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Ultimate Austin Area Swimming Holes

In case you haven't noticed, it gets hot in Austin. In 2013, I set out to make an ultimate swimming hole guide. What follows is my (updated) list of great places to stare at some bikinis, cleanse that sweaty sack and cool off. 

Let's go swimming! But where?

Hopefully this list will find the perfect place where you can get wet under the sun according to your needs.

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First off, we are going to intentionally leave off private property. The folks who live near Jacob's Well and Dead Man's Hole have respectfully asked us to remind everyone those areas can be dangerous and are not open to the public (well, their lawyers reminded us).

Next, this list is not like all the others. We want to find the places you can drink beer, smoke weed, take your dog and avoid shit filled diapers (SWIM, SMOKE AND DRINK ETC. AT YOUR OWN RISK just because this list mentions you can does not mean it's legal or a good idea).

We will also locate the best spots for families to relax with their kids, dog lovers to go off leash and locals to avoid crowds.

So whether you are into playing volleyball on the beach, floating rivers, swimming laps, reading under waterfalls, boating or camping; this ever-growing list should cover it all!

AUSTIN

Barton Springs Pool

2201 Barton Springs Rd, Austin 78746  | (512) 476-9044

  • PRICE: $3
  • DRINKING: No
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: No
  • UPSIDE: The Water
  • DOWNSIDE: No Beer

This is the Holy Grail of all swimming holes in Austin. Once you've found parking, made it to the front of the long, sweaty line and got your change from the 15 year-old volunteer who is trying to figure out the 1940's cash register; you'll be in heaven (seriously they should make it an even $5 and cut down on the damn wait). The water feels great and if your lucky you'll see some nipple. If you are looking for a place to relax, this is it. If you are looking for a place to party, try the free side.

Barton Springs Free Side

2201 Barton Springs Rd, Austin 78746  | (512) 476-9044

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: If you are smooth
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: Be slick about it
  • DOGS: Freaking Everywhere
  • UPSIDE: Free, Dog friendly, Kayak rentals
  • DOWNSIDE: Crowds, Dogs, Police, Panhandlers

The free side of Barton Springs Pool is where your broke friend that has to take is mutt everywhere will go to smoke hella-weed. It's a great place for a quick dip but the sheer amount of asshats, loose dogs and police make it not worth the time and effort. Try the greenbelt instead.

Deep Eddy

401 Deep Eddy Ave, Austin 78703 | (512) 472-8546

  • PRICE: $3
  • DRINKING: No 
  • KIDS: Heavy
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: No
  • UPSIDE: Great water, bbq pits, fishing
  • DOWNSIDE: Boring

This is probably the best place for families to have a quiet swim and bbq. The pool even has fishing and a toddler play area.

"Deep Eddy Pool is a historic, man-made swimming pool in Austin, Texas. Deep Eddy is the oldest swimming pool in Texas and features a bathhouse built during the Depression era by the Works Progress Administration. The pool began as a swimming hole in the Colorado River, became a resort in the 1920s, and is today a popular swimming pool operated by the City of Austin." -Wikipedia

deep

Decker Lake

124 W. 8th Austin, 78701 | (512) 974-6700

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: None
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Probably
  • UPSIDE: Better than the Salton Sea
  • DOWNSIDE: Nude Bikers

Are you from California? This is the lake for you! It's way better than the Salton Sea and filled with lot's of water - just like the Pacific Ocean. Don't even bother reading the rest of this list if you are visiting form out of town or have just moved here. 

Secret Beach

400 Grove Blvd, Austin 78741

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Anything goes
  • DOWNSIDE: Poor water quality, Finding it

Secret Beach is inside of Roy G. Guerrero Park. Take East Riverside to Grove and keep going. Park in the creepy lot, walk down the creepy trail and boom!  You are there. Secret Beach is an anything goes sort of place - which is nice. However that also means some white dude with dreadlocks is going to be blasting EDM out of a cooler speaker while three muddy pitbull puppies jump all over you.

McKinney Falls

5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin 78744 | (512) 243-1643

  • PRICE: $6 
  • DRINKING: No
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: On a leash
  • UPSIDE: Location and less crowded
  • DOWNSIDE: Bees

"McKinney Falls is a great place to swim, especially in Onion Creek. Information on Thomas F. McKinney and the history of the park's land use is interpreted in the Smith Visitor Center. The stabilized ruins of McKinney's homestead and his horse trainer's cabin are preserved in the park. Camping, hiking, mountain biking, road biking, picnicking, fishing and wildlife observation are popular activities. The only bad thing is you have to pay to get in to the park, but trust us when we say that it's worth it." -Texas Park and Wildlife 

mckinney

Your Mom's Ass Crack

  • PRICE: Roses
  • DRINKING: A lot
  • KIDS: Had a few
  • SMOKING: You'll need to afterwards
  • DOGS: No but Cats
  • UPSIDE: Not Much
  • DOWNSIDE: Everything is pointing down

Big Stacy

700 E Live Oak St, Austin | (512) 445-0304

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: No
  • KIDS: Heavy
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: No
  • UPSIDE: Great location in South Austin, 
  • DOWNSIDE: Typical Public Pool

West Lake Beach

2509 Westlake Drive

  • PRICE: $8
  • DRINKING: No
  • KIDS: Yes
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: No
  • UPSIDE: Great swimming, volleyball courts in water
  • DOWNSIDE: Only public on weekends, lot's of shitty Westlake kids

Emma Long aka City Park

1706 City Park Rd, Austin, TX 78730 | (512) 346-1831

  • PRICE: $5 weekdays, $10 on weekends
  • DRINKING: Kinda
  • KIDS: Heavy
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: Yes (leash)
  • UPSIDE: Location, Free 
  • DOWNSIDE: So many families, only open until 10pm

Red Bud Isle

3402 Redbud Trail

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: Kinda
  • KIDS: A few
  • SMOKING: Meh
  • DOGS: So. Freaking. Many.
  • UPSIDE: Beautiful, free, dog friendly and leash free
  • DOWNSIDE: It's a muddy, anything goes dog park

By far the best for dogs but it gets packed!

My G/F's Parent's Pool

They are always out of town on cruises

Bull Creek

6701 Lakewood Dr., Austin, TX 78731 (Park itself)

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: Kinda
  • KIDS: A few
  • SMOKING: Kinda
  • DOGS: A lot
  • UPSIDE: Leash free dog area, BBQ pits, picnic tables, fishing, basketball courts
  • DOWNSIDE: The fluctuating water levels and quality

There are several gorgeous parks along the meandering Bull Creek. Perhaps the most accessible for an easy trip is this one. 

Any Downtown Creek

It is filled with pee and needles!

GREENBELT

The Greenbelt is an incredible place to be but can get really packed on the weekends and afternoons (plus it’s hard to find parking).

Gus Fruh Park

3755-B S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78704 | (512) 477-1566

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: If you do not get caught
  • KIDS: Sure
  • SMOKING: See "drinking"
  • DOGS: Everywhere
  • UPSIDE: Not too much of a hike to swim in some great water
  • DOWNSIDE: Fills up with people rather quickly

Barton Creek Greenbelt is an urban oasis. Its trails provide opportunity for biking, running, rock climbing, swimming and hiking.

Sculpture Falls–Greenbelt

3755-B S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78704 | (512) 477-1566

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: If you do not get caught
  • KIDS: Not really
  • SMOKING: See "drinking"
  • DOGS: Not as many
  • UPSIDE: Less crowded than other Greenbelt hot spots
  • DOWNSIDE: Bit of a hike

Twin Falls

3755-B S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, TX 78704 | (512) 477-1566

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: If you do not get caught
  • KIDS: Sure
  • SMOKING: See "drinking"
  • DOGS: Everywhere
  • UPSIDE: Relaxing and in the thick of nature while being in the middle of downtown
  • DOWNSIDE: Really, really packed

LAKE TRAVIS

Pace Bend Park

2011 Pace Bend Rd N, Spicewood, TX 78669 | (512) 264-1482

  • PRICE: $10 per car
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Quite a few
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Camping, camp fires, hiking, scenery
  • DOWNSIDE: Boats and Fishermen

Pace Bend Park is the perfect place to get away for the weekend! It's cheap and not too long of a drive. You can hike, camp (with a fire), swim, fish, kayak or take acid for the first time with your friends!

Hippie Hollow

7000 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732 | (512) 854-7275

  • PRICE: $15 Per Car
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: None
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Anything goes
  • DOWNSIDE: Old, Naked Dudes

 

Windy Point

6506 Bob Wentz Park Rd, Austin, TX 78732 | (512) 266-3337

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Camping, hiking, swimming and family fun
  • DOWNSIDE: It's kind of like camping on a golf course

Bob Wentz Park

  • PRICE: $10 Per Car
  • DRINKING: Yes 
  • KIDS: A few
  • SMOKING: Kinda
  • DOGS: -
  • UPSIDE: Nice beach Full Lake Amenities (bathrooms, grill, boat ramp, etc.)
  • DOWNSIDE: Can fill up with wake-surfing lake bros and EDM music

"Up the road from Hippie Hollow, Bob Wentz Park is the destination of choice for Austin water sports enthusiasts. The park offers long shorelines perfect for sunbathing and volleyball, as well as picnic areas, grills and a boat ramp. This park is best suited for a day trip full of fun in the sun and relaxation in the water." -Austin Monthly

 

Volente Beach

16107 Farm to Market 2769, Volente, TX 78641 | (512) 258-5110

  • PRICE: Expensive
  • DRINKING: Yes (at the bars)
  • KIDS: A few
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: Not many
  • UPSIDE: Really classy, clean and they have a waterpark
  • DOWNSIDE: It's expensive and you can't get too weird

 

CENTRAL TEXAS

Down for a day trip? These places are worth the hour plus drive. 

Hamilton Pool

24300 Hamilton Pool Rd, Dripping Springs, TX 78620 | (512) 264-2740

  • PRICE: $26 per car 
  • DRINKING: Not Really
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: No
  • UPSIDE: The View
  • DOWNSIDE: You will never, ever, ever get in (well, maybe with the new reservation system)

hamilton

"Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole which was designated a preserve by the Travis County Commissioner's Court in 1990. Located 3/4 mile upstream from its confluence with the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall as it plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The waterfall never completely dries up, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle. However, the pool's water level stays pretty constant, even during periods of drought. (-Travis Count Parks) If it becomes too full and no longer worth the wait, the swimming hole at Reimers is only a couple miles away, with no line."

Krause Springs

404 Krause Spring Rd, Spicewood, TX 78669 | (830) 693-4181

  • PRICE: $7 ($14 for camping)
  • DRINKING: Yes 
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: Sorta
  • DOGS: No
  • UPSIDE: Camping, the view, the water
  • DOWNSIDE: Snakes, No Dogs to chase away snakes

Perhaps my favorite place of them all, Krause Springs offers endless beauty, nature, water and places to be isolated.

"Krause Springs is a well-known camping & swimming site located in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. It is located in Spicewood, Texas approximately 30 miles west of Austin. The 115 acre property is listed on the National Registry of Historical Sites and has been privately owned by the Krause Family for over 50 years."

 

Lake Georgetown

500 Lake Overlook Drive, Georgetown, Texas 78633

  • PRICE: $4
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Yes
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Camping
  • DOWNSIDE: Bit of a walk to the water

Great place to camp and hang out that's near Austin. However, the lake itself is not the best for water activities.

Blue Hole

445 E Morrow St, Georgetown, TX 78626

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: 
  • KIDS: 
  • SMOKING: 
  • DOGS: 
  • UPSIDE: Discgolf!
  • DOWNSIDE: Discgolfers

 

"Blue Hole is a scenic lagoon bordered by limestone bluffs along the South Fork of the San Gabriel River. It’s located five blocks north of the downtown Square along N. Austin Avenue. The entrance to Blue Hole Park is at W. Second Street and Rock Street. The park features picnic areas, restrooms, and wading areas."

Pedernales State Park

2585 Park Rd 6026, Johnson City, TX 78636 | (830) 868-7304

  • PRICE: $6
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Yes
  • SMOKING: No
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Scenery, camping, fishing and swiming
  • DOWNSIDE: The river can get rough

 

"Flowing over and around huge slabs of limestone, the Pedernales River can be turbulent. But most often it is tranquil, and a great place to relax and recharge. We are just 30 miles west of Austin. Come over for an afternoon swim or hike, or load up your gear for an overnight adventure. The river awaits!"

RIVERLANDS TO THE SOUTH

Head south of the city and find several river hot spots waiting for you!

San Marcos River

  • PRICE: Free
  • DRINKING: On the River
  • KIDS: Moderate
  • SMOKING: Sorta
  • DOGS: In certain areas
  • UPSIDE: College Girls
  • DOWNSIDE: College Guys, your car will get towed, crowds

From the Aquarena Springs, the waterfall below the Old Joe's Crab Shack, Sewell Park to __ Park ; there is so much you can do on the river! Swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving and of course tubing in the crystal clear water. Rent some gear from the Lions Club Tube Rental for a fun float or head further South if you wanna get wild!

 

Blue Hole Wimberley

100 Blue Hole Rd, Wimberley, TX 78676 | (512) 660-9111

  • PRICE: $
  • DRINKING: -
  • KIDS: -
  • SMOKING: -
  • DOGS: -
  • UPSIDE: -
  • DOWNSIDE: -

 

Don's Fish Camp

  • PRICE: $12 if you bring a tube, $19 to rent
  • DRINKING: A lot 
  • KIDS: None
  • SMOKING: Oh. Yes. Yes indeed.
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Don greeting you on the way in
  • DOWNSIDE: Crowded, Bros, Low Water

 

Little Arkansas

  • PRICE: $
  • DRINKING: Yes 
  • KIDS: None
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Fun Atmosphere
  • DOWNSIDE: The road in

Five Mile Dam

  • PRICE: $
  • DRINKING: -
  • KIDS: -
  • SMOKING: -
  • DOGS: -
  • UPSIDE: -
  • DOWNSIDE: -

Comal River

  • PRICE: $15
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Heavy
  • SMOKING: Not Really
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Fun and efficient float
  • DOWNSIDE: The New Braunfels Police and the crowds

Guadalupe River

  • PRICE: $20
  • DRINKING: Yes
  • KIDS: Heavy
  • SMOKING: Yes
  • DOGS: Yes
  • UPSIDE: Fun and efficient float
  • DOWNSIDE: Crowds, lines and wait to get in river (if you re floating)

About the Author CJ Morgan is not a writer. He is a click-bait hack and angry radio DJ who is bitter over the fact no one ever clicks on his stuff and that he will never be famous enough.

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