The heat roars during a Texas summer, but thankfully, cities, towns, and countrysides throughout the state are bejeweled with plenty of fun family activities that are budget-friendly fun and keep everyone cool!
From coastlines and spring-fed rivers to waterparks and neighborhood splash pads, ditch the conventional and head for adventure with these 8 tips on how to remain cool and chilled-out amidst the Texas summer.
Almost every major city in Texas has its own waterpark. Your average ticket for admission gives your family a full day of rides, slides, and wave pools, as well as kiddie pools for the little ones. Many of them now offer private cabanas you rent daily, places you can put your gear away safely and find respite in between rides.
Check out the Schlitterbahn waterparks, located in New Braunfels, Galveston Island, South Padre Island or Corpus Christi. Outside of Dallas, you’ll find Great Wolf Lodge and in San Antonio, head to Six Flags Fiesta. Check online for coupons before you go, as purchasing tickets in advance can give you a healthy discount.
2) The Local Pool
Whether it’s at your gym or the neighborhood park, nothing is easier than riding bikes down the street to cool off. If you don’t have access to a neighborhood pool, connect with friends who either have a pool or live in a subdivision with a pool for a play date. Don’t forget to pack plenty of cool water and protein-rich snacks like trail mix.
3) Spring-Fed Rivers and Creeks
Nothing compares to swimming in a spring-fed river or watering hole, surrounded by the beauty of the outdoors. The Hill Country is where you will find such idyllic swimming oases, and during the summer, cabins surrounding these areas fill up with eager tourists ready to spend the weekend floating on the river or just swimming in its beauty. Limestone cliffs loom on the side of you, cypress trees keep you cool with their shade, and the big blue Texas skies hang above you.
Check out the Frio River, the Blanco River, or the Guadalupe River for places to swim where the water isn’t murky. Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs outside of Austin is another must-swim, as is Barton Springs in the heart of the city of Austin itself.
As always, use caution in a river as currents can be strong. Life jackets are recommended for those who aren’t strong swimmers, and for anyone 18 and under.
4) The Lake
Lakes all over Texas offer a great get away for families looking to cool down on a weekend. Many lakes have free entry, so pack up the cooler for a barbecue or picnic. Don’t forget your beach chairs to sit on the shore line, beneath the shade of a tree.
5) The Beach
Being on the Gulf Coast almost always guarantees a breeze. Take your family down to the shore for a day of play in the surf. The meditative rolling of the waves entertains kids for hours, plus they can scavenge and hunt for shells and rocks!
Our recommendation would be to pack tons of ice water, lots of sunblock, wide-brimmed hats for everyone, sun protective shirts for the kids, and a shade tent. With the sun reflecting off the sand, the sun is even more oppressive on the beach, and nothing is worse than sun sickness in a child.
6) Splash Pads
Parks and neighborhoods in many decent-sized cities offer provide splash pads during the summer months. It’s an easy way to stay cool, and they’re perfect for toddlers and young children who aren’t swimming just yet. Many of them have public bathrooms so you can change out of your swimsuits before you head anywhere else – whether it’s home, to run errands, or have lunch.
Check out the Clarksville Splash Pad if you’re in Austin or the Gateway Fountain splash pad at Discovery Green in Houston. Entry is free!
7) The Old-School Sprinkler
This was one of my oldest daughter’s favorite activities between the ages of 2 and 4. Not only did it water the garden, but it kept her cool and entertained for hours! I would sit near by on a deck chair and let the water hit my legs, too.
Only turn on the sprinkler on the grass if it’s before 10 am or after 5 pm. During the heat of the day, the garden and grass shouldn’t be watered. The water evaporates in such heat, and boils the roots of the plant.
8) The Backyard Blow-Up Pool
Nothing beats a blow-up pool to cool off at the end of a long Saturday! I know this because we have one ourselves. It can provide hours of entertainment for the kids, and dads love to flop into one at the end of a day after tackling that list of chores. It might be the best $20 you spend all summer.