Sprinkled in between the big cities and beautiful open spaces of Texas — especially around the wildflower-rich Hill Country — you’ll find some of the nation’s best swimming holes. Locals flock to them, and it’s a good idea to follow their lead for a cool reprieve from the summer heat.
A dip in a hotel pool can be relaxing. But you’re in Texas, which means there’s no excuse not to take an adventure through the scenic outdoors and discover a more natural alternative. Whether you prefer to soak in the rays or rope swing out over the water, Texas swimming holes offer something for everyone. Beautiful surroundings and inviting, clear water make for a perfect swimming hole excursion.
Natural Swimming Pools
True natural swimming hole enthusiasts should head to West Texas to the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world, Balmorhea State Park. With clear waters and warm temperatures year-round, Balmorhea is a nearly 2-acre diver’s paradise where scuba divers, snorkelers and swimmers can glimpse endangered species, non-game fish and turtles. More than 10 dive operations take place daily during the pool’s slow period, but the 28-million-gallon playground is popular during peak months, so get there early to take a dip.
Not all of the state's swimming holes are outside city limits. The state’s oldest spring-fed swimming pool, Deep Eddy, is right in the heart of Austin. The perfect place to cool off for both families and serious swimmers, Deep Eddy boasts six lap lanes and a wading area. Also located in the heart of downtown Austin is Barton Springs Pool. Located within the 358-acre Zilker Park, Barton Springs is a popular spring-fed 3-acre swimming hole that locals and tourists enjoy year-round courtesy of constant 68- to 70-degree temperatures. The pool provides both deep diving and shallow kiddie areas with plenty of grassy hills for sunbathing.
Find A Hidden Oasis
If you’re looking to practice your rope swinging, then spend the weekend a little farther north at Krause Springs, a 115-acre property listed on the National Register of Historic Places that has been privately owned for more than 50 years by the Krause family. Jump off a rope swing into either of the two swimming holes surrounded by cypress trees and a granite waterfall, or enjoy the excitement from the man-made pool that overlooks the property’s 32 springs. With gazebos, picnic tables and a butterfly garden, there’s much more than swimming at Krause Springs, making it an ideal location for a summer adventure.
A few miles west of Austin lies one of the most popular swimming holes, Hamilton Pool. Tucked away in a regulated natural preserve surrounded by hiking trails with vegetation and wildlife, this natural swimming hole is a hot spot for families and college kids alike. The 50-foot waterfall pouring over a fern-cloaked grotto sets the perfect vibe for a summer day. Please note, the pool is currently closed for geological monitoring. However, the preserve is still ideal for hiking scenic trails, soaking up the sun and taking in the beauty that is a Texas summer. Make your reservations today.
Just southwest of Austin in the small town of Wimberley (known for its fantastic art scene) is Blue Hole Regional Park. The Blue Hole is a winding river with a gorgeous hue thanks to the natural springs its water comes from. For fun both in and out of the water on the park’s 126 acres, come prepared for a game of sand volleyball or basketball and refuel with lunch at the pavilion or picnic tables. Kiddos will love the playscape as well.
Stop for lunch at the sophisticated Leaning Pear (one of the owners graduated from the Culinary Institute of America) before diving into your next stop — the famous Jacob's Well located just outside Wimberley. The 12-foot-wide karstic spring in the Texas Hill Country descends roughly 30 feet and is a cool 68 degrees all year.
When it comes to fun, there are few things better than a cool and classic Texas swimming hole. Unsurprisingly, summer days can be busy at the pools, so take advantage of smaller crowds on weekdays and off-times when possible. Also note, each swimming hole has varying entry prices and reservation requirements, so check individual websites before embarking on your next warm-weather Texas adventure.