The best way to acclimate to the chilly waters of Barton Springs in Austin, Texas? Dive right in.
At least, that’s what the teens around me were doing — backflips, front flips and the like, all off the diving board and between carefree shouts of joy. I did things the hard way (i.e., excruciatingly lowering myself, inch by inch, into the pool), but once my body was fully immersed, the water was a relief from the hot and humid weather of an early October day in Texas.
Even in colder winter months, though, you’ll find people swimming and diving in the 3-acre outdoor pool. Not only a must-do activity for tourists, a dip in Barton Springs is popular with locals all year long. It’s set within the roughly 358 acres of south Austin’s Zilker Metropolitan Park, and its water is sourced from nearby natural springs and remains about 68 degrees year-round.
The pool is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and an admission fee, which ranges from $1 to $8, is charged from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from May 1 through the end of October. Entrance is free during the remainder of the year. The pool is closed every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for cleaning.