Summer in central Texas is hard to beat. Long hot days make the area's many unique swimming holes a perfect destination for man, woman and their favorite dog alike. Although many parks are off limits to dogs, there are a surprising number of places deep in the heart of Texas where your four-legged friends are welcome with some restrictions.
In the Austin area, the best choice for water loving puppies is Red Bud Isle, where the whole park is open to dogs off leash. As the name suggests, this park is really an island in the Colorado River. It's located just below the Tom Miller Dam (map) and minutes from downtown Austin. Be careful of river flows when the dam is releasing water downstream as currents can be swift and unpredictable.
Another popular choice in Austin, though more crowded, is Auditorium Shores park located just across Lady Bird Lake from downtown. The off leash area at Auditorium Shores extends from South 1st Avenue to Bouldin Avenue (map).
Some of the local greenbelts also give Fido the opportunity to get his paws wet. Shoal Creek greenbelt off of Lamar between 24th and 29th streets is a popular off-leash area in the heart of Austin. You can also bring your pet to the Barton Creek greenbelt but he or she must be leashed while in the park.
Heading south out of Austin, Ramon Lucio Park in San Marcos is the perfect place for your pooch to practice her backstroke. Leashes are required out of the water. The park is located downstream of Cheatham Street. You'll probably see a kayaker or two as well, but no swimmers or tubers as they tend to end their voyages at Rio Vista Park, just upstream.
Continuing south, the next town you'll come to bills itself as the water recreation capital of Texas. New Braunfels is the home of Schlitterbahn, one of the world's most popular water parks. In addition, you'll find tubing on both the Guadalupe and Comal Rivers.
For the dog lover, the place to go in New Braunfels is Cypress Bend Park. This hidden gem of a park on the Guadalupe River is the perfect dog-friendly venue. It's located well away from the more crowded tubing area, so it's perfect for your pet.
In addition to Cypress Bend Park, the New Braunfels Aquatic Center at Landa Park opens its spring fed swimming pool to dogs twice a year, once in early spring and again in late summer. The "Doggie Dip" as the event is known, is popular and draws dogs from as far as Austin and San Antonio.
This summer promises to be a scorcher in central Texas. Make plans now to take your dog for a swim. It's a great way to spend the day, not only for your pooch but for you as well.
For more information:
City of Austin Parks
Ramon Lucio Park, San Marcos
Cypress Bend Park, New Braunfels