“I heard this was a no-judgment zone!” laughed a woman, wine glass in hand, as she settled into a table on the patio at Ino’z Brew & Chew, a burgers-and-fries joint on Wimberley’s main drag overlooking a scenic portion of Cypress Creek. The woman’s friends responded with cheers and clinks.
Weird and wild Wimberley has long been a place free of judgment, as its population of artists and artisans can attest. It’s a place where letting it all hang out is met with high-fives and cold longnecks. And nowhere is this more apparent than at the town's assortment of swimming holes, its chief attraction during the long, hot Central Texas summer.
Far from other see-and-be-seen on-the-water destinations, Wimberley has more of a swim-and-be-sweet vibe. Borrowing sunscreen or even grabbing a spare beer from another group of revelers is not uncommon, and few are likely to notice your cute new suit or pedicure. They’re too busy relaxing on their inner tubes or jumping off limestone precipices into the ice-cold, crystal-clear water below.
Two of the town’s most popular swimming holes—Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole—fill up fast during these mid-year months, so we’d booked a room at The Lodge at Cypress Falls, a recently renovated motel built in 1949 with private river access. While the charming old motel doesn’t have great in-room wi-fi or landlines (things we didn’t miss much, by the way), it does offer a tavern with views onto Cypress Creek, rentable canoes and kayaks, tennis and shuffleboard courts, nightly s’mores bonfires and stargazing classes, and—most importantly—quick and easy access to swimming and tubing.
Thanks to small dams at either end, this portion of Cypress Creek is more like a massive natural swimming pool than a swift stream, making it ideal for children and adults alike. Friendly ducks and elegant egrets populate the banks, while deer come to drink at dawn and dusk. Like the lodge itself, it’s relaxing and restorative, though rowdier spots can easily be found up and down both Cypress Creek and the Blanco River, if that’s your scene.
After a day spent working up a sweat hiking, there’s nothing like cooling down with a dip in the creek and a nap on a cozy inner tube in the sun. There was snoring and perhaps some drooling involved, but luckily for us, Wimberley is a judgment-free zone.
- Don’t-miss dishes: Chicharrón and chorizo breakfast tacos at Mima’s Kitchen; lemon bars and cake balls at Sugar Shack Bakery; seafood lasagna, bourbon-cured gravlax and pecan-crusted rainbow trout at Jobell Café & Bistro
- Stay: The Lodge at Cypress Falls, from $85/night
- Do: Browse the 475 booths at Wimberley Market Days, the oldest outdoor market in the Hill Country, the first Saturday of each month. Explore the shops and eateries along town’s main drag, or take a mini road-trip south on Ranch Road 12 to the Wimberley Glassworks, which specializes in art, glass and lighting. Make the short drive to Pedernales Falls State Park, where waterfalls, hiking, biking and equestrian trails await.
Tubing the Comal River in New Braunfels has become a rite of passage for any Texan, and there’s an abundance of rental spots in the area (Rockin’ R provides tubes and shuttle service to both the Comal and the Guadalupe Rivers). Equally essential is a trip to the Lone Star State’s best waterpark, Schlitterbahn.
When you’re not swimming the cool, deep waters of the Colorado River–fed Lake LBJ in Horseshoe Bay, you can rent stand-up paddleboards and other watercraft from the Horseshoe Bay Resort, book rides for the youngsters on its Skippers Shark Tubes, or relax in one of its four pools, including the kid-friendly Turtle Beach and the adult-friendly, lagoon-like Stargazer Beach overlooking the lake.
After the rugged, two-hour hike to spectacular Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park near Bend, you’re going to want to cool off—but you can’t swim here. Instead, head down the Colorado River along the Spicewood Springs trail to the series of shallow pools formed by small travertine dams as the river travels downstream. There are plenty of shady campsites nearby if you decide to make the spot your destination for the weekend.