Five Spots for Swimming and Splashing in Austin

Nicole Basham - Austin
July 5, 2011

If there is anything to be thankful for during a drought and what could be a very, very hot summer, it's that Austin has plenty of plenty of places to cool off. With over 40 pools, splash pads, and wading pools run by the City of Austin alone, and many more in the outlying cities and suburbs, there is bound to be an oasis nearby.

Speaking of which, here are our top five family-friendly spots for swimming and splashing:

Deep Eddy

Deep Eddy is the oldest swimming pool in the state and a long-time favorite for families. For kids (and parents) who find Barton Springs' 68 degree year-round temp just too frigid, Deep Eddy is a great alternative. Accessible from the Hike and Bike Trail, your little ones can also enjoy the small playscape at Eilers Park before your swim or dry off after a dip while you feed ducks and fish at a small dock on Lady Bird Lake. The pool itself boasts a huge shallow area for infants and toddlers and substantial real estate for both beginning swimmers and lap swimmers. Summer brings Splash Party Movie Nights and, at least for our family, a mandatory visit to get a Jim Jim during the five-minute break.

Quarry Splash Pad

One of the most recent additions to the splashing landscape is the Quarry Splash Pad in Cedar Park. Part of the Southwest Williamson County Regional Park, the Splash Pad is a water wonderland with water cannons, slides, waterfalls, rock climbing walls, a sand area, pavilions and a concession stand. Unlike many splash pads, there is an entrance fee, so be prepared. Also, keep in mind that the park is large, so if your kids tend to go in opposite directions and you need to closely monitor more than one child, you may want to bring backup. If you want to miss the crowds which have been coming to check it out, try going around lunchtime or in the late afternoon.

Hamilton Pool

If you are up for an adventure, head out to Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, about 30 miles southwest of Austin. Part of the 30,000-acre-plus Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, Hamilton Pool is a natural swimming hole which features a stunning 50-foot waterfall. Since the parking lot only accommodates 75 cars and it can be a long drive, you might want to plan to arrive early to beat the crowds and the heat and to make sure you get a spot.  The pool is located about ¼ mile from the parking lot down an uneven trail, so make sure your kids are up for a short hike and plan your gear accordingly. Finally, make sure to bring water, water shoes and snacks (no glass) since there are no facilities on site and the pool bottom may bother tender feet. Once you are there, marvel at this natural treasure.

Mentzer Pool

Mentzer Pool in Pflugerville is a great water park for kids who are just learning how to swim and who want more than a splash pad can offer. Although Mentzer does feature an ample area to splash, there is also a lazy river, two water slides, and a few other water features to keep your little ones enthralled. Unlike some of the other water parks which are much more expensive or bigger (i.e. more intimidating for moms, particularly with multiple children), Mentzer provides just enough fun to spend an entire morning or afternoon. Outside of the pool is the Green Red Barn, a playscape and fruit trees that are free for the picking.

Metz Splash Pad

Although the rapid rise in the number of splash pads has been welcome by Austinites, many of these fountains are located in the direct sun. If you are looking for a shadier space to splash, try the Metz Splash Pad in Central East Austin. With a park, neighborhood pool and community center closeby, the splash pad offers a lot of different options for pre- or post-splashing. Plus, if you rarely make it downtown, you can use the opportunity to hit another downtown kid-friendly spot, such as the Children's Museum or the Faulk Central Library.

Happy splashing!

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