There’s only one way to truly enjoy the brutal heat of summer in central Texas: lots of time spent at the best Austin swimming holes! (Okay, that and lots of air conditioning).
Whether you’re looking for a quick afternoon dip on the greenbelt or a fun day trip from the city, these refreshing places to swim in Austin have you covered.
We’ve kept this guide to the best Austin watering holes to a fairly tight radius: every one of these destinations is both naturally fed (no chlorine here!) and located within a 1-hour drive of downtown, traffic permitting.
Here are the best places to go swimming in Austin this summer.
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The Best Austin Swimming Holes
Barton Springs Municipal Pool
The ultimate classic among Austin’s natural swimming pools, Barton Springs Municipal Pool is cherished by Austinites for good reason.
Conveniently located in Zilker Park, the pool makes a delightful place to spend a summer afternoon.
When you’re ready to call it a day, consider walking 15 minutes along the Hike and Bike Trail to Lou Neff Point–you can’t ask for better views to enjoy as you dry off.
If you’re an Austin resident, be sure to bring your ID–locals get a discount on tickets.
Barton Springs Spillway
Want a free alternative to Barton Springs Pool, or just want to bring your four-legged best friend along?
Right next door to Barton Springs Pool you’ll find the spillway, an informal swimming hole where you’ll usually find plenty of friendly dogs.
Deep Eddy Pool
The oldest public swimming pool in Austin (not to mention in all of Texas!), the Deep Eddy of today is sometimes described as a quieter, less crowded version of Barton Springs.
The current version of the pool dates back to 1936 and was built by the WPA, but a private resort on the same site opened even earlier, in 1915.
Twin Falls (Barton Creek Greenbelt)
Located just about a half-mile from the Twin Falls access point, this popular Austin swimming hole is often extremely crowded on summer weekends when the water is high!
Sculpture Falls (Barton Creek Greenbelt)
Located along the same trail as Twin Falls, keep going further (about 3.3 miles roundtrip on an out-and-back trail) to reach gorgeous Sculpture Falls.
You can easily visit both water holes in one day if you like, or choose one to relax in.
Sculpture Falls is sometimes referred to as a smaller version of McKinney Falls.
Lost Creek Swimming Hole
A local gem, Lost Creek is well worth seeking out if you’re in the mood for a fun swimming hole off the typical Austin tourist trail (though don’t confuse that with a lack of popularity–you’ll find plenty of people here on a summer afternoon!).
You’ll actually find two places to swim here: a standard Austin swimming hole, complete with rope swing, just a couple of minutes past where you park, and then an additional swimming hole with a small waterfall that you’ll find about a 20-minute walk across the creek down a long and mercifully shaded trail.
McKinney Falls State Park
Not every city is lucky enough to have a gorgeous state park within its boundaries, but Austin’s McKinney Falls State Park is something special.
Located where Onion Creek and Williamson Creek meet, McKinney Falls State Park offers all the Texas state park staples–hiking, biking, camping–and also includes the opportunity to take a dip into the beautiful falls.
Campbell’s Hole (Barton Creek Greenbelt)
Located just a 20-minute walk from Barton Springs Pool, or about a 7-minute walk from the Spyglass entrance to the greenbelt, Campbell’s Hole is a beautiful place to swim in Austin.
St. Edward’s Park
Featuring rope swings, shade, and generally fewer crowds than you’ll find at the swimming holes in Austin located further south, this North Austin gem is a delightful place to spend an afternoon.
As Texas’ only clothing-optional park, Hippie Hollow is one of the most unique places to go swimming in Austin.
Located on the shores of Lake Travis, the park itself is beautiful, and yes, full of nude people–and there’s a decades-long history as to why.
Gus Fruh (Barton Creek Greenbelt)
Another one of the greenbelt’s favorite swimming holes, Gus Fruh can be a little tricky to find for newcomers, but it’s worth the effort on a hot day.
Bench Falls (Barton Creek Greenbelt)
The Barton Creek Greenbelt is packed with great places to swim in Austin, but Bench Falls is among our personal favorites: the water is beautiful (and more reliably present than places like Twin Falls), the small waterfall created by the dam charming, and there’s plenty of space to spread out your towel and enjoy the views.
Stunning Swimming Holes Near Austin
Of all of the swimming holes near Austin rounded up here, Hamilton Pool just might be the most famous… and once you set eyes on it in person, it’s not hard to see why.
Photos don’t quite do this magnificent grotto justice: it seems somehow even bigger in person!
Like many of the most popular water holes close to Austin, Hamilton Pool requires advance reservations to visit. In peak season, you’ll want to plan at least a couple of weeks in advance.
However, it’s worth the wait.
Like Hamilton Pool, Jacob’s Well is an absolute legend among Hill Country swimming holes.
Jacob’s Well is an artesian spring that is located in the second-largest submerged cave in Texas. At 140 feet deep, it’s quite mesmerizing, and plunging into its icy waters is incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
For details, check out our guide to Jacob’s Well!
Blue Hole (Wimberley)
Located in a quiet section of Cypress Creek that is lined with–what else–Bald Cypress trees, Wimberley’s Blue Hole is undoubtedly one of the best places to swim near Austin.
Like Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well, the Blue Hole requires a reservation to swim, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.
For details, check out our guide to the Blue Hole in Wimberley!
This beautiful oasis in Spicewood, Texas is undoubtedly one of the best places to go swimming near Austin.
Fed by a collection of 32 natural springs, Krause Springs features several swimming pools, picnic areas, and even campgrounds.
Pace Bend Park
Want your swimming to come with a side of adrenaline?
Pace Bend Park is located on the shores of Lake Travis, and is well known for its cliff jumping opportunities!
Once you finish up, consider dropping by Opie’s Barbecue (order some jalapeno sausage!) before heading back to Austin.
Pedernales Falls State Park
As one of the most popular state parks close to Austin, Pedernales Falls is loved for more than just its swimming opportunities–but with its wide slabs of limestone and gently rolling river, it’s a fantastic place to relax for an afternoon.
Swimming isn’t allowed at the main waterfall area, but upriver, you can wade right in!
San Marcos River
With water so crystal-clear that snorkeling and glass-bottom boat tours are offered, there’s no doubt that the San Marcos River is a special place to swim!
Rio Vista Park is a popular place to access the river, but there are plenty of other spots to jump in as well.
Blue Hole (Georgetown)
Wimberley isn’t the only game in town with a sparkling Blue Hole: Georgetown has its own version that is located practically next door to its beautiful town square!
Blanco State Park
In this small state park, dams built during the Great Depression form semi-swimming pools of sorts, offering the opportunity to soak up the sun and enjoy the spring-fed waters.
While this is the furthest away of the swimming holes close to Austin cataloged here, Blanco State Park offers a great opportunity to enjoy a less-visited state park than somewhere like McKinney Falls while also enjoying a visit to the Lavender Capital of Texas, aka Blanco.
Consider stopping for lunch at Old 300 BBQ before heading back!
Tips for Swimming in Austin
Check to see if you need reservations.
Due to the dramatic increase in the popularity of many of these places over the last several years, not to mention the ever-changing global situation in 2020/2021, reservations are increasingly becoming the norm for some of Texas’ most popular natural highlights.
If you have your heart set on swimming in a particular place, it’s best to plan ahead.
… and if you need cash.
Some swimming holes on this list, such as Hamilton Pool and Pace Bend Park, are cash-only.
Be cautious on rope swings!
Dangling from rope swings is a time-honored tradition at Austin swimming holes, but keep your wits about you and swing at your own risk.
My brother has a small scar from stitches that he earned on a rope swing in Austin, as do many, many other people.
Check the water level.
Many of the best Austin swimming holes, especially on the greenbelt, dry up at certain points during the year.
Ask around before heading out, or if you’re not sure, stick with a reliable option like Barton Springs or the Blue Hole (either one).
Bring your ID.
At some of these pools, including Deep Eddy and Barton Springs, Austin residents get a discount on entry.
Don’t bring glass.
Broken glass is a nightmare around swimming–stick to reusable plastic instead.
Pack out what you bring in.
Unfortunately, trash is a problem at some of these places to swim in Austin, especially less-vigilantly watched places like the greenbelt or St. Edward’s Park.
If you bring it in, bring it out–and that includes any dog poop your pooch is responsible for.
Bring shoes you can hike in.
Many of the best Austin swimming holes require a bit of work to get to–and even if it’s only a quarter of a mile, you really don’t want to be negotiating limestone trails in flip flops.
Watch out for flash floods.
Due to the natural environment of the Texas Hill Country, flash flooding is not uncommon at some of the natural swimming pools in Austin.
Check the weather before setting out, and stay aware during your trip!
Be aware of algae.
Some bodies of water in Austin, including Lady Bird Lake, have experienced toxic algae blooms that have been fatal to dogs in the past.
The water is carefully tested, and warnings are put out when blooms are present, but it’s best to be vigilant. Check here for the most updated information about current algae blooms.
Keep the season in mind.
Some of these swimming holes, such as Jacob’s Well, only allow people to swim during the summer months, while others, like Krause Springs, stay open much longer.
If you have your heart set on a specific spot beyond peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, check the schedule before you make plans.
Don’t count on having access to restrooms or changing facilities.
At many of these Austin swimming holes, port-a-potties are about the best you can hope for.
Come prepared, and ideally, wear your swimsuit to the swimming hole rather than planning to change once you arrive.