If you’re looking for a healthier and more refreshing alternative to modern water parks and all the chemicals that come with them, you might want to take a dip in some of the beautiful fresh water swimming holes in and around Austin. Texans have long flocked to these cool fresh water spots as a great way to beat the summer heat and enjoy some fun in the sun with family and friends. So I’ve assembled a list of the best swimming holes in central Texas. Enjoy!
Forget about the best swimming spot in Austin. Barton Springs may be the best swimming spot on earth. Cool, clear, and teeming with life, this 1,100 foot-long spring-fed pool is one of the largest non-chlorinated swimming pools in the country. Ducks, bass, crawfish, and double-crested cormorants splash alongside lap swimmers and UT students desperately working on their tans.
There are many reasons to visit this spot: a sand beach, a 75-foot waterfall and a huge rock formation that can be explored from the water or from a path that circles the pool. Hun¬dreds of cliff swallows live above the pool in tiny nests and are constantly coming and going.
Deep Eddy Pool
The huge shallow end, cool water, and massive cottonwood trees make this place a family favorite. Lap swimmers have their own pool, so the kids can frolic to their heart’s content without getting in the way of the serious swimmers.
San Marcos River
Tube it, snorkel it, or swim it. This spot is worth the 30-minute drive from Austin. Fed by San Marcos Springs, there are several spots that are fun to explore along this river. The falls just below Peppers Restaurant have long been a favorite of the locals. Wear a lifejacket, swim mask, and snorkel and float down the river a mile or two. The river is full of wildlife, including rare plants, turtles, and fish.
Sculpture Falls on Barton Creek
When the creek is flowing, this is an urban oasis. You’ll quickly forget you’re in the middle of town, as the waterfall drowns out the noise of the city. Located about 1 .3 miles upstream of the Mopac bridge, the only way to get to Sculpture is by walking or cycling, which keeps the amateurs at bay.
This is the place to swim during cold weather. Heated by a natural warm spring, this pool has been around since it was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. It’s not big, and there’s not a lot of shade, but it’s still popular, particularly with lap swimmers.
Krause Springs in Spicewood
This is one of the best, least-known swimming spots around. Privately owned, Krause has a regular cement swimming pool as well as a rustic swimming spot on Little Cypress Creek.
In addition to being one of the best places on earth to see the rare black-capped vireo, a federally protected songbird, Hippie Hollow is one of the few public swimming spots in Texas where clothing is optional. Located on Lake Travis, the swimming here isn’t as good as some of the other parks on Lake Travis, but it’s still an interesting stop.
Blue Hole in Georgetown
Blue Hole in Georgetown. Located on the San Gabriel River, this spot is underdeveloped, but worth the effort. A small dam near the Austin Avenue bridge keeps water in this stretch of the river year-round and there’s a grassy area on the riverbank that’s good for picnics.
Blue Hole in Wimberly
Located on Cypress Creek one quarter mile east of the town square, this privately owned campground/swimming area attracts people from all over Central Texas. Rope swings hang from the huge cypress trees that line the spring-fed creek.