Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, Dripping Springs, Texas
When summer temps hit 100, Austinites have plenty of great swimming holes to choose from, including Barton Springs right in the middle of town. But the legendary get-away-from-it-all spot is Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve, about 25 miles west of Austin off Highway 71. A quarter-mile trail descends to the canyon pool. Rimming one edge of the clear blue-green waters are a limestone grotto and a 50-foot waterfall; here you can play in the shower or find a shady seat on the rocks beneath its overhang. At the other end is a sunny beach. On summer weekends, when the 75-vehicle parking lot reaches capacity, preserve officials manage the one-in, one-out system, which is not such a bad thing once you're in.
What's Nearby: Preserve trails lead to scenic areas along the Pedernales River. At Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis, swimming and boating are popular.