It gets hot in Austin in the summertime. So what do you do when the sun is beating down and there doesn’t seem to be any relief between margaritas and trips to Barton Springs? You head out of town to one of the legendary river floats, where the water is cold, the beer flows, and the only thing you need to wear is a swimsuit. These four rivers are the best places in Austin to cool off.
Park, Swimming Pool
For an in-town alternative, check out the Barton Creek Greenbelt. 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 was named after 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. Make sure to take your innertubes because there are plenty of places to float and enjoy a cold beer in the sunshine. Remember though, you’re responsible for all your gear on this float!
The Guadalupe River is kind of the kingpin of tubing locations. Located out in the Texas hill country, this float route is a party. Expect alcohol, music, and revelers in abundance, but also don’t be surprised to see families and older locals floating leisurely alongside the scenic limestone cliffs. Just watch out for rapids. For tube rentals, head over to the Horseshoe, a little bend in the river that begins and ends along FM 366. Look for deals based on your party’s requirements and the time you plan to spend on the river. Companies include: Tube Haus, Shanty Tubes, Whitewater Sports, Armadillo Tubes, and River Sports Tubes. Cost: $15-$20 (£11-£15). Shuttle included. Alcohol permitted on the river
In New Braunfels flows the Comal River, a natural spring-fed river that also happens to be surrounded by an urban setting. You’ll encounter three minor rapids along this short ride, but it’s a perfect place to relax, cool off, and spend time with friends and family. This broad, lazy river is an excellent place to take kids and has the added benefit of taking riders by Schlitterbahn – the most popular water park in central Texas. Since many people choose to stay in the resorts near the Comal River, there are plenty of tube outfitters to choose from. Check out Chuck’s Tubes and Comal Tubes. Cost: $15-$19. Shuttle included. Alcohol permitted on the river, but not in public parks. Cooler restrictions apply.
San Marcos River
Located near Texas State University, the San Marcos river offers two types of floats. One is a centrally-located, kid-friendly, rapid-free option that meanders through the city. The other route is more popular among grown-ups who are interested in sipping on a cold one as they float downstream for three hours. Long, slow, and flat, this central Texas float is not as crowded as most, but it also tends to attract college students, so expect things to get a little rowdy. Families should check out the Lions Club Tube Rental at San Marcos City Park, while everyone else should head over to Texas State Tubes. Cost: $10-$17 ($20 cash deposit for Lions Club). Shuttle included. Alcohol permitted on the river, but not in public parks.