Whether you’re looking for somewhere beautiful to go hiking this weekend or the best spot to cool off with a swim come summertime, you’ve got to check out these top lake destinations in Texas!
Best Lake Destinations in Texas
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Central Texas Lake Destinations in Texas
This Texas lake is a great destination for anyone in the Austin area. At 65 miles long with over 250 miles of shoreline, Lake Travis is a gorgeous and tranquil spot to spend a long weekend immersed in nature.
Popular activities include boating, swimming, camping, and ziplining. There’s also lots of great fishing to be done on Lake Travis—you might reel in largemouth bass, striped bass, Guadalupe bass, catfish, or sunfish!
Located in the Texas Hill Country along the Guadalupe River, Canyon Lake is a great lake destination in Texas for those wanting to boat, camp, or hike. Canyon Lake is also home to a super unique natural attraction: the Canyon Lake Gorge! Formed in 2002 by a flood, this gorge showcases millions of years of geological history—including 110-million-year-old dinosaur footprints!
Lake Austin + Lady Bird Lake
These two lakes are actually dammed reservoir sections of the Colorado River and offer all sorts of weekend fun for Austin residents. Both are popular spots for paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. Enjoy running or cycling along the 10-mile loop path around Lady Bird Lake or head to Lake Austin if you’d like to use a motorized boat, as they’re not allowed at Lady Bird.
Just an hour north of Austin, Inks Lake is another great destination whether you’ve got a few days or just an afternoon to kill. There are lots of great spots to swim, sunbathe, camp, and go boating. While there are also 9 miles of hiking trails to explore, one of the most popular things to do is go swimming in the Devil’s Waterhole—a 500-foot deep cavern where you can climb the canyon walls and fall into the waters below.
This is another popular Texas lake destination made from a dammed section of the Colorado River. Lake Buchanan has over 120 miles of shoreline that are perfect for catching striped bass, sunbathing on the sand, or spying nesting bald eagles. For a unique lake experience, you can’t miss the Vanishing Texas River Cruise for a gorgeous tour of the cliffs, waterfalls, and forests that surround Lake Buchanan (all from the comfort of a double-decker boat!).
North Texas Lake Destinations
As the 12th largest lake in the U.S., the aptly named Lake Texoma straddles Texas and Oklahoma and is one of the best fishing lakes in either state! That’s because of the rich mineral deposits underwater that help local striped bass grow to be bigger than average. Visitors to Lake Texoma can also camp in one of the ten campgrounds, ride horseback on the equestrian trails, or bird watch at one of the various wildlife refuges around Texoma.
This lake has a variety of activities for both those who want city conveniences and those wanting to rough it a bit more. Swim from the Granbury City Beach to enjoy the white sand, kids activities, and public restrooms and showers. Or, head farther from town and set up camp for the night at one of four campgrounds, and enjoy boating, water sports, and fishing on Granbury.
Lewisville Lake is a popular spot for those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to unwind and enjoy all the natural beauty northern Texas has to offer. If you’re looking to kick back for happy hour with friends, you can’t miss Party Cove near Westlake Park on Lake Lewisville. Weekend trippers tie up their boats here to hang out, drink, and listen to music in this beautiful cove.
Possum Kingdom Lake
This lake is just an hour away from Dallas and an incredible destination for all things water—I’m talking swimming, boating, fishing… but also snorkeling and SCUBA diving! Because this lake has some of the clearest blue water you’ll find in the southwest, it’s suitable for anyone looking to get SCUBA-certified or just explore the underwater world with some snorkel gear.
This lake in northern Texas is a popular destination for boaters, hikers, campers, as well as hunters. During hunting season, Lake Grapevine is a great spot to find both wild hogs and deer. Otherwise, you can enjoy over 30 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding around the lake and either tent or cabin camp just outside the town of Grapevine.
The gorgeous white limestone cliffs around Lake Whitney may make you feel like you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean—but I promise, you’re still in Texas! This lake is particularly great for spotting wildlife. From white-tailed deer and foxes to coyotes and bobcats, keep your eyes peeled when hiking and exploring Lake Whitney! And birders, rejoice: you’ll have the chance to see almost 200 species of birds in this area, including bald eagles, brown pelicans, and kestrels.
Eagle Mountain Lake
Much like many of the other amazing lakes on this list, Eagle Mountain Lake outside of Fort Worth is a great spot to go swimming, hiking, and camping, or enjoy wakeboarding, waterskiing, and jet-skiing. However, this lake is also known as a great spot to go sailing, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just looking to start learning! For those that fall into the second camp, check out the Fort Worth Boat Club, which offers sailing lessons for both children and adults.
East Texas Lake Destinations
Caddo Lake is a little different from most of the lakes on this list. Rather than crisp evergreen forests or rocky lake beaches, Caddo is a lot swampier and more mystical than many Texas lakes. It’s located near the border with Louisiana and is home to over 50 miles of meandering paddling trails through bayou and marshes (complete with alligators!). This makes Caddo Lake a top pick for kayakers and canoers.
If you’re looking for lakes in east Texas, look no further than Lake Conroe! This massive 21,000-acre lake is a top destination for jet-skiing, waterskiing, and other adrenaline-inducing watersports. This is also a great spot to visit for families, as there are many great spots for picnicking, as well as public grills, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and several playgrounds.
Toledo Bend Lake
This lake is another that borders both Texas and Louisiana, with most of the lake technically being in Louisiana! It’s actually the largest reservoir in all of the American south and has over 1,200 miles of shoreline. Toledo Bend Lake is a top pick for activities like building sandcastles, sunbathing, and playing volleyball as there are many pristine sandy beaches around the lake.
Photo Credit: George Bannister on flickr.
Lake O'The Pines
One look at the gorgeous pine forests around this lake and you’ll understand how it got its name! Located in east Texas on the Big Cypress Bayou, Lake O’The Pines has great camping, swimming and hiking. With three marinas and a handful of spots to rent watercraft, you can’t miss boating while you’re here either!
Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Are you an avid angler? Then you can’t miss Sam Rayburn Reservoir—it’s home to over 300 fishing tournaments every year! This man-made lake is stocked with all sorts of bass, crappies, and catfish. For those who aren’t so into fishing, there’s plenty more to do on this lake in the east Texas pine forests: spend the weekend at a lake resort, go water skiing, or just take a scenic drive around Texas’ largest reservoir.
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