The month of survival is upon us in Austin and its name around these parts is uttered like a four-letter word: August. Our survival gear to get through the worst days of summer heat (19 days over 100 degrees and counting) includes water-wicking tank tops, Chacos, shades, copious amounts of sunscreen and ice cold AC. This is not the time to save the planet. It’s every man for himself when temperatures rise into the triple digits. Many of us have flocked to this Central Texas city because we love how active we’re encouraged to be here, but how do we keep active while staying cool in Austin through these scorching days?
As far as I’m concerned, there are three paths to coping: stay near water, hide in the shade or hunker down inside. The key is to avoid the latter and not give up. You can save your Netflix queue for the post-holiday sprawl and keep active while the sun still shines with these sanity-saving tips and ideas.
Flock to the Water
If you’ve ever cocked your head in confusion, eyeing the line of cars stretching out into the street waiting for a coveted parking spot at Barton Springs, it’s because that water is dang cold. No matter how sweaty and miserable you feel, when you wade into the icy cold chill of the spring water, something inside of you relaxes and life feels much more bearable. Check out our guide to Barton Springs before you head out.
If you’re inclined to hit up Lady Bird Lake, my favorite bet is to rent a canoe or stand up paddle board and spend a day on the water. You can jump in every hour or so to cool off while relaxing in the middle of the city, flanked by the incredible Austin skyline. Zilker Boat Rentals are a cash-only Austin staple situated near Barton Springs. They rent out canoes, one- and two-person kayaks, and paddle boards by the hour and day. On the east side of Congress Avenue at Waller Creek Boathouse, Congress Avenue Kayaks does the same.
Stand up paddle boards look intimidating but, even as non-athletic as I am, I promise they aren’t as bad as they look. Crawl onto your board, get your bearings and then slowly rise to your feet in the middle of your board. You’ll find your sea legs quickly, and nothing beats staring at the tree-lined beauty of Lady Bird Lake from the middle of the water.
Don’t think for a moment, however, that your water options are limited to the city center. Whether it’s South Austin’s Stacey Pool or a tucked-away Greenbelt oasis, check out a huge list of our favorite swimming spots in Austin and the surrounding area.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that right now is the perfect time to make a pilgrimage to the mother of all waterparks: Schlitterbahn. It has a tenacious following for a reason. Less than an hour south of downtown, you have a full day of watery fun ahead of you. For adults, there are thrilling rides and swim-up bars. The younger set will revel in more pools, misters, rides and watery playscapes than you can imagine.
My favorite part? Skip the festival food and pack your own picnic! Relaxing under the sprawling foliage of Schlitterbahn’s ample picnic areas snacking on watermelon and picnic treats. Texas summer won’t feel quite so brutal.
Hide Out in the Shade
Take advantage of the shady times and areas this time of year. Not only do most restaurants and bars with patios provide shade coverage and misters, but planning your days with sunrise and sunset in mind means your outdoor fun will take place during relatively cooler times of the day.
Catch Shrek The Musical at Zilker Hillside Theater through August 13– the show is at dusk–or watch a movie while the sun sets with the Movies in The Park series that begins on September 1. And bats; don’t forget the bats!
Get Active Inside
Hey, we’ve all been there: some days you just can’t bear to leave your air conditioned cocoon. Outside feels like the center of the sun. Now is the perfect time to embrace Austin’s vibrant climbing scene at Austin Rock Gym or the new Crux Climbing Center.
For those with little ones, you can max out on all of the fun to be had building, creating and experimenting inside at The Thinkery at Mueller. Also worth checking out is the newly expanded Little Yoga House, a kids-only yoga studio with locations in Clarksville and Anderson Lane.
My favorite tip for surviving these untenable days? Treat August like an offbeat winter. Plan that amazing fall garden, book your October trip to Marfa and imagine all the fun things you’re going to do in the ensuing months. Because, hey, the fun is just getting started and it will only get cooler from here!
@kristinmleigh wants to know:
How do you keep active while staying cool in Austin through the dog days of summer?