The crown jewel of Austin, Barton Springs, has brought people together for decades. Before it was a beloved public pool, Native Americans used the springs as a water source and gathering place. It later became a favored destination for carriage rides and military reunions. Others harnessed the power of the natural springs to mill wheat into flour. Over the years the land made its way into William Barton’s hands, with Andrew Zilker being the final private owner before moving into the city’s possession. Once public, civic events continued to be held on the grounds, and it remains a thriving gathering place to this day. In the 1920’s, the city expanded the pool and added sidewalks in an effort to make “the finest municipal resort in the entire southwest” ( The reconstructed bathhouses went up in 1947, but stay tuned for the Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation slated for this year!


Much has changed since the early days of Barton Springs Pool, but much has remained the same. The water is still a cool 68-70 degrees year-round, it’s still home to one of the last remaining public diving boards, and it greets nearly one million visitors per year, while regularly making top 10 lists for natural swimming holes. Early birds can enjoy free “swim at your own risk” hours (5-8am) for a slower pace and smaller crowd. Barton Springs is also seasonally free November-February. And don’t miss Austin’s annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge! Daily entry fees remain under $10, but visitors should factor in parking meter fees.


As you craft your summer plans, add a day at Barton Springs to the list. Whether you splash in the shallow end, nap on the grassy hillside, or cannonball off the diving board, it’s a classic Austin slam dunk for the whole family.

Brittany is a writer and realtor in Austin where she loves exploring the city’s green spaces with her husband, son and daughter.

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