You’ll never convince me that there’s a better place to be than at the beach.
From the second that your toes touch the sand, you just feel that wave of peace and tranquility flow through you.
And in terms of beaches, you won’t find many better than those found in and around Austin.
The sand is white and the water is a gorgeous crystal-clear turquoise color. They are the kind of beaches you dream about on dark and gloomy days.
There’s a reason so many people flock to Texas’ capitol during the warmer weather, and that’s to take full advantage of the natural beauty found in the surrounding areas.
And you won’t find a better beauty than that mentioned in this article today.
So, if you want to learn more about some of the most stunning sandy or pebble beaches that Austin has to offer, well, then you better keep reading.
1. Russell Park Beach
Russell Park Beach really boasts the best of what Mother Nature has to offer. The scenery here is spectacular, I can guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like it before.
Approximately just an hour away from Austin, you’ll find this calming and tranquil pebbled beach.
It’s quiet enough that you can ensure a quiet and relaxing trip, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of options for immersing yourself in nature.
The water is super clear and gorgeous, and there’s tons of space to still get up to all sorts.
You can go for a swim, or alternatively, you can paddle out a little further and enjoy a spot of paddle boarding or kayaking.
There is also a 26-mile trail where visitors can enjoy the views as they hike or cycle through the land.
You can actually travel the whole circumference of the lake, surrounding yourself with expansive woodland views, gorgeous grasslands, and hiding habitats.
For a quiet visit, your best to come during the week as it’ll surely fill up quickly during the weekends, especially in the warmer months.
Russell Park Beach is open year-round with just a $5 per vehicle fee. Facilities on site such as showers and restrooms are free.
And if you haven’t quite satisfied your beach fix, there are plenty of overnight options such as campsites and screened shelters.
You just need to bring your own bedding or sleeping bags as they will not be provided.
2. Hamilton Pool Preserve
It’s worth stating that this stunning location is more than just one of the best beaches in Austin. Oh no, it’s so much more than that.
It is easily one of the most stunning natural wonders across the globe.
You’ll feel as if you’ve stumbled upon a new dimension when you are here. It just doesn’t seem real. It’s too beautiful for that.
A visit here truly is a portal to paradise.
Thick green foliage surrounds luscious turquoise waters. The skies are clear and bright blue. You couldn’t ask for anything more.
And how far away is paradise? Just 40 minutes from Austin city center!
Once you pull up into the carpark, it’s just a short ¼ of a mile walk to find that stunning natural pool.
Be warned though, you’ll be covering some rocky terrain so you might want to ensure you’ve got some sturdy shoes.
Your efforts will certainly pay off upon arrival.
The small pebble beach, stunning limestone cliffs, and insane 50-foot waterfall will all demand your attention.
The hardest part of your day will be deciding where to start!
You’ll want to plan ahead, though, as many visitors flock to Hamilton Pool Preserve and reservations are required.
The privilege of viewing the pool will cost you $12 for parking and then a further $8 per person once you arrive.
Any children 12 or below won’t be charged the $8 fee, though.
3. Pedernales Falls State Park
Considering the expansive size of this park, 5,212 acres to be exact, you rest assured that you’ll have plenty to get up to on your visit here.
Just 50 minutes outside of town, Pedernales is located by the shores of Pedernales River. Given its close proximity to Austin, it makes the perfect day trip option.
It does have a rather rocky beach, but despite this, you’ll still have the best and most relaxing day out where you can catch some serious rays.
When things get a little too hot to handle, you can take a plunge in the river, and don’t worry, it’s pretty safe for the little ones too.
Since the river flows above ancient limestone boulders, there are tons of shallow spots for them.
If you’d like to add a little more adventure to your day, you can rent out canoes or kayaks or you can head off for a hike.
The Twin Falls Nature Trail isn’t something you’ll want to miss. It’s suitable for most people as it’s relatively easy and takes just 30 minutes.
Throughout your journey you’ll venture deep into the surrounding woodlands until you are rewarded with two stunning waterfalls that feed into a small pool.
This wonderful experience will set you back just $6 per person, and children under the age of 12 can visit for free.
4. Milton Reimers Ranch Park
If rocky beaches aren’t your thing, then you’ll be happy to know the sandy beaches of your dreams are only a stone’s throw away from Pedernales River, on the banks.
It takes just 40 minutes from Austin to visit this amazing haven too.
Golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters spread across 3-4 miles are open to the public offering both shallow and deep sections for swimming.
But while these beaches are absolutely beautiful, it’s not the only thing that draws so many visitors to this particular ranch park.
This spot is notorious amongst adrenaline junkies since there are so many options for mountain biking and rock climbing.
For those that love to explore, it also has some of the best trails for hiking across the entire state.
One of its best offerings, though, has to be the astronomical observatory where visitors can spend the night gazing up at the sparkling stars in the sky.
As you can imagine, this attraction is very popular, so you will need to reserve your spot in advance.
Day passes for the ranch park cost $5 per person and children 12 and under are free.
But another perk for visiting here – your four legged friends can join in on the fun too. They just have to be kept on a leash.
5. Bob Wentz Park
Some people love to visit a beach for its relaxing and serene vibes. Others…not so much.
If you find yourself in the latter category and prefer the beach for its adrenaline pumping opportunities, then this may be the perfect destination for you.
Bob Wentz Park has always been a popular spot for locals and tourists alike for partaking in water sports.
The strong winds here make it one of the best places to try out windsurfing and sailing.
And the clear underwater conditions make it a popular place for trying your hand at scuba diving.
If you are the person that likes serene and relaxing beach time, there’s plenty of space for that too.
The Point located in the park allows for serious sunbathing and easy water access.
And that’s not all, there are also picnic tables, barbecue grills, and a pavilion with electric outlets and running water here too.
And this hidden gem is all but 30 minutes from downtown Austin. A day pass will set you back just $5 per person, and children 12 and under get free admission.
If you’re looking for a quiet visit, I would recommend avoiding holidays and weekends as it can get pretty busy.
6. McKinney Falls State Park
You really won’t find a better day trip to a beach as close as this one is. It’ll take you no more than 15 minutes to get to this state park from Austin’s city center.
Of course, everyone flocks here for the McKinney Falls which the park is named after.
You’ll be greeted with one of the most stunning swimming areas you’ve ever seen. Perfect for cooling down after a long day of catching rays on the nearby rocks.
There are both deep and shallow areas in the pool, so you can stick to where you are most comfortable.
But for the daredevils amongst us, there are even spots where you can jump from the falls and plunge into the swimming pool.
There are a variety of other activities to get up to too. Mountain biking, hiking, and camping is all available on site.
And for the animal lovers amongst us, keeping your eyes peeled for the bountiful wildlife in the park is vital.
Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get a peek at some of the colorful birds that soar in the sky, along with armadillos, deer, and tons of fauna and flora.
Mckinney Falls is also home to ‘Old Baldy’ a bald cypress tree which is one of the oldest trees on public land in Texas.
Old Baldy is said to be more than 500 years old.
All of this will cost you just $6 per person! And of course, any youngsters under 12 can get in for absolutely nothing.
7. Sandy Creek Park
From downtown Austin, Sandy Creek Park is just 30-40 minutes away.
And let me tell you this quaint quiet cove is definitely worth the trip. It sits on the banks of Lake Travis and the scenery is beyond stunning.
While initially it may look like you’re just entering a thick and luscious woodland, you’ll soon see that it clears the way for one of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline.
And the water is perfect for swimming and boating.
Why not take a look at the lovely lake from a whole new perspective by taking a hike across one of the great trials on offer?
The views will blow you away.
If spending the night here sounds great, then you may be able to snag one of the 20 primitive camping sites.
They do work on a first-come, first-served basis, but they cost just $15 per night!
Don’t expect a rowdy night, though, as quit hours are enforced from 10 pm onwards.
A day pass to this scenic sanctuary will cost just $5 per person and children under 12 go free.
8. Barton Springs Pool
If you’re looking to satisfy your pool-cravings but don’t want to venture too far out, then what place could be more perfect than Barton Springs Pool.
It’s literally in the city center itself!
And for history buffs, you’ll be interested to know this spot actually has quite the history.
Long ago, this destination was deemed sacred by Native American tribes.
They would use the waters for purification rituals. Later it would also become a temporary mission site for Spanish settlers.
Now, though, it’s one of the best swimming spots around with depths of up to 18-feet.
There are great grassy areas for those who don’t want to dip in the pool which are perfect for soaking up the sun or setting up a picnic.
Since the pools are filled with natural spring water, you can expect a cool water temperature of just 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit regardless of the season.
If the cooler temperatures put you off, don’t worry there is a whole host of outdoor activities for you to check out.
Admission is $9 for adults, $5 for children 12-17, and free admission for anyone under the age of 12.
9. Lake Pflugerville
Found just 30 minutes from Austin, is this absolute gem of a man-made reservoir.
It’s a great destination for a day trip since there is so much to get up to. You can go hiking, swimming, fishing, sunbathing, and more.
Initially, this man-made reservoir was created to provide the locals with drinking water, however, many locals and tourists alike flock to the spot to enjoy the water in the warm weather.
If you’d like a little more adventure added to your day, you can always make your way to the equipment rentals available and hire a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard.
And you can enjoy all that LAke Pflugerville has to offer without spending a dime since admission is completely free.
I would recommend bringing plenty of water to keep hydrated in the blistering sun along with some sturdy shoes.
The beach here is pebbled and so you’ll want to keep your feet protected.
10. Hippie Hollow
Now, I’ll mention that that while this is a great day trip out, it is not family-friendly.
You’ll have to be 18 or over to visit the Hippie Hollow.
For those who are easily offended or embarrassed, it may not be the spot for you either as it is Texas’ only clothing-optional public park.
It isn’t just the nudist-option that makes this beach unconventional either.
You’ll have a rather steep climb down to the water. Once you’re there, though, it will definitely make up for your efforts.
The rocky shoreline is the perfect hangout spot.
There’s tons of space for sunbathing and you can even bring your own inflatables so that you can float close to the shore.
Top tip, for a quieter visit avoid holiday weekends and particularly warm days as the spot will fill-up fast!
A day pass to the Hippie Hollow will set you back $8 per person.
11. Mansfield Dam Park
It’s not just the views above the waters that are spectacular here, the scenery below the water is equally as stunning.
Mansfield Dam Park is located in a cute secluded cove which for the most part is quite quiet.
It is also one of the cleanest areas you’ll have the pleasure of visiting.
A short walk slightly inward will take you to a recreation area where you can sit and have a picnic, let kids activate their imagination in the playground, have an intellectual game of chess, or just sit and take in the astonishing panoramic views.
Hiking trails are also available nearby for those who want to explore and those with scuba certifications can plunge deep under the waters and spot the sunken boats and other geological attractions.
And all of this will cost you just $5 per person and for kids under 12 admission is completely free.
As you can see there are plenty of amazing spots in and around Austin that allow for some of the best days at the best prices.
And there’s something for everyone.
Enjoy a relaxing sun-soaking day out? Enjoy pumping adrenaline? Hiking and exploring? You can truly do it all.
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