Texans are used to the house to car to air-conditioned building dash, to driving with their finger tips and getting sunburned through a window. We know that walking outside at 10 PM still means walking back inside covered in sweat due to unbearable humidity even in the 80-85 degree weather. We’ve compiled a list of ways to cool off during the infamous Texas summer heat. Whether you’re visiting, just moved here or have lived in Austin for years, these suggestions will give you a way to beat the heat this summer.
Bull Creek is actually a 49 acre park right in the heart of central Austin. Named for the creek that runs through it, Austinites enjoy hiking the many trails before cooling off with a splash in the creek. It’s a great place to bring the entire family and is very dog friendly. You can find both sun and shade at this favorite Austin hangout. You’re unlikely to run into tourists as you dip into the many pools of deep, swimmable water. In addition to the families you’ll find teenagers from the nearby Anderson High School relaxing after class. Situated just off 360, it is also a popular spot for cyclists to stop and
As is typical with natural swim spots, there is no life guard on duty here. Bring the dogs and hike-swim for hours in this beautiful nature preserve.
Work up an appetite swimming and hiking and then fuel up at one of the many wonderfully shaded picnic tables and relaxation areas.
Lately visiting Barton Springs Pool on a Summer weekend is like attending a music festival. You’ll wait in line to park and end up walking from the outer edges of the dusty lots. Locals are likely to be cooling off at the green belt or visiting Barton Springs during the off season. Barton Springs is well worth the wait. It costs a few dollars to enter the pool area, which is fed by a spring from Edwards Aquifer, or you can visit the dog friendly free part just down the path from the paid area. In this area you’ll find groups strumming their guitars and watching their pets make friends. The pool is famously freezing, so you’ll want to soak up the sun until your blood is borderline boiling before you leap in! It’s a shock at first but so worth it. Our advice is a blind jump in; we never make it when we try to ease in. Barton Springs also has lots of hiking trails and is on the Town Lake trail, which follows the lake for nearly 10 miles. Make a day out of it and join joggers and cyclists on the most iconic trail in Austin. You can stop off downtown for a drink or follow the trail to Rainy Street for craft beer and cocktails. Another favorite local joint after fun in the sun is Shady Grove, walkable from Barton Springs and full of Austin charm and delicious food.
One of the most famous and unique events held at Barton Springs Pool is the Full Moon Swim. Lately, thousands of people have been gathering late at night for these informal get togethers. They’ve become something of a party scene, with beer-drinkers howling at the moon and smoking, um, not-cigarettes. It’s a great experience that the city is currently attempting to control for safety reasons. I prefer to attend in the fall or early spring when the weather is still warm, but the crowds are a bit more manageable.
Kayak and SUP Rentals on Town Lake
Locals still call our section of the Colorado River Town Lake, but if you look it up online you’re likely to find it named Lady Bird Lake. Call it Town Lake and you’ll sound like a true Austinite. There are lots of places around the perimeter of this body of water to rent stand up paddle boards, canoes and kayaks. Many people also rent swan boats near Congress Ave or rowing skiffs off Lamar Blvd. I love to rent a kayak on a warm summer evening, watch the sunset and then lean back and watch the bats fly from under the Congress bridge. These Austin icons form a beautiful black cloud as they go out for the evening feeding. They help keep the bug population of Austin under control and attract a crowd every evening to watch this magnificent event. It’s truly a sight to see and one of the many things that makes Austin unique.
Just for Fun Boat Rentals
I have spent many a hot summer afternoon on one of Just for Fun’s party barges. There are few better ways to spend an afternoon with friends than sipping a cold beer in the sun before flying into Lake Travis off one of the slick, quick slides aboard every vessel. They have incredible captains, experts at keeping everything fun and finding the best spots to stop and swim.
We cannot say enough good things about Volente Beach. It’s a local water park that’s been around for over 20 years. Anyone who grew up in Austin has fond memories of zipping through these waterslides on school trips or with friends and family. Volente has grown significantly since its humble beginnings. One can now stay overnight in one of the bungalows and enjoy happy hour at their newish restaurant Beach Side Billy’s.