Though temperatures often reach 100 in July and August, Austin is blessed with several creeks and natural springs that bubble up out of the ground to form refreshingly cool swimming holes.
The temperature in the 3-acre, spring-fed pool always hovers around 68 degrees. That feels downright frigid when the air temperature is in the 90s or hotter. It’s fun to watch newcomers jump in just to see their reactions. The people watching is even better on the hillside above the pool, where Austinites play music, do yoga and occasionally sunbathe topless. 2201 Barton Springs Road; (512) 476-9044
Formed out of a collapsed grotto, Hamilton Pool looks like it belongs in Hawaii. A small waterfall above the pool trickles through delicate maidenhair ferns. Visitors must hike about a quarter mile to get to the pool, but it’s well worth the effort. To protect the pool and the delicate ecosystem, the park sometimes closes after heavy rains. Always call ahead. 24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs; (512) 264-2740.
To access this unofficial swimming spot, you’ll need to hike about a mile up Barton Creek from Barton Springs Pool. For a shorter hike, enter from Spyglass Drive. Since there are no lifeguards, the crowd can get a little unruly at times. After a heavy rain, mini-rapids form over an uneven limestone bottom. If you’re not careful, you can easily be propelled right into a boulder -- don’t drink and swim! 1500 Spyglass Drive
Another spot along Barton Creek, the Gus Fruh swimming hole is a neighborhood treasure for Barton Hills residents. The peaceful pool is surrounded by big boulders and limestone cliffs. While it usually has water, it sometimes dries up after extended dry periods. Rock climbers also frequent this part of the greenbelt. 2642 Barton Hills Drive
Lined with towering cypress trees, Blue Hole is an idyllic stretch of Cypress Creek. The slow-moving water is a relaxing spot to float away the day on an inner tube. A wide lawn on one side of the creek is ideal for picnics or napping. The kids will also love the rope swings along the creek. 100 Blue Hole Lane, Wimberley; (512) 660-9111
Poised above an extensive cave system, Jacob’s Well is a fairly small swimming hole, but it’s unlike any other in Texas. It actually looks like a well, with clear water above an ominous-looking hole. Once a popular destination for divers, Jacob’s Well is now closed to amateur divers because many cave explorers have drowned in the underground labyrinth. You’ll be fine as long as you avoid the giant hole. Operated by Hays County, the park has few amenities beyond restrooms and a few picnic tables. 221 Woodacre Drive, Wimberley