When the Texas summer heats up, many of us start looking for the closest lakes to cool off in. Well, if you are in the Houston area, you’re in luck as there are some awesome lakes in Houston and the surrounding area to choose from.
Houston, TX is a fabulous metropolitan city full of world-class museums, great restaurants, and fun activities. While all of that is great, be warned if it’s summer in Texas, Houston is HOT!
If you are vacationing in Houston, then in addition to visiting these lakes, be sure that you book one of the fabulous hotels with rooftop pools in Houston. You will definitely need some relief from the Texas heat!
These Houston lakes make for a great escape from the high-rise buildings and traffic. So, get out of and explore the Houston area and reconnect with nature by visiting some of the best lakes of Houston!
If you’re new to Texas, be sure to check out all of the fun facts about Texas to learn more about the Lone Star State!
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Houston Area Lakes
Head about 35 minutes from Downtown Houston, TX and you will find League City, TX, and the privately-managed Lake Longhorn.
If you’re a scuba lover, then this Houston area lake is definitely for you. Longhorn offers everything you need for scuba. They offer scuba gear rentals, scuba water underwater training, and multiple swim-throughs for an awesome scuba adventure.
In addition to the scuba experience, people also flock to this Houston lake to do triathlon training. Stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, and kayaking are popular attractions here also.
You will also find yourself surrounded by 30-acres of beautiful outdoor space for your to enjoy. Here you can see native Texas plants and sometimes wildlife.
Visitors are required to pay an entry fee and to sign a waiver before enjoying time on Longhorn.
Check out their website for current fees.
Lake Houston is a reservoir in the San Jacinto River and is the perfect place to escape to nature without traveling too far from Houston, TX.
This is the perfect summer recreation playground right in the heart of the greater Houston area.
Enjoy the day swimming, fishing, and exploring this beautiful clearwater area. Fishing here is great. Fishermen here are known to catch bass, crappie, and catfish just to name a few!
A popular area nearby is Lake Houston Wilderness Park. This is the perfect place to bring the kids to spend the weekend enjoying the hiking trails and equestrian trails.
The Wilderness Park costs three dollars to enter and offers a fun getaway for kids and adults.
Take note though, the park is not located directly on the reservoir. It is connected to the reservoir by a series of streams and rivers though.
The surrounding area is full of great businesses for you to enjoy. If the season is not right to enjoy water activities, then spend time shopping, golfing, and checking out the local restaurants.
Double Lake Recreation Area
You will find the Double Lake Recreation Area inside of the Sam Houston National Forest, located about 1 hour from Downtown Houston, Texas.
This site was built in 1973 as a great retreat for people to enjoy swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, boating, picnicking, and more.
The Recreation Area is a great place to spend the day or the weekend.
Many people enjoy visiting this park area for the great fishing. This area is stocked with bass and catfish, and there are 3 fishing piers that you can fish from.
You can get on the water using a small boat with an electric motor or a canoe. They even have canoe rentals seasonally!
Swimmers will enjoy taking a swim in the sandy beach area. Hikers will enjoy the hiking trail that leads to the nearby Big Creek Scenic Area. There is also a mountain biking trail that circles around the water.
Lake Raven is located just over an hour from Houston inside of Huntsville State Park.
Huntsville State Park is one of Texas’ great state parks. Encompassing over 2,000-acres, this park will engulf you in pine trees, wildlife, and nature.
Three natural creeks feed into Raven meaning there are plenty of fish here! Fishing is one of the draws of Raven as it is known for many species of fish including crappie, bass, and catfish.
So grab your fishing pole, or rent one from the State Park store to catch your perfect fish!
Kids will love the beach that has a roped-off swimming area while adults will love all of the open land that is found throughout the State Park land.
Of course, you can access the water on one of the kayaks, canoes, or paddle boats that are available for rent. This is an amazing way to spend the day and explore all that Raven has to offer.
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Lake Livingston is one of the lakes in Houston that is a great place to cool off from the Texas heat.
You will find Lake Livingston located about an hour north of Houston, making it an easy day trip or weekend escape for sure!
The second largest lake in Texas, Livingston has so much to offer, and thanks to its huge size, this body of water rarely feels crowded. I mean, it encompasses 93,000-acres!
During the spring, the area comes alive with Texas bluebonnet fields and great temperatures.
You can take a boat out to enjoy skiing, fishing, or just cruising on the water. Of course, swimming and kayaking are also popular here.
The surrounding parks offer loads of campsites, boat ramps, dining, and lodging facilities.
You will find Arboretum Lake right in the heart of the bustling city of Houston. This favorite spot for tourists and locals provides the perfect escape from the office into nature.
The fact that Arboretum Lake is part of the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center contributes to the vast flora and fauna that you can find throughout the park.
While there isn’t swimming here, there is plenty more to do. There are miles of trails that are popular for jogging and walking in addition to the beauty of the water, and the best part is, these are free to use!
There are also various activities conducted here that help to educate people of all ages on the importance of protecting our environment.
Another one of the lakes in Houston is Sheldon Lake.
Here, you can enjoy escaping into nature without leaving the city center of Houston, TX. Sheldon Lake offers a unique experience to visitors as it has several different terrains with the lake in the center.
The 28 natural ponds that make up the area are home to many species of wildlife, including alligators, fish, and birds.
Not only are these ponds great for nature, but they are also used to teach kids about alternative energy. Some of the alternative energy sources found here are wind turbines, solar, photovoltaic, and more.
There are several trails around the lake that not only allow you to exercise, but also teach you about the local flora and fauna that are surrounding the lake.
If you have kayaks or want to rent kayaks, then you need to head to Kinder Lake for sure.
Surrounded by the buildings of Houston, Kinder Lake is an oasis right in the heart of Houston, Texas.
On any given weekend, you will see kayaks and remote-controlled boats dotting the water of the lake. Even if you don’t own a kayak or RC boat you can still participate in the fun as both are available to rent.
The fact that this lake is located near Discover Green is another plus. This area allows you to experience a great day outside while enjoying plenty to do!
Lake Conroe is the perfect place to leave the worries of the office behind. This man-made lake has over 22,000 acres of surface water for you to enjoy.
Lake Conroe allows you to enjoy fishing, swimming, boating, and more. A visit to Lake Conroe is the epitome of rest and relaxation.
On the west bank of Lake Conroe, you will find Lake Conroe Park. This park offers 13-acres of facilities for you to use. These facilities include barbecue pits, picnic facilities, restrooms, an area to swim, and fishing piers.
Please note that this park is not free. There is a per-person entry fee to use the park amenities.
There are free use areas on the lake though including Scott’s Ridge Swim Site.
If you are looking for an escape from the Houston, TX buildings, then McGovern Lake is one of the Houston lakes that should be on your list for sure.
While you probably won’t be swimming at McGovern, you will definitely find yourself relaxing and being immersed in nature here.
Be sure to keep a special eye out during your visit for the migratory birds that are known to visit the islands on McGovern.
There is also a place for children under age 12 and adults over age 65 to try their hand at catch and release fishing for free.
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About The Author
Michelle Snell is a travel writer, history buff, wine lover, and enthusiast of different cultures. Michelle enjoys bringing places to life through her informative writing style on her blogs, That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel. Her practical tips and suggestions help make travel dreams a reality while immersing her readers in the history, culture, and food of a region. She is happiest sipping wine in Italy or chilling on a beach with her husband, Marty.