Guest article by Dana Minney
Austin and the surrounding area are so full of splash opportunities, it can be hard to decide where to go for your swimming adventures. Here’s a list of local swimming spots, ranging from your friendly neighborhood splash pads to Central Texas’ biggest water parks…and everything in between.
Big Stacy Pool
Big Stacy is a free pool open to the public in South Austin near Oltorf. The pool is naturally heated by spring-fed water and feels great! There is a small grassy area to sit and limited shade coverage. The pool has many pluses: lifeguards on duty, deep and shallow ends, and lanes for lap swimming.
Because it’s free and open to the public, you may find a slightly edgy crowd at or in the pool, doing their part to keep Austin weird.
Tip: Consider bringing sneakers and taking a nature walk along nearby Blunn Creek after your swim. Also, bring sunscreen, blankets or chairs, and an umbrella since shade is limited.
700 East Live Oak – Website
Dick Nichols Pool
Dick Nichols is a fairly large pool with plenty of lanes for lap swimmers, as well as divided shallow and deep ends. There’s a separate kiddie pool with a fence around it to prevent any wandering off. Outside the pool, you’ll find a small kids’ waterscape with a dolphin that spits water. An amazing playground, volleyball courts, tennis courts, and hike and bike trails are all co-located with Dick Nichols Pool. Admission is free.
8011 Beckett Road – Website
Ramsey Pool is located in Ramsey Park in the Rosedale neighborhood. It’s free, open to the public and has lifeguards on duty. Ramsey Park has one of the nicest playgrounds in Austin, with multiple playscapes and sport courts.
4301 Rosedale Ave. – Website
Bartholomew Pool has many features that make it fun, so it’s absolutely worth the small admission fee. There are two huge water slides for kids at least 48-inches tall, a toddler slide for ages 2-4 in a shallow, shaded pool with a beach entrance, a lily-pad crossing, a diving board, lifeguards, and lap lanes.
Admission fees (cash only):
- Children (ages 1-11): $1
- Juniors (ages 12-17): $2
- Adults: $3
- Seniors (ages 62 and up): $1
- Non-residents must add an extra $1 per person across all age groups
Tip: The water slides don’t open until noon, so time your visit accordingly.
1800 E. 51st St. – Website
Deep Eddy Pool
Deep Eddy Pool is an Austin favorite. It’s very large and spring-fed, but with actual concrete on the bottom and sides (unlike Barton Springs Pool). The water is chilly–between 65-75 degrees. There is a beach entrance and lap lanes in separate areas.
Admission fees for Austin residents (cash only):
- Children (ages 1-11): $1
- Juniors (ages 12-17): $2
- Adults: $3
- Seniors (ages 62 and up): $1
Tips: Parking is limited, so arrive early to find a spot. Make sure you have your driver’s license to show residency. Some refreshments are available for sale on-site, but they must be consumed outside the gated pool area. Visitors can come and go as they please with a hand stamp after paying admission.
401 Deep Eddy Dr. – Website
El Salido Pool
El Salido Pool has a toddler pool with water playscape, beach entrance pools, three diving boards (kids must be at least seven to use the three-meter diving board) and complimentary life jackets available to borrow.
Admission fees (credit cards accepted):
- $5 for adults
- $3 for infants and children under 18
11500 El Salido Pkwy. – Website
Kyle Pool has two water slides and a splash pad. If you’re looking for a pool outside the city, Kyle is not too far to drive, and this is a very nice pool.
Admission fees for residents:
- Ages 0-3: free
- Ages 4-12: $1
- Ages 13-17: $2
- Ages 18-54: $3
- Ages 55+: $1
- Non-residents: $4 for ages 4+
Tips: Kyle Pool is closed on Mondays. There will not be snack concessions during the summer of 2016, so the rule of no outside food or drink will not be enforced.
1300 W. Center St., Kyle, TX – Website
Johnson City Pool
Johnson City Pool is part of the LBJ Historic Park in Johnson City, TX. There is no entrance fee to the park and the drive into Hill Country is beautiful. It will take between an hour to an hour and a half to get there, depending on traffic and where in Austin you’re coming from.
This is a large, clean pool with shallow and deep ends, and there’s a large shaded area with picnic benches. The surrounding LBJ State Park has enclosures containing bison, longhorns and white-tailed deer. There’s also a living history museum, as well as memorabilia and interactive displays about LBJ in the visitor’s center. As anyone who knows Ladybird Johnson’s reputation would expect, glorious wildflowers abound along the roadside and in the woodsy areas.
Johnson City Pool is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 to 8 p.m. The pool is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Tip: Allow time to explore! You can even schedule a tour of the Johnson Ranch on the other side of the river.
Admission fees (seasonal passes available):
- $3 per person ages 13+
- $2 per child under 13
199 Park Road 52, Stonewall, TX – Website
Lower McKinney Falls
Recent rains have made some of our natural swimming areas unsafe or unsanitary (or both), so places like Secret Beach at Roy Guerrero Park are not an option this summer. Apparently, the Upper Falls at McKinney Falls State Park are also not ideal for swimming at this time. So stick with the Lower Falls, and regularly check the Austin Parks and Recreation website for closures.
The Travel Channel just named McKinney Falls among the top 10 swimming holes in the United States! McKinney Falls State Park Park has over 700 acres full of hiking trails, camping spots and water features, as well as historical relics.
- Adult: $6
- Child (ages 12 and under): free
5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy. – Website
Barton Creek Spillway (Free)
Barton Springs Pool is the most popular place to go swimming in Austin, and for good reason (you can read about its history and tips for visiting here). But if you want a freer and wilder alternative, take a left before you go into the Barton Springs Pool entrance, then turn right when you come to the stairs at the bottom of the playground in Zilker Park.
Barton Creek Spillway features a more natural environment where the water is flowing rather than still, (and sometimes rushing rather than flowing!). There are fish and people catching fish; there are people doing lots of other things, as well, since there are no rules for behavior (like at Barton Springs). There are no lifeguards on duty, but kids who are strong swimmers or wearing life jackets under supervision should be fine.
Tips: Bring river shoes and goggles so the kids can explore underwater wildlife, and talk with your kids about currents and what to do if they find themselves in a strong one.
2201 Barton Springs Road
Campbell’s Hole (Free)
One amazing thing about the city of Austin is that we always seem to be only a few steps away from a natural wonder. Campbell’s Hole is a natural body of water that fits this description. Located on the Barton Springs Greenbelt, it’s just a few minutes from downtown. Talk to your kids ahead of time about water safety and closely watch your children when you’re there. The depth of Campbell’s Hole is unpredictable and will go up and down based on recent rains. You’ll also likely encounter unleashed dogs, so make sure your kids know not to go up to dogs they don’t know.
Tip: Pack water, snacks and towels. No public restroom facilities, so potty beforehand. Go down the trail and turn left.
1500 Spyglass Dr.
If you haven’t been to Blue Hole in Wimberley, you must go! It’s a gorgeous oasis of green foliage and clear water. There’s a large grass area to lay down a blanket, throw a football or take a stroll. The water is shallow in most areas, but deep enough to jump in from a rope swing in another area.
Open daily from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day, September 5.
- Children (0-3): free
- Youth (4-12): $5
- Adult (13-59):$9
- Senior or Veteran: $5
100 Blue Hole Lane, Wimberley, TX – Website
Also in Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is an ecological resource and the first Hays County-owned preserve. When you visit, you can easily see the area’s importance to Texas Hill Country wildlife. Measures are continually taken to protect this beautiful and educational natural resource.
Tips: Make reservations days ahead of time; they book up fast. You make your two-hour reservations online, but pay at the entrance. Only credit or debit cards are accepted. Wear sturdy footwear. Coolers and strollers are not advised.
- Children (0-4): free
- Children (5-12): $5
- Adults: $9
- Residents (proof required): $5
- Seniors/Veterans: $5
1699 Mount Sharp Road, Wimberley, TX – Website
Hamilton Pool Preserve is an historic swimming hole. Located upstream from its confluence with the Pedernales River, Hamilton Creek spills over limestone outcroppings to create a 50-foot waterfall, plunging into the head of a steep box canyon.
You must have reservations and check for conditions. Water is sometimes not safe for swimming, due to high levels of bacteria. There is a $16 reservation fee you must pay online, and then an additional $15 per car paid at the entrance, cash or check only (discounts given to seniors).
Tip: Bring hiking shoes, as the walk to the water is a bit treacherous. Bring your own water and snacks, but leave the alcohol at home. There are no concessions and no lifeguards on duty.
24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs, TX – Website
Hawaiian Falls Water Park
Hawaiian Falls Water Park in Pflugerville has all the fixings: lazy river, wave pool, activity pool, race slides, tube slides and body slides. In addition to complimentary tubes and life jackets, there’s an indoor event center with arcade, laser tag, a restaurant, an outdoor family adventure park that features the Big Island Adventure Trail, the Pineapple Express Zip Tour, a three-level challenge course, a six-story free fall, a rock wall and more!
- Guests under 48 inches tall: $24.99
- Guests over 48 inches tall: $34.99
18500 N. SH 130 SVRD SB, Pflugerville, TX – Website
Shore Club Volente Park
Volente Park in Leander has been a long-time favorite of Austinites. It has a themed play area with slide for small children, Gator’s Crossing activity, two water slides for guests 42-inches tall and up, one waterslide for those 48-inches tall and up, a Lazy Lagoon pool and a Sidewinder.
- Children (ages 0-2): free
- Under 42 inches: $17.31
- Over 42 inches: $22.73
- Twilight admission (dependent on closing time): $14.06
16107 FM 2769, Leander, TX — Website
Schlitterbahn is pricy, but well worth it! The New Braunfels location is the closest to Austin and the original park. If you go to the Corpus Christi location, don’t expect to find nearly as many rides.
Tips: Wear river shoes and bring snacks and drinks to store in a locker on the premises. Make sure your glasses are securely fastened to your head or around your neck or you WILL lose them on the rides. Of course, bring your own sunscreen and towels. A change of clothes will make the ride home a bit more pleasant.
Admission fees: $54 (You can often find discount coupons for a couple dollars off, and Groupon sells discount tickets for specific dates from time to time. Season passes also pay for themselves quickly.)
400 N. Liberty Ave., New Braunfels, TX – Website
Free Splash Pads
Most city pools and splash pads are open until September 25, 2016, daily from 9 a.m.–8 p.m. You can always check the City of Austin’s Pools and Splash Pads list for more details.
Quarry Splash Pad in Leander
For a small fee, you can have a unique splash pad experience at the Quarry in Leander. You must make an online reservation and pay in cash upon arrival. The Quarry has a sandy, beach-like feel to it and will be open until September 5, 2016, from 10 a.m.–7 p.m. daily.
Admission fee: $2 (bring cash)
3005 County Road 175, Leander, TX – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where’s your favorite pool or swimming spot in Austin?
Dana Minney is happy to have finally found sanity as a single mom by having fun, together time with her kids. Learn more on her website.
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