Three ways to hit the water and keep cool this summer.

By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne 

Two people swimming in the pool at Margaritaville Resort in Lake Conroe Texas
Photo Courtesy: Margaritaville Resort at Lake Conroe Texas

Throughout time people have flocked to water to beat the heat. With record heat predicted this summer, Austin Woman recommends keeping cool by making a splash in your favorite waterfront locale. Whether you prefer a day trip or a longer vacation, hitting the water in these locations won’t disappoint.



With 32 miles of gulf beaches, Galveston is a convenient getaway destination for everyone from families and multi-generational gatherings to girlfriend and couple getaways. You can make a splash in the ocean, hit the slides at Schlitterbahn, check out the dolphins on a harbor cruise or the ferry to Bolivar island. Moody Gardens offers its own beach with movies, fireworks and live music as well as sunset dinner cruises aboard the Colonel Paddlewheel boat throughout the summer.

For the ultimate ocean getaway hop on one of the many cruise ships that call the Port of Galveston home. Now the fourth busiest port in the United States, in 2023 the port set new records with more than five cruise lines, 13, more than 350 scheduled sailings and an estimated 1.3 million-plus passengers. There are cruises for every budget and itineraries for every schedule.

While all the beaches are free and easily accessible, the beach is just a bonus in this historic city filled with a multitude of activities for all ages and interests. Discover the rich history which includes many stories of immigration in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the 1877 tall ship Elissa, Juneteenth, the Great Storm of 1900, ghost and cemetery tours and many historic homes to tour.

Colonel Paddlewheel boat at Moody Gardens on the water.
Colonel Paddlewheel Boat | Photo Courtesy: Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas

In a nod to Galveston’s diversity, there is a wide variety of cuisines available in restaurants throughout the island. Galveston is becoming a foodie town with a combination of new restaurants and many long-time family-owned favorites.Fresh seafood is abundant in many restaurants and for sale at seafood markets specializing in fresh-caught offerings from local shrimpers and fishermen.

Another bonus of a visit to Galveston is the proximity of many activities that make for excellent day outings. NASA is a short 34 miles away with a huge variety of tours including breakfast with an astronaut. Houston activities are approximately 51 miles and include the Houston Museum of Natural History, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, The Children’s Museum, the Houston Zoo and Astros baseball.

Whether you are headed down for a weekend or a week, a dive into Galveston won’t disappoint.

River (Kayaking, Rafting, Floating/Tubing)

Is there any better way to spend a day than a leisurely float down a cool river? Rather than a tube, is a raft or a kayak more your style? Fortunately for Austinites, there are several lazy and fast-moving rivers nearby where you can beat the heat. Planning ahead is a must. Beat the crowds on weekdays and avoid holiday weekends.

San Marcos River

Located a short 30-minute drive from Austin, the San Marcos River provides the most convenient spot to go tubing and float on a lazy day. The river is spring fed so it never runs dry. The water temperature is always at a refreshing 72 degrees. The San Marcos can be crowded with a party vibe, as it is a favorite of both UT and Texas State students. Rio Vista Park provides river access where you can rent or bring your own tubes, canoes, paddle boards and kayaks. Several outfitters provide tube rentals and transportation packages including the local LionsClub which uses the tube rental project as a fundraiser to support local organizations and educational opportunities. There are two sections of the river to enjoy—one provides a short hour to hour and half family-friendly float.The other option is great for groups and takes around three hours.

New Braunfels

New Braunfels is home to not just one, but two beautiful rivers—the Guadalupe and the Comal. Nothing beats the heat like floating down these cool rivers. The area is a favorite vacation destination for over night as well as day trips with many options for dining, shopping, activities, wineries and breweries and lodging. Cabin rentals and campsites can be found on River Road, a scenic stretch of road which runs along the water.

People floating the Comal River in New Braunfels, Texas
People floating in the Comal River | Photo Courtesy: City of New Braunfels

Comal River

Although the Comal is the shortest navigable river in Texas it is a popular spot for tubing because of its location near the many activities offered in nearby New Braunfels and Gruene. Spring-fed and a constant 70 to 72 degrees, the Comal is only fifty miles from Austin. It takes about 3 hours to float this lazy river with plenty of time to catch your favorite band at Gruene Hall—one of Texas’ most historic and iconic dance halls. As you float the river you will pass Schlitterbahn, a giant water park and family favorite way to continue making a summer splash.


The lower Guadalupe begins at the Canyon Lake dam and winds through the Texas Hill Country to New Braunfels. The water is crystal clear, and tubing is the most popular activity, but many adventure seekers also enjoy rafting, canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

Beautifully scenic if camping and spending more time in nature appeals to you, the Guadalupe is the place to be. Cabin rentals and campsites can be found on River Road, a scenic stretch of road which runs along the water.

Open for floating seven days a week, dependent on good tubing conditions as the water released fromCanyon Lake into the Guadalupe River fluctuates depending on periodic drought conditions. Check ahead as river conditions, river flow and water levels often vary.


A group of friends enjoying their beers at Margaritaville Resort at Lake Conroe in Texas
Photo Courtesy: Margaritaville Resort at Lake Conroe Texas

Lake Conroe

While Houstonians know that Lake Conroe is a best-kept secret splash-down destination, it is unknown to most Austinites. A two and a half hour drive brings you to the 21,000-acre lake with 157 miles of shoreline and extends 21 miles from Conroe to the Sam Houston National Forest. Home to resorts Margaritaville and La Toretta as well as Deep Lake Lodge Spa Resort, Lake Conroe offers the perfect R&R getaway for boating, sailing, swimming and fishing.

Although Conroe is the fastest growing city in Texas, you can explore small-town Texas living in historic Montgomery and Conroe. Both have quaint downtowns where you can shop, go antiquing and enjoy a variety of restaurants, bars and pubs. The area is also home to several wineries, breweries and distilleries.

A family enjoying the spalsh pad at Margaritaville in Lake Conroe Texas
Photo Courtesy: Margaritaville Resort at Lake Conroe Texas

Lake Buchanan

Fifty miles northwest of Austin you will find the second largest of the Highland Lakes.Thirty miles long and five miles wide, the lake has 124 miles of shoreline.Unique among the Highland Lakes, LakeBuchanan has granite gravel shores along portions of the lake that provide an ideal beach for swimming, wading and sunbathing.

While many nearby lakes are low due to the drought, Lake Buchanan is 75% full and is a favorite destination for boaters, campers, fishermen and swimmers.It is also a prime spot for bird watchers and you can catch a glimpse of eagles, ospreys, blue herons and hawks on theVanishing River Cruise.

There are many options for lodging including several “glamping resorts” and state parks with cabins and campsites.The area is a foodie’s delight known for barbecue, breweries and wineries. Explore Marble Falls to find locally owned shops and restaurants. The pies at the Bluebonnet Café are legendary



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