Austin has to be one of the most fun places to live! And yes, the summers are hot, but there are lots of great ways to beat the heat. Below is a list of of some of our favorite places to go – both in and out of doors :o)
1 ●●● Discover Dinosaur Tracks in Leander
Check out the actual dinosaur tracks along a riverbed in Leander! A short hike off the road can bring you to some pretty clear tracks – not roped off or anything – just lying there smack in the middle of a creek bed!
There is one set of fossilized dinosaur footprints on the downstream side of the bridge, and another on the opposite side of the creek.
More Details and an update on creek levels
2 ●●● Swim in Austin’s natural springs and pools
Austin has a number of natural pools that are just perfect for cooling off during the hot Texas summers. Since these pools are spring-fed, they often are wet when all other pools are dry! Below are four of our favorites.
Lost Creek Swimming Hole
Located off of Lost Creek Boulevard, in South Central Austin, this swimming hole is supposedly very popular. We have not made it out yet, but it is on our list of places to visit first this summer!
If you have never visited Hamilton Pool you seriously need to go. If you have only been in the last few (drought) years, you really need to re-visit! With the creeks full, the 45 foot waterfall is absolutely incredible!
Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole where Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall. The pool’s water level stays pretty constant, even during periods of drought.
After cooling off in the pool, take a nice short (.6 mile) hike out to the Pedernales river for a change in scene.
New rules: Fees are $26 ($15 entry, $11 online fee) per carload and reservation must be made ahead of time
Krause Springs is a well-known camping and swimming site located in Spicewood, Texas approximately 30 miles west of Austin.
There are 32 springs on the property, and several feed the man-made pool and the natural pool which flows into Lake Travis.
Go and enjoy for the day or bring camping gear and spend the night!
Entrance is $7 for adults and $5 per child. Camping is $14 per adult and $6 per child.
Barton Springs Pool
Three acres in size, the pool is fed from underground springs and is an average 68 degrees year round. With all the beautiful trees, clear water, and diving board, this is certainly a favorite!
Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel to check out all the fish life.
Moss makes the bottom a bit slippery for young children and non-swimmers.
Entrance is $3 for adults, $2 for juniors and $1 for children
Blue Hole in Wimberley
The Blue Hole, spring-fed by Cypress Creek, has long been known as a beautiful and refreshing swimming hole in Wimberley.
Lush green lawns, a fun rope swing and cool clear water make visiting this swimming hole a must!
Entrance is $9 for adults and $5 for youth 4 – 12
Jacob’s Well in Wimberley
Located 40 minutes or so west of Austin, this artesian spring is a constant 68 degrees, which makes it a perfect swimming hole – especially for hot Texas days! This cool spring has a ‘well’ that is 23 feet deep and 12 feet wide. Just perfect for jumping in.
Camp Ben McCulloch
Located near Driftwood in Hays County, this privately owned campground hosts a prime swimming hole with a rope swing.
After a rainy season, the river flows pretty quickly, so bring a raft and play by the river.
The camp also has a nice playscape and tables for a picnic lunch
Entrance is free
3 ●●● Check out Austin’s Weirdest: The Cathedral of Junk
The Cathedral of Junk is most definitely one of Austin’s weirdest. Plunked down in a very normal South Austin neighborhood, this structure is something to behold!
Since this is located in someone’s backyard, you need to call ahead to make an appointment to check it out!
Gather a big group of friends, and enjoy climbing through the structure!
4 ●●● Explore Zilker Metropolitan Park
Zilker Park, located in downtown Austin, is Austin’s central park. This is the location of many of Austin’s outdoor events.
However, even with no event going on, this park is a great place to hang out and have fun. Nestled between Town Lake to the north and Barton Springs to the south, there is a plethora of things to keep a family busy.
Ride the Zilker Zephyr
Running through the whole park is the Zilker Zephyr, a miniature train that rides arounds the perimeter of the park and under two tunnels, perfect for the younger crowd.
Adult $3, Child: $2
Dive into Barton Springs Pool
Three acres in size, the pool is fed from under ground springs and is on average 68 degrees year round. With all the beautiful trees, clear water, and diving board, this is certainly a favorite! Be sure to bring a mask and snorkel to check out all the fish life. Moss makes the bottom a bit slippery for young children and non-swimmers.
Adult: $3, Junior (12-17): $2 Child: $1
Zilker Botanical Garden
Located on 30 acres in downtown Austin, this park has many “themed” gardens including a rose garden, pre-historic garden and native gardens.
While this park is quieter in nature than many others, it is still a fun place for kids who like to explore!
Adult: $2, Child: $1
Play at Zilker Playground
Zilker Park has a wonderful large playground, complete with a fire engine to climb on. It also has the Zilker Zephyr, a mini train that takes tours around the park. Located on the premise is Barton Springs Pool, some of the coldest water in Texas! Also in the park is the Austin Nature Center Splash exhibit, with a quick walk-though hands on demonstration about the Edwards Aquifer.
Take the dogs to Barking Springs
Just downstream of Barton Springs, the fence line ends and the waters from Barton Springs pour out from the pool and return to the river.
This small area is perfect for those four legged creatures uninvited to the main pool.
Check out the Austin Nature and Science Center
Located on the western edge of Zilker Park, this has been one of our families long time favorite summer places! The Austin Nature & Science Center is dedicated to the exploration of the the natural world.
The Center includes a Dino Pit for digging up fossil recreations, wildlife exhibits with rescue animals, a pond for fish feeding and many paths to explore.
Bring native plants, leaves or bones to be identified, then turn them in to the Trade Counter to exchange for other items. The counter is open from 10am to 1pm Wednesday – Friday.
The center is free but donations are accepted.
5 ●●● Ride your bike at the Veloway
The Veloway is Southwest Austin’s first trail exclusively for bicycles and rollerblading, making it the perfect place for young bikers.
No worries about cars pulling out, and if you have two children who ride at different speeds, it is pretty easy to coordinate a hook-up (there are multiple length routes, the longest is 3.1 miles)
6 ●●● Discover the Outdoor Art of Austin
Hope Outdoor Gallery
Check out this huge wall of grafitti located at 11th street and Baylor Street, one of the largest in the US.
This project was developed to provide muralists, graffiti artists and community groups the opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive and educational messaging.If you take the time to explore, you will find some fascinating art. And turn around and get a great view of Austin. There is parallel parking along Baylor Street, though space may be somewhat limited depending on the time. It looked like there was a lot (maybe even free?) on the corner of 12th and Lamar that is a short walk away.
Murals of Austin
Our family recently discovered the “Murals of Austin” geocache, which took us on a tour of many of the murals of Austin. It took a couple of trips, but we managed to find them all — and in doing so, discovered what a treasure of murals Austin has.
If you want to get started on some of Austin’s more famous murals, below are some of the more famous ones:Greetings from Austin, located on the southern wall of Roadhouse Relics at 1720 S. First Street, “You’re My Butter Half” at 2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.
There are many, many more in and around Austin. If you have the time and inclination, check out the Murals of Austin geocache, which will take you to many throughout Austin!
“Jeremiah the Innocent”, known to most as the “Hi, How are you” frog?”located south side of the building located at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe, across from The University of Texas at Austin.
Bee Cave Sculpture Park
The Bee Cave Sculpture Park weaves through a 7 acre natural setting, showcasing a combination of permanent and rotating sculptures. In addition to the fantastic art, you will find a spring-fed pond and some of the largest oak trees in the city