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17 Best Lakes in Texas You Must Visit

Katelyn van Sligtenhorst
Latest posts by Katelyn van Sligtenhorst (see all)

Between sandy beaches, ultra-clear waters, and activities galore, it’s no surprise these 17 stunning spots have all earned a place on our list of the best lakes in Texas.

Whether you want to lounge lakeside and soak up the sun or get your adrenaline pumping with some water sports, we’ve got a new go-to for every type of traveler.

All in all, the Lone Star State is known for plenty of beautiful landscapes–refreshing Galveston beaches, dramatic Western mountain ranges, the rolling greenery of Hill Country… 

But nothing says summer holiday quite like these Texas lakes.

17 Best Lakes in Texas

So pack a swimsuit and some shades because you won’t want to spend a single second indoors with all these water wonderlands to explore!

1. Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is definitely one of the best lakes in Texas
Lady Bird Lake is definitely one of the best lakes in Texas

Named after Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady, Lady Bird Lake is definitely one of the best lakes in Texas.

With mild winters and more than 300 days of sunshine per year, Austin is a city packed with outdoor activities. 

And even with all the options, Lady Bird Lake remains a staple for locals and tourists alike.

First things first, hit the water! Personal motorized boats are banned on Lady Bird Lake, so canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards have free reign.

If that’s not enough excitement, some companies offer more unique twists on the classic pastimes, like water polo played while paddling or SUP yoga classes.

To see this popular lake from a different perspective, try out the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, which makes a full loop around and offers scenic nature and skyline views along the way. 

It’s one of the best hiking trails in Austin.

2. Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake, dubbed as
Canyon Lake, dubbed as “The Jewel of Texas Hill Country” is one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas

Called “The Jewel of Texas Hill Country,” Canyon Lake is located between San Antonio and Austin. 

This Texas lake is beloved for its bright blue waters and abundance of recreational activities.

Hiking trails traverse the whole area, with options for every skill level. 

Our favorite is a trek through Canyon Lake Gorge, where you can search for dinosaur fossils, take a guided tour to learn more about the area, or enjoy a meal at one of the best local restaurants.

Don’t feel like walking? Some of the most stunning views are accessible via car on the 10-mile River Road route, which weaves back and forth across the Guadalupe River.

You can catch similar scenery by floating down the river itself. 

Just rent a tube from one of many stations on the banks, then enjoy a lazy ride with a few sections of rapids to keep things interesting.

3. Lake Granbury

Granbury lake is one of the best lakes in Texas

Although Granbury is one of the lesser-known lakes in Texas, its accessibility as a weekend trip from Dallas or Fort Worth makes it an enticing option for city dwellers or visitors that want a little nature on the side.

The best place to hang out is Granbury City Beach Park, a gorgeous white, sandy stretch of shoreline complete with picnic pavilions and public restrooms + showers.

You can rent kayaks, SUPs, and bicycles onsite, or get a game of beach volleyball started.

If you’re traveling with kids to Lake Granbury, free life jacket rentals and friendly beach monitors add an extra level of safety.

4. Lake Whitney

Awesome shot of Lake Whitney in Waco, Texas

Not only is Whitney one of the less crowded lakes in Texas, but it’s also part of a beautiful state park.

Found 1.5 hours outside of Dallas, Lake Whitney is a quiet spot that boasts clear water, tons of wildlife, and relaxation in spades. 

You can spot deer, raccoons, armadillos, wild turkeys, and even bald eagles if you’re lucky.

For a more nature-focused visit, stay in one of the many campsites or screened shelters. 

Otherwise, Bosque Resort boasts a sandy beach, an inflatable playground on the lake, and concession stands.

If you want a break from lake life, visit the nearby small town Clifton and catch a show at Texas’ oldest continually-operating movie house, Cliftex Theatre.

5. Lake Travis

The iconic Lake Travis in Texas

Easily one of the most iconic lakes in Texas, Travis is THE spot for fun both on and off the water.

Tackle an epic floating obstacle course at Lake Travis Waterloo Adventures, get wet and wild at Volente Beach Resort and Waterpark, or drink and dance the days away at Devil’s Cove, where hundreds of boats create a floating party every weekend.

If you’ve got still energy left after all that, then the Lake Travis Zipline (the longest in Texas) is definitely a must-do.

Believe it or not, this body of water is so clear that you can even scuba dive in it! 

Head to Mansfield Dam Park and explore sunken ships, dam construction materials, and more at four different dive sites.

6. Possum Kingdom Lake

A peaceful cove by the Possum Kingdom Lake in Texas

Who doesn’t love clear, blue water and minimal crowds? 

Located in Possum Kingdom State Park amongst the rugged canyons and plunging cliffs of the Brazos River Valley, Possum Kingdom Lake is a true oasis and one of the prettiest lakes in Texas.

A trek along one of the area’s many hiking trails is the best way to soak in the views. 

There are options for all levels, but our favorites are Ike’s Haunt and Bobcat Lookout.

Those that love a burst of adrenaline have to try cliff jumping here. 

In fact, Possum Lake plays host to the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship, in which divers plunge from heights of up to 90 feet!

Non-professionals have to stick to jumps of 20 feet or less, which will still get your pulse pumping.

7. Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake is an enchanting lake in Texas

The Caddo Lake State Park is a one-of-a-kind spot that rests on the border between Texas and Louisiana, which means you’re entering bayou country!

And as beautiful as all our lakes in Texas are, Caddo Lake boasts fairy-tale landscapes unlike any other, especially since it’s home to the world’s largest bald cypress forest.

Visit in winter to see the trees draped in Spanish moss and shrouded by early morning mists–one of the most otherworldly sights in Texas–or sightsee in autumn to catch some of the state’s best fall foliage.

Explore via 50 miles worth of paddling trails. (You can rent boats onsite or bring your own canoe, kayak, or SUP). 

Along the way, keep an eye out for native wildlife like alligators, beavers, turtles, river otters, and hundreds of bird species.

Caddo Lake is hands-down one of the best lakes in Texas!

8. Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma is one of the best lakes in Texas

Few lakes in Texas are as versatile as Texoma, which is equally suited to a family vacation as it is a getaway with friends.

Those hoping for a quieter stay can enjoy Eisenhower State Park, which is popular for camping, hiking, and lounging on some of the best beaches in the area.

However, lake goers looking to get wild will find their crowd gathered on and around the Party Islands. 

On summer weekends, boats anchor nearby, and crowds gather on the sandbars to swim, picnic, and blast country music.

Calling all fishing fanatics! Lake Texoma is known as the “Striper Fishing Capital of the World,” and you can rent your own boat or go out with a guide to make the most of it.

9. Lake Lewisville

Lake Lewisville is one of the pretty lakes in Texas

Like many lakes in Texas, Lewisville Lake is a haven for all kinds of water-based recreation–boating, fishing, wakeboarding, tubing, swimming, and so much more.

Party Cove is the best place to be on the weekends, as locals and visitors alike tie their boats together for afternoons full of music, drinking, and fun in the sun.

Prefer something quieter? Both grassy and sandy stretches of shoreline abound, so you’re sure to find a peaceful spot to relax and soak in the views.

10. Lake Amistad

Beautiful sunset over Amistad Lake in Texas

Certainly one of the more unique lakes in Texas, Amistad is an oasis amidst the desert landscape of Southwest Texas.

It bumps up against the Rio Grande, right on the border between the United States and Mexico, which means you’ll be treated to steep canyons and super-clear water.

However, what truly sets this place apart is its rich cultural history. 

Prehistoric Native American paintings, some as many as 4,000 years old, can be found throughout the area, both by boat (Panther Cave) and on foot (Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site).

11. Eagle Mountain Lake

Awe-inspiring view of  Eagle Mountain Lake in Texas

Easily accessible from Fort Worth yet secluded enough to provide a relaxing natural escape in North Texas, Eagle Mountain will have you wanting to buy a lakehouse and stay awhile.

In fact, this spot is known for its spectacular water-side homes. Our recommendation? Rent one out and simply enjoy.

During the day, you can hike, swim, picnic, or rent a boat and cruise around. 

Then check out a popular haunt, The Lakehouse, at sunset for homemade comfort food, live music, and unbeatable views.

Just a short drive away, the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is also well worth a visit, with more than 20 miles of walking trails through a variety of native ecosystems–prairies, forests, and wetlands.

12. Lake Austin

Incredible aerial shot of Lake Austin in Texas

Lake Austin is one of the most well-known lakes in Texas and for good reason.

Climb Mount Bonnell for panoramic views of the lake below, take a boat rental out for a spin, or sit and sip a coffee at the iconic Mozart’s Coffee Roasters.

Got a bigger budget to spend? Indulge in water-side luxury at Lake Austin Spa Resort, an all-inclusive destination dedicated to holistic health and wellness.

Given their lakeside location, many of the programs revolve around the transformational properties of water.

Water meditations, paddleboard yoga, floating lounges, sunset cruises, and mysterious treatments like Advanced Aquatic Bodywork or the AquaStretch Myofascial Release will all have you feeling very in touch with Lake Austin.

13. Inks Lake

The Famous Inks Lake in Texas

Vibrant sunsets, sparkling waters, and world-class recreation may seem like standard fare for lakes in Texas, but this popular spot goes the extra mile–plus, it’s just an hour’s drive from Austin!

Inks Lake is famous for its picturesque pink granite hills, vista-packed hiking trails (the 3.3-mile Pecan Flats Trail is a must-do), and a swimming site called the Devil’s Waterhole, where you can also cliff dive.

Aside from all the beauty in Inks Lake State Park itself, other nearby attractions include the underground rock formations at Longhorn Cavern, the Bavarian architecture of Falkenstein Castle, and dozens of award-winning wineries.

The lakeside campsites are considered one of the best places to camp in the state.

14. Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Quiet Island in Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas

We head next to far East Texas, where you can find the largest lake located completely within Texas state boundaries.

Lake Sam Rayburn has everything you need for an action-packed weekend–museums, golf courses, nightlife, and dozens of incredible restaurants (especially if you like TexMex and BBQ).

Water sports like wakeboarding and water skiing are super popular, while you can keep the adrenaline pumping on land with mountain biking and paintball.

Hikers will love the 4.3-mile, out-and-back Sawmill Trail, which meanders through dense woodland, peaceful brooks, and abandoned historical buildings.

15. Lake O’ the Pines

Interesting shot of Lake O' The Pines during sunset in Texas

The self-proclaimed “most beautiful lake in East Texas” certainly offers sightseeing in spades, with tranquil waters, majestic forests, and super-clear night skies.

To take in the stars, camping is a must! Pitch your tent at one of the numerous shoreline spots, like Alley Creek Park (known for its towering pine trees) or Brushy Creek Park.

Want to take a dip? Johnson Creek Park has two swimming beaches, plus covered picnic tables to enjoy a lakeside lunch.

16. Lake Conroe

One of the awesome lakes in Texas is Lake Conroe

For a classic lakeside vacation, it doesn’t get much better than Lake Conroe, a 22,000-acre lake with 157 miles of shoreline–plenty of space to both relax and adventure while surrounded by Sam Houston National Forest.

However you prefer to take to the water, Lake Conroe has got you covered. Motorboats, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, and more are all available for rent.

It’s also a popular destination for golfing, with courses found all along the shoreline. 

Walden Golf Club and The Golf Club at Margaritaville are our favorites for public, non-member tee times.

After a long day at the lake, grab dinner with sunset views at GuadalaHARRY’s, then check out one of the area’s many award-winning wineries or craft breweries.

17. Toledo Bend Reservoir

Toledo Bend Reservoir is the biggest lake in Texas

We’ve already named a few of the biggest lakes in Texas on this list, but Toledo Bend Reservoir takes the crown at number one!

Besides, Toledo Bend is one of the largest reservoirs in the US.

Stretching for a staggering 185,000 acres, this gorgeous spot straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana and has no shortage of sightseeing opportunities, water activities, and events year-round.

Toledo Bend’s biggest claim to fame is fishing, twice named the #1 bass lake in the nation. 

Around 100 regional and national fishing tournaments are held in the area every year!

If that’s not your thing, Toledo Bend boasts other outdoor recreation like camping, boating, golfing, and picnicking and serves as a hub for shopping and dining.

That’s it for today on the best Texas lakes. Enjoyed the article? Share it with your friends!

More Texas Lakes Worth Checking Out

  • Lake Buchanan
  • Lake Meredith
  • Cypress Springs Lake
  • Lake Fork
  • Medina Lake
  • Lake Marble Falls
  • Grapevine Lake
  • Belton Lake
  • Cooper Lake
  • Stillhouse Hollow Lake

17 Best Lakes in Texas

  1. Lady Bird Lake
  2. Canyon Lake
  3. Lake Granbury
  4. Lake Whitney
  5. Lake Travis
  6. Possum Kingdom Lake
  7. Caddo Lake
  8. Lake Texoma
  9. Lake Lewisville
  10. Lake Amistad
  11. Eagle Mountain Lake
  12. Lake Austin
  13. Inks Lake
  14. Sam Rayburn Reservoir
  15. Lake O’ the Pines
  16. Lake Conroe
  17. Toledo Bend Reservoir