15 Best Lakes In Texas For A Refreshing Trip

lakes in texas
| 8 min read

Texas in the summertime can be scorching, and the only relief is a dip in a cool body of water. If you’re on or near the Gulf Coast like Galveston, Houston, or Corpus Christie, you can enjoy the shoreline. But if there’s not a beach to reach, your best option is a refreshing lake. Luckily, Texas boasts some fabulous lakes to help you stay cool during the sizzling summer months without being coupled up all day in your air-conditioned Airbnb. Here’s a list of the most refreshing lakes in Texas to keep you cool during a hot Texan summer.

1. Canyon Lake; the jewel of the Texas Hill Country

Canyon Lake
Source: Photo by Flickr user jdeeringdavis used under CC BY 2.0

When the weather’s sweltering, the deeper the water the better, and at 125 feet (38 meters), Canyon Lake is one of the deepest lakes and one of the most beautiful lakes in Texas. Situated on the Guadalupe River approximately halfway between San Antonio and Austin, Canyon Lake is a great place to spend a hot day away to escape the heat. With 80 miles (129 kilometers) worth of scenic shoreline to enjoy, Canyon Lake offers a marina and two yacht clubs and is home to several public parks along its banks. These parks are great for camping, boating, and fishing. On occasion, you can even spot white-tailed deer, foxes, roadrunners, and other wildlife along the Guadalupe River in Canyon Lake.

Canyon Lake

Address: 29.8752° N, 98.2625° W

Website: Canyon Lake

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2. Looking for non-stop water sport action? Find it on Lake Travis

Lake Travis 2
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peter Potrowl used under CC BY 2.5

For Texans living near Austin and the surrounding hill country, Lake Travis is the go-to spot to cool off. A very popular reservoir located on the Colorado River, Lake Travis offers an abundance of water recreation activity, such as sailing, diving, fishing, party boat barges, and the latest water sport flyboarding, and a lot more. Lake Travis definitely lives up to its slogan, “if it’s on the lake, it’s here!”

Lake Travis

Address: 30.4205° N, 97.9103° W

Website: Lake Travis

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3. Lake Whitney; plunge into a water paradise

Lake Whitney from Lake Whitney Ranch
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sdenny123 used under CC BY 3.0

Located in the center of the huge state of Texas and miles from any beach, is Lake Whitney. Thirty miles (48 kilometers) north of Waco, the people of Waco are surely thrilled at the opportunity to make a splash in Lake Whitney when the sun heats up the day. A reservoir on the Brazos River that hosts over two million visitors yearly, Lake Whitney has everything from swimming and scuba diving, to jet skiing and it is arguably one of the best lakes in texas for boating. Lake Whitney is also a wonderful area that offers nature-loving activities like camping and bird-watching.

Lake Whitney

Address: 31°52′01″N 97°22′15″W

Website: Lake Whitney

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4. Lake Cypress Springs is just the right temperature, literally!

Lake Cypress Springs, view from north branch
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Maxup10 used under CC0

If you want to swim in a crystal clear water lake in Texas, then Lake Cypress Springs is the place to dive into. Found 100 miles (161 kilometers) northeast of Dallas, Lake Cypress Springs’ water is spring-fed, which is the reason you can virtually see to the bottom. A near constant water temperature of 72°F (22°C) makes the sprawling, 3,461-acre (1,401 hectare) reservoir the ultimate “swimming hole”! Lake Cypress Springs also offers top-notch fishing, water sports, picnic areas, and campgrounds. Don’t miss an opportunity to test the water at Lake Cypress Springs.

Lake Cypress Springs

Address: 33.0643° N, 95.1823° W

Website: Lake Cypress Springs

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5. Lake Texoma; a water wonderland for Texans and Oklahomans

Lake Texoma, 2007
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Brendajane used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lake Texoma is aptly named, because it’s situated on the Red River between the Texas and Oklahoma borders. The 12th largest lake in the United States, Lake Texoma is spread over 89,000 acres (36,017 hectares). Because if its enormity and close proximity to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Lake Texoma attracts approximately 6 million visitors a year and provides a myriad of great water activities. The multitudes cool off swimming, windsurfing, and water skiing. For more leisurely fun, cast your fishing line for bass or catfish, or rent a pontoon boat for sightseeing and relaxing on the water.

Lake Texoma

Address: 33°49′55″N 96°34′16″W

Website: Lake Texoma

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6. Possum Kingdom Lake; funny name, great lake!

Possum Kingdom Lake, Palo Pinto County, Texas
Source: Photo by Flickr user Nicolas Henderson used under CC BY 2.0

Nestled in the foothills of the Palo Pinto mountains, west of Fort Worth, Possum Kingdom Lake, also known as PK to the locals, is famous for its clear blue water and a section of the Lake called “Hells Gate”, a dramatic-looking channel which cuts between an island and a row of cliffs. Located on the upper reaches of the Brazos River, Possum Kingdom Lake covers roughly 17,700 acres (7,163 hectares) with 310 miles (499 kilometers) of shoreline.

But what about that name? According to popular legend, Possum Kingdom Lake received its unusual name when, in the early 1900s, fur traders viewed it as the top spot to hunt possums and raccoons. One particular fur dealer called his team of suppliers “the boys from Possum Kingdom”. Today, Possum Kingdom Lake offers many popular water activities like boating, fishing, swimming and scuba diving.

Possum Kingdom Lake

Address: 32.9338° N, 98.4458° W

Website: Possum Kingdom Lake

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7. Caddo Lake; 100% made by nature

Caddo Lake- Cypress
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user JCarriker

Caddo Lake is the only naturally formed lake in Texas. Located in Karnack, Texas, Caddo Lake is considered the jewel of East Texas’ lakes. The open waterways are great areas for swimming and canoeing. But Caddo Lake is more than a place to escape the summer heat. Caddo Lake is also a fabulous spot for nature lovers. With tall green cypress trees, strewn with Spanish moss, and blue heron and white egrets cavorting along the water, it’s a peaceful scene that’s a great way to spend an idle summer day. To get a closer look at the natural beauty Caddo Lake has to offer take a guided tour, like Captain Ron’s Swamp Tours. Check the website for detailed information.

Caddo Lake

Address: 32.7104° N, 94.0185° W

Website: Caddo Lake

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8. Choke Canyon Reservoir; a fisherman's paradise

Alligator At Choke Canyon
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lionelmayne used under CC BY-SA 3.0

65 miles (105 kilometers) south of San Antonio is Choke Canyon Reservoir. This is a popular getaway for fishermen and boaters who want to escape the busy coastline. The most abundant fish in the lake are bass, though in the heat of summer make sure you head to Choke Canyon Reservoir’s deep water parts, like the rocky shorelines or flooded brush for your best chance at catching bass. Choke Canyon Lake also affords other basic activities of lake life, such as swimming and camping. Choke Canyon is also a bird and wildlife paradise, so if you paddle the lake bends of Choke Canyon Lake you’re sure to see hawks, herons, deer and so much more.

Choke Canyon Reservoir

Address: 28.4767° N, 98.3198° W

Website: Choke Canyon Reservoir

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9. Amistad Reservoir; an oasis in the desert

Lake Amistad nima
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Zereshk used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Amistad Reservoir is located along the Rio Grande River, northwest of Del Rio, Texas in Val Verde County, a southwestern portion of Texas that lies near the Mexican border. Amistad Reservoir’s water-based recreation is mostly limited to swimming, sunbathing, fishing, scuba diving, and boating. Scuba diving is very popular at Amistad Reservoir because the water is unusually clear and the lake hides many underwater rock formations, including submerged caves.

What’s truly unique about Amistad Reservoir though is it possesses a rich cultural history. Limestone caves along the banks of the Rio Grande were inhabited by prehistoric Indians, who left their art on the walls of the caves. Many of the rock paintings are up to 4,000 years old! The best way to view these historic treasures is to take a guided tour. Information can be found on the website under “Things To Do”.

Amistad Reservoir

Address: 29°27′01″N 101°03′28″W

Website: Amistad Reservoir

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10. Cruise down the Colorado River at Lake Buchanan

Lake Buchanan
Source: Photo by Flickr user John W. Schulze used under CC BY 2.0

Lake Buchanan is part of what is known as the Texas Highland Lakes, a chain of six fresh water lakes in Central Texas. Located on the Colorado River, Lake Buchanan boasts an architectural rarity, a dam spanning over stretch that features what is considered the longest multiple-arch dam in the United States. Builders no longer use the design because the amount of labor required makes construction too expensive.

Lake Buchanan provides the usual water recreation fare, swimming, boating, fishing, but with an added bonus. Lake Buchanan offers two and a half hour scenic tours through the historic Colorado River Canyon. Operating year round, a 200-passenger vessel equipped with two observation decks allows guests to catch a glimpse of wonderful waterfalls, observe nesting Bald Eagles and a lot more!

Lake Buchanan

Address: 30.7935° N, 98.4294° W

Website: Lake Buchanan

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11. Experience recreational fun on Lake Granbury

Source: Photo by Flickr user Granbury Texas used under CC BY 2.0

This beautiful lake is perfect for engaging water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding. If you don’t want to ride a boat to see the wonderful sights around you, you can rent a bike and ride around the lake to see beautiful green trees, or even just to relax and enjoy the fresh air. With a great variety of fish found in the lake such as bass, sunfish, and plenty more, you can enjoy a quiet afternoon fishing. Visit Lake Granbury for a quick break from the city and you will surely have a great time.

Lake Granbury

Address: 32.4899° N, 97.8096° W

Website: Lake Granbury

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12. Lake O' the Pines; a fishing haven in East Texas

Source: Photo by Flickr user ImageTek used under CC BY 2.0

The beautiful Lake O’ the Pines, located in East Texas, certainly lives up to its name. Enjoy a quiet afternoon while you ride a boat on the clear waters of this lake. Enjoy the fresh view of the huge pine trees that surround the body of water. With its large mass, fishing is one of the most popular activities here as there are plenty of different species found such as spotted bass, white bass, chain pickerel, and more. There are also parks nearby so you and your family can definitely have a lovely picnic. If you have the time, there are several cozy camping grounds where you can stay a night or two in. You can rent an RV or a tent should you decide to go camping.

Lake O' the Pines

Address: 32.7968° N, 94.6192° W

Website: Lake O’ the Pines

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13. Have a great family getaway on Lake Conroe

Lake Conroe on July 4th
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Trey Perry used under CC BY 3.0

There are plenty of fun activities to do on Lake Conroe; boating, fishing, and jet skiing, to name a few. If you are looking for wholesome family fun, this is the perfect place for a getaway. Go boating for a luxurious sightseeing experience and discover plenty of beautiful sights that surround the lake such as the golf course in the neighborhood of April Sound, the breathtaking view of shores, and the green trees around the lake waters. You can also go swimming since the lake has pristine water, in fact, it is one of the cleanest lakes in Texas. You and your family will surely enjoy a visit.

Lake Conroe

Address: 30.4369° N, 95.5985° W

Website: Lake Conroe

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14. Discover wholesome fun on Lake Austin

Lake Austin Pennybacker Bridge
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CQui used under CC BY-SA 2.5

Lake Austin, located on the Colorado River, is a long, beautiful water reservoir with scenic views surrounding the place. Nearby, there are hiking trails available if you want to see the stunning Lake Austin from different perspectives. You can go swimming and fishing, though only in designated areas, as most coastlines are privately owned. Parks nearby such as Emma Long Park and Mary Quinlan Park have access to the lake, so if you want to go fishing and swimming, you can definitely head to these parks. You can even enjoy wholesome family fun by having an afternoon picnic while savoring the views together. Campsites are also available if you plan on spending the night for an interesting outdoor adventure.

Lake Austin

Address: 30.3516° N, 97.8062° W

Website: Lake Austin

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15. Explore fun water activities on Lewisville Lake

Source: Photo by Flickr user Jason Hunter used under CC BY 2.0

Lewisville Lake is popular for its enthralling water activities that visitors will surely enjoy. If you want to get away from the busy city, then head to Lewisville for a quiet afternoon fishing, swimming, and boating. You can also go hiking and biking, so go ahead and explore the wonderful trails nearby. Looking for more social activity? This place hosts a boat party every weekend where guests can enjoy dance-worthy party music, alcoholic beverages, and swimming. You will definitely have an amazingly fun time here while making new friends during your visit.

Lewisville Lake

Address: 33.1095° N, 96.9714° W

Website: Lewisville Lake

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Summertime in Texas... don't bake in the sun, dive in a lake

As you have discovered, Texas has no shortage of great lakes. And with summer temperatures spiking to triple digits at times, these lakes take on a great importance to Texans and visitors to the Lone Star state. You can count on the fact that when the heat is on, an invigorating Texas lake is nearby to immerse yourself into a sea of coolness.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Catherine has written professionally for over 10 years, and a sizable amount has been travel writing. Her desire to see the world was sparked at a very young age. Growing up, there were many family...Read more

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