This year, the big news is not what swims in the sea, but what flies in the air, as this SeaWorld-adjacent waterpark opens Roa's Aviary. By foot, lazy river, or wading pool, water revelers can peep in on 50 species of bird and get edumacated by aviculturists at the only Aquatica attraction open to SeaWorld visitors year-round.
Closed five years ago on the eve of summer, leaving the Windsor and Mueller neighborhoods a veritable desert, Bartholomew has since gotten more than a new 'do. The elaborate foundation repair and redesign wraps in June, when the new 51st Street complex of pools returns, complete with a big blue water slide and a diving board. The splash pad in the corner of the park opens May 17, just in time to provide relief from the heat. Hallelujah. (Check out our Bartholomew pre-opening photo gallery of this lovely new attraction.)
After years of being a "thing" in Europe, cable parks are catching on in the U.S. Wakeboarders are pulled around a bevy of features like ramps and rail slides. Owned by Baylor-alum Stuart Parsons, this Waco park has it figured out, for in addition to a second bi-level lake, BSR also boasts a bar and grill, cabins, a weeklong summer camp, mud runs, lemurs, and the occasional and supremely fun night ride.
Visual arts, media, and the dramatic arts find their beachfront property with this upstart studio using the Texas coast as inspiration. Performers, writers, and models who want to take advantage of this scenery and setting, or who want to bring their talents to a coastal scene should get in touch and help make this project take root.
This park has 151 picnic tables! It's huge, not to mention beautiful. It does sport an $8 cover charge, but that modest fee includes state park level beauty and lakefront camping, boating, and sporting opportunities at city park prices. Did we mention that the park offers four volleyball courts?
Seeded in Garland, Texas, a decade ago, Hawaiian Falls is opening a new branch in Pflugerville this summer. Run on biblical principles (last year the park held a "modesty matters" event with nary a wink nor nudge), manages to still lure us heathens to ride "The Rush" – a tube slide where riders pick the soundtrack for their plunge. Perhaps Yonce is too risque, but we'll hold out for ABBA.
Corpus' backyard water park resides snugly next to Minor League Baseball's home of the CC Hooks, Whataburger Field, making this a locus of relief from the summer's blistering heat. This summer, they add the Coastal Bend's first FlowRider surf simulator. Added bonus: Dive-in Movie Tuesdays, featuring fun fare like Jaws, Goonies, and Soul Surfer, all summer long.
A gorgeous slice of Texas down-home Hill Country luxury with 500 rooms, a 27-hole golf course (what?!), boutique spa, and mini-water park, featuring our closest FlowRider outside of a theme park, and home of the North American Flow Tour 2014 of the Flowboarding League of the World.
Over 50 years of the pursuit of excellence have left their mark on this round-the-corner getaway. For a top-tier resort experience without the travel time and cost, Lakeway Resort and Spa provides luxury escapes and posh meeting and retreat experiences without leaving the 512. Staycation? Yes, please!
Ready to float the Guadalupe River, check out a little Texas history in Gruene, run down to Schlitterbahn for a day or two, and perhaps add in a day trip to San Antonio for Texas history completist urges? This lodge near Canyon Lake can provide a sweet home base retreat for a rich and varied (and wet and wild) summer vacay.
We've all done it - the lightning-fast transition into the cool waters of Barton Springs awakens an animal instinct, making it an almost foregone conclusion. Wait …. Did you think we were talking about peeing in Barton Springs? Shame. No, we're bragging on Martha Grenon's photos of swimmers in Barton Springs which will inspire a new generation of under-the-water eye-openers. Grenon's photos are like a dazzlingly meditative and musical poem in the vein of an Esther Williams aquamusical.
Located near the Circuit of the Americas track, Quest ATX is Austin's cable park – think skate park for wakeboarders, sans boats. Though open for almost a solid year, the grand opening (and crawfish boil) happens May 17. Strap on your GoPro, bro (etc.), and get to gettin' until dark.
Doggies need surf, too. Yes, Fido, it's off-leash so you, too, can hang loose.
Two shakes of a foam noodle from Old Settlers Park is the north side's community water playscape. If you live in the neighborhood, entrance costs $6 for adults and $5 for kids. If you live outside Round Rock, pay an extra buck.
Especially long, torturous months of winter can only be countered with Schlitterbahn. Stay close to home and visit the original, which opened for 2014 on Easter weekend, or trek over to Galveston Island for a dip in the Kristal Beach. Kansas City's Verrückt is the tallest water slide in the world, propelling the raft above 60 mph. If that prospect makes you lose your shorts, just go relax at the South Padre resort. And new for this year: Corpus Christi welcomes its own Schlitterbahn, slated to open this summer.
Take a few plunges down the Superman and munch on some amusement park fare, but don't forget Fiesta Texas' White Water. It returns this summer with the old favorite Texas-shaped wave pool, and a flashy new slide, the six-story tall Bahama Blaster.
Splashtown may not get the same love as certain other parks, but the 20-acre funplex boasts 50 rides and low admission, making it an easy day out, even if you've got a herd of kids. The Houston version recently underwent a major facelift. Road trip anyone?
We gave TSR a "Best of Austin" in 2007 for "Best Deep Water Start Without a Boat," noting the 70-acre lake-sports megaplex's muscle to pull wakeboarders, knee boarders, and water-skiers on what turned out to be the first man-made cable-way lake around.
This living, breathing tribute to Texas surf culture offers an ever-changing gallery of surfin'alia (we're counting on a certain Surf Texas author to mount a major show there soon), a hub for the region's Surfrider chapter, and a bitchin' record store.
The high-class relative of the Central Texas water parks, Shore Club Volente Beach uses a casual dining restaurant and its proximity to Lake Travis to brag at the family picnic.
Austin lakefront fun since 1954! Though it continues in a family-friendly tradition, it covers that Austin range from "Ozzie & Harriet" to "Ozzy Osbourne" – a worthy visit for a family outing or a family affair (meaning, for example, a wedding).
From longboards for an extreme day out, or a simple boogie board for the kids, Bingo Boards has got the bottoms of your feet covered. Surf lessons go for $100 per hour, so they've got your pockets covered, too.
Ever stop and think: “Man, I really wish I had a houseboat…”? These Daybreakers can actually make wishes like that come true. Spend the day jetting around Lake Travis on the ark of your choice: ski boat, party boat, or pontoon.
Float! Float onnnnnn! Party boats! And more! Including a variety of boat rental options for festive occasions, whatever their motivations. They're located on Lake Austin, so after a bite at the Hula Hut (no fishbowl drinks, please), we can float on down the lake in our pontoon or speedboat for an evening to remember.
For the ladies who want to look more Bettie than Gisele this summer, Frock on Vintage has a stellar selection of old school suits. (And their prices are far from standard Austin vintage fare.) From high-waisted bikinis to one pieces, you're sure to find the perfect pinup look here.
Across a nimble stretch of the Guadalupe from the oldest dance hall in the state, Gruene River Co. has happily outfitted tourists with tubes, rafts, and canoes since 1987. Cold beer and honky-tonk tunes go down a lot easier after a day soaking in the sun.
Avast, ye barnacles! Hula Boat Care is an Austin-native, eco-friendly marine surface-care line offering products to clean, preserve, and protect every marine surface that sails the seven seas (or any Central Texas lake). Swab those decks with a little less yo-heave-ho and a little more ooh-la-la.
Whether you're catching some waves or cruising the streets, these Island Natives can outfit you with a wide array of surfboards, bicycles, and skateboards, not to mention oodles of clothing and accessories (sunglasses, lip balm, and flip-flops, oh my!). So go ahead and add some swagger to that long walk on the beach.
Pool floaties can only keep an Austinite occupied for so long. Party barge, pontoon, or wave runner rentals are where it's at in everything's-bigger-in-Texas. Leave the dock by 8:30am for an early bird rate. Plan to make reservations, especially on the weekend.
Wakeboarding, rafts, pontoons galore. Hire a boat with its very own captain, or let the Wetbus drive your giggly friends through wine and food-trailer tours. Or how about a paddleboard excursion after a brewery jaunt? Oh, these blessed days of summer.
A rental company so thrilling they added a Z at the end of their name. Party with your posse? They've got a pontoon for that. Wanna get close to that hotness you met in 'Turbomachinery and Compressible Flow' class? Scoop 'em up and put 'em on the back of a waverunner. Prefer to wakeboard solo due to your virulently anti-social nature? Liquid Thrillz provides a wake boat driver so you can commune with nature and think about what your therapist told you in session last Thursday.
As any X Game lover knows, surfing and skating is like chocolate and peanut butter, Tina and Amy. These two things belong together. Clearly this Galveston surf and skate shop got the memo. Send the wee ones to surf camp, pad adult bodies for skate lessons, or rent the SUP or surfboard of your choosing. Looking to really invest in your new beachy lifestyle? Learn it here, buy it here.
Hey, peacock, whether your summer jam is "Hawaiianette" by Annette Funicello (RIP) or Sia's "Chandelier," you gotta have the right moves to make the menfolk drop trou. Your favorite super-duper gay undie/jock/fetish/swimwear store is always there to help you in such times of need, so you can… you know… help others. Ahem. And if you happen to be a straight guy (most likely European or South American) disregard everything in this blurb after the word "moves."
Boating Industry magazine has ranked these locals as top (No. 1 or 2) in the nation for four years running. Snowbirds will definitely want to score loyalty points, too, as Sail & Ski offers the best of both water worlds – flowing and frozen. As summer kicks in, the "lake lifestyle" takes priority, and this spot is a great one-stop-shop before hitting the waves – from their Turn-Key Boat Club to full-on watercraft ownership and every accessory in between.
The first wakesurf company in the world, they say, founded in 1999, a Cali import, and now Austin's very own brand. This local company offers wakesurfboards in a variety of lengths, widths, thicknesses, and volumes, plus a line of off-the-rack, competition-ready pro gear.
Forget house parties. Travel outside those city sensibilities and climb aboard the Sunshine Machine. Let your inner child come out, play “I Spy” for waterfowl, or hide-and-seek on the multi-tiered levels. Too much work? Then kick back and sunbathe while coasting along the Colorado for as many hours as reserved, and let the crew handle the rest.
Summer means makeovers: new clothes, new gear, new boat accessories, or hell, maybe just a new boat. Fill all those cravings at Texas Malibu. Buy a boat, or its embellishments, or get all of it detailed in Austin or New Braunfels. That’s double the locations for double the stuff. Still craving more? Boardstop is just next-door for all your watersporting fashion needs.
Homegrown in Austin over three decades, the Ski Dock is serious about maximizing the Central Texas laketop experience. They offer new and pre-owned boats and waverunners, and a fully stocked pro shop. Their service team will keep your baby way more than afloat.
Fledgling wake riders in need of equipment: Look no further than the Wake Shop's year-round supply of gear. Test the waters with a board demo, or impulse buy a pair of flashy shades. Bundle up your pooch in a dog life jacket. Skip will surely thank you.
Landlocked residents rejoice, surfing – no, no, not surfboardt – is happening right here in Austin. If you haven’t heard of wakesurfing yet, or if you’ve wanted to try it, Austin Wakesurf offers lessons galore. These lake-savvy senseis promise to have you standing in less than five minutes. Do you dare drop that rope?
The "Executive" is for real: EW vows to "create a lavish positive environment" for its students in "Austin's most elite youth development facility." Beyond the boardroom-speak, what EW promises is simply raucous bonding time ("relationship building") between student and instructor. Whether wakeboarding or going over the Zen of motorboat maintenance, threepiece suit and tie are never required for their four-day summer camps.
Any school can boast a Who's Who of instructors, but one look at Kimery Duda and crew's massive menu of community-centric classes focused on good enviro-citizenship and rad water skills, makes the Expedition School the What's What of Austin water safety, stewardship, conservation, and respect.
From seasoned wakeboarders to shaky-kneed novices, FWS ensures a wild ride complete with spins and tricks to keep your friends throwin' shakas all summer. Wipe out proudly in a group lesson, or get one-on-one tutoring.
Surf gods are made, not born. With a 4:1 student to instructor ratio, Island Surf Camp bets on your surf sanctity. Cursed be the rip current, blessed be the waves of Galveston. Amen.
Slather on that sunblock and crank up the Beach Boys, because South Padre Surf Company is on a mad mission to get even the most tentative land mammal catching waves on the first lesson.
Port A, Galveston, and Corpus offer more than just beautiful beaches and relaxing getaways. Texas Surf Camps, directed by Texas surf legend Morgan Faulkner, throws the state's premier weeklong know-down for the aspiring Gulf Coast surfer. And what adventure vacation is complete without a free pedicure courtesy sandy gulf shores and gentle massage by rolling waves?
School’s back in session this summer. But forget the No. 2 pencils and college-ruled binder paper, because these classes take place on the beach. Classes will be traveling through Austin, Corpus, Portland, Port Aransas, and Rockport all summer long, and while the 101s are for kids only, there are extensive public programs, including the Road Scholars adventure for folks over 55. Don't forget to check out the Estuary Explorium.
Going to the beach is not always about thrills or gear, nor is it always about living life as a do-nothing layabout. We go because it's beautiful, the air is fresh, and the sound of the ocean is an irresistible siren's call. Why not indulge in those profound pleasures while doing your Lone Star a favor and meeting like-mindeds participating in the Texas General Land Office's Adopt-a-Beach program? Next time we're headed beachward, we sure will.
We all know what summer in Texas means: Deodorant offers no protection, and we can serve up eggs on the hotter-than-hell sidewalks. Luckily, it's Austin, and there are a whole lotta places to take a dip, swim some laps, and get our sunbathing on. Never got pushed into the pool while growing up and and can't swim? Ain't no thang, the city offers adult swim lessons. So what are ya waiting for? Jump in and let the relaxin' begin.
The largest international surfing event in the world, celebrated annually in late June. This year: Saturday, June 21, 2014.
Let the Web portal to the Lower Colorado River Authority's public parks take you higher. Search by park, search by type of activity, and learn the latest news, then venture deeper into the main site for rivers and rivers of Central Texas natural resource info.
Former pilot turned sea turtle savior, Ila Fox Loetscher fell in love with these adorable creatures while assisting with a nesting project in Mexico. Affectionately called the "The Turtle Lady of South Padre," she founded Sea Turtle, Inc., in 1977, and made it her mission to rehabilitate and rescue sea turtles. Loetscher passed in 2000 but her spirit and foundation live on. Donations are accepted, so be a pal and help save the turtles!
Truth: We're noobs. We don't know what half of the words slayshTank uses mean, but that doesn't mean we don't believe it. Wakesurfing is huge and is bringing surf culture home to our freshwater playpens, and we welcome the inland invasion. This one-stop online media, shopping, and community platform is positioned to become the Big Kahuna of the reservoir revolution.
Texas (aka the best state ever) is home to beautiful landscapes, Willie Nelson, savory barbeque, South by Southwest, and the awesomeness that is Friday Night Lights. Texas Forever! However, one thing we could work on is inland surf. The good people at Surf Park Texas aim to change this little hiccup and bring recreational surfing parks to the lovely Lone Star State. Interested in their cause? Join their Facebook page to support and stay in the know.
Aiming to reconnect with his Seventies teen years spent atop a longboard in Surfside, Texas, Kenny Braun rekindles love for the Gulf Coast in stunning black & white portraits that we can all soak in, baggy jams and all.
Did you know that near San Luis Obispo, CA there's a surfing site called Boners? Yeah, neither did we until we checked surf-forecast.com. This site's stats are sophisticated, and sure to be any surfer's best friend… Boners or no.
Stay a-crest the latest news on Texas' beachfront conditions and local surf culture with this informative site. Surfcams, media updates, and with active Twitter and Facebook presence provide up-to-the-minute info for Texas ocean surfers, along with the means to share and connect.
You can never be too careful, so consult SurfPortA.com and its regular surf report. The good folks also wrangle "island happenings" to keep sand in your toes even in the off season.
Join these gentle riders of the wild surf – our Sierra Club of the sea, if you will – the Big Kahuna stewards who lobby and advocate to protect our precious coastline. Even landlocked CenTex has a chapter.
When you think surfers, you don't usually think of them as "joiners," but even the most disaffected rebel Gulf wave riders know the benefits of the TGSA. The sporting events alone provide opportunities to come together with fellow enthusiasts, and the collective promotion of the sport can only "lift all boats," as it were.
Need a wakeboard, rashguard, wakeskate, or a pair of binders delivered direct to your door? Boardstop.com provides an opportunity to support local business without schlepping across town. For those of us who don't know the difference between those things, their retail shop is located right at Texas Malibu, where we can go all-out and grab a boat to go with!
Salient info about safety courses, gear, instruction, and events all with one flick of the wrist – which could be a great workout to prepare you for holding that towrope.
Sing along now: Wavecation, all I ever wanted... Novice looking for a quiet place to wipe out? Veteran seeking sites unknown? Wavecation breaks down surf spots first by region, then by coast to find the perfect fit to fulfill your darkest travel fantasies.