(Illustration by: Scott Chambers)

Another summer under the southern sun means more months of adventures and escapades throughout the great state of Texas. While Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston are two of the nation’s largest cities, there’s a whole other world beyond Texas’ urban confines. And with summertime temps like these, you’ll be yearning for a place where you, your friends and family can cool off.

Here are some of the many cool places to which you and your crew can escape for some escapades during the dog days of a Texas summer.

Balmorhea

Balmorhea State Park
9207 TX-17, Toyahvale, TX 79786
(432) 375-2370

Beautiful Balmorhea has more than a few hidden gems, including this magnificent state park. Perfect for a party or a picnic, Balmorhea State Park offers 46 acres of swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving space. Known as a cool oasis in the high desert, this West Texas haven also sports the word’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. Start the day off with a dive into the crystal clear water, and then lounge around under the cover of countless centuries-old trees.

Waco

BSR Cable Park
www.bsrcablepark.com

Waco may be known as the home of Baylor and everyone’s favorite house-flipping couple, but BSR Cable Park is worthy of its fair share of attention. This resort getaway includes a lazy river, a sweepingly eye-cat catching park fit for exploring and a mini-water park where guests can learn how to surf. Cable Park offers endless adventures along with plenty of places to chill, wine and dine with your friends. But a mega-sized slip-and-slide may be the main draw for those seeking some cool thrills this summer. The park’s now famous Royal Flush attraction put BSR on the map with a jaw-dropping slide that sends visitors flying across the sunny Texas skyline. Bikes, boards and bellies are all suitable for this slide, which offers more thrills than you can find at any water park. One go on the epic Royal Flush, and you’ll never want to leave this little slice of paradise.

Alpine

Big Bend Brewing Company
bigbendbrewing.com

The brewers and craftsman at Big Bend Brewing Company know that Texas is more than a state—it’s a lifestyle. That spirit is infused into every one of their delicious creations. Big city beermakers made the pilgrimage to this quant Texas town in the shadow of Big Bend National Park with the sole purpose of creating sublime original brews. As anyone lucky enough to escape to Alpine knows, the brass at Big Bend Brewing can definitely declare this mission accomplished. The brewhouse serves over half a dozen original creations, with family- and dog-friendly tours available throughout the week.

Terlingua

Starlight Theatre
thestarlighttheatre.com

Art comes alive at the Starlight Theatre. This famously haunted haven of Texas history is located right on the cusp of Mexico, and in addition to starlight movies and magical murals, visitors can enjoy some of the best food available on either side of the border. Starlight Theatre’s menu includes a wide selection of delicious dishes and drinks. Stay at the Holiday Hotel for a night—or three—and experience all of the haunts and histories that this getaway-ready ghost town has to offer.

New Braunfels

Comal River
innewbraunfels.com/visit/water-recreation/comal-river

Known as “the longest shortest river in the world,” this local favorite is perfect for any kind of aquatic activity you and you posse. Paddle boarding, swimming and of course rafting are all fair game here, and you’d be hard-pressed to beat the lush and scenic views you’ll find while floating down the super cool Comal. Thousands of travelers descend upon Comal and the adjacent Guadalupe River every year, and if you’re in the mood for something slightly more thrilling, head over to the famous Schlitterbahn Water Park.

Whitewater Amphitheater
whitewaterrocks.com

Forget those big venues sprinkled throughout the state—the heart of Texas music lies in New Braunfels. Surrounded by a crystal clear creek, this legendary theatre will soon host the likes of Willie Nelson, John Fogarty, Leon Bridges and more. If you’re in the mood for cold beer, fine food and even finer music, then you’re in luck: Whitewater Amphitheater has it all and then some. Tube on the creek by day, then watch any number of talented performers sing and dance at dusk. It’s the perfect summer activity for Texans of all ages (as long as all of those ages are over 21).

Texas Ski Ranch
texasskiranch.com

Family, friends and adventure seekers unite: New Braunfels’ Texas Ski Ranch is a one-stop shop for fun under the Texas sun. Wakeboarding, skateboarding and every other type of boarding are all on the menu at this adventure park, including snowboarding. Don’t believe me? See for yourself by booking your picture-perfect family getaway to this one-of-a-kind and all-inclusive adventure experience.

Brenham

The Original Blue Bell Creamery
1101 South Blue Bell Road
Brenham, Texas 77833
800-327-8135

A Texas and national treasure was born and bred in Brenham. A group of businessmen banded together during the sweltering summer of 1907, and together founded the Brenham Creamery Company. The first ice cream deliveries were made via horse and wagon, and it would be nearly a quarter century before the Brenham trailblazers adopted the Blue Bell moniker. Visitors to this historic site will learn the story of this Texas treat and, if you’re lucky, walk away with a pint that will have to be eaten between the “exit” sign and your sweltering car.

Brownsville

Boca Chica Beach

Located in the Rio Grande Valley, this little known beach is a prime spot for fishing, birding, camping or cooling off with a swim. It’s also a great place to go if you need a reprieve from the tourist-y Texas locales. Because it is so off the beaten path, its striking sunsets and sandy shores are virtually empty. This makes it an ideal location for anyone seeking a relaxing getaway or a quaint, delightful, nature-filled detour.

Sonora

Caverns of Sonora
cavernsofsonora.com

If you’re seeking an escape from the heat, look no further than the small city of Sonora. There, you’ll find literal caverns of beauty. These world-class caves are complete with rare crystal formations that have wowed visitors for over a century. Come prepared with some water and a snack or two, because with miles of magnificent views, you won’t want to leave Sonora anytime soon.

Austin

Hamilton Pool
parks.traviscountytx.gov/find-a-park/hamilton-pool
Last but not least, we have the geographical marvel known as Hamilton Pool. An underground river collapsed thousands of years ago, creating this natural pool near the state capitol. The pool itself is crisp and cool, and the surrounding area is perfect for hiking and exploring natural Texas.

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