbathe. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicleHours: This is a day-use park. For specific hours call (512) 854-7275Directions: From downtown, take Highway 71/290 West (Ben White Blvd) toward the “Y.” Veer right and take Highway 71 West at the split. Stay on 71 for eight miles and then turn left onto Hamilton Pool Rd (FM 3238) in Bee Cave. The park entrance is located a little over 10 miles along Hamilton Pool Rd, and it’s about 2,000 feet before the Hamilton Pool park entrance. 23610 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs, 78620.Pro Tip: The earlier you leave the house, the better. During prime swimming months, Reimer’s gets busy with climbers, bikers, and swimmers. Back to top.
Three words: Snorkeling. In. Texas. The San Marcos River is a great place to enjoy crystal-clear water. There are countless swimming holes located along this 75-mile river, and several riverside parks as well. A local favorite is the Rio Vista Dam access point, which features a three-tier swimming hole. The river system extends from San Marcos down to Luling, TX, and there are an array of activities to take part in throughout. The best approach is to go to their website and decide from there. Visit the website. Entrance Fee: Dependent upon the park. All information can be found at the San Marcos River Foundation website.Hours: Call ahead for specific hours and dates: (512) 353-4628Directions: From downtown Austin, head south on I-35 toward San Marcos. Exit for Aquarena Springs Dr and that will put you in the heart of San Marcos.Pro Tip: Floating is by far the most popular activity on the river, but if you’re interested in finding a new place to take a dip, make a day of it and get some great BBQ while you’re in Luling. Back to top.
This historic swimming hole is another treasure beloved by Austin natives. Located three-quarters of a mile upstream from the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills over a 50-foot waterfall, forming the natural pool in a steep box canyon. Get there early, as there is a maximum number of visitors they allow into the preserve. Otherwise, plan on waiting in your vehicle for up to an hour before being admitted. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle Hours: 9 am to 6 pm, weather permitting Directions: From downtown Austin, take Highway 71/290 (Ben White Blvd) west and hang a right onto Highway 71 at the "Y." Follow that for eight miles and then turn left onto Hamilton Pool Rd. 24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs, TX 78620.Pro Tip: If it hasn’t rained recently, take the path to the left when the trail to Hamilton Pool forks. It will lead you to a spot where the Hamilton Creek and Pedernales River meet. It also provides some gorgeous scenery. Back to top.
Quite possibly one of the best-kept secrets in Texas, Krause Springs is a breathtaking private springs located in Spicewood, 30 miles outside of Austin. Located in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, Krause Springs has 32 springs on its 115-acre property, with one large natural swimming hole where you’ll see most people spending their time. With great water levels and temperatures year round, you never have to worry if the swimming will be great. Visit Krause Springs website.Entrance Fee: $6 per adult, $3 per child, children under 4 free.Hours: 9 am to sundown Directions: Located in Spicewood, take Highway 71 west from downtown Austin and hang a right at the "Y." Stay on 71 for 25 miles, until you see Texas Spur 191, and turn right. Take another right onto 404 (Mike Wall Ln) and take your first left onto Krause Springs Rd. 404 Krause Springs Rd., Spicewood, TX 78669.Pro Tip: Krause Springs is on private property, so if you’re over 21, feel free to enjoy an adult beverage worry-free. Back to top.
Located in the Wimberley Valley, Jacob’s Well is as much a geological landmark as it is a great spot to take a dip. The well is actually the end of an underground, natural spring, so the water is crisp and clear all year round. Public tours of the area are offered every Saturday at 10 am, but we recommend going out with a small group and relaxing in the pool. Visit the website.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sunrise to SunsetDirections: From downtown Austin, take Highway 71/290 West (Ben White Blvd) and stay straight onto Highway 290 at the "Y." Take Highway 290 into Dripping Springs and then turn left onto Ranch Road 12. Take that south towards Wimberley. Turn right onto County Rd 182 (Jacob's Well Rd) for two miles, then turn right onto Pleasant Valley, and another right onto Woodacre Dr. The park entrance will be on your right. 221 Woodacre Drive, Wimberley, TX 78676.Pro Tip: If you’re driving from Austin, be sure to leave for the well at a decent time. The drive will take you about an hour, and often visitors have trouble finding the actual well due to lack of signage. Give yourself plenty of time to explore! It’s all part of the allure. Back to top.
Cypress Creek emerges at Jacob’s Well and runs along the Wimberley Valley. The Blue Hole is a pristine section of land along the creek that has long been the go-to place for Central Texans looking for a picture-perfect Hill Country swimming experience. Named one of the top ten best Texas swimming holes regularly, the Blue Hole offers great swimming in crystal-clear water, as well as camping. Visit the website.Entrance Fee: Fees vary depending on age. $3 for children 3 and under, $4 for children ages 4-12 and seniors, $8 for ages 13-59. Season and ten-visit passes are also available and worth the coin.Hours: Open hours vary greatly, and the website is a little unclear as to when the swimming area is open. If you’re planning on going, your best bet is to call ahead and just ask: (512) 847-0025.Directions: Head south on I-35 through Buda, exit for FM 1626/Kyle Pkwy, and stay on the access road. Turn right onto Kohler's Crossing for a couple miles and then turn left onto FM 2770/Jack C. Hays Trail for one mile. Turn right onto FM 150 West for six miles and then continue onto FM 3237/Old Kyle Rd for about 10 miles. Take a right onto Old Kyle Rd and your next right will be Blue Hole Rd. Blue Hole Road, Wimberley, TX 78676.Pro Tip: The park is currently undergoing a great deal of revitalization, so you've got to search a little harder to find that secluded, secret getaway spot. The majority of the Blue Hole Park currently caters to families and larger groups or parties. If you’re looking for something less crowded, we recommend going to Jacob’s Well. Back to top.
If you are looking to escape the city and enjoy a quiet afternoon in a scenic spot with a beautiful river, look no further than Pedernales Falls. Unlike most of the places mentioned on this list, Pedernales Falls caters to those seeking more of a reflective afternoon than a social one. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a fantastic day with your family or friends, though. Visit the Pedernales Falls site.Entrance Fee: $6 per adult, children under 12 free.Hours: 8 am to 10 pm Directions: Just like heading to Hamilton Pool, take Highway 71/290 (Ben White Blvd) west from downtown. This time you'll stay straight onto Highway 290 toward Dripping Springs. Follow 290 through Dripping Springs (approximately 25 miles) and then turn right onto RM 3232 for six miles. Turn right onto Co Rd 201 (Pedernales Falls Rd) and take your first left onto Park Rd 6026. Please note this is a partially restricted road. 585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636.Pro Tip: To get to the falls, drive a little farther past the swimming area. The hike is worth the view. Back to top.
The Comal River is one of the most popular swimming and tubing spots in the state. If you haven’t spent a day tubing down the Comal, you really can’t call yourself a Central Texan. New Braunfels is the most popular point from which to embark on the Comal River, and there are several tube rental companies that offer tubes, rafts, river shuttles, and more. Check out these companies for specific rates and tube rental: Texas Tubes, Comal Rockin’ R, Landa Falls, Corner Tubes.Entrance Fee: No entrance fee, but tube rental is dependent on the tube company.Hours: Dependent on the tube companyDirections: Downtown New Braunfels is where the majority of the tubing action is. Once you're there, you'll be able to easily navigate to your desired tube outfitter. From Austin, take I-35 south through San Marcos and exit for Seguin Ave. That will get you to the Comal River and a variety of tubing areas.Pro Tip: Go with a large group and bring your own tubes. You’ll save money by not having to rent. Alcoholic beverages are no longer allowed on the river, but there are plenty of places to eat and drink in New Braunfels after you’ve had your fill of the river. Back to top.
Blanco State Park is a beautiful park with a lush, scenic river, perfect for enjoying a day away from the city during the summertime. Since the water comes from the Blanco River, you can almost always count on it being a brisk 70 degrees. Though not as popular as the San Marcos River or the Guadalupe River, you can rent tubes and canoes to take down the river if you’re looking for a little more adventure. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $4 per adult, children under 12 free. Hours: 8 pm to sunset Directions: From downtown Austin take Mopac Loop 1 toward Highway 71/290 W. Turn right at 290 W and continue for roughly 25 miles until you hit FM 165. Turn left and continue on FM 165 for roughly 15 miles until you reach Chandler St (signs for Texas 163 Loop). Turn right on Chandler St and continue until you reach State Hwy P23. Turn left and keep a slight right on Park Road 23. Blanco State Park is on your left. 101 Park Road 23, Blanco, Tx. 78606.Pro Tip: If you’re looking for some quality reflective time, the western part of the park is usually nowhere near as crowded as the rest of it. Back to top.
Inks Lake is a bit farther of a drive from Austin and the farthest we’re going to recommend you drive, considering we’re trying to make it easy for you to get your swim on without having to drive to the beach. Inks Lake is a stunning Highland Lake located in the city of Burnet. Inks Lake State Park is a beautiful site to catch some rays in the water. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $6 for day use, $5 for overnight use for adultsHours: Day use and overnight camping are availableDirections: From downtown, take Mopac Loop 1 north. Take the exit for Highway 183 North/Research Blvd. Continue on 183 through the tolls for a little over 20 miles, then turn left onto Highway 29 West and drive 30 miles, through the town of Burnet. Take a left onto Park Road 4 West and you'll see the park entrance on the right. 3630 Park Road 4 West, Burnet, TX 78611.Pro Tip: This place is gorgeous. We recommend making a weekend of it if you’re going to go. Bring a tent and a rod and enjoy the lake and surrounding trails. Also be sure to check out Devil’s Waterhole on the north shore of Inks Lake. Back to top.
With endless spots to swim, wade, tube, canoe, and just enjoy a hot summer day, the Guadalupe River has it all. While the river can get low during really dry months, you can almost always count on the water being a brisk 68 degrees and high enough to swim. While this spot is a little bit of a longer drive than an hour from Austin, we'd be remiss not to include it on the list. Try to make a day of it and visit nearby Boerne or Spring Branch, TX. Visit the website.Entrance Fee: Varies. Roughly $7 per person depending on where you go. Visit the site for specific details.Hours: Varies. Roughly 8 am to 10 pm. Visit site for specific details.Directions: From Austin, take I-35 south toward New Braunfels and exit for Highway 46 West. Follow 46 for 25 miles across Highway 281 and turn right onto State Park Road 31. Follow Park Road 31 for about five miles and you'll see the park entrance on your right. 3350 Park Road 31, Spring Branch, TX 78070.Pro Tip: If you’re looking for some of the best tubing in Texas on the Guadalupe River, check out Lazy L & L. Back to top.
Sewell Park sits on a stretch of the San Marcos River that winds through the Texas State University campus, making it a favorite spot for Texas State University students, who can often be seen sunbathing, picnicking, and playing Frisbee. Sewell Park is a great place to float the afternoon away on a tube or practice your snorkeling technique, as the visibility is generally high. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: NoneHours: Sun-Thurs 12 pm to 6 pm, Fri 12 pm to 8 pm, Sat 10 am to 8 pmDirections: Take I-35 south to San Marcos and take exit 206. Follow the service road as it curves to the right and continue on Aquarena Springs Dr. After a little over a mile this becomes University Dr, and Sewell Park is directly on the left. 700 Aquarena Springs Dr San Marcos, TX 78666.Pro Tip: This portion of the river has some plant life on the bottom that can reach the surface at certain times of year, so if that puts you off, call ahead to ask about the conditions before making the trip. Back to top.
Rio Vista was appearing on top-ten lists of area swimming holes even before an extensive refurbishment, which turned Rio Vista Park into an excellent place to go tubing, white water rafting, kayaking, or to just enjoy a swim upstream. The park also provides other amenities such as restrooms, hike and bike trails, ball courts, and picnic areas. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: FreeHours: 6 am to 11 pmDirections: Take I-35 south to San Marcos and take exit 204B. Follow the service road for close to a mile, then turn right on S CM Allen Pkwy, then another right on Cheatham St, and a left onto Reynolds St. 601 Cheatham St San Marcos, TX 78666.Pro Tip: If Rio Vista Park is too packed, there are some other great swimming areas immediately upstream or downstream from Rio Vista. (You can also get to some secret swimming holes through the wildlife habitat park across the street from Rio Vista.) Back to top.
While this city park is a fantastic place to cast off your kayak and paddle downstream on relatively calm water, John J. Stokes Park is also a wonderful swimming hole, particularly the spot just downstream from the first bridge you’ll cross as you enter the park. Just east of I-35, this San Marcos River park is popular with locals.Entrance Fee: FreeHours: 6 am to 11 pmDirections: Take I-35 south toward San Marcos and take the Hwy 80 exit east toward Lockhart. Turn right on River Rd, and just after the road loops to the right, take a left onto CR 299/Cape Rd. The park is a short distance down the road. County Road 299 San Marcos, TX 78666, (512) 393-8400.Pro Tip: The concrete structure that forms the waterfall can get very slippery, so be careful if you venture that way. Back to top.
Located on the beautiful Guadalupe River outside New Braunfels, Abbott’s Campground is great for tubing, rafting, kayaking, and swimming, though the water can be quite chilly since its source is the deep Canyon Lake reservoir. However, this depth and temperature also makes Abbott’s Campground a good place for trout fishing. No entrance fee & hour data is posted on Abbott’s Campground website, but our contacts in the region note that the campground office is open weekdays after 12pm-6pm, and weekends 10am-6pm.Directions: Take I-35 south toward New Braunfels and take exit 195. Take a right on Watson Ln, a left on FM 1102, and after about two miles, turn right on Hoffmann Ln. About two and a half miles later, take a right onto FM 306 and follow it about seven miles to Riverside Path, where you’ll take a right and see Abbott’s on the right. The park is a short distance down the road. 546 Riverside Path Canyon Lake, TX 78133, (830) 964-2425.Pro Tip: If you’re planning on tubing or kayaking, be sure to check the USGS river flow data for this part of the Lower Guadalupe, as the flow can be anywhere between a slow trickle and torrential rapids. Stop by The Shanty for a beer after your swim. Back to top.
Get to Camp Huaco Springs early, because this prime stretch of the Guadalupe River is a very popular place for swimming, tubing, trout fishing, and kayaking, though you might have quite a few tubers to contend with. Located just outside New Braunfels, Camp Huaco is well run and offers about a mile of riverfront for sunbathing and relaxing. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: $10 per car with up to four people Mon-Fri, $20 per car on weekends and holiday MondaysHours: 9 am to 8 pmDirections: Take I-35 south toward New Braunfels and take exit 190B. Take a right on Post Rd, another right on Gruene Rd, a left onto Common St, and the first right onto TX-46E. After about a mile and a half, turn right on River Rd, which forks right after about two miles. Camp Huaco is roughly a mile after the fork, on the right. 4150 River Rd New Braunfels, TX 78132, (830) 629-9999.Pro Tip: There are a couple of places where it’s easy for swimmers to be swept downriver or for tubers to get flipped from their tubes, so be sure to ask for some guidance on how to avoid that, and hang on to your beverage! Back to top.
Located on the Comal River in New Braunfels, Prince Solms Park often winds up on top-ten lists of Texas’s best swimming holes. The water here is nice and flat, and for a fee you can slide into the river by chute. Prince Solms Parks is a favorite spot for families and tubers looking for an easy, relaxing float. Visit the park website.Entrance Fee: Park: free, chute: $5, tubes: $7 with $15 depositHours: Swimming hole open 6am until dark, chute open until 7pmDirections: Take exit 190B from I-35 in New Braunfels. Turn right on Post Rd, right on Gruene Rd, and left onto Common St. Jog over a block to continue on Common St. for about a mile and a half, then turn left on Liberty St. Take the first right onto Liebscher Dr and you’ll see Prince Solms Park on the left.100 Liebscher Dr New Braunfels, TX 78130, (830) 608-2160 .Pro Tip: The park itself also features a skate park with ramps and railings. After a swim or float, head over to Pat’s Place nearby to refuel. Back to top Back to top.