By the light of the moon: Where to go night swimming in Austin
There is something magical about swimming outside at night, stars twinkling above as we splash below. (There is also good reason for it, at least in the summertime: as a nice, cooling respite from the Texas heat.) But, sadly, we can't go night swimming just anywhere in Austin. Many of the public swimming holes around town, like Deep Eddy Pool, close before dark (though that pool does traditionally host a lineup of "splash movies" at dusk during the summer).
Don't fret, however, if you lack a backyard pool — there are a handful of options offering the chance to find tranquility while you swim by the light of the moon. Here's where to go for special night swimming events.
Barton Springs Pool, 2201 Barton Springs Road
Chances are, you've probably heard of the full moon howls that are held at Austin's most beloved outdoor oasis. But did you know you can jump into Barton Springs' perpetually cold water on a nightly basis through Sept. 30 this year? You can even plan a night swim on the pool's weekly cleaning day, Thursday. And swimming is free of charge starting at 9 p.m. until the pool starts clearing out around 9:50 p.m. (Lifeguards will still be present at night during the summer, according to pool staff.)
The next full moon is on May 18. For the monthly Howl at the Moon events, which have become popular, the city charges admission and limits entry to the first 750 people. Plan accordingly. And practice your howl.
The W Austin, 200 Lavaca St.
Looking for a far less low-key atmosphere? Consider the W Austin's Wet Deck your refuge. Featuring a long, luxurious swimming pool, the Wet Deck hosts a NightSwim event every Thursday this summer. Though it's more of a happy hour pool party rather than a late-night good time, the weekly NightSwim might well be irresistible thanks to DJ beats, cocktails and free access for the public after 5 p.m. And did we mention you can watch the glorious sunset over the downtown Austin skyline?
Before 5 p.m., locals can purchase pool day passes here for $15-$30, which allows them to lounge at the Wet Deck through 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and Sunday. So if you're wanting to linger at the pool once darkness falls, that's welcome, too.
Austin Motel, 1220 S. Congress Ave.
Feel some throwback vibes with this longtime local hotel's 1,100-square-foot, kidney-shaped pool. As it turns out, the Austin Motel's Full Moon Swim event is the best time to go because it's free to attend. Order a mai tai or other tropical drink from the pool bar and lounge poolside to enjoy tunes all through the night. The next Full Moon Swim is this weekend, on May 18, and runs once a month on the night of the full moon through October.
But you can also fork over $20 for a pool pass on any other day and enjoy some night laps or floats in the pool until 10 p.m. Purchase a pass at the front desk of the hotel.
The Line Hotel Austin, 111 E. Cesar Chavez St.
The only thing that could possibly be more magical than a night swim is one that you're doing in an infinity pool overlooking Lady Bird Lake and the Austin skyline — in other words, the pool at the new Line Hotel near the Congress Avenue Bridge. Just purchase a $25 pool pass on weekdays; the pool is open until 10 p.m.
Want live music with your swim? No problem. Once a month, BossBabes ATX hosts a residency highlighting the works of Texas-based women and non-binary visual and musical artists on the pool deck. The residency runs 8 to 11 p.m. every first Thursday through September.
Other hotel pools
If you don't need a special event to get wet, several other swanky swim spots offer guest passes and stay open late, including:
• The Four Seasons Austin Pool (98 San Jacinto Blvd.; $60 pass available until pool closes at 10 p.m. Monday-Friday)
• Hyatt Regency Lost Pines (575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Cedar Creek; prices vary on passes booked through resortpass.com; pool open until 10 p.m. daily)
• Lone Star Court (10901 Domain Drive; $15 pass available until pool closes at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, starting May 25 through Labor Day)
Rowing Dock, 2418 Stratford Drive
OK, kind of. No, we can't swim in Lady Bird Lake. But we can take a kayak or canoe, and the Rowing Dock boat rental site near the lake offers a fun twist on the popular water sports: the Full Moon Paddle. The rental business stays open until 10 p.m. on nights the full moon is high, so you can paddle across the lake either toward Red Bud Isle or the all-lit-up downtown skyline. Lights will be added to all boats, although you can also bring your own headlight or glow-in-the-dark gear.
There's also Glow Paddle, which books nightly paddleboard rentals with vibrant lights in a variety of colors attached to the bottom of the vessels. The journey starts at Texas Rowing Center (1541 W. Cesar Chavez St.). The board rentals are $50 per person ― they have to be booked in advance ― and Glow Paddle says it operates every weekend. It’s an all-ages activity, though paddlers younger than 18 must have an adult with them. Participants have to sign a waiver and know how to swim. For more information, visit glowpaddleaustin.com.
Austin360 editor Eric Webb also contributed to this report.