Wimberley’s Blue Hole is the perfect summer swimming spot, with cool, clear water shaded by huge cypress trees. The swimming hole is part of 126 acres of parkland along Cypress Creek preserved and beautified by the City of Wimberley along with many other partners and volunteers.

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Blue Hole is located on Blue Hole Lane and there is plentiful free parking. Wristbands are sold from the office pictured below. Admission fees are: kids 0-3 free, ages 4-12 $4, ages 13-59 $8, and 60+ $4.

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We took a short, gently sloping walkway down to Cypress Creek.

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The boys couldn’t wait to jump in!

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As you can see, the water’s so clear my son’s feet are visible. We entered the creek in a shallow area where many younger children were playing.

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Blue Hole was a like an oasis from the hot Texas sun. The water was very refreshing.

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This tree stump was popular with kids of all ages, especially because the water is pretty deep here.

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My son had fun on the rope swings.

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When it was time to rest and have a snack, we went to the beautiful lawn and relaxed in the shade.

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There are a few picnic tables but they were all occupied when we arrived. Just take along a picnic blanket or camping chairs and you’ll be all set. While you can bring in your own food and drinks, glass is prohibited.

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A master plan for Blue Hole Regional Park was approved by the Wimberley City Council in 2007. The thoughtful planning process is demonstrated in the beautiful facilities……

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…..and extra details like this inviting scenic overlook.

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In addition to the remarkable swimming hole, Blue Hole Regional Park also has a playscape, trails, basketball court, volleyball court, and athletic fields.

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Just about the most perfect swimming hole you can imagine!
Outing Time: About a 45-minute to 1-hour drive from Austin in no traffic. We spent two hours there but easily could have spent the whole day.
Reminders: There are many volunteers supporting the operations of Blue Hole Regional Park but there aren’t any lifeguards on duty. Remember to pack swimming supports for children who need them and bigger kids (and parents) would probably enjoy having floats to relax on, too! Also pack sunscreen, picnic blanket or chairs, snacks or lunch, and drinks. With your wristband, you can leave and come back until Blue Hole closes for the day. Click here for hours and admission fees.
Free Fun in Austin visited Blue Hole earlier this summer and you can read more from CultureMap, Austin360.com, and Texas Highways. If you’d like to make some other stops while you are in Wimberley, other attractions to consider are: Jacob’s Well Natural Area, Cypress Creek Nature Trail Park, scenic and historic downtown district, the cowboy museum or a drive along River Road.

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If you’re ready for an all-day adventure, plan a visit to Waco’s Cameron Park Zoo and Mayborn Museum Complex. Cameron Park Zoo, located at 1701 North 4th Street, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

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Every detail has been planned out at the 52-acre natural habitat zoo, from the beautiful animal enclosures to this colorful shade canopy.

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We loved watching the Galapagos tortoise, who was staying cool in the mud.

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Kids can stay cool, too, with this small splash pad and shaded treehouse playscape.

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Don’t miss the huge Brazos River Country exhibit! You might not be able to tell by the entrance but this leads to a substantial section of the zoo.

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The boys loved the aquarium.

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The alligators were just “hanging out.”

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Farther along, we saw these Huaco (or Hueco or Waco) Indian huts.

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Don’t miss this exhibit as you walk along: the Brazos at Night!

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Next was the bison exhibit, a display reflecting the Brazos River through the High Plains/Cap Rock area. In addition to viewing buffalo in the exhibit, we also saw a teepee and informative sign describing how different parts of the bison animal were used by nomadic Native American tribes.

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Next we went to the Herpetarium, where a rattlesnake appeared to be watching us closely.

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We were running out of fuel after all of our exploring, so we stopped at the Treetops Cafe for a snack and drink. Just past the cafe, we saw this friendly giraffe, who was practically posing for the camera.

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As you can see, the giraffe has room to wander!

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There is a lot of helpful and educational information at the Cameron Park Zoo.

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The elephant was very majestic.

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We saved the best for last: Mysteries of the Asian Forest!

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Here’s the Sumatran Tiger.

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We loved the Komodo Dragon!

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The kids were enchanted by these chimes you could stomp on at Jungle Jim’s Playground.

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We drove a short distance east on University Parks Drive to the Mayborn Museum Complex (1300 S. University Parks Drive). I had heard so many fantastic reviews about the museum that it seemed impossible the facility could meet our expectations.

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Not to fear! This amazing place is like visiting three museums in one: a natural history museum, a historic village, and a children’s museum. We started our adventure at Strecker’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

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Check out this huge whale skull…..

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….and this 75 million year old marine turtle fossil!

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The walk-in diorama of the Waco Mammoth site, where a herd of Columbian mammoths was trapped and buried about 65,000 years ago, was very impressive. It featured an educational video about the site as well as a plaster replica of the excavation under your feet.

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This is the exploration station for archaeology.

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We all were pretty interested in the cross-section of a Huaco Indian hut. Unfortunately, my picture of the inside did not turn out so you will just have to go see it for yourself!

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We went outside to the graceful back porch of the museum. The kids ran full-speed ahead to check out the unique buildings in the Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village.

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The village is made up of nine wood-frame buildings that represent life in an 1890s community. The buildings were moved from Liberty, Texas, in 1986. The kids were thoroughly fascinated by this water pump and the church bell.

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The commissary was of particular interest, with lots of goods on display typical for a rural general store.

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The kids ran back into the museum through this hallway with a musical soundscape. We couldn’t wait to explore!

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There are 17 discovery rooms, all with different themes.

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This friendly guy was in the vertebrates room.

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Next, we went to the communication room.

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The transportation room was a favorite!

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And so was the energy room!

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In each room, you will find descriptive information.

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The water and bubbles room was an absolute favorite! I think the kids could have stayed at the water table all day.

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Creating the human-size bubble took patience and skill.

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A foot-friendly piano was in the sound room…..

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…..and so were these classic tube telephones.

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DJ Mixmaster B is in the house!

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The simple machines room was really a hit. This display shows how pulleys work.

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Also in this room, the kids found blocks to create a catenary arch. Teamwork saved the day!

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More fun in the simple machines room.

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In addition to the above, there are also discovery rooms for TV News and Weather, Health, Native Americans, Pioneers, Recycling, People of the World, Optics and Aunt Blanche’s Tea Room. As if that’s not enough, there’s also a massive train set!

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Through September 2, 2013, the museum features a special exhibit: Goosebumps, The Science of Fear. The kids had a blast scaring themselves silly.

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: These two Waco wonders are well-worth the drive up I-35!
Outing Time: About 2 1/2 hours at Cameron Park Zoo and 3 hours at Mayborn Museum Complex. We spent 2 hours each way on I-35 (in no traffic) driving from Austin.
Reminders: We arrived at the zoo around 11 a.m. and the museum around 2 p.m. We definitely could have spent more time at either place! Cameron Park Zoo fees are $9 for age 13+, $6 for kids 4-12, FREE for children 3 years and under, and $8 for age 60+. Here’s the full schedule of Mayborn Museum Complex fees. With the traveling exhibit included, the cost for me and two boys was $20 total. The Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village hours of operation are slightly different from the main museum’s. The Mayborn Museum Complex is located on the Baylor University campus so check before you go for any upcoming special events (like football games) that will cause traffic jams. Here are links to maps of the Cameron Park Zoo and the Mayborn Museum Complex. Both facilities have gift shops.
Take along a change of clothes and towels if you think your kids won’t be able to pass up getting soaked in the splash pad at Cameron Park Zoo. It’s also a good idea to bring along sunscreen, water, and snacks.
If you have time to spare, you might be interested in these Waco attractions: Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco Mammoth Site, and Cameron Park (the park totals 400 acres and has much to offer in addition to the 52-acre zoo).

Georgetown’s beautiful San Gabriel River provides a lovely setting for outdoor fun, especially at San Gabriel Park and Blue Hole Park. We started out at the Randy Morrow Trail in San Gabriel Park. (We parked at the intersection of Stadium Drive and Lower Park Drive.) The trail is named after Georgetown’s first Director of Parks and Recreation, who had the vision to build a hike-and-bike trail along the San Gabriel River to connect parks and neighborhoods.

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Here’s a map of the trail around San Gabriel Park and its connections to other nearby parks. The park has a unique location: where the South and North Forks of the San Gabriel River meet.

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We couldn’t wait to walk around San Gabriel Park, which was was designated a Lone Star Legacy Park by the Texas Recreation & Parks Society in March 2012.

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We strolled along the riverbank.

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While swimming is not prohibited, there aren’t any lifeguards and it’s “swim at your own risk.”

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The ducks and geese were very friendly.

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We walked about 3/4 mile along the river. The boys just had to cross this dam.

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I walked on it, too. Here’s a picture from the middle of the river!

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Next, we went below the dam.

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My 11-year-old son found a tiny frog. (He is a strong believer in catch-and-release.)

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We were now near the eastern boundary of the park, close to the College Street bridge.

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It appears the old bridge I was reclining upon while the kids played was built by the Works Progress Administration in 1935-37. It’s no longer open to vehicles but is used by bikes and pedestrians as part of the City’s trail system.

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We began our return trip and the kids stopped to take advantage of some of the fun playground equipment. They thought this purple dinosaur–which seats two–was hilariously entertaining.

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This is another small playscape along the trail.

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My 11-year-old son liked walking perilously close to the edge.

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The boys’ generous cracker-throwing attracted an onslaught of ducks and geese.

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We escaped from our feathered friends and drove south toward Blue Hole Park, a lagoon on the South Fork of the San Gabriel River. This park is located just off of N. Austin Avenue, with the entrance at W. Second Street and Rock Street. It’s possible to hike from San Gabriel Park to Blue Hole Park. See route on this map.

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It was quite a sight!

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Like San Gabriel Park, there aren’t lifeguards and “swim at your own risk” signs are posted.

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The wading-depth water was too inviting to pass up!

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It was getting dark so we took one final look around.

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We hope we can make a return trip to Blue Hole Park and stay a lot longer!

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Your kids will love playing and exploring in these two beautiful parks along Georgetown’s San Gabriel River.
Outing Time: About 2.5 hours at San Gabriel Park and 45 minutes at Blue Hole Park. We went on a rainy day, with temperatures ranging from 75 – 80 degrees. In hotter weather, you might not be able to spend as much time.
Outing Distance: About 1.5 miles to walk along the river at San Gabriel Park (3/4 mile one way)
Reminders: San Gabriel Park has bathrooms, picnic tables, water fountains, BBQ grills, playground equipment, and more. At Blue Hole Park, you will have access to bathrooms, a water fountain, and picnic tables but no sinks. To make the most of your trip, pack towels, a change of clothes, sunscreen, water, other drinks, hand wipes, and snacks (and possibly snacks for the ducks and geese at San Gabriel Park). If you want to stay in Georgetown all day, consider visiting some other parks or their historic downtown square.

Visiting Landa Park in New Braunfels isn’t just a day trip…..it’s a “stay all day” trip! This historic 196-acre park provides an array of fun options for families and features beautiful Comal Springs, the largest group of natural springs in Texas, and 14-acre Landa Lake. We arrived around 11:30 a.m. and decided to start at the playground. This playscape is for younger children.

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Not many children can pass up playground equipment disguised as a fire truck.

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There are two playscapes for older kids.

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This one had had a lot of opportunities for climbing.

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My 11-year-old son thought the zip line was a blast.

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After eating our picnic lunch, we walked toward Landa Park Aquatics Complex. The kids were immediately attracted to the beautiful Comal River, which is the shortest navigable river in Texas, traveling only 2 miles before joining the Guadalupe River.

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We crossed Landa Park Drive and the boys went back to the river again. This time, to hunt for crawdads.

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Mission accomplished.

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Now we were ready to go swimming! The Landa Park Aquatic Complex (350 Aquatic Circle New Braunfels, TX 78130) has something for everyone: a springfed pool, a zero depth pool, and an olympic pool. The bathhouse facility has restrooms, changing rooms, and showers. The complex is only open during the summer season. Hours are 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. (except Saturdays when the pools open at 10 a.m.) and fees are $4 for adults and $3 for kids age 3 and up. Hours can vary so check the schedule before you go. (For example, the olympic pool is closed on Mondays and the spring fed pool is closed on Tuesdays.) Read all the details for Landa Park Aquatics Complex here.

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Closest to the entrance is a pool for young kids. The maximum depth is 2.5 feet.

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Older kids will want to dive into Coach E.E. “Bud” Dallman Olympic Pool, with depths ranging from 4 feet – 7 feet.

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In our opinion the “star” of the Landa Park Aquatics Complex is the natural pool fed by Comal Springs. The water stays 72 degrees year round. Built in the early 1900s, it is one of the oldest and most historic bathing pools in Texas, with depths up to 9 feet. This pool is a “natural aquatic environment,” meaning algae and aquatic life like fish are present.

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Here’s the shallow end, where many young children (including my 7-year-old son) were having a blast.

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This is the Wet Willie slide. It was closed for most of our visit but it looks pretty exciting!

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Many older kids enjoyed climbing up this rope to the cargo net.

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My 11-year-old son loved the zip line, which has a 54-inch height requirement.

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There’s also a rope swing and a shaded playground.

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After we were thoroughly chilled by the cool waters of the Comal, we headed to the train depot for ice cream and train tickets.

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The train ride was a steal at $2.50 per person. After riding the train, we had a better idea of what we wanted to see next in the park: the wading pool.

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We walked west on Landa Park Drive toward the wading pool. We saw this lovely creek and many friendly ducks and geese. (The train depot has duck food for 50 cents per bag.)

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We walked north and crossed a little bridge. Looking out from the fishing pier, we could see the paddle boats.

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Landa Lake was really gorgeous. As you can see, swimming and tubing are not allowed here, as the area is environmentally sensitive.

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The wading pool is located right off of Landa Park Drive in the southwest section of the park. The water is cold! My kids could not resist getting wet (again). While the words “wading pool” might make you think of ankle-deep water, the water is closer to waist-high for most kids. The wading pool does not have lifeguards.

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Now that we had cooled off a little, we explored the park some more. We found a tree that was perfect for climbing.

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This neighboring cypress tree was pretty impressive.

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To top it off, a little spring was running near the roots!

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From 1756-1758, a Spanish mission was located in the area. The historical marker led us to quite a sight…..

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After walking all the way to the marker, we came upon this beautiful spring-fed creek.

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A gazebo provided a scenic spot to view Landa Lake. The gazebo is slated for repair as part of the Landa Park River Front Rehabilitation Project.

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We were running on empty after all of our adventures but my son still wanted to take the time to say “goodbye” to his new friends before we left.

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THE RUNDOWN:

Austin Active Kids Opinion: Run…don’t walk…to your calendar and plan a day trip to Landa Park!

Outing Time: About 6 hours at Landa Park plus driving time (45 minutes – 1 hour) to and from New Braunfels. We easily could have stayed longer and taken advantage of the mini golf or paddle boats.

Outing Distance: Less than one mile walking around the playground area and the river.

Reminders: Click here for driving directions to Landa Park from Austin. Even if you get off course, the City of New Braunfels has numerous directional signs to area attractions like Landa Park. It’s probably a good idea to bring this park map or have it easily accessible on your phone.

If the Landa Park Aquatic Complex parking lot is full, you can find parking spots throughout the park including near the playground and by the wading pool.

For the aquatic complex, visitors are allowed to bring in their own food, drink, and coolers as long as no glass, styrofoam or alcohol is brought. Lawn chairs and folding tables are allowed as long as they are not staked to the ground and do not impede a walkway/public access point. No canopy tents except by city permit. Remember that the aquatic complex is only open during the summer season. If you have any questions about pool hours, just call the aquatic complex at 830-221-4360.

For your day trip, you should plan to bring: water, other drinks, snacks, picnic lunch or dinner, hats, sunscreen, floats, swimming supports (like lifejackets for kids still developing swimming skills), change of clothes, swimsuits, and towels. Camping chairs could be useful, too.

You might want to pack your items in different bags (pool bag and picnic bag) so you aren’t carrying one huge bag around the whole time. We started out with our picnic in the park. Then, we traded out our picnic bag for the pool bag before “downsizing” to the backpack for the train ride and walking around.

In addition to the train ride and paddleboats, Landa Park also has miniature golf. Click here for the hours and fees for all of these Landa Park attractions.

Around the playground, we saw many signs stating that some picnic table sections can be used by reservation only. The City of New Braunfels web site mentions that individual picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis and that park rangers will come by to collect a $10 fee. We did not encounter park staff at the playground and were not asked to pay this fee but you should be aware that is their stated policy.

Here are some other takes on visiting Landa Park from Free Fun in Austin and R We There Yet Mom?

Memorial Park and Chisholm Trail Crossing in Round Rock provide a great opportunity to explore Brushy Creek while learning about the area’s history.

We started out at Memorial Park (600 Lee Street).

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The park was pretty peaceful around 5 p.m. on a weekday.

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We headed east on the sidewalk and walked under IH-35. This bridge over Brushy Creek looked pretty inviting.

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This is the view to the east as we crossed the bridge.

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Brushy Creek must be quite a sight when it’s fully flowing. As you can see, the water level is low due to the ongoing drought.

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The exposed creek bed made for fruitful fossil hunting.

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My 7-year-old son was over the moon about finding this sea urchin fossil. It was upside down when he picked it up…what a fun discovery!

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We saw The Round Rock, the City of Round Rock’s namesake, which is located just east of Chisholm Trail Road. The Round Rock indicated what was an important low-water crossing during pioneer times. In fact, it was one of the most famous markers along the Chisholm Trail, which stretched from South Texas to Kansas.

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This is a pretty famous rock! You can read more about it here on the Williamson County Historical Commission web site.

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We crossed Chisholm Trail Road to take a closer look at this small waterfall over an old dam. Interestingly, an 8- to 9-ft deep section of the creek just upstream of this dam was the city’s primary swimming hole, complete with bathing beach and bath house beginning in the early 1900s. The City of Round Rock plans to revitalize the area as part of Round Rock’s Heritage Trail Project.

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We walked south toward Chisholm Trail Crossing (500 Chisholm Trail Road). Greeting us was the “Bell Steer” sculpture. According to the sign nearby, a “bell steer” could help lead cattle herds and cowboys would keep track of this steer by tying a bell around its neck.

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Also at Chisholm Trail Crossing you will find the “Pioneer Woman” sculpture. It represents Hattie Cluck, who was the first woman to travel the Chisholm Trail. Believe it or not, she was pregnant during the journey! The “Pioneer Boy” is Hattie Cluck’s son Emmett, who was 5 years old in the spring of 1871, when the expedition occurred. You can read more about the bronze sculptures at Chisholm Trail Crossing here.

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As a mom of three boys, I was really amused by the toad in young Emmett’s hand. I guess some things never change!

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On our way back to Memorial Park, both my 7 year old son…..

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….and my 11-year-old son were determined to find more fossils.

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They were pretty successful!

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We could hardly believe that these grooves in the limestone were really from years and years of wagon wheel traffic. Pretty amazing!

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The boys still had some energy left to race to the bridge.

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We had worked up an appetite so we stopped in Round Rock’s Downtown Historic District for dinner. We enjoyed walking around and reading the informative signs on each building describing their history. We stopped to take a break at the Main Street Plaza before heading home. We did not take the opportunity to cool off in the Main Street Plaza Fountain since we forgot to bring towels. You might want to plan for that if you go!

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THE RUNDOWN:
Austin Active Kids Opinion: Brushy Creek was a fossil-finders dream and the historical insights were an added bonus.
Outing Time: 1.5 hours to cover both parks. Add another 30 minutes or more to that if you visit the Historic District and the Main Street Plaza Fountain.
Outing Distance: Just over a mile covered to walk from Memorial Park to Chisholm Trail Crossing and back.
Reminders: It’s important for visitors to know that neither park has restrooms or water fountains. There’s a port-o-potty at Memorial Park near the softball field. Bring snacks and drinks. If you plan to stop at the Main Street Plaza Fountain, pack a change of clothes and some towels.
While we were near the waterfall and dam, we saw a family swimming in Brushy Creek. The City of Round Rock does not prohibit swimming in Brushy Creek but it’s not encouraged. Use caution and your best judgment in any natural body of water. Remember to always avoid stagnant water.
If you are not familiar with the area, plan your route ahead of time. Memorial Park straddles IH-35 and the turns are easy to miss. This map shows our walk from Memorial Park to Chisholm Trail Crossing. We returned the same way.

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Cypress Bend Park (898 Mather Street) in New Braunfels is a relaxing and easy day-trip getaway! This 15-acre park provides generous access to the beautiful Guadalupe River.

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The park was not crowded at all when we visited on a Tuesday afternoon. What a treat!

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The river is just under the trees on the left side of this picture. The tiny orange dots are kids running with tubes to the river.

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The boys got in the river here. It’s a little sandy but if you wear water shoes (or just old running shoes), it shouldn’t affect you very much.

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This is the view looking downstream.

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We didn’t try the rope swing, but it was pretty tempting.

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The cypress trees were really amazing and they provided some shade, too.

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This huge tree was quite a sight!

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The boys could not resist running across the beautiful green lawn.

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We decided to swim over to a shallow area and look for crawdads. In this picture, you can see that the river bottom is sandy (vs. rocky) by the trail my son is leaving behind him.

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As we were swimming, we noticed a little reptilian head peeking out of the water. Don’t worry: it’s just a turtle!

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Here was the view as we headed upstream.

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The sign lets people who are tubing know that this is the last public exit for the river.

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We were nowhere near ready to “exit the river.” We were just getting started.

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We saw lots of interesting creatures during our visit to Cypress Bend Park including this stately snowy egret. Too bad his distinctive yellow feet aren’t visible.

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The boys played in this section of the river for over an hour.

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We were delighted to spot (and get a picture of) this yellow-crowned night heron.

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There was a small section of “rapids” that the kids enjoyed playing in.

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They made up a complicated game with all kinds of rules about when they could use their hands, etc. to swim upstream. This section of rapids leads to an area of the river that is at least 6 feet deep. Plan ahead and bring life jackets or other swimming support for younger children or inexperienced swimmers.

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Before we left, we visited the playground.

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There isn’t much shade on the playground but it was still worth stopping by.

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There’s a nice pavilion where you can enjoy your picnic or snacks.

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While we didn’t bring our own horseshoes, if we had, there’s horseshoe pit ready to go!

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THE RUNDOWN:

Austin Active Kids Opinion: This picturesque and easy-going park is a perfect getaway for water-splashing fun!

Outing Time: 3 hours at Cypress Bend Park plus 45 minutes each way driving to New Braunfels (in no traffic).

Reminders: Cypress Bend Park’s hours are 8 a.m. to dusk. There is no admission fee or parking fee at the park. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty.

Bring lifejackets for kids still developing swimming skills, sunscreen, drinks, snacks, towels, water toys, water shoes, and floats. We had a lot of fun with our water guns! If you plan to stay a while, consider bringing camp chairs and a pop-up shade canopy.

The park has restrooms, picnic tables, and a playscape.

We visited on a Tuesday afternoon and the park had very few visitors. We drove through the park once before when we were in New Braunfels for Father’s Day. While there were some people picnicking and celebrating, it still was not very crowded for a Sunday.

If you’re looking for more fun activities in New Braunfels, read Top 5 Things to do in New Braunfels from R We There Yet Mom?

Today we visited one of nature’s genuine masterpieces: Hamilton Pool Preserve at 24300 Hamilton Pool Road (Dripping Springs, TX, 78620) in western Travis County. The 232-acre preserve features a remarkable pool created by a collapsed grotto, beautiful scenery along Hamilton Creek, and access to the Pedernales River.

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Every day around 9 a.m. the Hamilton Pool Preserve web site is updated regarding the pool’s water quality and whether swimming will be allowed. The natural pool and creek are not chemically treated and bacteria counts fluctuate. It’s important to find out this information before you go if you think your kids will absolutely have their hearts set on swimming in Hamilton Pool. We arrived around 9:15 a.m. and were a little disappointed to learn we wouldn’t be able to swim. Nevertheless, we decided to make the most of the hiking opportunity!

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The boys were excited to begin exploring the trail.

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Because we knew we could not swim in Hamilton Pool, we decided to follow the 0.6 mile trail to the Pedernales River.

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The trail had quite a bit of shade.

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There were some really interesting features along the trail!

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The kids were fascinated by this Texas Giant Centipede. We stayed a respectable distance away since these critters are known to have a bite similar to a wasp sting.

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The River Trail was very scenic.

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Hamilton Pool Preserve is kept in its natural state as much as possible. Here you see my 7-year-old son looking down toward the creek bed. There is not a guard rail or fence so you must watch your children closely.

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The boys were thrilled to find this daddy long-legs nest hidden in a rocky area.

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The trail was very interesting to follow and kept us on our toes. It felt a bit longer than 0.6 miles (one way). I tracked the distance on my pedometer for the return trip and that length was accurate. If you have children who are not used to hiking or who are age 5 or younger, you might want to think twice about exploring the River Trail.

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Finally, we could tell we were close to the Pedernales River!

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It was a beautiful sight!

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I think my sons can turn anything into a “beach.” They enjoyed playing along the river bank for about an hour, where there was a cool breeze.

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We began the return trip away from the river and back toward the crown jewel: Hamilton Pool itself. The trail kept us alert and focused, as you can see by these tree roots…..

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….and rocks!

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It was a beautiful day to be outside!

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If you look closely through this “peep hole” of rocks, you can see Hamilton Creek flowing.

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We made it back to our starting point for the River Trail and took the Pool Trail, which is about 1/4 mile long.

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The trail was very engaging, with a little bridge….

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…..and these rocks to walk across.

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When they saw the pool, all the kids could say was “Wow!”

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There is a trail that winds around behind the curve of the rock.

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There are some tight spots!

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The view was worth it.

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What an amazing place!

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Once you go around the pool, you will go up these steep stairs. It’s a little slippery.

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We took a break to appreciate the view.

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My 10-year-old son was fascinated by these fish nests (the lighter-colored circular areas). He specifically asked that we tell you about them so that if you go to Hamilton Pool you know to try to not step on the baby perch eggs.

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We had a wonderful time but we were pretty worn out. Remember to save some energy for the walk back up to the parking lot!

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THE RUNDOWN:

Austin Active Kids Opinion: The beautiful pool and its natural surroundings will take your breath away!

Outing Time: Just under 3 hours.

Outing Distance: About 2 miles covered total on the River Trail and the Pool Trail.

Reminders: Hamilton Pool Preserve is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weather permitting). Check the web site after 9 a.m. or call (512) 264-2740 to see if swimming will be allowed for the day. Please note that there are no lifeguards on duty.

Plan to arrive as early as possible in the day to beat the crowds. The parking lot can only accommodate 75 vehicles and once it’s full, cars are allowed in only on a “one out, one in” basis. Admission cost is $10 per vehicle (no credit cards or debit cards).

There is no concession stand or store at Hamilton Pool Preserve. While there are restrooms, there is not running water, i.e. water fountains or sinks. Bring a lot of drinking water, any snacks you will need, and hand sanitizer or wet wipes.

Wear sturdy, safe shoes for the trail. Strollers and bikes are not allowed.

The Texas Department of Transportation will be working on some road improvements to Hamilton Pool Road from June 24 – July 19, 2013. This is not a major construction project and should not cause significant delays.

Free Fun in Austin visited Hamilton Pool in April 2012 and you can read even more in these articles by Austin Explorer and the Austin Post.

While this is known as a great swimming hole and tends to be an activity people think about in the summer time, it’s also an appealing place to visit year-round due its beauty and the variety of wildlife.