How’s your summer going? Chances are you’re experiencing a little Texas heat – even if you don’t live in Texas. Take my advice (coming from a Northerner with two years of Texas heat experience): you must find air conditioning, or iced drinks (preferably Mexican Martinis), or lots of water.
Funny thing about the heat in Texas, it makes the pool water warm, not just take-the-edge-off-as-you-jump-in-warm. Oh no, I’m talking did someone just pee in the entire pool? On hot, hot, days (triple digits), it’s best to go for spring fed, natural pools. Lucky for us, Austin has a plethora of organic swimming holes. Continuing the list of 25 fun things to do in Austin with kids is
#6. Barton Springs Pool
#7. Zilker Zephyr
#8. Sculpture Falls
#9. Hamilton Pool
Barton Springs Pool is epic, classic, and legendary to Austin. Rumor has it, Robert Redford learned to swim in this pool at the tender age of five while visiting his relative.
It’s spring-fed and refreshing, average temperature of 68 degrees. Brrrrr. It has three acres of water surrounded by grassy areas to sunbathe. Many tri-athletes train here. The admission is minimal, $3 for adults, $1 for kids. If you want to experience a true-Austin tradition, hire a babysitter and attend the full moon swim at 9 p.m. (I say hire a babysitter, because in Austin, during the full moon, I can’t guarantee everyone will wear a bathing suit.)
I snuck in the Zilker Zephyr as #7, because if you’re going to Barton Springs Pool with kids, you can’t miss the train ride around the park. My kids love it! They especially enjoy traversing under the bridge and through the tunnel. Every time we ride it, a one man band is playing in the woods with a guitar and harmonica. It can get warm on the train, so I suggest going in the morning, $3 for adults, $2 for kids.
If you’re up for a little adventure (Bunder calls it a bear hunt) and a lot of hiking, check out Sculpture Falls. I love these natural waterfalls located on the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The trailhead is almost a secret; you can find it at the south intersection of Mopac and 360. Beware though – this trail is not for the faint of heart. It’s a solid mile and a half hike into the canyon on rocky terrain. Strollers are impossible. Mister and I each take a kid in a backpack. Because of the long hike, I advise leaving early in the morning.
Hamilton Pool is a true Austin treasure, a fifty foot waterfall into a large swimming hole complete with a sandy beach (well, as sandy as you can get in Austin).
Legend has is it the rancher’s eight year old son discovered the swimming hole back in the 1880’s. Can you imagine his excitement? When we visited in the spring, the vegetation was thick and green. I felt as if we left Texas for a rain forest in South America.
The pool and preserve are located in Dripping Springs, thirty miles west of Austin. The park charges $10 per vehicle per day. Pets are not allowed, and this rule is strictly enforced. The hike is a short quarter mile through the preserve to the water hole. If you’ve never been to Hamilton Pool, it’s a must for all Austinites!