For fishing in the early hours of the morning and skimming over waves on a jet ski, the number of Texas lakes brim to more than 150. Country houses nestled on wooded lakeshores are growing more popular as families escape the noise of the city in exchange for weekends by the water.
Better than swimming in chlorine in the neighborhood pool, Texas lakes offer a world of fun such as campfires on the shore, boating, tubing and water skiing.
Here’s a list of some of the most beautiful and most fun Texas lakes we could find in our home state.
About an hour’s drive from the Metroplex, Lake Texoma is a vast playground among the Texas lakes we’ve explored, offering a variety of activities to suit everyone’s interests.
Known for its full-service marinas, wide sandy beaches, and islands, Lake Texoma is the premier destination to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, camping, wildlife-viewing and hiking. Nestled between the shores of Oklahoma and Texas, the area is rich in history.
Once replete with trading posts, outlaws, and cattle drives, the area became home to a dam that is 12th largest in volume in the United States. Imagine a day in the early 1940s: A rumbling military convoy rolls down a dusty country road. Daily, troops of German and Italian World War II prisoners of war traveled that road to an area where they cleared land to build the dam. This was the beginning of a lake that was to serve as a reservoir and flood control for the Red River Valley. Today, Lake Texoma is an 89,000-acre recreational paradise, with 585 miles of shoreline.
Nature lovers will want to find a beautiful lake home or maybe a vintage trailer to rent for the weekend as you enjoy all Lake Texoma has to offer. Places to rent can be found on Airbnb.com. Enjoy hiking, fishing, camping and a history tour of the lake. Build a fire, sing camp songs and bring plenty of s’mores. Make sure to check the website to see a variety of local specials and live music performances going on all summer long.
Check out laketexoma.com for more information.
One of the most majestic Texas lakes.
Spanish moss hangs in curtains on cypress trees rooted deep under the water. In places, it’s untouched and green, uniquely wild. Though there are many places in Texas to jet ski and sunbathe, Caddo Lake is not one of those places. It’s the only natural lake in Texas, famous for the swampy cypress trees, which take root only in the water, layered with history. It’s ideal for a short summer trip to take advantage of the excellent fishing available.
It’s not the kind of lake where you swim—because of the risk of alligators and Bigfoots. Don’t bring water wings and don’t expect to come back with a tan. In short, it isn’t recreational. It’s a place to see, to be in awe of, a place where you should listen quietly for small, watery sounds and imagine what could be making them.
(Click here for our insiders adventure of Caddo Lake!)
Possum Kingdom Lake
Possum Kingdom Lake is one of the most unique Texas lakes. Possum Kingdom sprawls on a loop of the Brazos River about 80 miles west of Fort Worth with over 300 miles of shoreline. It’s perhaps the best place in Texas for snorkeling and scuba diving.
The bold, huge cliffs on the south end of the lake culminate into the iconic Hell’s Gate, a narrow waterway between cliff walls that shelter a vast cove where boaters come for a massive July Fourth party and fireworks show.
As a naturally created cliff-diving venue, Hell’s Gate also has been a part of Red Bull’s Cliff Diving World Series. This is the only time cliff-diving in Possum Kingdom Lake is legal.
In the foothills of the Palo Pinto mountains less, than 90 miles west of Fort Worth | possumkingdomlake.com
Lake Cypress Springs
Lake Cypress Springs, found in the Piney Woods region of Northeast Texas, surrounded by rolling hillsides, is a clear spring-fed haven among Texas lakes.
Known as the “best kept secret in Texas,” Lake Cypress Springs is truly one of many hidden gems in North Texas and certainly one of the best lakes to explore on a day trip from Collin County. And it’s only a two-hour drive from the Dallas area — just far enough to stay overnight if you want. So, if you’re into camping, there’s plenty of ways to do so at Lake Cypress Springs with its rental cabins and RV parks. There are also hiking trails — Lake Bob Sandlin Trails and Daingerfield State Park Trails — for those of you who love a good hike.
Lake Cypress Springs is separated only by a short strip of land from Lake Bob Sandlin, which has a heavily forested shoreline with excellent fishing and a wide variety of wildlife year-round. Birders can even see eagles during the winter months.
On Cypress Creek in the Cypress River Basin 15 miles northwest of Pittsburg in Franklin County | cypressspringslake.com
Lake Grabury is a staycationer’s dream getaway for relaxation.
Granbury with its craggy shoreline settles into the curve of the Brazos River. It is one of three Texas lakes that formed as a result of the river’s damming.
Its many public fishing piers and many camping areas make it an ideal spot to restore your tranquility. You can rent kayaks, paddleboards or bikes on City Beach Park if you care to take a tour in Granbury.
Or, as linked below, find a lake home to nestle into with your friends and family to come inside, kick off your shoes, and dream sunny days away in homey but utterly artisan comfort (and not too far from downtown!)
(Check out our review of one of the gorgeous lake homes at Lake Granbury!)
201 E. Pearl St., Granbury, TX 76048 | visitgranbury.com/things-to-do/lake-granbury
In the heart of Grapevine, Lake Grapevine offers boating, water-skiing, wind surfing, fishing, camping and picnic facilities, surrounded by miles of lovely shoreline and wilderness trails. It’s close enough to the city for a day trip, and Grapevine Segway even allows visitors to Segway along the paths.
One huge draw for Lake Grapevine is the cruises that sail there during the day, at sunset and under the moonlight, a creative way to enjoy the sunshine and the water on any occasion from a casual family day out to a lush evening wedding reception.
Looking for something a bit more energetic to liven up your family time? Altitude H2O is an awesome waterpark that heightens Lake Grapevine to a truly family-oriented Texas lakes experience!
(Check out our review of Altitude H2O!)
Lake Grapevine is located on the northern edge of Grapevine, Texas | lake-grapevine.com
Eagle Mountain Lake
With hidden little swimming coves, plentiful fishing and fun restaurants close by, Eagle Mountain is small but has a little of everything. The water is fairly clear compared to most Texas lakes, and boaters often cruise slowly by the shore to admire the beautiful lake houses along the banks. Since the Fort Worth boat club makes its home here, Eagle Mountain is particularly well known for some of the best sailing in the area.
Plus, for a much-needed break, the lake has a specifically designated party cove where, between Memorial and Labor days, boaters flock to anchor and relax for the whole day.
Plus Eagle Mountain Lake has tons of hiking trails around the lake, making it one of the best lakes around for hiking.
On the West Fork Trinity River, just north of Fort Worth and Lake Worth in Tarrant County | eaglemountainlake.org
White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake is in the heart of Dallas, just five miles from downtown. This city lake is one of the most popular destinations for a day trip, iconic for locals.
This urban gem among Texas lakes has a nine-mile hiking and biking trail, boat ramps, a dog park, a museum, and is conveniently adjacent to the breathtaking Dallas Arboretum. There’s kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding available for those who want to be out on the water, and birders flock to the birdwatching area, certified by the Audubon Society.
Located about 5 miles northeast of downtown Dallas | dallasparks.org/235/White-Rock-Lake
Lake Ray Hubbard
Lake Ray Hubbard is one of those Texas lakes that’s conveniently close to Collin County, and is primarily a recreational lake for boating and sailing. The surrounding shores have hiking and biking trails and fishermen can expect hybrid striped bass and blue catfish for sport fishing.
One of the biggest nearby draws is The Harbor in Rockwall, a waterfront strip that’s lined with dining, shopping and bars. The sunset views here are stunning, particularly paired with ice cream or margaritas on a warm evening.
Located 15 or so miles east of Downtown Dallas | lake-ray-hubbard.com
Cedar Creek Lake
Do you like llamas? Weird question, we know. But at Cedar Creek Lake’s Llamaland Ranch campground, you can hangout with llamas for the day. Cedar Creek Lake is the fourth largest of the Texas lakes. And, on top of that, it’s only about 50 miles southeast of downtown Dallas.
The lake also offers fishing, boating, golf courses and a fun park, making it one of the best lakes to visit for short lakeside vacation.
Are you in the market for a lake house? Long Cove on Cedar Creek Lake is a luxury lakeside development with bass fishing, golf, pickleball, tennis, a clubhouse and pool with slide overlooking the lake. Oh, and miles of biking trails on 1200 acres. Click here to find out more.
15 miles west of Athens in the area between US 175 and Texas 274 | cedarcreeklake.com
This lake is one of those tried and true places that you know you’ll have a great time at. With everything from fishing, camping, boating, diving, flyboarding, sailing, water parks and wakeboarding, Lake Travis is truly one of those Texas lakes that is perfect for those who like to have a lot to do! And around the lake, there is entertainment ranging from live music to wineries to golf courses.
On the Colorado River northwest of Austin in Travis and Burnet counties | laketravis.com
Lake Lavon As Collin County’s major water supplier, Lake Lavon lies close to home. Just above Lake Ray Hubbard, it is one of the well-loved Texas lakes, seeing up to four million visitors each year. It’s reliable as a retreat from the nearby city and is known for phenomenal fishing piers on both sides of the dam. Lake Lavon has 16 parks, 244 picnic sites, and 167 camping sites with electric and water hook-ups.
Located on the East Fork of the Trinity River near Wylie, off State Highway 78 | lake-lavon.com
Looking for more day trips & weekend adventures?
Look no further, click on the links below for more best Texas lakes, exciting day trips and adventures all around North Texas and beyond!
- Best weekend getaways: Denton
- South Padre Island is an Artistic, Windy Getaway on the Texas Coast
- Stay Overnight in a Cabin on the Rim of Palo Duro Canyon
- Best weekend getaways: McKinney
- Best weekend getaways: Canton
- Best weekend getaways: Austin
- Best weekend getaways: San Antonio
- Best weekend getaways: Fort Worth
- Limestone Quarry Park has a hidden waterfall! Where is it?
(Alex Cronin contributed to this article)