5 Outdoor Activities Near Austin, Texas in Spring

Adventure Climbing Hiking Kayaking Travel By Nancy Raven Kirk

As the second largest state in the country, there’s plenty to see and do in The Lone Star State. As the state capital, the city of Austin exceeds expectations for dining, cultural experiences, and perhaps most importantly, outdoor activities.

Experiencing an average of about 300 days of sunshine, Austin is one of the sunniest cities in America. Adventure abounds year round, but summers can be extremely hot making spring an ideal time to explore all that Austin, Texas has to offer.

Here are some recommended suggestions for Austin outdoor activities during spring, when temperatures typically range from 75 to 85 degrees.

1. Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole

Austin is famous for its swimming holes. A large network of interconnected rivers and lakes creates some seriously stunning spots to take a dip. Here are a few of the best swimming holes within an hour of the city:  

Blue Hole at Wimberly 

Only about 35 miles from central Austin, these clear blue waters stay 75 degrees all year round. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit to take a ride on one of the rope swings, as well as your picnic supplies to camp out on the grass overlooking the waterhole. 

5 Outdoor Activities Near Austin Texas in Spring 1
Blue Hole Regional Park, Wimberly by Nan Palmero.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

You don’t even have to venture out of the city for this waterhole. Once you reach the trailhead, it’s about a half-mile hike to get to the first of two waterfalls, as well as shallow stream waters, boulders, and swimming holes. 

Jacob’s Well Natural Area

This well is essentially the end of an artesian natural spring beneath the ground that pumps out thousands of gallons of water a day. You’ll essentially be swimming above Austin’s second-largest, fully submerged cave.

Other Swimming Holes to Check Out:

  • Deep Eddy Pool 
  • Krause Springs 
  • Hamilton Pool Preserve 
  • Red Bud Isle

2. Break Out Your Climbing Gear 

Don’t forget your climbing gear! Get into prime shape climbing some of the many routes within driving distance. Spring weather is ideal because it’s not too hot or humid, and you can always cool down in one of the swimming holes afterward. Here’s the beta on two of the top climbing spots near Austin. 

Barton Creek Greenbelt

In addition to the previously mentioned swimming hole, this area offers polished limestone with no routes higher than 70 feet, so it’s a great place for a quick after-work session. There are also a few boulder problems if you want to keep your gear load minimal.

Enchanted Rock

This area isn’t actually in the city of Austin, but for serious climbers, this peaceful area is worth the one to two hour drive. Enchanted Rock offers plenty of trad (and a few sport) routes for all levels, including multi-pitches that look over ancient pink granite.

aerial photo of mountain and trees at daytime
Aerial view of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area by Luiz Cent.

Other Climbing Areas Near Austin: 

  • Reimers Ranch (Sport) 
  • Bull Creek (Bouldering) 
  • McKinney Falls (Bouldering)

3. Spend the weekend in Big Bend

Big Bend National Park is about a seven hour drive from Austin, so you’ll need at least a few days to drive out and have time to hike, cycle, and kayak along its 800,000 acres. It’s one of the least visited parks in the country, meaning you’ll bask in solitude.

There is so much to see in Big Bend, so a proper exploration of the park may require more than one trip!

Chisos Mountains

Hike along the rim for sweeping views of the desert below, and spend the night at one of the 42 designated backcountry camping spots. If you have time, pick up a backcountry permit and tackle the 30-mile Outer Mountain Loop for grassy meadows, desert cliffs, steep canyons, and mountain views. 

Santa Elena Canyon

One of the most scenic spots in Big Bend, the canyon offers plenty of options for hiking and rafting. If you’re short on time, opt for the 1.7-mile round-trip Santa Elena Canyon Trail, which leads to the Rio Grande River. You’ll see the mouth of the gorge, which sits beneath 1,500-foot limestone walls, the tallest in the park.

river between rocky mountains under clear sky
Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park by Kyle Glenn.

4. Explore Caves and Caverns 

While caves and caverns may not be the first thing that come to mind when visiting the most up-and-coming city in Texas, there are actually quite a number of them. For those who don’t know, a cavern is essentially a cave that grows speleothems, also known as stalagmites and stalactites. If you aren’t able to get to a cave in spring, they’re great places to beat the heat in the summer as the temperatures underground are consistently 68 to 72 degrees.

Natural Bridge Caverns

Located about an hour outside of Austin, this U.S. National Natural Landmark was discovered in 1960, but geologists theorize these caverns were formed tens of millions of years ago. Go for an hour-long guided walking tour, or peruse the caverns on your own. 

brown lightened rock formations in cave
An immpressive photo of Natural Bridge Caverns by ritesh3.

Whirlpool Cave 

For someone curious about more advanced caving, consider the whirlpool cave. You’ll crawl through the cave on your hands and knees. This is a great introduction to caving for those who don’t mind being in a potentially claustrophobic space.

Other Caves near Austin: 

  • Longhorn Cavern 
  • Wonder Cave
  • Cascade Caverns
  • Cave Without a Name

5. Take a Stroll Down Sixth Street

No trip to Austin would be complete without going to the city’s epicenter, where Austin came to be known as the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Visit the bustling bars (sans pandemic) and swanky dining options, or just people watch as you shop around.

building with a colorful mural
Sixth Street mural, Austin by Bex Walton.

While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the KÜHL authorized retailer REI off Lamar Blvd. and 6th Street. Find other authorized retailers here. 

Featured Image – Austin Texas Lake Front by Stuart Seeger.

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gray and brown buildings behind body of water
Nancy Raven Kirk
Nancy is a writer, traveler, and outdoor enthusiast originally from Los Angeles. She's had work published in the L.A. Times, OC Weekly, and various other publications. Check out her website at www.copybykirk.com.