When you think about Austin, Texas, you probably think about nightlife and an exciting downtown. Well, what if I told you that there are also numerous lakes in Austin?!
It’s true! There are several lakes in and around Austin that are the perfect place to escape the city for a little while.
These lakes are one of the things that ensures that Austin continues to top the list of the best places to visit in Texas.
Whether you are hiking on the banks of the lakes or out paddling your way across them, the Austin lakes are a great way to enjoy the city from a different perspective.
Thanks to its fabulous Texas Hill Country location, there are many lakes in the Austin area just waiting to be explored. These beautiful lakes are the perfect place to enjoy the day water skiing, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, or just lounging on a hot summer day.
I mean, it only makes sense since Austin is one of the best places to visit in Texas!
I mean, it only makes sense since Austin is one of the best places to visit in Texas!
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Gorgeous Lakes in Austin, TX
Centrally located in the heart of Austin, Texas, Lake Austin is the perfect place to enjoy a day out on the water.
What makes Lake Austin one of the best lakes to enjoy a day of recreation on the water? Well, you see, the dramatic limestone cliffs that hug the shoreline of Lake Austin help to provide a natural wind barrier, making it the perfect lake to try your out some jet skiing or paddle boarding.
Lake Austin provides several boat ramps and access points to get you on the water quickly. One of the most popular is located near Pennybacker Bridge. Here you can enjoy the recreation area under the architectural beauty of the bridge.
You can also check out Emma Long Metropolitan Park to see if you prefer it. Like Pennybacker, Emma Long Park also offers several amenities to make your day at the lake super enjoyable.
If you don’t have a boat, don’t worry. There are several companies in the area that offer boat rentals to ensure you can hit the water while visiting Lake Austin. There are even companies that will take you out on boat tours, including huge party barges.
While cruising Lake Austin, be on the lookout for the incredible privately owned homes that dot the shoreline. There are some incredible ones for sure!
During your visit, be sure to check out Lake Austin’s hike and bike trails also.
Lady Bird Lake
One of the lakes in Austin that you can’t miss is Lady Bird Lake. The fact that Lady Bird Lake is located right smack in the middle of the city center means that this is one of the Austin lakes that you are guaranteed to see, I mean, literally. You can’t miss it!
Once called Town Lake, Lady Bird Lake was renamed to pay respects to First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, who spent a valuable amount of time and energy working on beautification projects in Austin, Texas.
Today, Lady Bird Lake is a popular recreation lake for Austin locals and visitors. You will see people on paddleboards, in canoes, even floating around on floaties in this lake. If you are here visiting and don’t have your own equipment, you will be happy to know that you can rent any of these items all around the lake!
You can also enjoy the miles of hike and bike trails that surround the beautiful lake before enjoying one of the picnic areas. The trail around the lake spans for 10-miles and is a great introduction to some of Austin’s best landmarks. These landmarks include the old railroad bridge, Zilker Park, and the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue.
This Austin, TX lake is also where you will find the famous Congress Street Bridge that is home to over one million Mexican free-tailed bats. You can come here around sundown March-October to watch the bats head out on their nightly feeding.
I mean, even if you are only spending a weekend in Austin, you should still make time to visit Lady Bird Lake!
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Mueller Lake is the smallest lake on our list of Austin lakes, taking up a mere 6.5-acres. This lake is a little different as you can’t do water activities on the lake.
However, you can enjoy the the trails that surround the lake. These trails are great to enjoy some time walking, biking, or jogging outside. I mean, walking by the lake makes for beautiful scenery!
Not only that, but you can also enjoy the open air amphitheater and stage, interactive play area, and even public art when you visit this city park.
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Names after the county of Austin, Travis County, Lake Travis is one of the best lakes in Austin, TX!
Part of the Highland Lakes Chain system, Lake Travis is a gorgeous lake stretching for over 65 miles through the Texas Hill Country. Reaching from the town of Marble Falls all the way past Austin!
That means there is plenty of room to ride jet skis, find the perfect fishing hole, or just enjoy riding around Lake Travis.
With over 17 parks along the shores of Lake Travis you are sure to find the perfect scenic spot or a great group of picnic tables for you and your family to enjoy.
One of the parks to consider is Mansfield Dam park. As the name suggests, this park is located close to the Lake Travis dam. Here you will find a boat launch, and a great recreation area that includes horseshoe pits, a playground, picnic sites, chess tables, and more!
Although there are several parks along the shores of Lake Travis to choose from, one of the most popular is Windy Point. Windy Point has campgrounds with bathrooms and showers for you to use. In addition to this, Windy Point is also a popular jumping off point for people who want to go scuba diving at Lake Travis.
The canyon system under the waters of Lake Travis are great for all levels of divers to explore!
If you are in the mood for a lazy summer afternoon on the water, then you can do that at Lake Travis as well!
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Lake Walter E. Long
You will find Lake Walter E. Long located about 20 minutes from the city center of Austin. This lake is one of the best lakes in Austin for fishing thanks to the abundance of largemouth bass that are found here.
While the lake is best known for fishing, you can enjoy other recreation sports on the lake as well. There are also sand volleyball courts, and picnic areas on this lake!
Lake Walter E. Long is the perfect Austin lake to spend the day enjoying!
Awesome Lakes Near Austin
Lake Marble Falls
Located about an hour away from Austin, Lake Marble Falls is one of the man beautiful lakes in the Texas Hill Country.
A day on Lake Marble Falls is perfect to enjoy some time skiing, wakeboarding, or just cruising around gawking at the beautiful privately owned lake properties.
There are so many things to do Marble Falls that you can make a day or more out of a visit to the town and lake here.
After having fun out on the water at Lake Marble Falls, be sure to head to Marble Falls’ Main Street to shop the boutique shops and enjoy some homemade fudge from the chocolate shop!
When you are hungry, then be sure to check out the infamous Bluebonnet Café. Just be sure to save room for some pie, trust us!!
There are also numerous wineries, breweries, and distilleries in the Marble Falls community for you to check out as well.
Another of the Highland Lakes, Lake Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ Lake), is located in Burnet County, about an hour northwest of Austin, TX.
This 21 mile long lake, stretching from Kingsland to Horseshoe Bay, is the perfect weekend in Texas!
Here you can enjoy time all sorts of fun recreational lake activities. These activities include fishing, swimming, riding jet skis or just lounging around the lake shore.
Another great fishing lake, Lake LBJ is known for the white bass, crappie, and catfish that are caught here.
There are loads of attractions surround Lake LBJ as well. You can enjoy time exploring the local breweries and wineries, or checking out some fabulous restaurants in the area.
Take time to visit Longhorn Cavern State Park and tour the underground cavern system during your visit as well.
Lake LBJ is one of the lakes in Austin that is easy to make a great weekend trip out of!
What started as a water reservoir to help provide drinking water to the surrounding community is now one of the fun lakes in Austin that you can visit.
The 180-acre lake Lake Pflugerville is the perfect Austin lake to spend the day water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or even to try your your skills at windsurfing!
There is also a park on the lake that includes a boat launch, a playground, and a fishing pier.
Of course, you can also use the nearby trail to enjoy some outdoor exercise while visiting Lake Pflugerville.
You will find Lake Georgetown located on the San Gabriel River in the Central Texas town of Georgetown. One of the small towns in Texas that we love, come to Georgetown to spend a day on Lake Georgetown, but stay to enjoy all the other attractions that Georgetown has to offer!
Lake Georgetown boasts crystal clear water and loads of local wildlife. Some here to enjoy an early morning sunrise over the calm, peaceful waters before enjoy a day of fun lake activities.
Lake Georgetown allows fishing, swimming, and, of course, boating. There are amenities along the shore for you to enjoy as well. These amenities include picnic areas with bar-b-que grills, campsites, and hiking trails.
Popular entry points and parks on Lake Georgetown include Cedar Breaks Park, Jim Hogg Park, and Russell Park. Each of these parks offer a boat ramp, camping facilities, picnic areas, and restrooms. There is a fee associated with use at Cedar Breaks Park and launch fees at the other two parks, so keep that in mind when preparing your visit.
You will find Canyon Lake located the the Guadalupe River in Comal County, about an hour southwest of Austin.
Canyon Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Central Texas. Not only that, but it is also one of the deepest! That means Canyon Lake is perfect for lake recreation.
Swimming, skiing, fishing, and diving are all popular activities to enjoy at Canyon Lake. The fact that Canyon Lake covers over 8,000 acres of surface area, means you have plenty of room to enjoy a day out on the lake.
There are numerous parks along the shores of Canyon Lake offering all sorts of amenities for you to enjoy. Some of the most popular places to enjoy on the lake include Overlook Park, Potters Creek Park, and Cranes Mills Park.
Canyon Lake is also a great place to enjoy a float down the Guadalupe River. The slow current of the river makes for a fun and relaxing day. Just don’t forget to grab an extra tube for your ice chest and snacks!
If you are in the mood to explore around Canyon Lake, then you are in for a treat. There are numerous golf courses, great restaurants, and even an opportunity to explore prehistoric history at the Heritage Museum of Texas.
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Another of the Highland Lakes, Lake Buchanan stretches 30 miles and has a width of just over 5 miles at its widest point.
Originally formed on the Colorado River as a water reservoir for the area and to generate hydroelectric power, this lake has become a favorite among locals and tourists.
Thanks to its natural beauty and plenty of room to spread out, you will find people enjoying all sorts of activities on Lake Buchanan. Swimmers love the unique granite gravel shores that you will find spread around the lake. These shores provide an ideal environment for swimming and sunbathing.
Fishing is another favorite activity on this lake. You can head out on your own, or hire one of the man fishing guides in the area.
Fish that populate Lake Buchanan include white bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, and catfish. Just be aware that zebra mussels have invaded Lake Buchanan. This invasive species can spread and take over the fragile lake ecosystem. It is imperative that you clean, drain, and dry your boat trailer, buckets, live wells, and other gear before going onto another body of water.
In addition to the camping areas on the lake, you will also find numerous bed and breakfast accommodations and independently run hotels to choose from.
See, producing hydroelectric power isn’t the only thing Lake Buchanan is good for!
Another reservoir on the Colorado River that was built to help with flood control for Lake Buchanan is Inks Lake.
Since a lot of the property bordering Inks Lake is privately owned, most people head to Inks Lake State Park when they want to enjoy a day out on Inks Lake.
The great thing about Inks Lake is that it is considered a constant level lake since its water level is controlled by the Colorado River Authority.
Inks Lake State Park allows visitors to enjoy the lake and offers amenities such as camp sites, hiking trails, and boat access. There is also an area to purchase food and supplies inside the park.
There is plenty to keep you busy inside the State Park as well. The park has over 9 miles of hiking trails, a bird blind, volleyball court, and more! If you want to get out on the water you can even rent paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks at the park store.
While visiting Inks Lake State Park, you can also try geocaching. If you have never done geocaching, don’t worry, anyone can do it. Geocaching is like treasure hunting.
People hide little treasures around for you to find using a GPS unit or smartphone app. The treasures are often little trinkets for kids, or a log book for you to sign your name in proving you found it. These treasures are camouflaged, but never buried, so anyone can participate. The whole idea is to get people exploring the outdoors.
One of the most popular thing to do at this Texas swimming hole is to head to the Devil’s Waterhole. You will see people rock climbing on the face of the wall, and cliff jumping into the deep water below when you visit the Devil’s Waterhole swimming hole.
Of course, like most Texas lakes, Inks Lake isn’t just a swimming hole. Fishing is a popular activity here as well. People are known to catch crappie, catfish, largemouth bass, white bass, and sunfish at Inks Lake.
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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.