Hoping to beat the scorching summer heat in Austin, Texas, but apprehensive about stepping outside? Here are some cool ideas! 😎
The city and surrounding area offers an abundance of outdoorsy activities that will help you stay cool while having a blast. From refreshing swimming spots, to adventurous water sports, breathtaking natural wonders and a few indoor gems, Austin has something for everyone seeking an escape from the sizzling temperatures. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to get out and about for a little fun, this list of hot weather activities in Austin will ensure that you create some memorable summer experiences. It's always a good idea to try to do these activities in the early morning or early evening when the temperatures are cooler and the sun is less intense. So grab your water bottle, dab on some sunscreen, and get ready to make the most of the Austin summer!
- Barton Springs Pool: Take a refreshing dip in Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool with cool, clear water. It's a popular spot to beat the heat. The pool charges an admission between $2 to $9 during regular business hours, but early in the morning and late in the evening there is a free swim. There are a number of free neighborhood pools scattered around the city as well.
- Chase Water Holes: Don't go chasing waterfalls, go chase some waterholes. Outside of Austin, there are a number of popular swimming waterholes. You can develop a list and make a scavenger hunt for waterholes. Notable locations include: Krause Springs, Hamilton Pool Preserve, The Llano Slab, Pedernales Falls State Park, Jacob's Well and The Blue Hole in Wimberly.
- Kayaking or paddleboarding on Town lake (aka Lady Bird Lake): Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore Town Lake, which offers stunning views of the Austin skyline while keeping you cool on the water. Officially it is illegal to swim in Town Lake, but if you accidentally fall in, no one will know. For me, the best time to paddle is between 7:45 pm to 8:45 pm to catch the sunset over the water. My favorite place for renting boats for a day are The Texas Rowing Center and The Rowing Dock. Other fun locations to paddle near Austin include Lake Austin, Pace Bend, Canyon Lake, Lake Georgetown, The San Gabriel River and Inks Lake.
- Go underground. There are an abundance of caverns and caves in Austin and the surrounding area. Temperatures inside a cave are typically in the 60s or 70s. Inner Space Cavern in Georgetown, Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio, Longhorn Cavern State Park near Burnet or Wonder World Park in San Marcos are all great options.
- Rent a boat and go water-skiing, wakeboarding or cruising. You can rent a ski boat and try you skill at walking on water or you can rent a pontoon boat with a shade cover and just chill as you cruise. Boat rentals are available from some of the established operators like Keep Austin Wet, Float On or check out a boat sharing service like Boatsetter.
- Indoor rock climbing: Escape the heat by trying indoor rock climbing at one of Austin's climbing gyms. It's a fun and active way to spend time while keeping cool. Check out Mesa Rim or The Austin Bouldering Project.
- Go tubing on the San Marcos, Comal or Guadalupe River: Drive to the San Marcos or New Braunsfels area and enjoy tubing down the crystal-clear waters. It's a fun and relaxing way to beat the heat while enjoying the scenic surroundings. Start your float before 9:30am to beat the huge crowds.
- Outdoor fitness classes: Many parks in Austin offer swimming lessons, fitness classes, even outdoor yoga during the summer months. Join a class and exercise in the fresh air while benefiting from professional instruction. These classes are led by professionals and limit heat and sun exposure.
- Go on a BBQ and Watermelon run. Make your way to via Lockhart to Luling. Eat some of the best BBQ in Central Texas at Blacks, Smitty's, Kreuz's in Lockhart and City Market in Luling, then wash it down with a Golden Melon from the Luling Farmers Market.
- Attend a live music show: Austin is known as the "Live Music Capital of the World," and there are many opportunities to enjoy the vibrant local music scene after the sun sets. The biggest and possibly the best concert series is Blues on the Green. The concerts are not exclusively blues, they often offer rock, country, latino and funk music. The Long Center hosts The Drop In which tends to be more mellow sounds and more chill crowd. These concerts typically start after 7pm when the temperatures cool down a bit. Combine a concert with a dip in Barton Springs for the quintessential experience.
- Outdoor movie screenings: Look out for Movies in the Park screenings during the evenings after the sun sets in Austin parks or venues. Grab a blanket or a lawn chair, and enjoy a movie under the stars during the cooler evenings. During the middle of the day, treat yourself to an indoor movie at an Alamo Drafthouse Theatre.
- Visit indoor attractions: Spend time in air-conditioned spaces like the Blanton Museum of Art, Harry Ransom Center, The Thinkery (a children's museum), or the Austin Aquarium. The Blanton is free on the 2nd Tuesday each month. The Ransom Center is always free. The Thinkery is free Tuesday and Sunday 3pm to 5pm.
- Visit the Bullock Texas State History Museum or Texas State Capital Building: Immerse yourself in Texas history while enjoying the comfort of air conditioning. The museum showcases interactive exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of the Lone Star State. The Capital Building offers free tours with a splash of history and politics.
- Cool off with cool desserts like ice cream or boba: Austin has numerous ice cream and boba shops offering unique flavors. Try places like Amy's Ice Creams or Lick Honest Ice Creams. Try boba shops like Chicha San Chen, Terrazo Tea, or the longstanding shop called CoCos Cafe.
- Finally, treat yourself! Reserve a day pass at the Hotel Van Zant pool or a number of other pools or spas. Check out this Austin Monthly Guide or find your own on ResortPass.