It’s officially August: the month when thermometers hit triple-digit readings and Austinites swarm to popular swimming spots. Barton Springs, Deep Eddy, Hamilton Pool—you know, the usual suspects. But staying cool doesn’t have to involve a swimming pool. Central Texas offers an array of summer activities and adventures, from exploring caverns to indoor climbing. We’re sharing some of our favorites to help you stay active and beat the heat.
You don’t need saltwater to go snorkeling, especially when the San Marcos river is only a 30-minute drive south. Located at the Olympic Outdoor Center, the newly-opened Snorkel TX offers the only snorkeling tour in Texas. After strapping on snorkels and flippers, snorkelers embark on a guided one-hour expedition through crystal clear water full of fish and turtles. The river is also home to Texas Wild Rice, a green, ribbon-like plant not found anywhere else in the world. The tours are $50/person, ages 18+. snorkeltx.com
Step in to Chaparral’s 61-degree Fahrenheit ice rink and blissfully imagine that summer is six months away. While winter attire isn’t absolutely necessary, the rink’s general manager, Angie Vaught, recommends bringing along a hat, gloves, long socks, and warm clothes for a more comfortable—and fun—experience. Skating provides a low-impact workout and a nostalgic, group-friendly activity. Chaparral offers public skating times every day in its newly renovated facility. The rink also hosts leagues for adults and kids, including hockey, figure skating, and curling.
Admission: $8/person with $5 skate rental. Kids 5 and under skate for $5, including skates. chaparralice.com
Crux’s colorful geometric climbing walls provide a cooler alternative to outdoor rock climbing. After a brief safety orientation for first-timers, try one of the many activities available, like climbing, bouldering, strength training, or yoga. Climbing shoes, harnesses and other gear aren’t required for climbing, but are highly recommended and free for the first visit. The 24-hour gym covers 22,000 square feet, including a lounge and space designated for kids.
A one day pass costs $17 without gear, or $22 with gear. Kids 5 and under can climb for $10. cruxclimbingcenter.com
Sneak away from the sun and into the cool, underground darkness of one of Central Texas’ impressive caverns. Tours of Longhorn Caverns in Burnet last about an hour and a half, taking groups through natural wonders like Crystal City. For an extra adventure, reserve a spot to crawl through tight passages on the Wild Caves Tour. Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown offers three tours: the original Adventure tour; the rugged, intermediate-level Hidden Passages tour; or an off-trail, four-hour Wild Cave tour (by reservation) into undeveloped sections of the caverns. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes.
Longhorn Caverns: $12/kids, $15/teens and seniors, $16/adults. visitlonghorncavern.com
Inner Space Caverns: Prices range from $20.95–25.95 for Adults and $12.95–16.95 for kids, depending on the tour. The Wild Cave tour is $100/person.
Practicing poses on a paddleboard adds an extra dose of core challenge, forcing each muscle to work to stay balanced. Don’t worry if you lose your balance, you’ll just slide right into the cool lake. Pure Austin Fitness at Quarry Lake offers yoga classes on stand-up paddleboards every Saturday starting at 9:30 a.m. (Though you should arrive at least half an hour early to secure a spot.) Wild Heart Yoga offers SUP yoga at the Texas Rowing Center the first and third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. through September. Register online at least 24 hours in advance.
Pure Austin Fitness: Classes are free for members, or $25 for an all-day gym pass for non-members. pureaustin.com
Wild Heart Yoga: Classes are $30 for members, $35 for non-members. wildheartyogaaustin.com