Officially, summer has barely started — but tell that to South Texas. It’s been feeling summer-y for weeks now, and San Antonians are flocking to the closest place to cool off. But where are those favorite swimming holes and why are they popular?
We combed the city and uncovered 10 of the best spots to take a dip (and find cool relief) during another sweltering summer.
The Pool in Alamo Heights
Nicknamed “little oasis” by the community, this Alamo Heights pool at 250 Viesca St. has been a source of recreation and exercise for more than 70 years. Because of dwindling use and deterioration of facilities, the pool nearly closed in 1989, but it was saved by a group of local residents who took the opportunity to take over operations and spruce up the place.
“It’s a true neighborhood hangout,” said Inga Munsinger Cotton, a San Antonio-based writer. “As kids get bigger, they are allowed to go more free range, so it’s a good place to build independence."
Today, pass-holders are able to do a variety of things at the Alamo Heights pool, a venue that accommodates swim lessons, swim clubs, a snack bar, private events, and other activities.
Bergheim Campground and River Outfitters
Northeast of Boerne, Bergheim Campground is one of many Texas Hill Country spots where you can experience the Guadalupe River. Because this campground is located a bit out of the way (read: it's in a rural area), it’s not often crowded, making it the perfect spot to take a dip in peace.
San Pedro Springs
As the city’s oldest public park (and the nation’s second oldest), San Pedro Springs is a San Antonio institution. “I love the beautiful cypress trees and that native people gathered there more than 12,000 years ago,” said Denise Richter, a local professor and the voice behind the popular blog San Antonio Tourist.
Though the springs have long been a recreational sanctuary for residents, the park’s first swimming pool was built in 1923. It’s a busy spot during the summer, as it's free and has plenty of shade.
Hemisfair Splash Pad
Hemisfair’s large splash pad in the Yanaguana Garden has proven very popular with young families in the nearly two years it has been operational. Free and open to the public, family-friendly features include mini-waterfalls and spraying fountains.
Private booths for changing outfits are located near the pad, and plenty of local eats and drinks are nearby for a post-splash pad meal.
Blanco State Park
Blanco State Park is home to a nice little scenic spot just off U.S. 281 where anyone can wade or paddle in the spring-fed Blanco River. Swim; paddle; or boat (kayaks, canoes, or electric motors only) on this pristine stretch of the Blanco. Anglers can fish largemouth and Guadalupe bass, channel catfish, sunfish, and rainbow trout from the riverbank without a license.
If that’s not enough fun, you’re free to enjoy a picnic or take a hike in the surrounding park.
Lady Bird Johnson Park and Woodlawn Lake
Lady Bird Johnson Park is a significant public park on the city’s northeast side and, as such, its outdoor pool has major allure for area residents. And while no one visiting Woodlawn Lake is encouraged to take a dip in that water, the swimming pool at the lake park is free, large, and popular with neighborhood residents.
Blue Hole — Wimberley
Blue Hole in Wimberley is one of the more storied, beloved swimming holes in Texas. Community members rallied in the early aughts to raise money to buy the surrounding land, which had been eyed for residential development. Now owned and operated by the city and maintained by a local group, Blue Hole Regional Park features a swimming area surrounded by a diverse ecosystem. It’s not free to use, but once admission is paid, the Blue Hole reveals why its popularity has soared over the decades.
Landa Park Aquatic Complex in New Braunfels
With three swimming pools, this complex is a must-hit for swimmers of all ages. A small, shallow pool is perfect for parents and their toddlers, while the spring-fed pool and Olympic-sized pool are suitable for older swimmers. In addition to water features, the complex offers lots of shade, and many other activities for youngsters to do when they tire of the pool.
San Antonio Natatorium
Located on the near West Side and open to the public, the San Antonio Natatorium offers an open pool, a lap pool, and a dive pool, and the location is convenient for residents, students, and workers in and around downtown. Fees vary according to age. Passes are available, too.