For the rest of the country, Labor Day marks the end of summer. Sure, maybe you’ll have a few sunny weeks going into September, a few more weekends with the kids at the community pool, but it’s the beginning of the end of those long, hot summer days. Here in Austin, though? Not so much.
We can expect more of this soggy, blistering heat at least through October. But that’s not necessarily bad news. Because all this hot weather lends itself beautifully to a late afternoon swim, once the heat has receded a little. And what to do after you’re done swimming? Stop off for a cocktail, of course!
Barton Springs (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Its location at the tippy top of the Greenbelt means that Sculpture Falls is often the last holdout with water as the summer sun slowly dries up the rest of the park. And those little stone nooks make the perfect place to lean with a book on less chaotic weekday afternoons. While the immediate area is pretty residential, five minutes in the car gets you to the Grove Wine Bar and Kitchen, a local chain with a spacious patio, curated wine flights, and a full menu of various bruschetta – the perfect post-swim carb-loading snack.
Have you been to Deep Eddy lately? Largely ignored in favor of the more glamorous Barton Springs, this swimming pool has a charm of its own (and remains, for our money, the best option for early morning swimming you could ask for). After swimming a few laps with the dedicated regulars who pack the deep end of the pool, swimming side-by-side in aquatic harmony, you’ll be ready to refuel. Skip the hot dogs at the snack bar, and hit up Pool Burger for crinkle cut fries, eight different burgers, and a boatload of Tiki-inspired cocktails. If you’re not sun drunk yet, walk down the block to the Deep Eddy Cabaret, a legendary old school Austin dive where the beer is cold, the stools are sticky, and the jukebox is packed with honky tonk favorites.
A severely underrated swimming hole, Bull Creek park has beautiful limestone cliffs, a shady swimming area, and plenty of shallow wading spots where dogs of all shapes and sizes splash around in the sunshine. The water here is fairly warm, and the park seems to go on forever, through areas with streams, little waterfalls, and green grottos where the water seems to drip down from the treetops. Hop back in the car once you’re all tired out from your hiking and swimming and take your lucky pup out for a bowl of water and some free dog treats on the patio of Austin Terrier, where they have pizza, burgers, and microbrews for the humans.
You knew Barton Springs was going to be on here, and I bet you know why, too: It’s an icy cold swimming pool that more than lives up to the endless hype. Serious swimmers can pay the entrance fee and dive into the deep end, or while away the afternoon lying out on the shady side. We like stopping by the free side in the afternoons and finding a shallow spot under a shady tree to wedge ourselves in, feet first, with a good book in one hand and an ice cold Topo Chico (or hey, beer) in the other. Dry off on the mile walk to House Wine, where you can lounge on an outdoor couch and sip a $7 glass of happy hour wine.
Krause Springs (Photo by David Brendan Hall)
Last but not least, for the weekend adventurer is a swimming spot well worth the drive up to the high Hill Country, and the entry fee. Located on an old ranch, Krause Springs features both natural and man-made swimming pools, both of which are draped in gorgeous climbing vines and fed by the ice cold springs that go on, further down the river, to feed Lake Travis. As darkness falls, make your way to the Iron Wolf distillery to watch the sunset from their gorgeous patio and enjoy live music, food trucks, a whole yard full of games for both kids and adults, and craft cocktails. It’s the perfect end to a weekend swim, and the perfect end to an endless Austin summer.