Let's play a game about Texas.  I'm going to list three descriptions of a place in Central Texas, and you have to guess where I'm talking about.

  • Mermaids
  • Glass-Bottomed Boats
  • Ralph, the Swimming Pig

Here's a hint...this attraction shut down some years ago.

When I was growing up in Lockhart, Texas, taking the 15-minute trip to Aquarena Springs in San Marcos was always a big deal. After all, in the 1950s and 1960s, this was the number one commercial tourist destination in the Lone Star State.

I have so many memories at Aquarena Springs, the gondolas soaring over the property, the chicken that played tic-tac-toe, but, by far, it was the ride on the glass-bottomed boat that was my favorite.  To get a glimpse of underwater fish life was very cool, but to see real-life mermaids, (or aquamaids as they were called), waving at me was the thrill of the summer---maybe that's why Ariel is still one of my favorite Disney characters.

The aquamaids, swimming pig, and underwater theater are distant memories.  Aquarena Springs shut down for good in 1994.  But, the days of transparent-bottomed boats have returned to San Marcos.

Paddle SMTX has been in operation for about seven years, but in 2021 they added a really cool feature - nighttime kayaking in transparent boats complete with glow lights.  This Crystal Kayak Glow Tour usually lasts around 75-90 minutes, and although you may not catch of glimpse of aquamaids or swimming pigs, trekking the San Marcos River in a see-through, neon-looking kayak provides a very unique experience.

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Tubing the Guadalupe or Comal is always a fun way to leisurely spend several hours on a hot Hill Country day, but if you're looking for a way to change things up, the Crystal Kayak Glow Tour is a must.

Contributed Photo/Paddle SMTX
Contributed Photo/Paddle SMTX
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Contributed Photo/Paddle SMTX
Contributed Photo/Paddle SMTX
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Contributed Photo/Paddle SMTX
Contributed Photo/Paddle SMTX
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