Austin, Texas, is firmly ensconced in the dry, scrubby Texas Hill Country. Though beautiful, this arid landscape can get quite hot in the summer. Luckily for Austinites and travelers to the area, you have several options for cooling off at area lakes and rivers. Several lie within easy reach of the city and offer sand beaches, scenery and recreational opportunities.
Festival, Lamar and Waller Beaches
Festival, Lamar and Waller Beaches sit on Town Lake, just south of downtown Austin. These small stretches of sand are easily accessible for a quick weekday dip or for a summer weekend picnic. Lamar Beach has a designated launch point for canoers and kayakers to paddle around the lake, plus an access point for the multi-use Lady Bird Lake Trail paralleling the shore. At Festival Beach, join families and groups taking advantage of the playground, basketball courts and baseball fields. And Waller Beach is a worthwhile fishing and kayaking spot, as well as an access point for the Lady Bird Lake Trail. All three beaches have summer concession stands, and inner tube and life jacket rental kiosks.
West Lake Beach
West of downtown lies West Lake Beach, along the shores of sprawling Lake Austin. Warm sand backs up against the rolling Westlake Highlands and the dry sandstone cliffs of the Colorado River, making this one of the area's most scenic beaches. The private park charges a day use fee and is typically open only on weekends. During the week, you can book the park for special events. Along with the beach, West Lake also has water and sand volleyball, picnic areas, fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
Shore Club Volente Beach Waterpark
The waterpark at Shore Club Volente Beach sits in Leander, about 30 minutes north of Austin. Teenagers and families with children frequent the park in summer, but the sandy beach on Lake Travis is just part of the attraction. You can also enjoy waterpark rides, wading pools and water slides. The park also has two restaurants and a snack bar. You'll have to pay an admission fee to enter, or you can purchase a seasonal membership if you plan to visit frequently.
Hippie Hollow encompasses a 109-acre clothing-optional park. Popular with nudists, the park is stacked on rocky terraces that rise above Lake Travis. Hippie Hollow, which charges day use fees and sells annual permits, is about 20 minutes from Austin.