With school starting again next week for most Austin students and teachers, it may feel like summer is almost over, but we know the summer heat will last for several weeks to come. Here are 11 things you have to do before bidding farewell to summer!
Go For a Swim
The City of Austin operates over 50 swimming pools and splash pads that are open to the public. Our all-time favorite is Barton Springs, where you can chill out in constant 68 degree temps and enjoy some of Austin’s finest people watching. Don’t miss the nearby children’s train that offers tours of Zilker Park to the smallest patrons and the sno-cone stand that offers additional reprieve from the baking sun. Most City of Austin pools do close on August 24th, but a handful stay open later or operate year-round. Your best bets are Barton Springs, Big Stacy, Deep Eddy, Bartholomew Pool and Springwoods Pool.
Travis County has a surprising number of parks, and among them an absolute gem – the Hamilton Pool Preserve. This breathtaking pool lies at the base of a 50-foot waterfall where Hamilton Creek drops over the edge of a limestone cliff on its way to the Pedernales River. This swimming hole is wildly popular and often reaches capacity quickly on weekends during the summer. Make sure to get there early and to call ahead for potential closures before making the drive as the pool is often closed for high bacterial levels after excessive rains. This park is open year-round, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
In 2005, the City of Wimberley purchased 125 acres of park land encompassing a stretch of the Cypress Creek with a natural swimming hole. The City’s efforts to develop the land resulted in a beautiful and impeccably designed park space, with plenty of room for families to gather at the water’s edge to sun bathe and picnic, clean and modern facilities, winding trails, and spacious recreational areas. Spread your blanket out and soak up the sun as you doze off to the sound of children shrieking as they let go of the rope swing and splashes as people plunge into the refreshing waters. The Blue Hole is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day (May 25th) to Labor Day (September 7th).
About 30 minutes northwest of Austin, in the small town of Spicewood, you’ll find the impressive property that is still owned by the namesake family. With over 32 springs on the property, you are sure to find a place to cool off. Unlike most swimming holes, you don’t even have to go home at the end of the night – pitch a tent and take in the Hill Country stars for a night or two. Krause Springs is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Float the River
The Colorado: Drive over the Mopac bridge on any given weekend, and you’ll see hoards of people out kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing on Lady Bird Lake. Join the crowds and rent a watercraft from one of several docks around the lake.
The dock is usually lined with a stunning rainbow of kayaks, enticing kayakers to come for a paddle. Go solo or participate in one of the Dock’s special guided tours such as the Bat Paddle that takes kayakers on a 4-mile round-trip to watch the 1.5 million bats vacating their home under the Congress bridge in search of dinner. In addition to kayaking, the Rowing Dock also offers canoes and stand-up boards. Open daily 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
TRC boasts the world’s largest SUP (stand-up paddle) board rental operation with over 300 boards, in addition to renting out kayaks and canoes. Additionally, TRC offers sculling and sweep rowing lessons for most ages and skill sets. Open daily 6 a.m. to dusk
Tube: If you prefer a lazier day of chilling on the water, grab a cooler and hop on a tube for a river float with some of your best pals. Several companies offer float packages on the nearby Comal, Guadalupe, and San Marcos Rivers.
To maximize your experience, consider hiring a service that will pick you up and drop you off in downtown Austin, such as ATXcursions. They provide everything (including the cooler and ice) except for the actual drinks and food, and offer float trips on rivers within about a 45-minute radius of Austin. ATXcursions offers float trips on most Thursdays-Sundays into mid-October. Check their booking feature for up-to-date availability.
8. Kayak Camping
If you’re craving more adventure, consider taking an overnight kayak trip on the Colorado River. The small islands in the middle of the Colorado are public land, which means they may be used for camping. Pack your kayak (and waterproof bag) and find an island of your own to call home for the night.
Just 30 minutes east of Austin, the Bastrop River Company has everything you need for your kayak camping adventure. Go the self-guided route, and BRC will send you off on your voyage with instructions and your kayaks for a 2-3 day excursion. BRC also offers a glamping trip for those that aren’t quite as into being one with nature. Like an abbreviated summer camp for grown-ups, this cushy trip comes with guides, catered meals around the campfire, tents & bedding, and even a toilet! Open Sunday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Whether you have kids or are just a big kid yourself, you’re sure to have fun screaming your way down spiraling waterslides and splashing through the chlorinated and shark-less wave pools at these nearby waterparks:
This chain operates 7 waterparks in the U.S. and in addition to the water fun, its Pflugerville location also boasts an adventure center replete with over 1500 feet of zip lines and 1000 feet of ropes courses. While the waterpark closes for 2015 season on September 7th, the adventure park is open year-round. Waterpark open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. through August 24th; open weekends through September 7th.
If you grew up in Austin, chances are you ventured out here at least a time or two as a kid, but the place now won’t be quite like you remembered it. A spruced up version of its old self, the Shore Club overlooks Lake Travis and offers its patrons a handful of rides, multiple pools, a sandy beachfront, volleyball courts, and an upscale bar & grill. A more affordable option than most waterparks, this place is great for the whole family. Open select dates through September 7.
I can still remember the Schlitterbahn jingle boasting “the hottest coolest time in Texas” that played relentlessly on the radio every summer during the 90s. In case you’re wondering, Schlitterbahn translates to “slide” in English, which is fitting given that the New Braunfels resort has miles and miles of slides, rides and coasters to cool you down on even the hottest Texas day. Around since 1979, this park is a can’t miss on any Texan’s bucket list and now includes 4 other locations including Galveston Island, South Padre Island, Corpus Christi, and Kansas City. Hurry in! The summer season ends September 20th.
Hurry out and enjoy the last five weeks of Austin’s summer!