All Around Austin

Barton Springs–A Jewel of a Pool with Burgers and Treats

Shady Grove. 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas.
With solid hamburger and tasty queso on a tree shaded patio, Shady Grove is a Austin must. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Carful of Kids love the pool and they love a natural pool even better. Austin gets hot in the summer so we head to the legendary Barton Springs Pool to cool off. First the kids need something to eat and I know a great place nearby.

Best Burgers Near Barton Springs

Kids love burgers. So we stop at Shady Grove, an Austin original, before heading over to the pool. Nestled in a grove of pecan trees since 1992, it has become an Austin icon and a must-do for families.

Barton Springs Pool offers a spring-fed pool in the center of Austin.
A basket of chips with a side of queso and salsa keeps the kids happy.

Shady Grove serves family-friendly fare for kids and adults. I recommend a small Queso since Queso is the unofficial dip of Texas. I like to keep it simple in the summer so burgers top our list too.

I’ve been on a burger quest lately and the Shady Grove Burger is a serious contender. With a juicy patty in-between sizable toasted buns and it comes with all the fixings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles with the mustard and mayonnaise on the side. The Shady Grove Burger is a mouthful and so worth it. They cut the onion rings and french fries on-site to accompany the burger perfectly.

A juicy patty between soft bakery buns with a side of onion rings and fries.

The menu features classic dishes like Chicken Fried Steak, Frito Pies, Chili Dogs and for the vegetarians–a Hippie Sandwich along with a selection of salads and sandwiches. For the best seating, sit outside. Even on the hottest of days, it’s pleasant with the shade of the pecan trees and abundant fans.

Shady Grove, 1624 Barton Springs Road, offers indoor and outdoor seating and parking in back. Open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Barton Springs Pool for Families

Barton Springs Pool offers a spring-fed pool in the center of Austin.
Offering three acres of family fun, Barton Springs Pool keeps kids entertained on a hot summer day.

Barton Springs Pool,three acres in size and fed by the Main Barton Springs, features a diving board and sits on the channel of Barton Creek. The water temperature ranges from 68F to 72F with a depth from 0 to 18 feet. It has a more rustic feel than its neighbor 2.5 miles away Deep Eddy Pool.

The Indians of the area originally discovered Barton Springs, then Spanish explorers built a temporary mission nearby in the 17th century. It was named in 1837 by William Barton who settled and developed the area and the last private owner, Andrew Zilker gifted the area to the City of Austin.

Barton Springs Pool offers a spring-fed pool in the center of Austin.
Barton Springs Pool lights up at night.

The City of Austin increased the size of the pool by damming the springs and building sidewalks during the 1920s. A bathhouse modeled after the Deep Eddy Pool Bathhouse, complete with a courtyard, was built in the 1940s.

TheBarton Springs Salamander calls Barton Springs Pool home. Welearned about them and the aquifer that supplies the water to the springs atSplash!,a free exhibit located next to the pool. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m., this exhibit is geared towards school-aged kids.

Looking to explore Austin, Texas, with your family? I've pulled together of day full of summer fun for your family.

The carful of kids paddle around and the oldest son waits in line for his turn at the diving board. We enjoy the late afternoon and before too long it’s dark.

Barton Springs Poolis located at 2201 Barton Springs Rd., in the center of the Austin action in Zilker Park. Open year-round from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., though 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. is unguarded swim for the lap swimmers.

Admission is charged from late April until October 31. Adult admission is $9, juniors (ages 12 to 17) and seniors (62+) is $5, kids (1 to12) is $4 and babies are free. Closed on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for cleaning and during flash flood events.

Nearby Snacks for Kids

Barton Springs Pool offers a spring-fed pool in the center of Austin.
After a swim, my kids want a snack. Sandy’s Frozen Custard offers another Austin Fav.

The carful of kids load up and need ice cream, well frozen custard.Sandy’s Frozen Custard and Root Beerat 603 Barton Springs Rd. offers a drive-thru serving up burgers, corndogs, fries and along with their frozen custard concoctions for over a generation.

The kids order a root beer floats and I go for the old stand by–vanilla custard in a cone. My cone of custard has the same taste and mouth feel as the homemade ice cream that my mom used to make. YUM!

Sandy’s offers a walk-up window and picnic tables.

Know before you go:

  • During the summer, the Zilker Hillside Theater hosts an evening summer musical Thursday to Sunday.
  • Zilker Park charges $5 for parking during the weekends.
  • Topless sunbathing is permitted at Barton Springs Pool. Most sunbathers lay out on the hillside farthest away from the family area.
  • I recommend wearing water shoes.
  • Food and coolers are prohibited but you can bring in resealable drinks in plastic containers.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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