Friday Favorite

Another thing I love about Austin is...

Swimming holes. I'm talking about natural swimming areas, far removed from chlorine and concrete, and no membership to the club is required.

I know, it's February, and swimming weather is a good couple months away. But I just can't help dreaming about all the perfect spots that the Austin area has to offer.

The main one in Austin is Barton Springs. It's a gigantic, spring fed pool in a gorgeous setting, minutes from downtown. There are fanatics who swim there everyday of the year. I'll be honest - I love the idea of Barton Springs, but it's just too cold (68 degrees year round). The one time I've had fun swimming in there is when I had goggles on and was swimming around so fast looking at crawfish that I didn't notice the cold as much. All the other times I've just dipped in a toe and then worked on my tan.

If you walk up Barton Creek along the greenbelt, you'll find even more places to swim. I've just found out about Campbell's Hole, about one mile upstream from Barton Springs. It's a pebble beach and a "reliable" pool, meaning that even when the rest of the creek dries up, there's probably water there. Bonnie and Clyde hid out there! I think you access it off of the Spyglass Access Point, or the one behind Barton Hills Elementary. Twin Falls is also nice, but crowded and is dried up a lot. You get to it by parking near where Mopac Expressway crosses over the Barton Creek Greenbelt. Sculpture Falls is even further upstream. I have no idea how to get there but I mean to find out this summer.

Hamilton Pool is more of a drive, and sometimes in the summer it gets so crowded that you can't even get in, but it's like a little paradise. It's surrounded by a limestone grotto with a waterfall, and all these pretty ferns everywhere make you think you're almost in Hawaii. The water is warmer too, so you can actually feel your toes when you're swimming around. You can jump off rocks, too, and who doesn't feel like a kid then?

Blue Hole in Wimberley is so small town Southern and quaint you'll want to bring apple pie and iced tea to enjoy the scenery. (Word to the wise, get your pie at the Wimberly Pie Company down the street. Awesome stuff). It's a relatively deep part of a creek that's surrounded by tall cypress trees. There are ropes to swing on, and if you're like the crazy local townies, you can climb up the trees and jump off too.

Krause Springs in Spicewood is GORGEOUS. Can I use that word enough in this post? Anyway, if I had to pick the most gorgeous of this list, this would be it. It's also on a creek and is made up of several "lagoons" along a waterfall. It's also surrounded by cypress trees, making most of it be a shaded paradise. Unfortunately, I think it's also the most crowded on the weekends, and full of people who like to blare their stereos and smoke and throw their Bud Lite cans on the ground. I bet it's wonderful during the week.

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