A dip into the cold water of Austin’s Barton Springs Pool should be on every Texan’s bucket list! The pool and the Zilker Park attractions nearby can constitute a full day of fun, and are a must when visiting the city, or make for a perfect day trip!
Barton Springs is a 3 acre, spring-fed swimming pool that has been delighting hot Texans in their constant 68-70 degree water since the 1920’s!
It is not a traditional pool, but rather part of a creek that has been dammed to create a swimming hole. The water is not treated. The bottom of the lake is rock with some sand, dirt, etc.
Coolers/food is not allowed in the pool or surrounding area. You can bring in drinks in plastic, resealable bottles. There are plenty of picnic tables in the park and near the parking areas.
Parking is charged on weekends, when it’s very busy.
The pool is open through-out the year, and because of the constant 68-70 degree temperature, it’s a popular place during the cold winter! Check the pool schedule for open swim times (swim at your own risk) and times when life guards are present.
The Texas Hill Country has a different perspective of water than much of the state, and when traveling, you need to be aware of it. I could really go on about on about this, but the most important thing to know is that the life guards are there for if something SHOULD happen, not to babysit the children. It’s the parents responsibility to watch over their kids.
We went as a big group, after our plans to Hamilton Pool were derailed due to a closure. It’s always good to have a Back Up Plan!
During the summer, especially weekends and holidays, there can be a long line to get in to the pool. Over Memorial Day weekend, we waited in line over an hour. However, if you like cold water in a beautiful, natural setting, it’s totally worth it!
You can have your hand stamped for come and go privileges.
What to Bring
The water is wonderfully, yet painfully cold. It helps to bring something to float on, and there’s not much better than an inner tube to keep you afloat! They don’t rent them at the pool, so bring your own.
Bring a life jacket for younger children, or weaker swimmers. The water goes from walk-in depth to 18′ by the diving board.
Bring towels or blankets for sitting in the grass around the pool. There are plenty of big trees to spread out under, but not tables.
New Year’s Day Polar Plunge
Each January 1st, the pool host a “swim-at-your-own risk all day Polar Plunge to ring in the New Year.” The pool is open normal winter hours, from 5am – 10pm, and admission is FREE, however there are no life guards on duty.
Because of the year round 67 degree temperature, the water at Barton Springs Pool is much warmer than most pools during the winter. Because of this, Barton Springs Pool is a popular place to swim during the winter, and it is open year round.
Pack water shoes for exploring around the pool on the hot sidewalks and slippery rocks.
Water bottles are allowed, but must be in a re-sealable bottle with a twist top lid.
Bring cash for parking, pool entrance and the snack bar.
Soft water toys are allowed, but hard toys like frisbees and footballs are not.
Barton Springs Salamander
The natural water is home to fish, frogs and the highly endangered Barton Springs Salamander and Austin Blind Salamander. The salamanders are in the water where you swim, and it’s extremely important to be mindful and considerate of their habitat when visiting the pool and area.
Enjoy Splash! a FREE educational center adjacent to the pool bathhouse, with interactive exhibits.
Avoid wearing sunscreen and insect repellent, especially those with DEET, which can harm the amphibians. Choose long sleeve swim shirts and a hat, or stay in the shade and limit the amount of time in the sun.
Click HERE to learn more about these amazing animals!
Take a Walk on the Wild Side!
Just below the Barton Springs “dam”, the creek and it’s shores are filled with even more swimmers. The water is still cold and clear!
This section of the creek is FREE!
There are no life guards on duty.
Leashed dogs are allowed, which makes me happy! There are many, many dogs. PLEASE come prepared to clean up after your dog! There are ALWAYS some unleashed dogs here, too. If your dogs isn’t instantly friendly to other dogs or needs an adjustment time to new places, I’d move slowly and check out the area first.
Food, drinks and coolers are also allowed.
You will still need those water shoes and life jackets for younger children.
Be ready to expect anything. Most of the time, we have visited the free side (usually with our dogs) and had amazing times, and there have been times we have just had to shrug and move on to elsewhere on the creek. Unfortunately, it usually only takes one person to make it uncomfortable for others. But hey, it’s a long creek.
Zilker Park Playground
Shaded by big trees, the big playground offers traditional play equipment, and plenty of places to run. There is also an old fire engine to climb on, drums and musical equipment and the Zilker Zephyr actually runs through the playground!
Rent a Canoe or Kayak
Just a little ways down past the playground is Zilker Boats, where you can rent a canoe, kayaks or paddleboards. They also have life jackets for infants through adults.
Zilker Boats has been in business since 1969, and still owned by Howard and Dorothy Barnett.
Dogs are allowed in the boats, but they do not have life jackets for them.
Coolers with food and drinks are allowed. No alcohol. There is nothing like a picnic on the water under a big cypress tree!
You can paddle around here, or head down to where Barton Creek meets up with Ladybird Lake on the Colorado River. It’s interesting to see how much warmer the water is the closer you get to the river. On weekends, there are a lot of paddler on the water!
If possible, visit during peak times when lines are shorter, and they have discounts.
Click HERE to visit their website for more information!
Things To Do in Austin
Barton Springs Bike Rental and Tours is a fun way to explore the park and city!
Zilker Botanical Gardens is a really unique botanical garden with a true Austin vibe, including a Dinosaur and a Fairy Garden!
The Austin Nature and Science Center offers hands on activities for kids to learn about the natural environment.
Shady Grove is my go-to near Zilker Park. I love the big patio, and we love their pork chops! During the Summer they have Austin’s longest-running music series and their Starlight Theater brings you fun, classic movies under the stars!
We love Hotel Indigo in Austin!
Barton Springs Pool
2201 Barton Springs Rd., Austin
Click HERE to visit their website.
Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!
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