Best Austin Texas Beaches
Welcome to Austin, Texas – a city known for its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and outdoor activities – and its intense summer heat! Fortunately, the city offers several beautiful Austin Texas beaches to choose from!
Because Austin is located in Central Texas, the coast is a good few hours away – you won’t find an ocean in Austin!
However, with several lakes and rivers in the area, stemming from the mighty Colorado River, Austin’s beaches provide locals (including me!) and visitors a refreshing escape from the heat of the summer months. On a summer day, you’ll always find my family exploring a new beach in Austin or discovering a new natural spring swimming hole.
Whether you prefer the clear waters of Lake Travis, the calm currents of Lake Austin, or the urban landscape of beaches along Lady Bird Lake, Austin’s beaches provide the perfect place to relax and play in the refreshing water.
Tips for Visiting Austin Beaches
When planning a trip to one of the many beaches near Austin, there are a few tips that visitors should keep in mind to make the most of their experience. Here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind:
- Make Reservations: Some of the most popular Austin beaches can get crowded, especially during peak season. Visitors should check if reservations are required before making the trip.
- Be prepared with Credit Cards or Cash $: Several of these beaches are county beaches and currently only accepting cash for admission fees. Others only have credit card machines to accept entry fees so plan ahead.
- Be Prepared for Texas Heat: It’s Texas and summers are no joke. Be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and shade. Wearing a hat and lightweight clothing can also help keep visitors cool. It’s also important to take breaks in the shade or air conditioning to avoid heat exhaustion.
- Pack a Picnic: Many of the beaches near Austin have picnic areas, so visitors should consider packing a lunch or snacks so that they can stay all day. Bringing plenty of water is also important to stay hydrated in the Texas heat.
- Rent a Kayak: Renting a kayak or paddleboard is a great way to explore the water and get some exercise. Many of the beaches near Austin offer kayak rentals, so visitors should check ahead of time for availability and pricing.
- Watch Out for Native Wildlife: Visitors to the beaches near Austin should be aware of the native wildlife, such as snakes and spiders. It’s also important to watch out for zebra mussels as they would be quite painful for bare feet. These are our favorite water shoes (no affiliation – I just love them!)
Lake Travis Beaches in Austin ( + nearby!)
Located just 30 minutes from downtown Austin, the beautiful Lake Travis is a popular spot for water activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. The lake stretches over 60 miles long and has several beaches along the way that offer public access.
Windy Point Park
Windy Point Park is a great spot outdoor activities such as swimming, scuba diving, and beautiful views of the lake. The water is deep, so be prepared with life jackets and supervision of children. The restrooms are clean and they even have a heated outdoor showers for rinsing off!
Expect crowds on the weekends and plan to stake out your spot early. Tent camping is also available on the green lawn and under the shade trees, so that is another options for those that want to enjoy the lake late into the night and early in the morning.
2023 rates are $15/adults and $5 for children on weekends and holidays, with discounted rates during the week. The beach is open from 8am – 9pm.
Mansfield Dam Park
This Austin beach is a recreational area that offers several activities such as fishing, picnicking, swimming, and boating. Mansfield Dam Park is a popular spot, with amenities such as picnic tables, grills, chess tables, and the largest boat ramp on Lake Travis. Zebra mussels are found here and can be painful for feet, so watch your step and plan to wear water shoes.
The park is situated on the shores of Lake Travis and features a large public boat ramp, making it a popular spot for boaters and water sports enthusiasts. Due to current low water levels in 2023, the boat ramp has been reduced to one lane, so expect a wait.
The park also has an extensive scuba diving park with campsites available for SCUBA divers.
The restrooms are clean and parking is more plentiful than most beaches in Austin. The park is open every day from sunrise to civil twilight. Expect crowds and arrive early! Admission fee is $5 per adult and must be paid in cash.
Bob Wentz Park
Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point is also worth checking out, with its clear blue water and sandy beaches. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, picnicking, windsurfing, sailing, and scuba diving.
This popular summer spot often fills up on peak weekends and holidays, so plan ahead with an early arrival and a back-up plan. The park is open every day from 8 am to 7:30 pm, with new entries closing 30 minutes before closing time. Admissions are cash only and $5 per adult.
The park also has a non-motorized boat ramp, barbecue grills, drinking fountains, and an enclosed pavilion available for reservation. It is important to note that the boat ramp is currently closed due to water levels, so visitors should check with the park staff for current conditions.
We love this beach’s beautiful scenery and the vast options for water sports and outdoor activities. The swimming area is excellent and the windsurfing and sailing are perfect for adventure lovers. The park’s enclosed pavilion is also a great spot for gatherings or events.
Arkansas Bend Park
Arkansas Bend Park is another great option, with its tranquil coves and beautiful sunsets. This 323-acre public park is located on the north shore of Lake Travis in Lago Vista, just outside Austin.
The park has a swimming beach, fishing, camping, hiking, and boating. The views of the lake are picturesque here and there is a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere. You can expect well-maintained facilities, two boat ramps, a playground, and newly renovated campsites with electric, fire ring, water, table, and lantern ring.
Like other beaches near Austin, it is important to note that the park may get crowded on weekends and holidays, so visitors should plan accordingly. The park is open every day from sunrise to civil twilight, and the boat ramp is open 24 hours a day (currently closed due to water levels). Admission is cash only and $5 per adult.
Sandy Creek Park
Sandy Creek Park is a beach located on one of the quieter coves of Lake Travis, in the scenic Hill Country near Austin. This family-friendly spot has a playground, barbecue grills, and picnic tables shaded by large oak trees.
The park is an ideal spot for swimming, nature walks, birding, camping, and fishing. Sandy Beach Park is one of the more beautiful county parks and tends to see less crowds than some others on peak weekends.
The park is open daily from sunrise to 8pm. The boat ramp is typically open 24 hours a day (currently closed due to water levels). $5 in cash is due for each adult at admission.
Pace Bend Park
Pace Bend Park is a popular beach near Austin, Texas located just west of downtown in Spicewood. The park covers over nine miles of shoreline along Lake Travis, making it an amazing spot for swimming, boating, and fishing. Three separate coves are designated for swimming (no lifeguard on site).
One of the three boat ramps remain open with the current water levels during normal open hours. Small boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched directly from the shore.
The park also has many miles of hike, bike, and equestrian trails, as well as campsites for overnight stays. One of the unique features of Pace Bend Park is its cliffs overlooking the lake, which offer beautiful views of the surrounding Hill Country. The park is open every day from sunrise to civil twilight with a $5 cash admission fee due at the entrance.
Lake Austin Beaches
Lake Austin is a smaller lake that stretches over 22 miles and is known for its calm waters. Lake Austin is a reservoir located on the Colorado River in Austin. The lake is one of the Texas Highland Lakes and is a popular spot for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The lake is also home to several parks and nature preserves, While much of the shoreline around Lake Austin is privately owned, there are several public access points in the form of beaches in Austin, Texas.
Emma Long Metropolitan Park
Emma Long Metropolitan Park is a beautiful and expansive park located in Austin, Texas. The park is open every day of the year from 7:00am to 10:00pm, offering visitors plenty of time to walk or bike the paved paths in the cool of the morning, winding through the native plants, before hitting the beach.
With boat ramps, volleyball courts, a designated swimming beach area, and plenty of picnic tables and large grassy areas, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy. The park also features camping facilities, allowing visitors to spend the night.
Note: Advance, paid reservations are required on weekends from March to September, so be sure to plan ahead to ensure you can make the most of your time at this wonderful park. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an exciting day of outdoor activities, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is the perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy the natural beauty of Austin, Texas.
West Lake Beach
West Lake Beach is a hidden gem tucked away on the shores of Lake Austin. This secluded area offers visitors a chance to enjoy the beauty of the lake in a peaceful setting.
Reservations can be made to rent the beach for a private event, making it the perfect spot for a family reunion, birthday party, or company picnic. The beach features both uncovered picnic tables, barbecue grills are available for those looking to cook up a delicious meal, and a volleyball court with net and ball is perfect for a friendly game with friends and family.
The beach also offers a fishing area, swimming area (please note that there is no lifeguard on duty and children under 14 require supervision), and water volleyball. For those looking for a bit of friendly competition, a horseshoe pit is available (please bring your own gear).
Water shoes are recommended as the depth goes up to 6 feet at the pier. Whether you’re looking to host a private event or simply spend a relaxing day by the lake, West Lake Beach is the perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Austin.
There is an entrance fee of $8 for adults and $5 for children under 11. The beach is open from 10am to 7pm on Saturdays and 11am to 7pm on Sundays. If you’re hoping to visit during the week, please note that the park is open by special arrangement only. It’s always a good idea to call ahead of time to ensure the availability of the park, and you can do so by calling (512) 327-9004.
The Colorado River runs through downtown Austin and has several parks and beaches along its banks. While these spots may not offer the same type of beach experience as a coastal destination, they are a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the Colorado River and the surrounding area right in the heart of downtown Austin. These are the closest beaches to Austin TX downtown.
Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs Pool is a natural spring-fed pool that has been a popular spot for locals since the 1800s. The pool is located in Zilker Park and is three acres in size. The water is consistently around 68 degrees, making it a refreshing (or should I say, quite chilly?) spot to cool off on hot summer days.
Locals tip: Bring a floatie for the water. We have learned that the springs are much more comfortable if you have a way to keep some of your body above water!
No coolers, food, or beverages (only water) are allowed within the pool gates. Picnic tables outside the entry are handy for getting a hand stamp and leaving the pool area for snacks. The pool is open year-round, and there is a fee for parking and entry.
Barton Springs Pool is surrounded by lush greenery and is a great place to relax and take in the natural beauty of Austin. We hit up this Austin beach at least a few times each summer and especially love when we can head over to the Summer Musical performance on the hillside across the parking lot afterward – it makes for a magical day!
Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Metropolitan Park + Secret Beach
Secret Beach is a hidden gem located in Austin inside the Roy G. Guerrero Park in the southeastern part of the city. The beach is a secluded little sandy area that takes some effort to find and get to, but it’s worth the trip for those looking for a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Despite its name, many locals know about this beach. The beach is a fair-sized stretch of land and features soft sand, shallow and clear water, making it a nice spot for wading and relaxing. Visitors can also enjoy hiking and biking trails nearby, as well as fishing and kayaking opportunities on the Colorado River.
Festival Beach is a small park located in Austin, Texas, along the banks of the Colorado River. The park is a popular spot for outdoor recreation and features a variety of amenities, including a boat ramp, a picnic area, and a small beach area. While it is not much of a swimming spot, visitors can fish and launch a kayak in the river here.
Hiking and biking on nearby trails is another popular activity at Festival Beach. The parking lot only holds 5 cars but has free admission.
Red Bud Isle
Red Bud Isle Park, which is a popular spot for dog owners and features a small beach area and several trails for walking and hiking. While swimming is not allowed here, paddleboarding and kayaking are welcome.
One popular spot is the Auditorium Shores which features a large grassy area which is a popular hosting location for many events and festivals in Austin. This metropolitan park offers beautiful views of the lake, and great place for catch or frisbee, and a beautiful picnic spot. Swimming is prohibited here though.
Other Beaches Near Austin, Texas
There are several other beaches near Austin worth mentioning that are not along the Colorado River. These are all located in Austin or within an hour along creeks and natural springs.
McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park is a great spot for hiking, fishing, and swimming. Our family loves this swimming spot and we vote it one of the best beaches close to Austin, Texas as well as a gorgeous Austin waterfall.
Krause Springs is a beautiful spot located in Spicewood, just an hour from downtown Austin. This Hill Country activity is our family’s favorite spot to swim and often our Mother’s Day celebration picnic spot.
No reservations are required at this beach near Austin, but admission fees apply with credit card or cash. The property is gorgeously landscaped with limestone and plenty of lush greenery including a garden.
The property is two tiered with a stone spring-fed swimming pool and picnic tables on the upper level and a natural swimming hole with waterfall and rope swimming down below.
The rocks near the water are slick so be prepared with sandals that have some grip. Bring your floaties and easily fill them up with the complimentary air compressor on site.
There is plenty of shade at this spot making it the perfect place to keep cool on a hot summer day. The water stays at a constant cool temperature and level throughout the year.
Russell Park Beach
Russell Park Beach is located on the shores of Georgetown Lake. Georgetown is less than an hour from Austin and this lake is a great place to beat the Texas heat. The beach features a sandy shore, clear water, and plenty of shade. Visitors can swim, fish, or rent a boat and explore the lake. The water is gently and great for families.
There is little to no shade here though so plan accordingly with a morning visit or an umbrella. The shore is rocky which will make staking anything difficult.
Lake Pflugerville is a great option for families looking for a fun day out. The lake is located in Pflugerville, just a short drive from Austin. There is a designated swimming area with a beach, as well as hiking trails and a playground. Visitors can also fish in the lake, although a fishing license is required.
Hamilton Pool Preserve
Hamilton Pool Preserve, which is a popular natural swimming hole, is located about 30 miles west of Austin, Texas. The preserve has a beautiful old grotto, a waterfall (depending on the season, and a pool of clear water that is perfect for swimming and relaxing on a hot day.
Visitors can hike down to the pool (short, but steep) and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area, which includes limestone cliffs and a variety of plants.
Reservations are required to enter the preserve and they do fill up. Water safety levels are checked frequently and it is important to note that a reservation does not guarantee the ability to swim on a given day.
Beaches in Texas Near Austin FAQs
What are the best ways to get to Austin beaches?
The best way to get to Austin’s beaches is by car. Most of the beaches are located outside the city center, so having a car is the easiest way to get there. Visitors can rent a car at the airport or in the city center. There are also several rideshare options available, including Uber and Lyft.
Are there any public transportation options to get to Austin beaches?
While there are several public transportation options available in Austin, getting to the beaches can be difficult without a car. There are no direct bus routes to the beaches, but visitors can take a bus to a nearby park or attraction and then walk or bike to the beach. Visitors can also take a taxi or rideshare service from the bus stop to the beach.
Does Austin Texas have any beaches?
There are beaches near Austin, Texas, but they are not coastal beaches. Austin is filled with beaches along lakes and river mostly stemming from natural springs and the Colorado River.
Does Lake Travis have a beach?
Yes, Lake Travis does have several beaches that are open to the public for swimming, sunbathing, and other recreational activities. Some of the popular beaches on Lake Travis include Hippie Hollow Park, Windy Point Park, and Bob Wentz Park. These beaches offer a variety of amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, boat ramps, and more.
What beach do people in Austin go to?
People in Austin typically go to Lake Travis, Barton Springs Pool, and Lady Bird Lake for swimming and other recreational activities. Lake Travis is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming, and has several public parks and beaches that are open to visitors. Barton Springs Pool is a natural spring-fed pool located in Zilker Park that is open year-round and is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing. Lady Bird Lake is a reservoir located in the heart of Austin and is a popular destination for kayaking, paddle boarding, and other water activities.
There are several parks and boat ramps around Lake Austin where visitors can hop in the water for swimming, fishing, and other recreational activities.
Does Lake Austin have a beach?
Some of the popular parks on Lake Austin include Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Red Bud Isle, and Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park. These parks offer amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and boat ramps, and some have designated swimming areas.
Choosing the Best Beach in Austin, Texas
Whether you prefer swimming, sunbathing, or playing in the water, Austin’s beaches have something for everyone. From the clear waters of Lake Travis to the refreshing springs of Barton Springs Pool, these river and lakefront beaches are the perfect way to beat the Texas heat and fully embrace summer in the Lone Star State.