One of the “crown jewels” of Austin’s bustling downtown, this natural limestone pool is a refreshing place to spend a steamy Texan afternoon.
It’s no secret that a Texas summer can be scorching, but luckily, Barton Springs Pool is here to cool you down. A massive 3-acre (1.2-hectare) natural limestone pool in the heart of Austin’s downtown, it is fed by underground springs that keep the water 68 F (20 C) year round. Swim laps or just play around in the water, the perfect place to escape the summer heat.
Ease yourself down the ramp into the somewhat chilly water or jump off the ledge into the deep area. Swim from side to side or practice open water swimming, watching the landscape go by as you paddle upstream or down. Practice your diving skills under the watchful eye of the well-trained lifeguards.
Visit historical bathhouses and view exhibits on the origins of the pool. Switch between sunbathing and cooling down in the water during a long, relaxing afternoon.
Explore the vegetation near the water in search of the endangered Barton Springs salamander with its distinctive fringed neck. Bring a snorkel and mask for a face-to-face meeting with the fish life teeming below the surface, dodging in and out of algae as people play above.
Get land-based exercise running or biking along the nearby trails; then cool off with a cannonball jump into the pool. Otherwise, relax in peace with a book for hours as crickets chirp around you.
Barton Springs Pool is located in the southern part of Austin’s Zinker Park, close to Downtown Austin. Drive here in 15 minutes from the University of Texas at Austin’s campus or arrive in 1 hour via public transportation. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is a 20-minute drive away. Free parking is available nearby, though this can be hard to find during events in the park.
The pool is open daily from May to September, from dawn until late at night, although it is closed during the day on Thursdays for cleaning.
Admission is free in the early morning and late at night, with fees collected at other times of day. The pool is extremely popular on weekends, so come early.