10 Best Lakes In Texas For A Lone Star Getaway

Our favorite of Texas' 7,000 or so lakes.

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Elizabeth W. Kearley/Getty

Texas is home to roughly 7,000 lakes with the heaviest concentration in the wetter eastern portion of the state. From the panhandle to the Rio Grande, there is a plethora of both natural and manmade lakes to drop in a fishing line, paddle, or just sit back and soak in the view. These watering holes also offer an insight into the ecological diversity of the Lone Star state's varied geographic regions from bald cypress swamp to mountainous desert, which are home to an even more varied array of wildlife. In fact, Texas ranks second in the country for the most bird species and many of these lakes provide ample bird-watching opportunities.

Visit prehistoric rock art sites accessible only by boat, watch Fourth of July fireworks between two towering sandstone cliffs, or paddle through the heart of Austin for scenic skyline views. Plan ahead when booking campsites and other accommodations during the warmer months as Texans flock to the water to cool off from the sizzling temperatures. Here are some of the best Texas lake escapes for your next vacation or weekend getaway.

01 of 10

Lake Livingston

Lake Livingston, Texas

J Labrador / 500px / Getty

This East Texas gem is one of the largest lakes in the state, known for its white bass population. Located an hour north of Houston, the lake's constant level and size (83,000 surface acres) make it a prime spot for fishing and boating activities. Lake Livingston State Park, located on 635 acres of the southeastern shore, is a great nature reprieve with watercraft rentals and six short hiking trails nestled between tall loblolly pines and hardwoods.

02 of 10

Lady Bird Lake

Texas skyline including Congress Avenue bridge over Ladybird Lake, Austin.

Peter Tsai Photography/Getty

The crown jewel of the capital city is this 469-acre reservoir, a dammed section of the Colorado River that acts as the dividing line between North and South Austin. Since swimming and motorized vessels are not allowed, the best way to appreciate the towering city skyline is from a kayak or paddleboard. Bring your own or rent from the handful of rental operations dotted along the lake. Walk, bike, or run the 10-mile hike and bike trail that circumnavigates the main section of the lake. 

03 of 10

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

Lake Meredith, Texas

Sarah Turturro

This hidden oasis in the Texas panhandle's dry plains is operated by the National Park Service and is excellent for birding, hiking, boating, and fishing. For scenic views of the lake, hike the Fritch Fortress Trail. Take a free ranger-led tour (reservation required) to Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument to visit the colorful flint quarry that supplied mammoth hunters and other ancient peoples with material for tools. 

04 of 10

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake, TX


Stretching across the Texas-Louisiana line, Caddo Lake is a fishing and paddling paradise. The 26,810-acre lake boosts over 70 species of fish. Paddlers will love the 10 official trails in the region. Five of these trails are on Caddo Lake, including the 8.8-mile Hell's Half Acre Paddling Trail that starts and ends at Caddo Lake State Park.

05 of 10

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Elizabeth W. Kearley/Getty

Avid anglers are drawn to this 185,000-acre lake that straddles a 65-mile section of the Sabine River, the landmark that denotes the Texas-Louisiana border. The ecosystem is a favorite of the largemouth bass, the lake's most popular year-round gamefish followed by crappie and catfish. The nearby small towns of Milam and Hemphill are great bases for exploring the region and grabbing a bite to eat.

06 of 10

Medina Lake

Medina Lake, TX

Courtesy Bandera CVB

This 10-square-mile lake northwest of San Antonio is a hidden gem for solitude seekers. The clear, deep water is perfect for scuba diving, kayaking and fishing—the waters produced a former state-record largemouth bass in the 1940s. Don't miss the annual fall Medina Lake Cajun Festival in nearby Lakehills featuring a gumbo cook-off.

07 of 10

Lake Tawakoni

Lake Tawakoni, TX

Courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife

Birders flock to this 37,879-acre reservoir for a chance to see some of the over 600 bird species found in the Lone Star State. The western edge of the lake offers the best chance to see wintering waterfowl, loons, grebes, bald eagles, and the American white pelican. Catfish are the best bet for anglers while hikers can take advantage of five miles of trails at the nearby state park.

08 of 10

Amistad Reservoir National Recreation Area

Amistad Reservoir National Recreation Area

Buddy Mays/Getty

Amistad Lake is an enormous reservoir with a series of multipurpose storage dams at the confluence of the Rio Grande and Devils River, northwest of Del Rio along the Mexican border. The U.S. portion of the international reservoir is a mix of steep-walled river canyons and wide-open waterways with 12 public boat ramps and seven paddling trails. The most unique attraction is the nearby prehistoric Native American rock art sites including Panther Cave, the region's most famous, located on the Rio Grande and accessible only by boat.

09 of 10

Lake Travis

Lake Travis, TX


Due to the close proximity to Austin, Lake Travis feels like an amusement park with activities for all ages and interests. Adventure junkies can rent a jet ski, zipline, or try their luck on the 600-foot floating obstacle course at Waterloo Adventures. Squeeze in a game of golf or scuba dive before grabbing a sunset meal at one of many restaurants or cold brew at Oasis Texas Brewing Company.

10 of 10

Possum Kingdom Lake

Possum Kingdom, TX

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Rumored to be named after a fur trader, this man-made lake is home to some of the clearest and bluest water in the Southwest with over 300 miles of shoreline dotted with scenic coves. Located roughly an hour west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, this adventure haven is filled with endless opportunities to swim, boat, fish, ski, scuba dive, snorkel, bike, or hike. Hell's Gate, two towering sandstone cliffs at the southern section of the lake, is the famous site used by the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series and home to one of the best annual Fourth of July fireworks displays in the state. 

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