Everybody in Austin should go visit Barton Springs. It’s open 7 days a week year round, except for limited hours on Thursdays when they do maintenance. The water is always within a degree or two of 70F, which feels freezing in summer and freezing in the winter. It’s a natural spring with a natural floor but cement sides. The small entrance fee covers the cost of the lifeguards. It’s close to downtown. You can ride a miniature train with young kids through Zilker Park from the entrance. It’s a great place to lay out a blanket under a tree or in the sun.
None of those facts are why people should go visit. Barton Springs is tied up in the identity and soul of Austin. Austin’s culture flows out from the springs. You will never understand Austin until you have visited there. From the perspective of a long time Austin resident, it is a city of blankets on grass. spontaneous drum and guitar circles, the occasional topless hippie woman, dogs and their people playing in the water downstream, college students and old timers, kids all experiencing Austin together. Austin’s most well funded and most successful environmental organization isn’t a national group, it is Save Our Springs. Austin likes local in Austin. Barton Springs is local. When people say “Keep Austin Weird” what they mean is “Keep Austin like Barton Springs”.