To live in Texas is to love Texas. Texans carry an enormous amount of state pride, and for good reason: Texas is AMAZING.
Between Gulf Coast beaches and the beauty of Hill Country, there’s plenty to see and do. In fact, it’s enough to fill an entire summer of vacations. This blog series explores a variety of Texas weekend road trips, fit for every type of travel personality, in every region of Texas.
Weekend Trips to the Watering Hole
It’s hot. There’s no getting around it. Summer in Texas can be downright stifling. If you’re aching to take a break from the heat with some freshwater fun, look no further. Here our favorite watering holes—from Texas classics to little-known oases in the desert—for a (cool) weekend of fun with your friends and family.
If you live in Northwest Texas
About 30 miles northeast of Amarillo sits Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. With an area covering more than 25 miles, it’s more than a “watering hole,” and offers camping, fishing, boating, swimming and more. Enjoy a weekend of respite from the heat, and cool off in this panhandle oasis.
Buffalo Springs Lake
This hidden gem outside of Lubbock has recreational water fun for everyone. Set up for the day at one of the lakefront beaches and enjoy an afternoon of swimming, wakeboarding, kayaking, fishing and more. The park area also offers camping, bike trails and ATV trails
If you live in Northeast Texas
A 15-foot splashy drop into a refreshing swimming hole is what draws many weekend road trippers to Tonkawa falls, just 30 minutes east of Waco. Jump, slide or tube your way down the falls for a quick thrill, then linger in the water to stay cool. Arrive early and tie up a hammock between some shady trees, then explore the area for petroglyphs etched by the Tonkawa Indians, after whom the falls are named. (Note: the falls tend to dry up in late summer, so be sure to stop by in late spring or early summer for your best shot at waterfall fun!)
In the middle of Davy Crockett National Forest is picturesque Ratcliff Lake, perfect for a laid-back summer weekend getaway. No motorboats are allowed, so you’ll enjoy a serene lake setting safe for swimming, kayaking and fishing. Restrooms, picnic tables and campsites are available for a full weekend of lakeside bliss.
Possum Kingdom Lake
Blue waters and tree-lined shores greet visitors of Possum Kingdom Lake, about an hour west of the DFW Metroplex. Take your pick of water activities! Scuba, snorkel, ski, boat, fish, swim or float to your heart’s content. Three hundred miles of shoreline—dotted with scenic coves—provide endless exploration opportunities.
If you’ve always wanted to swing from a trapeze into a spring-fed lake, here’s your chance! Burger’s Lake, in Ft. Worth, also features a 20-foot waterslide, two beaches, 300 picnic tables, six diving boards, inner tube rentals, sand volleyball courts and shady trees to boot.
If you live in Central Texas
Cypress trees lining crystal-clear blue water create an enchanting atmosphere at Blue Hole Regional Park. Often touted as Texas’s most beloved swimming hole, this lush oasis is about 30 minutes southwest of Austin. Kids and adults alike enjoy jumping from rope swings into the sparkling water. Secure a swimming reservation for one of the two time slots in peak season to ensure you get a chance to enjoy this Texas treasure.
It’s a hike to get there, literally, but Jacob’s Well is a must-see geologic wonder, especially for thrill seekers. Jacob’s Well (not far from Blue Hole) is an artesian spring and the second largest fully submerged cave in Texas. The main cavern spreads out more than 4,000 feet, the deepest part reaching 140 feet below the surface of the water. This is another incredibly popular swimming hole, so make reservations online to secure your spot.
Legendary for its stunning 50-foot waterfall, turquoise waters and tranquil grotto,Hamilton Pool is a swimming hole that will make your friends and family jealous. Bring your camera, because you’ll want to take pictures of this unique watery canyon, a short drive west of Austin. As with other popular swimming holes, reservations are encouraged.
Grab your friends and family for a weekend of fun at Krause Springs, home to some of the cleanest natural spring water in the state of Texas (located just west of Austin). Within 115 acres of beautiful Texas flora you’ll find 32 springs—many of which feed the man-made and natural pools—a waterfall, a grotto and rope swings. While you’re exploring the area, don’t miss the mesmerizing Butterfly Gardens. RV and tent camping are both allowed on the property for maximum weekend enjoyment.
If you live in Austin, you’ve probably already been here. If you haven’t, now’s the time!Barton Springs is known as one of the “crown jewels” of Austin. The three-acre pool—located in the heart of Austin—is fed by underground springs, keeping it at a steady 68-70 degrees year-round. The pool has on-duty lifeguards, and offers lots of grassy, shaded space to lay towels and enjoy the day.
If you live in Southeast Texas
The water appears murky due to a clay bottom, but Lake Raven in Huntsville State Parkis a favorite East Texas swimming hole. Along with swimming, you can also rent canoes and paddleboats, fish, camp, bike, hike and geocache. This area has a much more backcountry feel than other Texas swimming holes. In fact, gators are known to live in Lake Raven, so it’s important to only swim in the designated areas.
Village Creek State Park
One of the state’s only free flowing waterways, Village Creek—within Big Thicket National Preserve, north of Beaumont—has a designated swimming area complete with a sandy beach, perfect for an afternoon of splashing and floating on the water. Hike the trails, pack a picnic and then cool off in the water. Village Creek Paddling Trail is also a favorite among canoe and kayak enthusiasts.
Some refer to Lake Tejas as “the best swimmin’ hole in East Texas.” About two hours northeast of Houston, the lake offers fun for the whole family. From a 100-foot waterslide nicknamed “Wet Willy,” to the diving platforms, paddle boats and sandy beach, you can easily spend a weekend enjoying this lake. Lifeguards are on duty, and there is also a snack bar, restrooms, fishing and campsites available.
If you live in Southwest Texas
Independence Creek Preserve
How does an invigorating, crystal clear, spring-fed swimming hole sound? Independence Creek Preserve lies in the arid Chihuahuan Desert in West Texas—a true desert oasis—with waters often compared to the aquamarine seas of the Bahamas. Situated within deep canyons and surrounded by scrub-covered mesas, the water is so clear, you can see straight to the sandy bottom. Hop in for a truly unique swimming experience.
Balmorhea State Park Pool
Every day more than 15 million gallons of water gush from the San Solomon Springs through a 1.3-acre swimming hole in Balmorhea State Park. This pool is one of the largest spring-fed pools in the world, so it’s definitely a road-trip-worthy destination. The water is crystal clear, so bring a snorkel or SCUBA dive, and explore the world below the surface. The pool reaches depths of 25 feet.
Las Moras Springs
This 300-foot-long, spring-fed swimming pool is the third largest in Texas, and stays a cool 68 degrees all year long. After enjoying a dip in the water, there’s plenty more to do in the Fort Clark historic district (which is great, because to use the pool you need to have a room booked at the motel, or an RV reservation). Choose from hiking, biking, golfing, disc golfing or shooting at the gun range. Don’t miss the playhouse (built in 1932, just one of 31 historic buildings in the area), museum or gift shop.
San Felipe Springs
Enjoy the rejuvenating water produced by the springs of San Felipe Creek, in Del Rio. They are the westernmost springs created by the Edwards Aquifer, one of the most prolific artesian aquifers in the world, and responsible for many of Texas’s most famous swimming holes and bodies of water. The creek produces 50–90 million gallons of water per day, making it the 4th largest springs in Texas. It doesn’t get much fresher than that! Head to Horseshoe Park or Lion’s park (two of the most popular swimming holes), where you can fish, swim and think about how great it is to be a Texan!
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