Dreaming of Summer days at the beach? We’re right there with you. If you aren’t able to take a trip to your favorite destination, or just want to beat the heat locally, we’ve got some pretty rad beaches right here in Austin where you can get your fill of sun and sand.
Alert: Travis County Parks has received confirmation of the presence of algae from 10 sites around Lake Travis, including some parks. The algae can be harmful to dogs and other animals when ingested. We strongly urge you to not allow your dog to play or eat the algae in the lake.
Secret Beach (400 Grove Boulevard, Austin) is our favorite beach in Austin. As the name implies, this place is tucked away, making it challenging to find on Google maps. For step-by-step instructions on how to find it, go here. At the secret beach, you can collect shells, build sand castles, skip rocks, make rock towers, discover creatures such as caterpillars (or parts of creatures like old crab claws), and play catch while dipping your toes in the cool water. Swimming isn’t allowed. Off-leash dogs are common, so be aware of that if your little ones have any fears of dogs. There are no bathrooms at the beach, but there are porta-potties in the parking lot. Also, there isn’t much shade so make sure you bring sunscreen, some sort of shade (umbrella, etc.), and plenty of water. And don’t forget your sand toys!
Emma Long Park Beach
Emma Long Park (1706 City Park Road, Austin) has a car entry fee ($5 weekdays; $10 weekends and holidays), but it was well worth it for how much fun we had there! When we went, we packed up the car and headed out early. There’s ample parking lining the lake and we found a spot right in front of the actual sandy beach section, which is also conveniently close to the bathrooms. My older son loved jumping in the “waves” (the wake made by boats zooming by) and jumping off the pier into the shallow water, while my youngest remained in his happy place digging in the sand. We brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed it on our blanket on the beach. You could spend a whole day here and easily get your money’s worth.
West Lake Beach
West Lake Beach (2509 Westlake Drive, Austin) is a privately owned park on Lake Austin open to the public. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $5 for children under age 11. Hours are typically 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sunday (weekdays by special arrangement) from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They are often closed for private parties, so it’s best to call ahead to make sure they are open. A swimming area is roped off from Lake Austin and ranges from 8 inches deep to approximately 6 feet. There’s no life guard on duty, so all children must be properly supervised. Water socks or shoes are recommended for sensitive feet. There are many shaded picnic areas and BBQ grills are located around the park. There’s a volleyball court equipped with net and ball and a volleyball net set up in the water. There’s also an area for fishing and a horseshoe pit, but you will need to bring your own fishing poles, horseshoes, and stakes. No pets, glass items, or amplified sounds are allowed. For questions, reservations, or to book a party, call (512) 327-9004.
Bob Wentz Park
Bob Wentz Park at Windy Point (7144 Comanche Trail, Austin) is located on Lake Travis and has a sandy peninsula called “The Point.” The park includes two sand volleyball courts, a shoreline walking path, a boat dock, and a pavilion available for rent. Admission is $10 per car and hours are 8 a.m. to dusk (check website or call 512-854-PARK to confirm before you go).
McKinney Falls State Park
McKinney Falls State Park (5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin) has small pebble beaches near the Upper and Lower Falls, but note that the size and condition of the beach area depends on how recently it has rained. Both beach areas require a bit of trekking to get there from the parking lot. Admission is $5 per person (ages 13 and up); children 12 and under are free. (Cash only)
Beaches Near Austin
Lake Pflugerville Beach
Lake Pflugerville (18216 Weiss Lane, Pflugerville) is a lovely lake which offers fishing, swimming, jogging, canoes, kayaks, wind surfing, a 3-mile walking/jogging trail, a playground, boat launch, pavilion, and beach area. The beach area is a fun place for the kids to wade in the shallow water and build “sand” castles. The sand is actually pea gravel, which can be hard on bare feet. My boys didn’t seem to mind at all, though. Water shoes or hiking sandals are recommended if you have sensitive feet. Bring a blanket or towels to spread out on the beach or use a picnic table nearby in the shaded pavilion area. There’s also a little playground and a big climbing rope structure for the kids when they’ve had their fill of the beach. Bring lots of snacks and water because you could definitely spend a good chunk of your day here.
Russell Park Beach
Russell Park Beach at Lake Georgetown (2101 County Road 262, Georgetown) is located on the west side of Georgetown Lake. Here you can enjoy a swimming beach, boating, fishing, and hiking along the 26 mile San Gabriel River Trail. Check out this post for info on camping at Lake Georgetown if you’d like to extend your visit there.
Blue Hole (entrance is at West 2nd St & Rock Street in Georgetown) is a swimming hole with rocky banks. My boys had a ball throwing rocks in the water (they can do this for hours) and we waded/swam around for a long time. There are restrooms and picnic areas, walking trails, and more.
Hamilton Pool Preserve (24300 Hamilton Pool Road, Dripping Springs) has a very small beach made of pebbles and is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Texas. From May 1 – September 30, reservations are required to visit. The typical price for visiting is now $26 per vehicle per morning or afternoon time slot.
Update: No swimming allowed at Hamilton Pool Preserve for the foreseeable future. Following the big freeze in February rocks have been falling with increased frequency at many locations in and around the pool. They do not expect swimming to be allowed this summer.
Pedernales Falls Beach
Pedernales Falls State Park (2585 Park Road 6026, Johnson City) is just outside of Austin, but it feels like you’re worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For a $6 per person (ages 13 and older) entry fee, you can camp, hike, mountain bike, picnic, swim, tube, or fish. Local wildlife is abundant as well–we saw a deer, an armadillo, and a praying mantis! We found the main falls first and hiked up part of the river before heading to the picnic area for lunch. We spent the remainder of our time there in the swimming area, mostly wading, hiking, and making rock towers.
Sandy Creek Park
Sandy Creek Park (9500 Lime Creek Road, Leander) is located on Lake Travis. This 25-acre park is an ideal spot for swimming, nature walks, birding, camping, boating, and fishing. Admission is $10 per vehicle.
Update: Sandy Creek park has no available water at this time. Please bring your own supply.
Pace Bend Park
Pace Bend Park (2011 Pace Bend Road North, Spicewood) is approximately 30 miles west of Austin on Lake Travis. The north and east side of the park have shallow beaches perfect for children and dogs. Admission is $10 per vehicle.