When people think of beaches, especially in Texas, they’re often thinking of the Gulf of Mexico and the coastal lines of Galveston or Port Aransas. Expand your definition to include freshwater, though, and Texas has no shortage of beautiful oases located throughout the state, including plenty of beaches in Austin!
There are several locations in and around the capital city that provide you with laid-back, beachy vibes, complete with sand to play in, boats to rent, a chance to swim, or sometimes all three.
Several are located on the shores of Lake Travis, of course, but we’ve included a variety of spots around the city.
If you’re looking for a beach day without driving to the Gulf, here’s where to find the best Austin beaches!
Secret Beach in Austin
Secret Beach is no secret anymore! This is one of the best beaches in Austin and is definitely a spot for relaxing and taking out some “me-time”.
This location is indeed family-friendly, however, swimming and floating in the river are banned, so please make sure to pay attention to any rules or safety advisories for the area!
This beach is a very discreet stretch of land right off of the Colorado River. For ease of finding it head over to Roy G. Guerrero Park and head right on the trail, down a steep hill to find the sandy beach. Dogs are allowed here as well so it’s a nice spot for a post-walk cooldown.
Russell Park Beach
Another great small pebble beach near Austin, Texas is on the shores of Lake Georgetown. There are great shelters here for first-come, first-serve use.
This area has camping availability for tents and shelters. You can bring some charcoal briquettes and fire up the grill, or layout a blanket for a nice picnic lunch.
There are some great photo ops around the park, if you’re into nature photography this can be a great spot to check out!
Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton Pool is probably one of the most notable beaches near Austin. It makes everyone’s list of what to do in the city (even though it’s technically located outside of Austin!) and there really is no question as to why.
The area is beautiful and very clear. It is a fairly easy hike to the main pool area, and there is a small sandy area to layout and sit. This area is fairly small so get there early if you can!
There is a fee per vehicle in order to enter, and you’ll need an advance reservation as well.
Another tip is to check for water quality before planning your outing. If the water quality isn’t safe for swimming the beach will be closed, though you’ll still be able to admire the grotto.
Pedernales Falls State Park
The benefits of going to a Texas state are really endless. There is great scenery, it is really inexpensive, and the parks are kept very clean and safe.
Pedernales Falls State Park has lots of aquatic activities that make it really reminiscent of a beach trip. You can skip rocks, or go swimming in the river. Once you finish up your swim, head to the sandy shores located near the swimming area to relax.
For safety reasons, you can’t go swimming in the falls themselves (the swimming area is located a short drive away), but feel free to find a nice lookout spot and enjoy the sounds of the water flowing while you read a book or enjoy some quiet time.
Milton Reimers Ranch Park
Not only is this location one of the most epic locations for mountain biking in central Texas, but it is also home to a beautiful rocky beach on the banks of the Pedernales River. If you’re a nature lover and really want an adventurous location, this is definitely a good pick.
Fishing and kayaking are permitted as well as swimming in the river. You can find a sandy spot to sit and watch the wildlife, there are lots of birds that are unique sights to the area.
This Austin beach is located right by Hamilton Pool but doesn’t require reservations. The park will close once it has reached its capacity, however, to prevent overcrowding so it is recommended to arrive early to ensure entrance.
Bob Wentz Park
Lake Travis is a popular destination for tourists in the Austin area but there are also nice beachy areas as well. Bob Wentz Park has a popular location called “The Point” which is a sandy peninsula for the public.
There are nice access points to the water and restrooms on-site. However, parking is limited.
There are great picnic areas that are available which are perfect for a nice lunch on a sunny day. Most of the picnic areas are covered as well.
This beach in Austin is a great spot for a nice family day out! Holiday weekends tend to be busy, and if the park reaches capacity they do close for any remaining incoming traffic. Please plan accordingly!
McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park has some really beautiful, natural oases in its boundaries. It is split into two main areas: The Upper Falls and The Lower Falls.
The Upper Falls are definitely the most “beach-friendly” however both have swimmable areas with rushing water. The Upper Falls tend to be deeper so if you have smaller children that can be something to be mindful of. For general safety, water shoes are recommended.
This is a great spot to cool off in the summertime, anytime after some rainfall is a great time to visit in order to get the full effect of the waterfalls.
Sandy Creek Park
Similar to several locations on the shores of Lake Travis, this beach is rocky but the view is so perfect that it’s nothing that a good pair of shoes can’t fix!
You can come and sit by the water and enjoy a quick lunch, or go fishing from the shallow waters.
There are restrooms on-site with primitive camping sites if you wanted to turn your Austin beach outing into a weekend getaway. The park does have an entrance fee that does not take credit or debit cards so be sure to have some change readily available.
Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs is the King Kong of pools in Austin. Located in Zilker Park, this spring-fed pool is one of the most cherished landmarks in the city. This spot has wonderful, cool water, and it has a shallow end which is perfect for small children.
It really has all of the amenities that anyone could want out of a beach location. The shallow end of the pool is where the sandy area is located. The deeper ends of the pool have springboards for jumping and diving.
This area is perfect because it is steps away from all of Austin’s top hotspots, and you have easy access to restaurants and food trucks for a quick meal. It is the quintessential spot!
About 25 minutes out of Austin is called Lake Pflugerville, which is very popular for family outings. There is a walking trail, and you can also enjoy boating, fishing, or windsurfing!
The park is open and free for visitors, however, there are some key pieces of advice to make the most of your trip. Definitely be sure to bring water shoes or some sort of protective footwear, because this beach near Austin is a small pebble beach rather than a sandy beach.
Also please be sure to abide by the roped off area for swimming, it’s for your safety!
As Texas’ only clothing-optional park, Hippie Hollow is one of the most unique beaches 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.
Mansfield Dam Park
Mansfield Dam Park has some great, uninterrupted views of Lake Travis. On a beautiful, sunny day this is a great place to walk and enjoy the view.
The beach in this area is very rocky so it is not the type of place to lay out a beach towel, however, the peace and serenity of the lake is a great attraction that you should not miss!
There is a secluded cove where you can go SCUBA diving, and throughout the park, there are also amenities like chess tables and a playground. There are covered picnic areas a little further from the banks of the lake but they still make for a terrific outlook point.
This area is definitely a spot to check out to see Lake Travis a whole different way.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park
This popular park boasts some great beaches in Austin and is fun for a quick picnic or swim. This site also has camping accommodations available for rental.
This is ideal for a quick family getaway, it has boating ramps and designated open spaces. There is a designated swimming area as well as a nice portion of the sandy shore for kids to play and build sandcastles on.
There are bathrooms and showers available on site to wash off all of that sand before getting back in your car.
Speaking of cars, there is an entry fee at the park per vehicle so just make sure you plan accordingly before heading over. The park is open 7am-10pm, but there are limits for how many passes are sold in a day to prevent overcrowding. This is definitely a trip to plan in advance for but it’s so worth it!