Earlier this week, I made the executive decision to play hooky from our daily marathon of after-school activities and picked my kids up from school armed with snacks and swimsuits and headed straight to the healing waters of the Hill Country.
Back in July, I snagged a late-August reservation at one of my favorite swimming holes: Jacob’s Well Natural Area, which remains a constant 68 degrees year-round and boasts crystalline waters that glitter like jewels in the sunshine.
At the time, I didn’t know our selected time slot would overlap with our back-to-back afternoon juggling act of soccer practice, tennis lessons and dance class. But as soon as you plunge your sun-kissed body into that brisk swimming hole from the boulders above, you’re hit with an epiphany that’s as crystal clear as the water you are submerged in: Sometimes it’s OK to abandon schedules and school night routines and surrender to swimming hole serenity.
It was our kids’ first time to experience the bone-chilling magic of Jacob’s Well –– in my opinion, this Wimberley gem is more enjoyable for older kids, so when they were little, my husband and I would plan occasional day trip dates out here.
Flanked by a lush bank on one side where we spotted fish and tiny turtles and layered limestone cliffs on the other, four out of five of us took repeat turns climbing up and leaping off the giant boulders. Our youngest, age 6, opted for a gentler entry, carefully fastening her goggles and gasping as she sank into the toe-numbing water and swiftly swam across to the other side.
We swam and splashed until it was time to go (everyone has to leave the swimming hole by 6 p.m.) so I filled the 10-minute, sun-scorched hike back to the car telling the kids fun facts about Jacob’s Well –– it’s the second largest fully submerged cave in Texas and it’s actually an artesian spring that releases thousands of gallons of water each day. Jacob’s Well also serves as the headwaters of Cypress Creek, which flows through Blue Hole Regional Park (where we also have September reservations) and feeds into the Blanco.
Instead of heading back to eat dinner and do homework as planned, we were steered by more swimming hole spontaneity and drove to a nearby spot my sister had suggested called Cypress Falls, which sits just 3 miles from Jacob’s Well.
A dam on Cypress Creek created the natural swimming hole, which is spring fed from Jacob’s Well and makes for a tranquil spot to swim, float or paddle around, and unlike Jacob’s Well, you don’t need reservations (swimming wristbands are free for kids under 4, $6 for kids 5-12 and $8 for adults). There are also canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and tubes available for rent if you don’t bring your own. Cypress Falls has a lodge for overnight guests and a draft house serving up craft beers on tap as well as frozen drinks, domestics, wine, hard seltzers and cold cans of Gatorade for the kids. Picnic tables and chairs are scattered along the bank, but you’ll have to bring your own food during the weekdays because food is only served on weekends during the fall.
Floating in a tube with an ice-cold beer in my hand while watching my kids swim and splash as the evening sun shimmered across the water, I couldn’t help but be grateful for school nights that end like this one.
They don’t come with crowds –– there were less than a dozen people there on Tuesday evening, including us –– and they remind us that here in Central Texas, we get to hold on to summer a little bit longer.
IF YOU GO:
These Wimberley-area swimming holes are about an hour from Central Austin.
Jacob’s Well is open for swimming from May 1 – September 30 by online reservation only. Check Cypress Falls Swimming Hole’s website for summer, fall and winter hours.