Escaping the Texas heat is an absolute necessity during the hot months of summer. If you are in the Houston area, then you will be happy to know that there are several fun lakes in Houston and the surrounding area!
While the city of Houston, TX is known for its fabulous museums and great restaurants, it is important to know that there are load of great things to do around Houston to help you cool off in the summer, including these lakes!
These Houston area lakes are a fabulous way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, allowing you the perfect opportunity for a fun day or weekend getaway!
So, let’s get busy explore the lakes and state parks that are close to Houston!
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Lakes in the Houston Area
A reservoir on the San Jacinto River makes up Lake Houston.
The close proximity to Houston, TX makes this a quick and easy Houston lake to visit.
Locals and tourists alike flock to this body of water to spend the day swimming and fishing in this gorgeous clearwater lake.
Fishermen love coming here to try their hand catching catfish, crappie, bass, and more.
During your time here, be sure to visit the Lake Houston Wilderness Park. This park offers guests the opportunity to enjoy equestrian trails and hiking trails.
The Wilderness Park does charge an entry fee, but it is a nice, quiet place to visit as it is not directly on Houston Lake.
While you are in the area, be sure to visit some of the surrounding businesses to enjoy golfing, shopping, and, of course, some fabulous local restaurants.
Sheldon Lake, another one of the lakes in the Houston area, is a great escape into nature.
Visiting this lake is such a great experience as you never have to leave the city center to experience this getaway! Making it a great little escape from your office!
There are 28 natural ponds that make up this area. This unique terrain means that there are numerous wildlife species that call this area home as well.
Sheldon Lake is home to birds, fish, and even alligators!
This area is also used to teach kids about the benefits of alternative energy. The energy housed here include solar energy, energy from wind turbines, and more.
You will also find trails around the lake that are great to get some exercise. While you are exercising, don’t overlook the local flora and fauna that surrounds the lake.
Head just over an hour from Houston and you will find Lake Raven located inside of Huntsville State Park.
Huntsville State Park encompasses over 2,000-acres of land. This fabulous state park will surround you with wildlife, nature, and pine trees!
One of the big draws of Lake Raven is the fishing! Thanks to the three natural creeks that feed the lake, there are plenty of fish waiting to be caught.
Fishermen are known to pull bass, crappie, and catfish out of this lake!
If you don’t have any equipment to fish with, you can rent a fishing pole from the State Park store!
If this isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there are other ways to access this lake. You can swim in the protected swimming area or enjoy all of the open land of the State Park.
Other popular activities on this lake include enjoying the water using one of the canoes, paddle boats, or kayaks that are also available for rent.
Double Lake Recreation Area
Visitors to the Sam Houston National Forest, which is located about 1 hour from Downtown Houston, Texas, will find the Double Lake Recreation Area.
This Recreation Area is the perfect place to spend a day, especially if you want to swim. I guess that makes sense though since the whole idea for the site in the Sam Houston National Forest was to serve as a retreat for the local people.
Built in 1973, this is a great place to enjoy fishing, camping, swimming, boating, picnicking, take a hike, and more.
The most popular thing to do in this lake is to do some fishing as this lake is stocked with bass and catfish. Enjoy fishing from the 3 fishing piers that are on site.
If you prefer to fish from the water, you can do so using a small boat with an electric motor or a canoe. You can even rent one on site in the warmer months.
Other recreation here includes swimming in the sandy beach area, hiking on the hiking paths that lead to the nearby Big Creek Scenic Area. You can also ride your mountain bike on the mountain biking trail.
Read Next: 20 Best Waterfalls in Texas
The Texas small town of League City, TX is located about 35 minutes from Downtown Houston, TX and is home to the privately-managed Lake Longhorn.
This Houston, TX escape is a mecca for those of you that love scuba as it offers everything you need for a great day of scuba diving.
Once at Longhorn, you can rent scuba gear, take an underwater scuba training class, or just get busy scuba diving if you are already certified.
If the thought of scuba scares you, don’t worry, you can still have fun at Longhorn.
Other popular activities include swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.
There is an entry fee to visit Longhorn, and you must sign a waiver before gaining entrance, but this is a great Houston area getaway.
Another one of the great lakes in Houston is Lake Livingston.
Livingston is about an hour north of Houston, making it a great weekend escape from the Texas heat.
As the second largest lake in Texas, Livingston has something for everyone! Here you can enjoy skiing, boating, cruising, kayaking, or fishing on the water.
The large size of Livingston (encompassing over 93,000-acres) means that this body of water rarely feels crowded.
If you don’t have your own boat, then you can rent one to enjoy a day out on the water.
The parks that surround the water allow visitors to enjoy camping while having amenities such as boat ramps, lodging facilities, and dining options.
The Arboretum Lake is located right in the heart of the city of Houston, making this the perfect spot for a quick escape into nature.
As part of the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, the Arboretum has a great selection of Texas flora and fauna for you to enjoy!
Granted, swimming isn’t allowed at this lake, but that is alright since there is plenty more to do.
The miles of jogging and walking trails that are around the lake give you plenty to do to enjoy nature in this area.
The best thing about this park is that it is completely free to enjoy! One of the many free things to do in Houston, Texas!
Kinder Lake is a great place to visit if you want to rent kayaks (or bring your own kayaks).
Located in the middle of the city, Kinder is an easy escape.
Take note that Kinder gets busy on the weekend as it fills up with remote-controlled boats and kayaks as people set out to enjoy a day on the water.
Since Kinder is located near Discover Green, it is a great place for families.
McGovern Lake is another of the Texas lakes that are near Houston that should be on your list.
McGovern is the perfect place to relax in nature, but not the place to do any swimming.
Instead of swimming in McGovern, enjoy a day in nature and watch for the migratory birds that are known to visit the islands in this area.
McGovern is also a great place to try your hand at catch and release fishing for free if you are under age 12 and over age 65.
Head outdoors to Lake Conroe which contains over 22,000 acres of surface water for you to enjoy.
This man-made lake is the perfect place to enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and more. Seriously, Conroe just forces you to relax.
Spend a day on the water in a boat, before heading to the west bank of Lake Conroe where you will find a fabulous park.
The facilities at this 13-acre park make for the perfect outdoor setting. The kids will love having an area to swim and catch some fish from the fishing piers. In addition to this, adults will love serving the kids a freshly cooked meal from the barbecue pits.
Of course, these amenities don’t come for free. There is a per-person entry to use the park resources.
If you don’t want to pay, then consider using the free use areas such as Scott’s Ridge Swim Site.
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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.