As I’ve been adjusting to my new summer camp style of outdoor living and playing sports without traveling and trying new restaurants, I’ve found that I really love being here in Austin and feeling 15 again! It’s nice to explore all of the adventures nearby that I otherwise might have missed from packing my summer with other travel plans. Here are a list of things I’ve been doing to enjoy the great outdoors divided by activity. **A lot of these swims and parks require reservations so make sure to get ahead!
- **Emma Long Metropolitan Park: This was a fun picnic and water day with lots of grassy space right on the Colorado River. There is so much space with picnic tables and access to hike the Turkey Creek Trail. You can camp or reserve a day pass which is $10 on the weekend and $5 on the weekday per vehicle. Bring a blanket to lay on and floats to hang!
- **Blue Hole: Head to Wimberly to swim in some of the clearest water you’ve ever seen between your hands. It’s clean, and the landscape is effortlessly gorgeous. I kind of felt like I was at an outdoor spa as we walked down to the water from the parking lot. Have I been inside too long? Reservations are open in two shifts: 9 a.m. – 1p.m. or 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. It’s a small area to swim in, so bring a book and a lunch!
- Pace Bend: We escaped to Pace Bend when we wanted to take a drive out of town and dip in Lake Travis without being boat owners. We crashed up on the rocky cliffs with our stuff and hung out in an area where we could stand and still sip on our Pink Salt from The Austin Winery. Make sure to get out here early as they close up as it gets to capacity.
- **Barton Springs + Deep Eddy Pool: I started swimming laps for exercise last August for the first time. The natural springs and cool water really gets your heart pumping, refreshed, and feeling alive! You can make reservations at Barton Springs on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Deep Eddy Pool Monday, Wednesday, Thursday– 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. for Lap Swimming and 12 p.m.- 2 p.m. for Recreational Swimming; Saturday 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. for Recreational. To make reservations 7 days in advance, make a login HERE.
- Blanco River: I have a friend who has a house down on the Blanco River in Wimberly, so I’ve been swimming in this natural body of water all summer to get my laps and sunshine in. Since it’s private access only, I do have a solution for you! There is a cute boutique lodge with cabins nearby called 7A Ranch where you can stay or pay for a $5 day pass. Grab a salad or sandwich at the Leaning Pear around the corner.
- Float On Boat Rentals: My favorite boat rental company for Lake Austin or Lake Travis. Read more about my experience HERE and for discounts on the boat or Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Town Lake, you can buy my Austin Playbook by now emailing chekmarkeats [at] gmail.com or DMing me on instagram.
- River Place Nature Trail– This is the most *challenging* hike I’ve found in Austin in terms of vertical height. It’s about 6 miles round trip.
- **Enchanted Rock is something I’ve never seen before. It’s a giant rock that you walk uphill on and then it flattens and goes down again– almost like you are climbing up a cement ball. It’s a site to see and near Fredericksburg. It’s super hot in the summer, so bring a hat and go early!
- St. Edwards State Park is a flat walking path full of wild flowers about 25 min away. It’s a nice change of where to walk if you frequent the Green Belt. You can jump in the water as well, but I wouldn’t call it a hike or workout.
- Pickle Ball and Tennis: Free pickle ball courts (byo equipment) by South Austin Tennis Center or you can reserve a tennis court there 2 days in advance for a $4 fee. The also string racquets and have tennis clinics for those wanting to learn or improve.
- Southhold Farm + Cellar brought me Sonoma memories with the beautiful landscape, exclusive entrance up on a hill overlooking the Texas Hill Country. The owners started their winery in New York and moved it back here a couple years ago to be closer to home. They are using all Texas grapes now, and it’s the best winery I’ve seen out here! I love their Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young Pet Nat bottle. Make “Tastings with a View” reservations here.
- Jester King Brewery out in Dripping Springs is offering 6 outdoor green spaces to indulge their famous beer and pizza plus now 165 acres of Hill Country Land to picnic and hike on! Joining the six spaces are five more lands opening in the near future connected by a 2-mile nature trail. Open Thursday- Sunday with reservations only.
- Wildseed Farms out in Fredericksburg is a good place to shop for plants, jams, jellies, pickles, and cheesy yet some chic outdoor trinkets. They have wine, and it’s fun enough to roam around the grounds.
The beautiful wild flowers make a Texas road trip wonderful and our giant acres of land make it safe for spending a night out in nature. I stayed at a cool Airbnb in Wimberly right on the water that was great for cooking and sunshine.
Other spots I’m trying to get to this summer around Austin are: Lucky Arrow Retreat, Getaway House, Collective Retreats, Wanderin’ Star Farms, A-Frame Ranch, and Yurtopia if they get any cancelations! Feel free to DM me on @chekmarkeats if you know any others I should check out in the ‘hood. Also, if you plan to venture to Marfa, here is my three-day guide!