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6 Ways To Beat The Heat In Austin, Texas

a dog swimming in a body of water

Summer in Austin may be hot, but it’s not too hot to handle—as long as you know where to spend your time. While it may be tempting to hide out by the A/C when the temps hover near the triple digits, there’s actually a long list of things to do in Austin on a hot day.

A land of rivers and lakes, swimming holes and yes, drinking holes too, there are plenty of ways to beat the Texas heat around our favorite city.

Paddle around on Lady Bird Lake

a group of people rowing a boat in a body of water with Chapultepec in the background

That river running through the heart of Downtown Austin? It’s actually Lady Bird Lake. Created by the Longhorn Dam back in the 1960’s, this cool body of water is a segment of the Colorado River.

Ballooned out to provide flood control and of course, one of Austin’s best places to cool down in the summer, Lady Bird Lake is now one of the area’s most beloved recreation zones.

Surrounded by pockets of green, with shady trees, walking trails and places for your dog to roam free, it’s no wonder it tops our summer list.

Of course, what we really love about this little oasis is that you aren’t limited to its shoreline. Kayak tours and rentals, stand up paddleboarding and even boat cruises are all a big part of Lady Bird Lake’s charm.

Grab a kayak or SUP rental, then paddle beneath the Austin city skyline. It’s a great way to get a feel for the city, stay active and keep cool. For those seriously scorching days, you can even find sunset or full moon tours.

Take a dip in a freshwater swimming hole

a group of people swimming in a body of water

Is there anything that screams summer louder than a clear, blue swimming hole? That’s a trick question actually. We already know the answer.

Not only are swimming holes the ultimate summer activity, they are hands down the best way to keep cool in Austin, Texas. And thankfully, there are tons of cool, refreshing swimming holes to be enjoyed.

The most popular of which is Barton Springs Pool. Located just minutes from downtown Austin, this underground spring-fed pool in the center of Zilker Park is an easy option within the city limits. Thanks to the freshwater spring, the water here hovers around 68 degrees making it the dream temperature for those dog days of summer. Fair warning: being so close to the city and in the heart of its most popular park, Barton Springs can get crowded in the summer.

If you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten path, try visiting the ridiculously gorgeous Blue Hole Regional Park. Located 45 minutes outside of Austin in Wimberley, Texas, the 75 degree turquoise waters pooled beneath leafy Cypress trees are the literal definition of heaven.

Check out Austin’s most famous residents at “Bat Bridge”

Bat tourism? Classically, it might not be at the top of your vacation list. But in Austin, it’s a must-do. Nestled above Lady Bird Lake underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, you’ll find the ‘Austin Bats.’

As the largest urban bat colony in North America, these Mexican free-tail bats are known to draw quite the crowd when they make their nightly flight from mid-March through early November.

The sheer number of them—estimated at 1.5 million—means the sky goes black with bats when they take flight. It’s quite the spectacle! And their timing is just right in terms of beating the summer heat.

Join spectators on the bridge an hour before sunset to see them in action. Alternatively, you can get an up close look at the action from the seat of a kayak on Lady Bird Lake. Bat kayak tours run beneath the bridge, share info on the bat population and get you a more intimate view than with the crowds on the bridge.

Float, motor and tow your way around Lake Travis

a person sitting in a boat on a body of water

Swim, kayak, SUP—it’s all fun and games. But sometimes you need a little horsepower behind your summer day. That’s when you head to Lake Travis.

Located just under 30 minutes outside of Austin, Central Texas’ Lake Travis is the place to go for a full blown lake day. Here, you can rent anything from speed boats to pontoon boats, play on jet skis or get into water sports.

A man made reservoir off the Colorado River, Lake Travis is one of the most popular lakes in all of Texas. It’s built for fun. Restaurants and marinas dot the shorelines, the infamous Devil’s Cove attracts hordes of happy boaters looking to drop their anchor and have a good time and lakeside waterparks bring endless floating entertainment.

Being so close to the city, it’s great for daytripping. Although, we wouldn’t be against making it into a full weekend getaway and booking into one of the area’s hotels. It’s simply that fun.

Hike, swim and climb along the Barton Creek Greenbelt

a group of people standing next to a body of water

Hiking in hot weather? Doesn’t sound great. Unless, of course, it’s along the Barton Creek Greenbelt. A quintessential combo for the Texas summer, this is where hiking and swimming go hand-in-hand.

With more than 12 miles of groomed hiking trails weaving along Barton Creek, it’s the perfect spot to both work up a sweat and then cool it down. You’ll find access points all along the trail, each leading to its own little pot of adventure gold.

Swimming holes, like Gus Fruh, natural rock climbing walls, waterfalls and more are all easily accessible from the trail. Bring your bike, invite the dog, pack a picnic. Basically any outdoor adventure you could want you can find along the greenbelt.

Bar hop down 6th Street

a group of people walking down a street next to tall buildings

When all else fails, head to 6th Street. A general life philosophy as much as a summer day hack, there’s no shame in hiding out in 6th Street air conditioning when things get too hot.

If you don’t already know, 6th Street is Austin’s most famous (or infamous?) bar street. Akin to Bourbon or Broadway, this stretch of the city is home to dozens and dozens of restaurants, bars, live music venues and lounges.

In other words? There is infinite entertainment. Plus, shaded patios with misters and cool, air-conditioned spaces. The way we see it, you’re going to head to 6th Street at least once while in Austin anyway, so might as well stay cool while you’re doing it.

You’re ready for an Austin summer!

Triple digits in the forecast? You’re ready for it. There’s enough water activities in the Austin city limits alone to beat the heat all summer long.

You can go from downtown to the waterfront in minutes, or hide out indoors at one of the city’s many bars, restaurants or museums. Austin may get hot, but it wears the heat well!