First, for locals or anyone not going to ACL: If you are just coming to swim, the parking lot on the south side of the pool is open for swimmers only. You could bike or walk on the trail to get there, too.
If you are going to the festival and want to pop out for a memorable dip in a historic pool, you’ll have to walk about half a mile from the Barton Springs Road entrance, but it’s along a beautiful part of Austin’s beloved greenbelt system, so you can catch kayakers and paddleboarders floating in Barton Creek. Walk along Robert E. Lee Road (yes, it’s controversial) and then turn right when you get to the Barton Springs Pool parking lot. If you walk along the trail, you’ll walk right to the entrance.
You can use a card at a kiosk outside to pay the entrance fee ($3 for Austin residents, $8 if you are from out of town) or you can use cash at the booth. Stamp your hand if you want to get back in later in the day. Admission is free after 9 p.m., which means there’s often a large crowd on warm summer (and fall) nights.
Note that swimming in Barton Creek or Lady Bird Lake is technically illegal, even though you’ll see lots of people – and their dogs – swimming for free in the spillway at Barton Springs Pool.
Here’s the best part: The pool is open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., so you can go before or after the music.
The mornings are warm and moon is still bright enough to make for an amazing nighttime swim, if you needed another excuse to check out one of Austin’s most iconic spots.