Our bodies are mostly water. Our primordial ancestors lived in it. Science tells us that looking at it lowers stress. Without water, we can’t survive more than a week at best.
This three-acre, 1,000-foot-long swimming hole beats as the literal and metaphorical heart of Austin. Ten to 80 million gallons of water, depending on rainfall and aquifer conditions, gush every day from Parthenia Spring right under the diving board. Another spring flows into Barton Creek upstream from the pool, while a third adjacent to the pool and a fourth just downstream bubble into rock enclosures. These springs together equal Texas’ fourth-largest springs system.
It’s Texas, and it is too darned hot! While the A/C offered in an office building might suffice for some, nothing beats a big splash in one of Texas' many beautiful swimming holes on a scorching day. We're sure you'll find it hard to resist this refreshing respite from the heat, so we offer a list of some of the top swimming holes across the state.
Well, it's officially summer in Austin. The calendar begs to differ, I know, but I have my own criteria. One, I've already been attacked by chiggers as I lounged in my front yard, watching a lizard sun himself on the enormous arms of the agave I've dubbed Big Momma. Also, I just enjoyed the season's first michelada, a frosty mix of beer, lime juice, Worcester sauce, and Tabasco, a thirst-quenching libation I discovered several years ago at El Chile on Manor Road, Austin's burgeoning eastside restaurant row. And finally, last night, I took the season's first dip in Austin's Barton Springs pool as the descending sun sent glittery shimmers across the water's surface. In a quintessentially weird and wonderful moment, I witnessed both a group baptism and a topless woman bounding down the hill as people tried not to stare. I adore Barton Springs in winter (when I bring a big robe and a thermos of hot tea), but I especially adore it in summer, when I could spend all day swimming and lolling about on a broad blanket on the hillside, partially shaded by pecan trees, entertained by chattering squirrels, and watching the comings and goings of a broad sample of humanity. There are hand-holding high-schoolers in skimpy bikinis and floppy summer hats; sinewy, gray-haired men with broad shoulders and tiny Speedos; children with doughy knees in ruffled suits and heart-shaped sunglasses; Mystic-tanned college kids dangling from plastic floats on the deep end, squeezing the last bit of sunshine from their days. And on that note, I'm going to the pool.
What do Texas Highways editors dream of on a torrid summer day? A dip in nearby Barton Springs, of course! Fed daily by some 26 million gallons of cool, emerald springwater, Austin's jewel-of-a-pool, at 2201 Barton Springs Rd. in Zilker Park, has taken top honors for "Best Swimming Spot" in our Readers' Choice surveys. Open year round. Hours: Daily 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Thu 9 a.m.-7 p.m. for cleaning. Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for juniors ages 12–17 and $1 for seniors and children ages 11 and younger. Call 512/476-9044.