My love affair with Austin grows daily. With summertime in full swing, I make it a priority to catch some Vitamin D and a watering hole every chance I get. Thankfully, this city is full of them. Though I enjoy socializing as much as the next PR gal, sometimes the over-crowded spots (Barton Springs, Deep Eddy or neighborhood pools) deter me from the trip altogether. I’ve compiled a few of my favorite spots to grab a tan, enjoy the scenery and have a good time without being bombarded by high traffic.
Emma Long Park is dear to my heart since my sister and I discovered it together and spend many summer days with a book, floats and mini cooler in tow. The drive down 2222 provides some eye candy while you make the trek to the park. Set within an oak and juniper forest bordering Lake Austin, the nearest tree is waiting to be claimed as your home for the day. The lush grass and just-right temperature water make a great combo for taking a dip or laying out to catch some rays. There are grills, volleyball nets in and out of the water and trails to hike if you decide you want some action. Heads up - it is $5 per car Mon-Thurs and $10 Fri-Sun. To me, a small fee for a day of fun.
On Memorial Day, a friend invited me to the “Secret Beach” for some BBQ and fun. With my hometown half an hour from the Gulf, I was skeptical of how “beachy” a place could be in city limits. To my surprise, the not so “Secret Beach” welcomes you with a lazy river and a sandy cove, just minutes off of East Riverside. Since the water is only about two feet deep, it’s a great place to sit and cool off or plop yourself on a chair with a group of friends. While sun bathing, you might get a dog lick in the face since they’re free to roam off of the leash. To get there, take east Riverside and turn left on Grove St. and stay on it until you see a baseball complex on your left, park in the parking lot and take the trail to the mini haven.
If you’ve got a friend with a boat, this next adventure is for you. The Pennybacker (360) bridge is a large weathering-steel bridge that crosses over Lake Austin. After a short boat ride around the bend, 15-20 boats anchor up and most passengers are dispersed throughout the water on noodles or floats and you may even see the occasional paddle boarder float by. Once the sun sets, hop on the boat and head to open water for knee boarding and skiing, and if that’s not your bag, watching everyone’s attempts are quite entertaining.
On the rare occasion that I do leave Austin, a favorite getaway is Concan, Texas. Two hours west of San Antonio is the Frio River which is secluded and provides fun for the entire family. Whether you rent a cabin or pitch at tent at Garner State Park, this place is ideal for leaving technology behind (don’t worry, you’ll still have service) and enjoy Mother Nature. Highlights of my trip were four hour floats, hiking up a hill (felt like a mountain) and star gazing. The city lights provide an awesome cityscape, but being able to see complete constellations has an awesome way of making you and problems seem minuscule.
All of these spots (save for the Frio) can be enjoyed on a budget and make for a good day trip. If you didn’t already know about them, I hope you’ll make time in your schedule to seek out and enjoy.