13 Natural Places Near San Antonio to Swim, Wade, or Just Dip Your Toes!

“Just take me somewhere I can submerge myself in fresh water,” I told my husband two summers ago when we were mid-pandemic and had nowhere to go. 

Luckily we found a private campsite that was selling day passes for families to spend the day at their campgrounds. 

The river looked heavenly beneath the Texas sun, and I went straight to the wooden pier without hesitation. 

That first jump from the pier into the cold, fresh water felt amazing—so liberating! My limbs embraced the cold and my smile was as big as my face. 

Water has that quality—to bring us peace and joy. 

In San Antonio we are very fortunate to be surrounded by state parks and private parks that allow you to dip your toes—or your whole body—into refreshing rivers and lakes. 

Here are some of them: 


Cibolo Nature Center: This is a wonderful spot to enjoy an easy hike through the natural landscape that takes you to the creek. You can dip your toes in the water, and toddlers and small children can enjoy the shallow area. I’ve seen some kids wade around in the deeper areas as well. I love the view of the huge cypress trees surrounding the creek. 

No reservations needed. 

Free entrance; donations are accepted at drop-boxes.  

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–dusk 

Guadalupe River State Park: This park has four miles of river frontage where you can swim, fish, tube, and canoe. I love that the river backs up to a bluff, gifting you with a breathtaking view. There are plenty of shallow areas where little ones can enjoy the water. There are also areas where you can camp overnight. 

Make reservations online before heading there because admission is limited. 

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. 

Entrance Fee: $7 per adult; Free for children under 12 years

New Braunfels 

Landa Park: I love this park because it has a lot of amenities surrounding Landa Lake. You’ll find a miniature train, miniature golf, paddle boats, playgrounds, and much more. But if you want to get in the water, there is a free spot called the Wading Pool where you can escape the heat, and it’s easy to keep an eye on the kids. 

Hours: 6:00 a.m.–midnight 

Entrance Fee: Free, but there is a fee for some of the activities. 

Hinman Island Park: This park is located near Landa Park on Hinman Island Drive. It’s best to get there early on the weekends because parking is limited. You can enjoy open swimming in the Comal River and it is a good spot for beginners. BBQ pits and picnic tables are available. 

Hours: 6:00 a.m.–midnight 

Entrance Fee: The park is free, but parking and other amenities may have a fee. 

Cypress Bend Park: This is another New Braunfels park that has river access. Kids can enjoy the refreshing Comal River from the beach area. Take lawn chairs and sit in the river to get the best experience. 

Hours: 6:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. 

Entrance Fee: Free


Garner State Park: Described by a friend as one of the best places to swim in a river, this park is a must for families that like adventure. Besides swimming, you can tube or rent a paddle boat. Hiking, fishing, miniature golf, and picnic tables are available, and a dance pavilion will make your experience memorable. If you want to prolong your stay, cabins and campsites are available. 

Make reservations online to secure your spot in advance.

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. 

Entrance Fee: $8 per adult; Free for children under 12 years 

Canyon Lake 

Comal Park: This park has beach-like access to the lake. It has a playground, picnic area, and volleyball court, as well as kayak and SUP rentals. 

The park fills up quickly during the summer—sometimes as early as 10:00 a.m.—so get there early. There are no reservations. 

Hours vary by season.

Entrance fee: $5 per vehicle with a Comal County registration sticker; $20 per non-Comal County registered vehicle

Renting a boat for the day at Canyon Lake: This is a great way to enjoy Canyon Lake. There are many places to rent a boat, but Canyon Lake Marina is a great place to start. You can rent water skis and other fun water equipment or just cruise around the lake, anchor the boat, and float around. It is well worth it! 


Blue Hole Regional Park: This is a natural, spring-fed swimming hole that has been on my bucket list for a while. The pictures look gorgeous, and my kids (and I!) would love to swing from their iconic rope swings.

Make reservations in advance. 

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–sunset

Entrance fee: $6–$12

Jacob’s Well Natural Area: This is a breathtaking artesian spring that comes from the Trinity Aquifer. It is the second-largest fully submerged cave in Texas. To swim here you need to make reservations, as only 60 swimmers are allowed for every two-hour slot.

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

Entrance Fee: $9 per adult; $5 for seniors (60+) and kids ages 5–12; Free for kids ages 4 and under

Johnson City 

Pedernales Falls State Park: This park features a more dynamic interaction with the river, as it flows over huge limestone slabs creating the falls that give it its name. There is also a calmer spot where you can swim, but you have to hike 1/4-mile to get there. 

Make reservations online. 

Hours: 8:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.

Entry Fee: $6 per adult; Free for children 12 years or younger

Other Private Spots with Access to Rivers 

Chalk Bluff River Resort: Located along the Nueces River, 15 minutes outside Uvalde, this place offers beautiful scenery with fun for the whole family. You can swim, fish, kayak, tube, and hike. They also have a petting zoo and a scenic hay ride. 

Cabins are available if you want to stay overnight. Make reservations online, or just show up. 

Hours: 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.

Entry Fee: $15 per person; Holiday weekends are $20 per person. 

Paradise Canyon: This is a beautiful spot along the Medina River. We visited last year on Memorial Day weekend and it was very crowded, but we still had a really good time. Call in advance to reserve your picnic table and ask if they can tell you if it’s shaded, because it makes all the difference. The river is very peaceful and spacious. 

Hours vary by season.

Entrance fee: $45 per carload and $5 per person for more than five people over two years old

I hope this list inspires you to immerse yourself (pun intended) in the beautiful natural areas that surround San Antonio. And if you have more recommendations, please leave them in the comments. 

"Hi! I'm Mariana. I am a petite size Mexican from a city called Guadalajara. Almost eight years ago I arrived to San Antonio pregnant with my little girl. This city has seen my family grow to the party of six we are now. I love being involved in my community and my children's schools have been a great platform for me to contribute. I love all things eco-friendly almost as much as I love tacos al pastor. As a communication studies major, I am drawn to literature, film, and social studies. I love dancing. Before having kids, dancing was a big part of my life. Now my husband and I get to host dancing parties in my kitchen with our four little ones. Of all the places we could have ended up living in, San Antonio, with all the Mexican influence and the friendliness of Texans, seems like the perfect fit for our family. "