With temperatures slowly creeping closer to the 100 mark and many local pools still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, many local travelers are looking for places where they can cool down while still maintaining social distance.
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Here are four ideas for day trips within an hour of Austin where you can swim and splash. As always, any decision to travel right now is a personal one. If you go, be sure to pack masks and hand sanitizer along with your sunscreen, bug spray and drinking water.
Picture this: A private, thatched-roof lakeside cabana for up to 15 people that comes with its own hammock, lounge chairs, picnic table, grill and private dock.
It may not be Hawaii, but Son’s Island, an actual hidden island fringed with cypress trees and lined with cabanas that’s located on Lake Placid in Seguin, comes pretty close. My family of eight spent a recent weekday afternoon there and were delighted to find that our kids, who range in age from 4-11, all viewed the island as their own personal paradise.
From bouncing around on our rented iFloat — a giant foam mat that’s like a human-sized lily pad — to taking turns paddling the lake with my husband or me on a kayak to eating nonstop snacks from the cooler on our shaded picnic table, we could hardly drag them away when our rental ended at 6:30. And because cabanas all have plenty of space between them, social distancing wasn’t an issue.
Cabanas start around $180 and include admission for up to eight people; a maximum of 15 people may visit per cabana with an additional fee per person. Kayak, SUP, and iFloat rentals are additional. Overnight glamping is also available.
Info: 888-993-6772, sonsisland.com
Pedernales Falls State Park
An hour’s drive from downtown Austin, Pedernales Falls State Park has long been among my favorite parks in Texas due to the stunning contrast of gray, green and blue that layers its panorama.
Texas state parks are currently requiring advance reservations to ensure social distancing, and during my recent visit to Pedernales, I was pleased to see that social distancing was indeed not a problem — we were among only a handful of people in the park.
Activities here include hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, bird watching and horseback riding (bring your own horse), as well as swimming, wading and tubing on a dedicated portion of the river that’s easy to find thanks to signage.
Be aware that many park bathrooms are closed, and masks are recommended. As always, water conditions can change quickly. Call ahead or check the website for the latest updates.
Info: 830-868-7304, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/pedernales-falls
McKinney Falls State Park
Located just 20 minutes away from downtown Austin within the city limits, McKinney Falls State Park makes it easy to get out and about in nature.
Located on Onion Creek, the park features numerous hiking trails appropriate for various ages as well as numerous opportunities for wading and swimming. Our kids also enjoyed searching for and finding the towering "Old Baldy," which, at more than 500 years old, is one of the oldest bald cypress trees on public land in Texas.
Texas state parks are currently open for day use and limited camping. Advance reservations are required. As water conditions can change quickly, it’s best to call ahead or check the website for the latest updates.
Info: 512-243-1643, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/mckinney-falls
Blue Hole Regional Park
Located in Wimberley, Blue Hole Regional Park is another Central Texas gem that features 4.5 miles of hiking and biking trails and a popular swimming area where the cool waters provide instant relief on a steamy summer day. Blue Hole reopened for the season on May 25 and reservations are required. The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for ages 60 and up, members of the military and children ages 4-13. Children under 4 are free. Available daily time slots are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 2 to 6 p.m.
Info: 512-660-9111, cityofwimberley.com