Even though Austin is an awesome city to live in, it doesn’t change the fact that the heat in the summertime can be a real drag. Seriously, with temperatures regularly cresting triple digits, it can be tough to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Central Texas. Fortunately, this is why we have swimming holes. Within 20 miles of the city of Austin, you can easily find a place to take a dip and cool off. Even within the city limits, there are a few top-notch options. Here are the best of the best.
Secret Beach isn’t much of a secret, but it’s still a great secluded getaway from the city. Swimming isn’t allowed here anymore, but relaxing in the sand definitely is. You can access Secret Beach by taking a short hike from a nearby park. Find full directions here.
This swimming hole in Dripping Springs was formed when the roof of an underground river fell in many centuries ago. What remains is one of Austin’s favorite natural pools featuring a 50-foot waterfall and cold, refreshing water to escape the summer heat. It’s also a wonderfully romantic place to have a picnic after your swim. Reservations are required to visit Hamilton Pool.
Blue Hole is one of the most beautiful swimming holes in Central Texas, complete with rope swings and large trees. Surrounding the water are hiking trails, clean bathrooms and plenty of wildlife. Only a certain number of visitors are allowed each day to avoid overcrowding, so again, arrive early to ensure you can enjoy a day of swimming.
Also frequently featured in Texas film, Austinites everywhere recognized Barton Springs as the backdrop of a dramatic scene in Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life (2011), a nostalgic ode to childhood in Texas. Located on the grounds of Zilker Park, the site is a recreational outdoor swimming pool filled entirely with water from nearby natural springs. The pool itself measures three acres in size, and the underground springs help it maintain an average temperature of 68ºF–70ºF (20ºC–21ºC), ideal for year-round swimming in Austin’s searing summer heat.
With plenty of creeks, beautiful limestone cliffs and wooded areas for hiking, this popular outdoor destination stretches 7.25 miles (11.67 km) from Zilker Park to the Westlake subdivision. The creek takes its name from William Barton, who settled the area in 1837. Popular locations along the Greenbelt include Twin Falls, Campbell’s Hole, The Flats, Gus Fruh and Sculpture Falls.
Deep Eddy Pool is the oldest swimming pool in Texas and is still a popular swimming hole for Austinites. It’s considered a historic landmark of Texas, having been in operation since the 1920s. During the summer, the pool hosts Splash Party Movie Nights where movies are played on an inflatable screen.
Jacob’s Well is a long-standing spring that now serves as a popular swimming spot among locals. Beneath the creek is a cave that descends for about 30 feet, then cuts off and continues for about 120 more feet. Sadly, many divers have lost their lives exploring the cave, but it’s thanks to them and surviving cave divers that we know the depth of the cave today. Swimming is on a reservation-only basis due to the size of the actual spring, so make your plans ahead of time and arrive early.