Things to Do

Beat the Heat at Barton Springs

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Soon after the incorporation of Austin, Texas, way back in 1837, a visionary named William Barton settled into the area that is now Barton Springs. Quickly seeing the potential of a valuable tourist attraction, he and fellow local property owners enthusiastically began to promote the separate springs there as a great destination for family and friends to gather.

Barton Springs Pool

Photo: Flickr/Phil Roeder

Fast forward 179 years, and what we have there today is one of the most popular swimming pools in Texas! Barton Springs uses the water from Main Barton Spring, the fourth largest spring in our great state, to fill its three acres of year-long swimmers’ delight. Modeled after the successful Edwards Aquifer that uses a layer of limestone to build and pool the water, the springs have become a great source of pleasure for those who prefer organic and natural to the over chlorinated options of other swimming pools.

The water here is VERY cold, almost always 68 degrees year round, but anyone who has lived through a Texas summer knows the colder and the wetter the better! The pool is located in the Zilker Park area of Austin and the low entrance cost of $8 or less draws people from all over; entry is free before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., though.

There is a large area to picnic or just defrost if you find yourself turning blue from the cold water, and there is also a great diving area as well. The pool can reach depths of 18′ when the flood gates are closed and in the wee morning hours, there are no lifeguards so swim at your own risk!

Eurycea sosorum from Eliza Spring

Photo: J. Hayley Gillespie

Barton Springs is great too as an educational day trip! There is much to learn about the aquifer there and the flow system that creates this incredible place. Also, there is the Barton Springs Salamander: (Eurycea sosorum) an endangered lungless salamander that only lives in the habitat of Barton Springs! How cool is that? Texas has its own salamander! Last, but not least, your children could also learn something about anatomy, too, since the pool permits topless bathing!

All of these unique qualities of Barton Springs bring visitors from all over and sometimes all at once! Prepare to wait in a very long line during the peak hours and season, but know that once inside, you’ll stay refreshed and safe from the Texas heat waves.