When it comes to Texas and summer, the only thing you need to know is: it can get extremely hot! The Texas heat can be hard to beat, reaching upwards of 100° F for weeks or months on end–but luckily, there are plenty of beautiful lakes in Texas that can help visitors enjoy the outdoors without getting overheated.
Here are the best lakes in Texas–whether you’re looking for a beautiful swimming spot, a great Texas lake for fishing, or somewhere to rent a boat for the day, one of these lakes is right for you!
21 Fun Texas Lakes to Visit
Lake Travis is a man-made lake located northwest of Austin and a fantastic place to enjoy a day on the water.
The reservoir was formed in 1942 to contain floodwaters in an area prone to flash floods. Lake Travis is the biggest of the Highland Lakes, 18,930 acres to be exact, and one of the most popular lakes in Texas with plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Some activities that you can find at the lake are ziplining, renting a boat, visiting a lakeside park, fishing, and visiting one of the incredible waterparks.
Be sure to catch the sunset at The Oasis before heading home!
Lake Buchanan is the second largest of the Highland Lakes, and the first of the highland lakes to be built. Visiting a lake this big has its benefits, because there is plenty of space where you won’t be bothered by other visitors.
There are also some hidden waterfalls in this lake that not many people know about because of their secluded location!
Fall Creek Falls are located about 20 miles north of the Buchanan dam, many people aren’t aware of the beautiful falls but the trip is worth the view. The beautiful view is like that out of a movie and hearing the waterfall rush is an extremely relaxing sound, making fall creek falls the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.
Lake Marble Falls
Lake Marble Falls is the newest of the Highland Lakes, and a popular family getaway spot. Many people like to visit Lake Marble Falls every year and go to the Hidden Falls Adventure Park whenever they’re not on the water.
This Park covers 3,000 acres of rugged Hill Country terrain, a haven for off-road enthusiasts. Bring the whole family for a weekend of fun! You can bring your own offroad vehicle or rent one from inside the park.
If you’re visiting Lake Marble Falls, be sure to stop by the town of Marble Falls, too–you can’t leave without grabbing a delicious slice of pie at the Blue Bonnet Cafe!
Beautiful Inks Lake is an unforgettable Texas lake–especially if you visit its most infamous spot.
If you’re not familiar with Inks Lake, you might be more familiar with the Devil’s Waterhole. The Devil’s Waterhole is a popular destination on the northeast branch of Inks Lake State Park near Burnet.
This famous swimming spot is only accessible if you paddleboard up the lake or if you hike the quarter-mile Devil’s Waterhole Trail. The waterhole is popular among daredevil swimmers that like to jump off of the cliffs that can rise up to 40 feet above the water!
This swim spot is open for the entire family, just make sure to bring your life jackets!
Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake)
Lady Bird Lake is the easternmost lake of the Texas Highland Lakes chain that includes Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, and Lake Austin.
The City of Austin doesn’t allow motorized watercraft on Lady Bird Lake, as a result, the lake serves as a popular spot for paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and dragon boats.
It is illegal to swim in Lady Bird lake due to recent drownings but you can cool off at the Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest swimming pool in Texas, or nearby, popular Barton Springs Pool.
It’s worth noting that Lady Bird Lake was named Town Lake up until 2007, and you’ll still hear some Austinites call it that!
Due to its constant water level year-round and ideal weather conditions for water sports like water skiing and boating, Lake LBJ is one of the most popular Highland Lakes in central Texas.
You can cruise around the lake and Applehead Island to view multimillion-dollar mansions belonging to local astronauts, athletes, Hollywood stars, and extremely wealthy Texans!
Another one of Lake LBJ’s attractions is the Nightengale Archaeological Center, which is located on 10 acres on the banks of Lake LBJ. The prehistoric site was discovered in 1988 when it was determined to be a major archaeological discovery.
More than 170,000 different flint tools, spear points, arrowheads, and other artifacts were discovered, providing evidence that the site has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years.
Located between San Antonio and Austin you will find the beautiful Canyon Lake. Driving to Canyon Lake is like a scene out of a movie, with gorgeous scenery from the Texas Hill Country surrounding you at every turn.
Canyon Lake is an escape from reality for any nature lover covering over 8,000 acres!
One of the biggest attractions of this lake is the Canyon Lake Gorge where you can find evidence of the prehistoric creatures that once ruled the earth before humanity–that, and its beautiful turquoise color in the sun, which makes it one of the most popular lakes in Texas for swimming!
If you are someone that likes to admire nature, Caddo Lake State Park is the place for you!
Caddo Lake State Park is an internationally protected wetland located on the Texas-Louisiana Border. Go enjoy a local swamp tour and admire all the wildlife which include bobcats, waterfowl, otters, beavers, eagles, and even some gators.
Caddo Lake State Park is home to one of the largest flooded Cypress forest in the united states and is home to many endangered, threatened, and rare species.
This definitely isn’t a lake for swimming–the alligators would have a problem with that–but it’s a fantastic place to rent a canoe and enjoy the beauty of one of the most unique lakes in Texas!
Wright Patman Lake (Lake Texarkana)
Wright Patman Lake, formerly known as Lake Texarkana, is a lake located about 18 miles southwest of Texarkana, Texas.
The popular lake was formed in 1953 to provide flood protection for areas downstream of the Sulphur and Red River. The lake is surrounded by 9 parks that provide public access for boating, swimming, and fishing; as well as picnicking, hiking, and camping.
Wright Patman Lake has more than 54,000 acres of federal government property reserved specifically for hunting. The lake is known as one of the best hunting habitats in Texas when it comes to waterfowl.
You do not need a special permit to hunt, but all rules and regulations still apply. Some of the legal game found around the lake includes white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, feral hogs, doves, and a large selection of waterfowl.
Lake Texoma is a lake fed by the Washita and Red River that is located in the Texas/Oklahoma border, about an hour north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Area. It is one of the largest reservoirs in the united stated and it attracts about 6 million visitors a year!
A fun fact about the Red River is that it’s a saltwater river. This is due to salt deposits left over from a prehistoric sea that was in the current Texas-Oklahoma region. Due to the saltwater, Lake Texoma is home to the only population of striped bass in Texas.
One of the lake’s many annual events is the Lakefest Regatta, the first inland charity regatta in the United States. The event typically attracts over 600 boats each spring. The Lakefest Regatta has been able to raise over $2 million for various charities over the years.
Toledo Bend Reservoir
Toledo Bend is the fifth-largest reservoir in the United States and is located on the Texas-Louisiana border. Toledo Bend is popular among scuba divers, it has many artifacts to explore including an old barge and some sunken boats. Many scuba divers also spearfish the large catfish and gar that they encounter while underwater.
If you have a passion for fishing, Toledo Bend is a fisherman’s paradise. Toledo Bend hosts many fishing tournaments year-round including Bass Pro Shop’s open series.
Toledo Bend is also popular among birdwatchers, it is a hot spot for rare, threatened, and endangered species. Some of the species you can find around the lake include the bald eagle, American White Pelican, Common Goldeneye, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, American Coot, Peregrine Falcon, and Black Surf Scoters. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can go night birding and see if you can spot a glorious Barred Owl.
Lake Sam Rayburn
Lake Sam Rayburn is the largest lake that is located entirely within the state of Texas. The lake was originally named McGee Bend Dam and Reservoir, but the name was changed in 1965 in memory of Sam Rayburn, a deceased speaker of the house who was a champion in soil and water conservation.
One of Lake Sam Rayburn’s most popular attractions is Powell Park Marina. Powell Park Marina offers an inflatable water park for children of all ages, making Lake Sam Rayburn a fabulous lake to visit in Texas for those traveling with young children.
Lake O’ the Pines
Lake O’ The Pines is a hidden gem in East Texas located about 30 miles northeast of Longview. Lake O’ the Pines is paradise to anyone wanting to get away from the city’s busy life. The beautiful lake, which spans over 18,000 acres, is surrounded by enormous pine trees.
The Lake is circled by 7 beautiful parks that include boat ramps. Lake O’ The Pines is famously known to anglers as the home of giant catfish!
These catfish are known to reach monstrous sizes and be some of the biggest catfish to be found in Texas. The biggest catfish to be caught was a blue catfish that weighed 74.5 pounds and measured an astounding 46 inches!
Gorgeous Lake Somerville is located near the historic town of Brenham, Texas. The Lake has 168 acres of wilderness reserved strictly for camping. They have 93 campsites that all have electricity, water, picnic tables, and a fire ring. They also have cabins for rent that overlook the lake and are the perfect place to catch the sunrise or sunset when visiting this beautiful Texas lake.
Lake Somerville is famously known for its fishing opportunities, the lake is stocked with plenty of fish including largemouth and hybrid striped bass, bluegill, and catfish.
It is also known for its annual Challenged Hunter Deer Hunt, to be eligible for this hunt, hunters must be confined to a wheelchair. 28 hunters are chosen through a drawing and each hunter can bring 1 guest as long as you make prior arrangements.
Located northwest of San Antonio, Medina Lake is a fun, quick getaway from the city. Whether you’re looking to swim, scuba, or fish, Medina Lake is the place for you.
Due to drought conditions that lasted up until July 2015, all recreational fish species had once disappeared from the Lake. The lake was kept empty up until October 2016 when it was restocked after reaching 96% capacity.
Now, Medina Lake is known for its large yellow catfish and other large species of catfish. The record for largest flathead catfish is held by Gary Trial after catching a monstrous 35-pound fish!
Lake Georgetown sits right outside of Georgetown, Texas. The lake was constructed mainly for flood control and to provide drinking water to the towns of Georgetown and Round Rock. The area is also used for recreational purposes allowing boating, swimming, and hiking.
Lake Georgetown’s most popular attraction is The Goodwater Trail. This trail is 26 miles long and follows the entire perimeter of the lake with trailheads at Cedar Breaks, Overlook, Jim Hogg, and Russell Park.
Mountain biking is allowed on the entire length of the loop, but beginners are recommended to stay on the North shore as it allows shorter trips with water refilling available along the way and multiple exits.
The southern shore presents a much more challenging ride with rocky terrain that includes steep drop-offs. Also, there is a 12 mile stretch with no water refilling stations or trail exits between Cedar Breaks and Camp Tejas.
Sabine Lake is a 90,000-acre saltwater lake on the Texas-Louisiana border. The lake is 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, and it is fed by the Neches and Sabine rivers. Sabine lake borders the counties of Jefferson and Orange in Texas, and Cameron Parish on the Louisiana side.
This beautiful lake offers some of the best saltwater fishing in Texas. Fisherman can expect to catch speckled trout, redfish, flounder, red snapper, kings, ling, amberjack, dorado, different types of shark, and many other species.
Many people don’t know it, but Sabine Lake is home to one of the largest unharvested oyster reefs in the Gulf of Mexico which approximately covers 4 square miles!
Lake Conroe is a popular lake for people that don’t want to venture too far from Houston. This beautiful lake sits on the west fork of the San Jacinto River in Walker and Montgomery counties, and it is just one hour north of Houston. The lake was primarily built as an alternative water supply for the city of Houston and has plenty of recreational activities around it.
One of Lake Conroe’s newest and most popular attractions is hydro flying. Hydro flying is a fast-paced sport in which water jet propulsion is used to create flight. Competitions for hydro flying started around 2012 making it one of the newest watersports. There several businesses that offer this unique experience around Lake Conroe!
Lake Whitney is located about an hour and a half southwest of Dallas. It’s is one of Texas’ most popular lakes, and was named The Getaway Capital of Texas in 2005. Lake Whitney has lots of cliffs that offer amazing views of the beautiful blue water below them.
Lake Whitney is very popular among thrill-seekers for its tall cliffs. The cliffs that surround Lake Whitney can reach up to 50 feet making them ideal for cliff jumping. Cliff diving is a very popular water sport in the area, and it makes lake Whitney a popular destination for local teens and college students.
Lewisville Lake is a reservoir on the Elf Fork of the Trinity River near Lewisville. It was originally named Lake Dallas in 1927 but was later renamed Lake Lewisville after being expanded in the 1940s and 1950s. Lake Lewisville is less than an hour’s drive from Dallas, so you can expect a crowd during the hot Texas summer.
Recreational boating is extremely popular in the area. One of Lewisville Lake’s main attractions is Party Cove.
Party Cove is located near Westlake park at the center of the Lake, and it is the place to be if you like to party! People from all around bring their boats to the cove, tie them up, then listen to party music and drink all weekend long!
Possum Kingdom Lake
Possum Kingdom Lake is primarily located in Palo Pinto County, Texas. The lake was the first water supply reservoir constructed in the Brazos River basin and is famous for its blue waters and scenic shores. Possum Kingdom Lake is also home to Hell’s Gate.
Hell’s Gate is two enormous cliffs that stand like the gates to a party cove located on the south end of the Lake. During the summer months, it’s not unusual for boaters to find their way down here so they can party and have a good time.
If you’re going to be visiting during the Fourth of July weekend, make sure you get there extra early. This is because Hell’s Gate is home to a one of a kind firework show that Texans come from all over the state to enjoy, making this one of the best lakes in Texas to visit during the holiday weekend!
Map of the Best Texas Lakes