With school out and all this recent rain, there is no better time to pack up the kids and take a day trip to a Texas Watering Hole. For anyone who is not familiar with this fine Texas tradition, watering holes, or swimming holes, are natural spring-fed swimming and recreational areas. Think ice cold freshwater (even on the hottest Texas day) and deep shade—perfect for a picnic.
For an optimal experience, go on a weekday and be there as soon as the park opens to stake out a good spot to spread out a blanket. None of these places are well-kept secrets for locals, and many have “capacity” policies, where in they close for an hour or two when they reach capacity.
Here are some of our favorite watering holes, all within reasonable driving distance of the Alamo City.
404 Krause Springs Rd., Spicewood, TX 78669 | (830) 693-4181
Hours: 9:00 A.M.–8:30 P.M.
Cost: $3 per adult (ages 12 and older), $2.50 per child (ages 4–11), free for children ages 3 and younger. CASH ONLY!
Rope swings, a waterfall with a cave, a butterfly garden, and even a spot to cliff dive. I noticed campgrounds on the last visit; when Papito is a little older I want to take him camping here.
24300 Hamilton Pool Rd., Dripping Springs, TX 78620 | (512) 264-2740
Hours: 9:00 A.M.–6:00 P.M.
Cost: $8 per vehicle
I visited Hamilton Pool for the first time last month and it was almost magical—a very special place, a little other-worldly. It’s basically a caved-in sinkhole, with a 50-foot waterfall spilling over a fern-covered rock grotto. There are multiple hiking trails, which makes it a great place for running followed by a cold dip afterward. Be sure to call ahead, though, as the park is sometimes closed without notice due to high bacteria levels. For a fun treat, check out Rolling in Thyme and Dough, an eclectic local café.
118 River Bend Rd., Comfort, TX 78013 | (830) 537-3470
Hours: 7:00 A.M.–dusk, seven days a week
This is a great spot for younger kids. It’s smaller and well shaded, and there are shallow wading areas and walking trails perfect for toddlers. Older children (and let’s face it—adults, too) will love the rope swings and natural “diving” platforms. NO POTABLE water, so be sure to bring your own!
333 Blue Hole Ln., Wimberley, TX 78676 | (512) 660-9111
Hours: Sundays–Thursdays 10:00 A.M.–6:00 P.M.; Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays 10:00 A.M.–8:00 P.M.
Cost: $9 for adults (ages 13–59), $5 for everyone else
Crystal clear water and recently renovated, with access to soccer fields, restrooms, hiking trails, and a sand volleyball court nearby.
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