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5 ways to stay cool during Austin’s sweltering summer

Dale Roe
A dip in Barton Springs Pool at Zilker Park will help you beat the Austin heat.

Summer’s here, right?

The kids are home, we have the green light to wear white and we’re beginning to see a lot more of those ink spots that are usually covered by clothing.

Austin might be the coolest place on Earth, but in the midst of sweltering summers, when our hipster trappings soak through with sweat, that image takes a hit.

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of ways to stay cool in Austin while still, um, staying cool. Here are five of my favorites:

Grab a cool treat: Have you ever heard that hot foods and drinks kick-start our bodies’ natural cooling mechanisms? Thankfully, the science is still out on that because, if true, it would kill one of my favorite ways to stay cool.

I’m fond of Sno-Beach (snobeachatx.com), the first sno-cone I ever had in Austin. The trailer with the cool, sunglasses-wearing ice ball on top serves up deliciously frosty treats in a rainbow of flavors. Prefer ice cream? Check out Austin’s homegrown Amy’s (amysicecreams.com), where your server might entertain you with cool, scoop-flipping tricks. For a taste of old Austin, head to Sandy’s, a decades-old local institution at 603 Barton Springs Road, for tasty frozen custard.

Or just, you know, grab a cool adult beverage somewhere.

Catch a flick: There’s a reason summer blockbusters take place in the summer — cool, dark cinemas like the Alamo Drafthouse (drafthouse.com) were made for heat-beating. More of an arthouse fan? Hop online early and grab one of the front-row chaise lounge seats at the Violet Crown Cinema (violetcrowncinema.com). The individual theaters are small, but feeling like you’re in your own private screening room just adds to the cool.

Take a dip: Deep Eddy, Barton Springs, Hamilton Pool Preserve, Big Stacy, Shore Club Volente Beach, Rock’N River, Hawaiian Falls and the big kahuna — Schlitterbahn — all offer cool family fun in the sun. Water you waiting for?

Be a spelunk-head: Underground is synonymous with cool. The temperature in Inner Space Cavern (innerspacecavern.com) deep beneath Interstate 35 remains at around 72 degrees with 98 percent humidity. Uncomfortable? Compared to 92 degrees with 98 percent humidity, it’s a veritable meat locker. Haven’t heard about this place? Have you been living in a cave?

Just the artifacts, ma’am: When I moved to Austin from Chicago 15 years ago, one of things I missed most was the city’s museums. Head to the Austin Museum Partnership (austinmuseums.org) to get information on the Bullock Texas State History Museum (currently hosting a cool exhibit about 1968), the Blanton Museum of Art and dozens of others. (Did you know the area has a Museum of Sound Recording, a Classic Garage Car Museum and a Toy Museum? Cool.)

Bonus: If you run out of ways to keep cool in Austin’s blazing summer heat, just take a full cart of groceries through the 20-items-or-less lane at the H-E-B. The staff will remain friendly, but those people in line behind you — icy stares and cold shoulders. Brrr.