Wimberley, Texas is a popular weekend getaway for Texans. With its small-town feel, it seems much farther than just an hour from Austin or San Antonio. It is set back far from the Interstate, away from the hubbub, nestled between the Blanco River and Cypress Creek in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Aside from Ace Hardware and the HEB grocer, there are no chain stores or big boxes. No large hotels or motels, just a handful of quiet retreat centers, bungalow rentals, and Airbnbs. There are several wineries on beautiful land in Wimberley and the surrounding areas.
The downtown area is called Wimberley Square, but there’s no four-sided square. No park or municipal building surrounding by buildings. The “Square” is an ad-hoc set up of cute one-of-a-kind shops. Antiques, relics, and handcrafted items. And a cafe and ice cream parlor.
During the summertime, the main attraction is two watering holes: The Blue Hole and Jacob’s Well. Both are so popular that you need to reserve your swim time at least a month in advance, online.
The off-season is a great time to roam the scenic areas without the throngs of visitors. If you’re not cooling off in the water, you may even gain a better appreciation for the natural beauty of the parks. And perfect for social distancing getaways.
Jacob’s Well Natural Area
Jacob’s Well Natural Area is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. No camping, hunting, fishing, biking, pets, alcohol, glass, or smoking allowed. Although the water is 68 degrees year-round, swimming is prohibited from October 1 to April 30, to protect and restore the habitat.
The 81-acre Natural Area includes easy and short hiking trails, a labyrinth, picnic areas, children’s play spaces, and plenty of birdwatching opportunities. The grounds are quiet and peaceful year-round, and the Well area is pristine when it isn’t used as a summer playground.
While Wimberley is known for being quiet, the park sits seven miles from Wimberley Square. The only sounds you will hear at this Hays Country preserve are nature. Water flowing. Leaves rustling. Birds chirping. Your footsteps against the stone or grassy pathways. And occasionally the voices of park staff or visitors.
What is called Jacob’s Well is actually an artesian spring. It is one of the most mysterious and breathtaking geological features in all of Texas. While it appears to be a very small area, it is the second-largest fully submerged cave in Texas. There are several caverns that extend for a full mile. The Well is also one of the most dangerous diving spots on earth, which is why diving is not allowed here.
Looks are deceiving. Glancing at the barely moving water, it could pass for a tiny dipping pool. The opening of the well is only 12 feet in diameter. But it descends 140 feet.
Thousands of gallons of water course through the fossil-rich limestone well daily. Groundwaters leaking through fractures in the Trinity Aquifer spring up in these caverns to become the source of the Cypress Creek and feed into the Blanco River and the Blue Hole.
Blue Hole Regional Park
Just a ten-minute drive from Jacob’s Well Natural Area is another famous destination. “USA Today” praised the Blue Hole as one of the best swim spots in the country. The three-acre swimming space on Cypress Creek (fed by Jacob’s Well) is fairly shallow, and kids love the Tarzan-like rope swing to drop into the water. Given its size, guest capacity is much greater than at Jacob’s Well. Morning or afternoon swimming slots are available Memorial Day through Labor Day, and weekends in September.
But the park is worth a visit even if you have no plans to get your feet wet. The natural and architectural layout and landscaping are outstanding. In the year 2018, the Austin Green Awards named Blue Hole “Project of the Year.”
The park, open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset, is a great place to relax, enjoy nature, hang out with friends or family, be active, or all the above. Spread out among its 126 acres are 4.5 miles of trails, a pavilion, restrooms, water fountains, an amphitheater, volleyball and basketball courts, soccer field, playscape. There are dedicated picnic areas, but most people bring their own ground covers, umbrella shades, folding chairs, and food and drink to set up in open areas.
Dogs are allowed, on leashes, just not near or in the water. For the hearty hiker, you can also walk along a trail all the way to Wimberley Square and back.
Periodically the Blue Hole has special events like star gazing or movie nights, so be sure to check the website before your visit.
Wimberley is a beautiful place to drive down back roads, hike, or bike by any of the waterways or woodsy public places. Even Wimberley Square has beautiful lounging areas behind the storefronts to enjoy the graceful water rolling over the rocks and enormous octopus-like tree branches.