Staying cool: An insider’s guide to Austin’s best swimming spots
Local photographer Cristina Fisher takes us on a tour of her favourite places to escape the summer heat
Friday 12 August 2022 Words and photography by Cristina Fisher
About 30 minutes west from Downtown are a handful of lakeside parks that feel like Austin’s very own Mediterranean shoreline – the most notable of which is Hippie Hollow, the only legally recognised, clothing-optional public park in the state of Texas. With lots of nooks to tuck yourself away in on a sunny day (snacks and drinks welcome), Hippie Hollow grew in popularity during the counterculture movement in the 1960s, earning its current moniker post-Woodstock. However, it was only established as an official park in 1985. Nearby, Pace Bend and Tom Hughes Park offer similar – though perhaps rather more conservative – lakeside views. Bring comfortable, sturdy shoes as the terrain is quite steep and rocky. Cash required for entry.
This three-acre swimming pool is, without a doubt, one of Austin’s crown jewels. Fed by underground springs that it is said to have been welcoming swimmers to for thousands of years, one of the attractions of Barton Springs is the temperature – which stays at a cool 68 to 70°F year-round, making it ideal for those hot Texas summers. Attracting a diverse crowd of locals and visitors alike, this special park offers plenty of space to read, sunbathe and people watch. No food or drink is permitted, so save your Margarita for a post-swim treat. A summertime favourite – it’s open until 10pm – try heading down between 7.30pm and 9pm to catch the sunset and those cool evening hours.
Deep Eddy Pool
Officially designated to be the oldest pool in Texas, Deep Eddy is another favoured swimming destination just minutes from Downtown. Similar to Barton Springs in vibe, the pool itself is man-made – it was converted and is fed from a natural spring – and features a plethora of grassy space to lounge on. If you’re looking to squeeze some cardio in, there’s recreational lap swimming on offer in addition to its wading pool. Don’t miss dropping into Pool Burger for a tiki cocktail and burger on your way out of the parking lot.
McKinney Falls State Park
At 641 acres wide, McKinney Falls State Park stands as one of the city’s most beloved destinations for hiking, swimming and biking. With its abundant limestone stretches and ledges overlooking running creeks and waterfalls, the region has an otherworldly quality. Take some time to explore the different trails and swimming spots – and if you’re visiting during the summer months, be sure to either start early in the morning or wait until evening, when you can catch the sunset. It gets hot out there – you have been warned.
As part of our Hot American Summer campaign, members can enjoy 25% off bedroom rates until the end of September at Soho House Austin, Soho House Nashville and Soho Beach House Miami, with no minimum stay.
Under 27 members and Under 27 Soho Friends members will benefit from their 50% off rate being extended from Monday through Thursday, while Soho Friends members receive 25% off their member rate at all three Houses until the end of September.
To book a bedroom, click here.