After living in the Bay Area for over 12 years, this summer is the first real hot one I’ve had in over a dozen years. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the weather of San Francisco – most people complain about the fog and constant 55 degree coastal breeze. I miss it very much each and everyday. However, having a summer where I can wear shorts and swim regularly has been a really nice change!
John and I took advantage of the summer sun and swimming whenever we could, and I’m the tannest I’ve been since I was 23. Here is a list of our favorite outdoor activities this season.
Day passes to this hip hotel on the East Side are about $40 per person for half day, either 12-4pm or 4-8pm. We decided to stay the night and take full advantage of this pool, so we got a last minute deal on Hotel Tonight for $100 for a badass room and view. Parking was free and we swam both days for only $20 extra of what would have been a half day activity. It was right after we got engaged and felt like continuing to celebrate, and a much better deal IMO. I love this hotel!
2. Lake Travis
Everyone needs to experience a boat day at Lake Travis at least ONCE throughout their life! I remember doing party boats back in the day when I was a college student at UT. This summer our pals rented out a lake house with a view from AirBnb for the month of June. We had lovely swimming day together where I got completely burnt for the first time in YEARS. Definitely make friends with the neighbors – they gave us a free evening boat ride to catch the sunset!
3. Barton Creek Greenbelt
Although I lived in Austin throughout the 00’s while in college, I never swam in the Greenbelt! HOW is this possible?! Most of the time I was too busy with school or work, or it was super dry without much water. This summer we finally made it happen and it was awesome! John loved it and had never experienced anything like this natural wonder out in CA (though there’s lots of swimming holes outside of Sacramento close to Auburn!)
4. Tubing the Guadalupe Horseshoe Bend
In central Texas, you TUBE in the summer. I grew up tubing the Guadalupe horseshoe regularly. My dad wrote a murder mystery eco-thriller about a death along the river when I was in high school. I took John on this river trip the first time he came to Texas back in 2014, but we haven’t been since. We decided to go with our friends Jen and Ian who we regularly explore with one Saturday afternoon. It was so crowded! The water was pretty low and took us about 2 hours to float the shoe. The part that always bothers me is getting stuck in a whirlpool while the rest of your party swirls past you, but luckily it’s pretty quick. Also when the water is low your butt hits the rocks so it’s great to have a tube with a hard bottom.
I still laugh about our first trip down the river; we recently visited Shiner brewery and John wore a Shiner trucker hat he purchased. With a 6 pack of Lonestar in tow, some dudes who tubed next to us took one look at John and said “That man there- this isn’t his first rodeo! He’s a true Texan” – and I corrected them and said “Actually it IS his first rodeo, and he’s from San Francisco!” – the LOOK on their faces was priceless. But John is great like that – he fits in wherever he goes ❤
5. Barton Springs Pool
Barton Springs is THEE quintessential natural pool in Austin. There is a small fee to enter the park but there is a “free” side on the other side of the barrier where folks bring their dogs, coolers, and party. The natural pool has tons of algae so it’s a bit slippery and some adjustment if you aren’t used to it, but the cold refreshing water in a unique setting is beautiful and a great experience! Plus you can canoe or kayak out into Town Lake.
6. Port Aransas Beach
We originally got the cutest Airbnb in Port Aransas for John and I’s birthday week this past February, but decided to postpone until summer to celebrate my sister Bryana’s birthday instead and take full advantage of summer activites. This was the ultimate place to stay not far from the water, with a private pool and John and I had our own private suite!
It was so fun! I enjoyed getting in the pool multiple times a day – I was so incredibly tan after this trip and all the other swimming outings we’ve had. We had our own private golf cart that we drove all around the island which was fun and something I’ve never done before. It had a lot of Weekend at Bernie’s vibes.
I remember going to this shark beach tourist store when I was a kid, so naturally my sister and I had to get a pic.
This was also John’s first true beach weekend in warm water. Every time I’ve tried to take him to the beach in the past my family has stepped in and said he wouldn’t like it because he’s from California and the Pacific Ocean is gorgeous (which it IS). But the gulf also has its own natural beauty as well!
Also there was a school of baby crabs that floated in the water and freaked out my niece, it was super bizarre. We had a lot of fun with our family making memories!
7. Austin Motel Pool
I’ve never swam at the pool at Austin Motel but we bought passes for the Purple Rain night and it was adorable! They also have evenings where they show movies and you can float in the pool all night. It’s definitely something you need to get in advance because of the size (especially during COVID).
As summer 2021 comes to a close, I’m very thankful for creating new memories with John and our family and friends. I admit I can’t wait for the fall weather and we all know that Halloween is my favorite! I’m already planning for our Halloween costume reveal 🙂