7 Best Lakes in + Near Houston, TX

Houston boasts incredible sights, diverse food choices, and plenty of places to shop the day away. But while Houston is full of high rises and office buildings, there are also plenty of spots to get your nature fix. From the heart of the city all the way to an hour outside the center, you can find some great lakes in Houston and the surrounding area.

Houston is a very busy and fast-paced city, so having a place to escape and recharge is crucial. Escaping to the water is the perfect way to be surrounded by nature, even while being surrounded by office buildings.

Nature has a way of recharging you, even after a busy and hectic day in the city. Plan your water getaway and soak in the waters to rejuvenate and escape from the Texas heat with these Houston lakes.

We rounded up some of the best lakes around Houston that you can escape to for a day of nature. 

One half of Houston's dandelion fountain at sunset, one of the most instagrammable places in houston texas

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Lake Conroe

Located just outside of Houston is the beautiful Lake Conroe.

Lake Conroe is a perfect destination for water lovers and those needing an escape to nature. With over 21,000 acres, Lake Conroe is a prime spot for all water activities from fishing, swimming, boating, and more.

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All along the lake are delicious seafood restaurants and various fishing piers and boat docks, creating a great place to spend your day or weekend. Make sure you bring your fishing poles as bass, catfish, and more call Lake Conroe home, and many prize catches came out of its waters.  

You will see various people bringing all of their water sport activities such as water skiing, and tubing because of the great space that Lake Conroe offers.

While you visit Lake Conroe you are likely to see tons of waterfowl and migratory birds that move through Lake Conroe throughout the year.

2 red chairs on a dock overlooking the lake in Conroe--many of the best things to do in Conroe tx revolve around the lake!

Lake Raven

Lake Raven calls Huntsville State Park home and offers you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

The name Raven was Sam Houston’s nickname when he was younger and a large statue of him greets you as you pull into the town of Huntsville.

Lake Raven is full of endless things to do for an escape from the business of Houston or for a weekend away.

Sit back and relax as you cast your fishing pole into the lakes glistening waters and wait for a large bass or catfish to grab hold. Fishing in Texas State Parks is easy because you don’t need a license and many state parks provide you with tackle and bait you can buy and rent.

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Surrounding a large beach area is a roped-off section where you can splash and swim and see Huntsville State Park from the view of the water. Experience all the lake offers by staying around long enough to catch the sunset bounce reflections off of the 210-acre lake and end your day with colors of deep oranges and reds.

If fishing and swimming aren’t your things, there are canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats that you can rent to explore the coves and inlets all throughout the lake. After your day on the water lay out on a blanket or hang up your hammock to soak up the majestic stars the twinkle over your head.

You can decide to make an entire weekend out of visiting Lake Raven by renting a campsite or a screened shelter and explore all the park has to offer.

tent set up in front of raven lake near houston at sunset

McGovern Lake

One thing that is not in short supply in Houston is high-rise buildings and concrete structures.

Nestled in the midst of high rises and businesses sits McGovern Lake, which is absolutely one of the best lakes in Houston. McGovern Lake truly offers a reprieve from the constant of downtown and provides you a place to escape to nature, even just on your lunch break.

You may think that you won’t catch a glimpse of wildlife when you are in downtown Houston, but McGovern Lake provides a different answer. This 8-acre lake has three islands built into it and two of them were created for a very specific purpose.

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Two of the islands within McGovern Lake are reserved for birds that migrate through Texas. With a spot reserved for migratory birds, you can bring your binoculars and camera and likely catch some great views of some amazing animals.

Another neat aspect of McGovern Lake is that it combines a variety of ecosystems. With marshes, wetlands, meadows, and more you are more likely to see a variety of species of plants and animals.

Take a stroll through the Centennial Gardens nearby that has various garden rooms based on different themes and designs.

Besides walking around the lake and admiring the various sites, you can also rent a paddleboat and there is a designated spot for children under 12 and those over 65 to catch and release fish.  

bridge over mcgovern lake, one of the best houston lakes to visit

Sheldon Lake

Sheldon Lake in Houston is the perfect place to learn about nature and truly experience what the outdoors has to offer.

One of the newest features of the lake is an observation tower that allows you to watch for wildlife from an incredible vantage point, allowing you to catch glimpses of a variety of birds and other aquatic animals.

With 28 naturalized ponds that are used to teach and educate, there are plenty of opportunities to learn something new. There are multiple ponds that provide a spot to fish while others teach about the different ways of alternative energy.

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While you are in the park you can jog the trails, explore the various ponds, and even look for wildlife such as alligators.

There is also a short nature trail that allows you to walk the trail all the while learning about the flora and fauna within the park. A wildscape pond is located on the lake that shows you just how to utilize different plants to attract a variety of birds.

Sheldon Lake is a perfect Houston lake that allows you to escape the city while learning about the amazing aspects of nature that are in the midst of the city.

sunset over one of the lakes around houston texas

Kinder Lake

Kinder Lake is located right near Discovery Green and provides an outdoor escape while being surrounded by the city.

This Houston lake is known for kayaking and escaping to the water onboard one of the various kayaks you can rent.

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You can also rent a remote-controlled operated boat or bring your own and test it in the model boat basin, providing a fun escape all year. It is five dollars to rent an R/C Sailboat for fifteen minutes and test your skills at steering a sailboat in the waters of Kinder Lake.

Discovery Green provides you plenty to do, allowing you to spend the day kayaking, enjoying food, and more, all in the outdoor air.

Kinder Lake is also home to a water garden and pier, giving you a perfect space to enjoy nature, even in the midst of the high-rise buildings.

colorful tulip statues on kinder lake in houston tx

Lake Houston

Lake Houston is a reservoir of the San Jacinto River and provides you plenty of chances to fish just a few miles outside of Houston. Covering over 11,000 acres, Lake Houston is full of bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill with several inlets that are perfect to spend your day fishing.

While the entire lake is not a part of a park there is a park where you can rent a cabin and cabin near the reservoir.

Lake Houston Wilderness costs three dollars to enter and has plenty of places to camp and spend a weekend away. The park has A-Frames, screened shelters, and cabins as well as trails that you can hike.

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It is important to know that while certain streams and rivers can lead to Lake Houston from the park, the park is not located directly on the reservoir.

Laake Houston is covered with various boat ramps to get out on the water whether you want to kayak or water ski. With Lake Houstons’ great size, there is plenty to do besides getting out on the water.

Nearby golf courses, restaurants, shopping, and more you can spend time out on the water while also exploring nearby towns for an all-around wonderful adventure.

Fishing rod extending out into a lake with a hand holding it on an overcast day

Arboretum Lake

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is an amazing place in Houston perfect for nature lovers and those wanting to learn something new. It’s also home to one of the best lakes in Houston!

With various programs throughout the year, you can learn about plants and animals or the stars that come out in full force at night.

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There are trails throughout the center that surround the lake and beyond and to walk or jog them is free of charge. Having a place in Houston that you can run or jog, while being surrounded by nature is a great escape from the city.

The Arboretum even has programs specifically for night time such as hikes and programs to learn about nocturnal animals. Experience the lake and the park with their neverending options of programs to learn something new.

kinder lake and mcgovern lake, black and red text on a white background reads "7 lovely lakes in houston"

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