Barton Springs is a famous Austin landmark that should not be missed. Tourists and locals alike flock to this unique part of Austin’s history and culture. Going with kids might feel overwhelming if you’ve never been there before. These helpful tips will show you how to do Barton Springs with kids.
2201 William Barton Dr, Austin, TX 78746
Closed Thursdays from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Other days it is open from 5 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Entry Fee for Austin residents:
$5 adult, $3 teen, $2 child, $2 senior
Entry Fee for nonresidents:
$9 adult, $5 teen, $4 child, $5 senior
Tip #1 Reserve tickets ahead of time
They are now requiring pre-purchased tickets before you go. I actually love this new change, since it significantly cuts down on the waiting in line from the Before Times. We made reservations on the same day we wanted to go, printed out our tickets, and walked right up to the gate- no waiting in a super long line with impatient kids on a hot day! It’s a thing of beauty. The online reservation system used to be super confusing, but they’ve updated it and made it much easier. Go here for online reservations and tickets to Barton Springs. You may also purchase tickets with a credit card at the kiosks in front of Barton Springs.
Tip #2 Parking
There is a parking lot next to Barton Springs, but it gets packed and can be really hard to get a spot. It’s free to park here on weekdays, but they charge on weekends, holidays, and for events. Zilker Park has more parking that costs $3 to park from March – September.
Tip #3 Food and Drinks
Kids require snacks, and that’s non-negotiable. However, Barton Springs does not allow you to bring in food! What’s a mom to do?! Luckily, you can bring in sealed water bottles with a twist off lid. You can get a hand stamp to exit Barton Springs and come back in without having to pay again, so that you can leave for food as needed. You have two options. One is leaving a cooler and snacks in your car, assuming you get a close enough parking spot. Two is purchasing food from the vendors set up right outside Barton Springs.
Tip #4 Floaties and Zero-Depth Entry
If your kids still need floaties to help them swim, or you just want to float around during your trip to Barton Springs, keep in mind that floaties are only allowed in the deep section or shallow section of the pool. You must take them to the far right or far left of the diving board. We like to head all the way to the right towards the shallow, zero-depth entry point of the pool. It helps you wade in and get used to the temperature of the water (which stays at 68 degrees year round!). You can use floaties in this section and it’s safer for younger kids.
Keep in mind that this is a natural, spring-fed pool, and the algae that grows on the pool floor is extremely slippery over here! Kids (and adults) slip over here all the time. Walk slowly and watch your step! Water shoes can help. Floaties are not permitted near the diving board section of the pool.
Tip #5 Search for Creatures
This is a natural, spring-fed swimming hole, so there will be fish and other creatures swimming around. It’s also home to the Barton Springs Salamander, so be on the lookout for those little guys!
Tip #6 People Watching
One of our favorite things to do at Barton Springs is watch the people flipping and jumping off the diving board. The kids may even work up the courage to try diving for themselves. One thing to keep in mind while people watching at Barton Springs is that topless sunbathing is allowed. You might see more than you were expecting here!
Other things to keep in mind
Pets are not allowed. It’s free to swim during the early morning, non-lifeguard, open-swim hours each day from 5-8 a.m. No alcohol is allowed inside Barton Springs. The free side to Barton Springs is just to the left (if you are facing the pool from outside). It’s referred to as Barking Springs, because that’s where most people bring their dogs to swim. You can visit the nearby playground at Zilker Park if your kids want to play some more.