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Summer is for Swimming

The Best Swimming Holes in Texas

Growing up, summer was a new swimsuit from the Lands' End catalog, swimming lessons at the natatorium, and a family trip to Neal's Lodges on the Frio River.

On an early July morning, my brother and I would sit in bleary-eyed silence in the backseat, forbidden to open the special bag of car toys until we were "on the road."

I'm still not exactly sure what that means.

Texas topography is unlike any other state in that it seems to borrow from every other state. East Texas is green and lush with trees that look like trees ought to—tall and strong and shady like those in Arkansas. Houston is swampy, the air thick and wet like New Orleans. West Texas is flatter and hotter than a cast iron skillet and resembles desolate stretches of New Mexico, but makes up for its lack of elevation in sunsets.

The Hill Country is a wonder.

As we neared Neal's each summer, flat, straight highway melted into rolling roads that edged around hills and dipped to cross low bridges. Depth gauges yards ahead of these narrow bridges let us know what the year’s vacation was likely to bring.

Water running over the bridges meant we’d sail down the Frio on our float trip the next day. In drier years, my dad would slow and point at the river through the trees—drawing our attention to the feet between last year’s banks and this year’s levels. Low years meant walking as much as we floated, gathering our inner tubes like ladies hoisting up black rubber skirts to wade further downstream until the water deepened, then dropping our tubes and settling in to float to our favorite swimming hole.

There's no doubt about it, summer is for swimming. And in Texas, there's nothing better than a swimming hole. Here are four of the best our state has to offer.

Neal's Lodges

Located in Concan, TX on the Frio River, this cool, blue, spring fed pool is available exclusively for guests of Neal's Lodges. Guests can pick out a tube and catch a ride to a drop off point miles upstream, then spend the day floating back to the welcome waters of the swimming hole. River rapids punctuate the float, and stretches of tranquil waters float troubles away. Back at Neal’s swimming hole, magnificent bald cypress trees shade the banks and proffer rope swings for adventurous, acrobatic swimmers. An enormous 83 foot slide beckons the daring. And, at the end of the day, nothing beats chicken fried steak from Neal’s Cafe. For more information, visit nealslodges.com

​​Krause Springs

Located in Spicewood, TX, about 30 miles west of Austin, this beloved camping and swimming site boasts countless natural wonders to explore and enjoy. The 115 acre property, which has been privately owned by the Krause Family for over 50 years, is listed on the National Registry of Historical Sites and is home to 32 springs. Several of these refreshing springs feed the man made pool and the natural pool which flows into Lake Travis. During hot Texas summers there’s nothing as revitalizing as a dip in the springs. Additionally, the property offers tent sites and RV sites if you plan to stay the night. For more information, visit krausesprings.net

Barton Springs Pool

Located in the heart of Austin’s 358 acre Zilker Park, this three acre pool is fed a frigid diet from underground springs and maintains an average temperature between 68-70 degrees. Its depths range from zero to 18 feet deep and it’s surrounded by sun-dappled grassy areas for lunching, lounging, and laughing. The pool attracts crowds as diverse as Austin and has welcomed more than a few celebrity swimmers over the years. Guests can expect to pay an admission fee for the day or season before enjoying the cool waters. For more information, visit austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool.

Jacob's Well

Located in Wimberley, TX, this artesian spring is fed by the Trinity aquifer which is over 140 feet below the pool's surface. The pool is also the entrance to an elaborate underground cave system, but only professionals are allowed to explore it. Due to a lack of rain, Jacob's Well is currently closed to swimmers, but the park remains open for hiking and viewing the spring. For more information, go to visitwimberley.com/jacobswell/.

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