Updated June 2021
Let’s be real, summer in Texas is not complete without a trip to the lake enjoying a drink, boating and enjoying great company! We asked our Instagram followers to shout out their favorite Texas lakes and we have compiled them and given you all the details you need to plan your next lake trip accordingly!
Located 7 hours from Dallas in West Texas rests Balmorhea Lake within Balmorhea State Park. The best part about making Lake Balmorhea your next destination are mountain views behind the lake that make you feel a world away. There is even one of the world’s largest spring-fed pools, with crystal clear that allows you to snorkel!
Planning your visit: State parks tend to fill to capacity on weekends and holidays, so planning ahead is key. There is a $7 fee per person for ages 13+ to spend time at the park and lake. Picnic sites are provided and camping options are available at the lake and at Balmorhea State Park ($15-$30/night). If you prefer overnight lodging options besides camping.
WEST TEXAS | 7 HOURS FROM DALLAS | MAKE A RESERVATION ONLINE
photo courtesy of Balmorhea Lake
Caddo Lake State Park sits on the Texas and Louisiana border in East Texas, three hours from Dallas, and is quite different than other Texas lake experiences you’re used to!
The low-hanging cypress trees and floating lily pads make for a dreamy backdrop. You might have even heard Lady Bird Johnson speak about the fond memories she has of growing up at Caddo Lake as a child!
Some popular Caddo Lake activities are fishing, boating, picnicking, hunting, hiking, horseback riding, biking, camping and animal watching with various types of wildlife (yes, alligators included) and 240+ species of birds. You can bring in your own boat or you can rent canoes, Jon boats and other boat types for lake excursions. If you love fishing you’ll be delighted to know that Caddo Lake boasts over 71 species of fish including trophy-sized largemouth bass, white bass, crappie and sunfish.
Planning your visit: There is a $4 daily entrance fee for ages 13+. You can choose from 46 campsite spots ($10-20/night). If camping isn’t your thing, you can stay at a screened shelter ($25/night) or rent one a historic cabin (starting at $40/night)!
EAST TEXAS | 3 HOURS FROM DALLAS | MAKE A RESERVATION ONLINE
Canyon Lake is made up of 80 miles of shoreline surrounded by numerous lake accommodations! The area is truly your one stop shop with spots to grab tubes or rafts, camping areas, cabins, cottages and luxury accommodations like bed and breakfasts! Set up camp at one of their many parks and spend time exploring the trails, swimming, boating, fishing, enjoying a picnic or soaking up the Texas sun on the lakeside beaches.
Something that makes Canyon Lake exceptionally unique are the spots for cliff jumping as well as the crystal turquoise water.
Planning your visit: The individual parks that make up Canyon Lake each have their own day rates ranging from free of charge to a small fee for park usage and of course overnight fees if you are camping! Use this park guide to select the best park for your trip and then check the Canyon Lake page for closure/opening information! For parks that require reservations for camping/lodging, utilize the resources below.
You can also rent an Airbnb in the surrounding area, or on the lake, some of which come with their own private beaches!
HILL COUNTRY | 4 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Canyon Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
CEDAR CREEK LAKE
Cedar Creek Lake, otherwise known as Texas’ 4th largest lake, is just an hour drive south from the DFW metroplex and stretches for 320 miles of shoreline. Not to mention that it is one of the most popular spots for Dallas weekenders and day trippers to get a change of scenery. With it’s gorgeous panoramic views we can see why! Boating and fishing is all the rage for visitors at Cedar Creek. For our fisherman, you can find blue catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, white bass, hybrid striped bass and crappie!
Planning your visit: There are a wide variety of vacation rentals or bring your own lodging and set up at one of their many campsites or RV parks. Don’t forget to check the event calendar while you plan to make room for some live music, air shows and more! If you plan on bringing your own boat you can use the Chamber Island Ramp or the County Public Ramp, both of which are free of charge.
NORTH TEXAS | ONE HOUR FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Cedar Creek Lake
Head northeast of Dallas for about 90 miles and you will find Cypress Springs Lake. Six parks span the lake offering different scenic views to enjoy the day, most of which provide places for camping and RVs. Fishers will appreciate Cypress Springs Lake because in addition to catfish, bass, walleye, carp and crappie they also have a population of smaller fish like bluegill and sunfish, perfect for any kids that might be fishing as well!
If you enjoy swimming during your lake day, this is the lake for you. It is one of the few Texas lakes that does not have the troublesome hydrilla plant which makes it perfect for swimming!
Planning your visit: The 6 parks charge a $2/person day fee. If you are planning to bring your boat they each have boat ramps open year round or you can rent a boat. You can tent camp ($10-$25/night) or utilize an RV site( $25-$50/night). Pricing depends mainly on the season.
Of the 6 parks, Walleye Park and Guthrie Park offer the most variety in addition to the park basics with fun options like a volleyball area and swim beach. Use this park guide for reference while you plan! There is also an annual fireworks show around the 4th of July from Mary King Park that you can enjoy on shore or from your boat.
NORTH TEXAS | TWO HOURS FROM DALLAS | RESERVATIONS
DAINGERFIELD STATE PARK
Stunning views surround you at Daingerfield State Park about 2.5 hours east of Dallas. Deemed the Cathedral of Trees, the park lives up to its name with tall pines, oaks and dogwoods framing the lake. If you enjoy your lake day on land you can take part in activities like hiking, birding, geocaching, nature walking, having a picnic or camping. The 80-acre lake provides the perfect escape to swim, boat, paddle and fish for crappie, bass, catfish, perch or chain pickerel. Rent a boat or bring your own! The lake has a posted speed limit of 5 mph so if you prefer a more leisure lake experience, this is the perfect lake to spend your day. They even rent out glass bottom boats which is a unique find!
Planning your visit: To enter, you must reserve passes online or by calling. There is a $4/person day fee for ages 13+. If you plan on staying overnight, there are campsites (10-$25/night) or you can rent one of their historic cabins ($85/night)! Use this trail guide if you enjoy hiking and make sure you check out their events page, too.
MORRIS COUNTY | 2.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS | RESERVATIONS
photo courtesy of Daingerfield State Park
Eagle Mountain Lake, just north of Fort Worth, is recognized for its beauty, trails and fishing. It is most known as a boating destination but many lake goers will take part in fishing, wakeboarding, water skiing and kayaking. Eagle Mountain Lake also boasts a party cove which is not hard to find, just look for the cluster of boats. Around the lake you can find facilities like picnic areas, walking trails, restaurants and campgrounds.
Planning your visit: There are a few boat ramps with launch fees from $10-$20. If you need to rent a boat you can do so at Suntex Watersports and full service marinas offer their amenities as well as yummy restaurants! There are 3 parks where you can enjoy Eagle Mountain Lake from the shore: Eagle Mountain Park, Shady Grove Park and Twin Points Park. For staying overnight, there are 2 campgrounds with a wide variety of options to best fit your budget!
NORTH TEXAS | ONE HOUR FROM DALLAS
INKS LAKE STATE PARK
Known for its lush landscape and desert-oasis feel, Inks Lake State Park is a hotspot destination about 1 ½ hours west of Austin. Glittering blue water is accompanied by rugged rock landscape and bright greenery. There is no shortage of lake activities here! On land you can enjoy hiking, biking, shore fishing, picnic areas, playgrounds, geocaching, volleyball, scenic overlooks and wildlife. On the lake you can swim, boat, water ski, scuba dive and fish. Something that makes Inks Lake State Park so cool is that they have set aside a big, no-wake zone just for paddling!
Planning your visit: $6/person over the age of 13 gets you a day full of fun in the sun! It is mandatory to make a reservation online or by calling before you arrive. For staying overnight, choose from nearly 200 campsites or 22 cabins! Most of these sites are lakeside or have prime lake access. Need snacks or lake rentals? The Park Store has everything you need to complete your lake vacay!
BURNET | 3.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS | RESERVATIONS
photo courtesy of Inks Lake State Park
LADY BIRD LAKE
You might be thinking, “that sure looks like a river,” but Lady Bird Lake in Downtown Austin is in fact a reservoir and is immensely popular with Austin locals for paddling and kayaking! If you’ve ever visited Austin, chances are high that you’ve seen Lady Bird Lake. We love enjoying it for the paddleboarding and kayaking, or you you can take a river cruise, enjoy the boardwalk along Ann and Roy Butler trail and even bat watch under the Congress Avenue bridge - yep, you heard us right! Just make sure you’re there between March and November!
Planning your visit: Swimming is not allowed in Lady Bird Lake, and keep pets away from the water, as well. That being said, all lake and lakeside activities are still just as enjoyable, and we love Congress Ave Kayaks for kayaking and paddle boarding. There is a great picnic spot located at Festival Beach which is open all year with no fee required. If you do want to swim, head over the Barton Springs, not too far away.
AUSTIN | 3 HOURS FROM DALLAS
Lake Amistad is a distinctive and wildly beautiful desert oasis with lots of boating and fishing. Other activities include swimming, picnicking, camping, hiking on one of the several trails, birdwatching, nature photography, scuba diving and limited hunting. One of the most interesting activities you can do by boat is viewing the 4,000 year old Native American rock art!
Planning your visit: Lake Amistad has 8 picnic areas and 5 primitive campgrounds available to guests on a first-come, first-serve basis ($6-$10/site) and group camp sites ($30/night up to 15 people or $2/per person per night for groups of 15+). There are plenty of boat ramps you can use around the lake to take part in any water activities.Their schedule of events is something to check out while you’re planning, too!
DEL RIO | 6.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS
Lake Austin is truly the gem of Austin, Texas! This laid-back spot is mainly used for boating and fishing due to its large stock of bigmouth bass. There are 7 boat ramp locations for you to utilize; we recommend Walsh Boat Landing, Commons Ford Park, Selma Hughes Park, Mary Quinlan Park or Fritz Hughes Park which all offer no fees to use!
Or one of the most iconic experiences of Lake Austin is just a short stair hike up Mount Bonnell for an unrivaled view and photo opportunity of the bright-blue green water.
Planning your visit: There are some limitations to Lake Austin, but they have easy workarounds! The first being that most of the surrounding shoreline is privately and residentially owned which restricts your options on shore fishing or relaxing lakeside. For an entrance fee, you can lounge and recharge at Emma Long Park, Commons Ford Park, Selma Hughes Park, or Fritz Hughes Park making for an idyllic picnic spot!
AUSTIN | 3 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake Austin Marina
Lake Buchanan features granite gravel shorelines and is llocated 1 ½ hours west of Austin. Campers, swimmers and fisherman alike come from all over to enjoy the lake, part of the The Highland Lakes which are also considered some of the most spacious and least crowded. On the north end of Lake Buchanan you can actually find waterfalls!
Planning your visit: There is an abundance of lodging options to pick from when planning your trip. Bed & breakfasts, cabins, lake houses, resorts, rv parks and condos await you with options for pet friendly stays! There are several camping spots and boat ramps ranging from no fee to a small park entrance or boat fee. If you stay overnight, definitely plan on stopping by Fall Creek Winery, the oldest winery in the Texas Hill Country.
BURNET | 3.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Sunset Haven Lake Buchanan
Lake Conroe, located only an hour North of Houston offers great recreational activities! Jet skiing, wakeboarding and waterskiing are extremely popular here and equipment is easily available for rent if needed. Bass, catfish, crappie and bluegill are found in its waters for anglers from all over to come fish.
Planning your visit: Lake Conroe Park is the perfect place to spend the day on land! Situated lakeside, $2/per person gets you 13 acres of bbq pits, picnic areas, playgrounds, a softball field and volleyball area. Lodging options are hotels, rentals and camping which you can find here. For a romantic lake getaway, check out Lake Conroe’s dinner cruises!
MONTGOMERY | 3 HOURS FROM DALLAS
This long, narrow lake is a popular spot for boating, wakeboarding, kayaking, paddleboarding, water skiing and fishing for DFW residents. There are 5 parks with lake access spots and recreational areas which are open all year and have no fee to use the boat ramps or fishing piers. If you’re looking for a place to spend with family, Granbury City Beach offers a spot to swim, sand volleyball courts and a splash pad for kids.
Planning your visit: If tent camping is the ideal way to end your lake day, plan on heading to Lake Granbury! All 5 lake parks have no charge or fees for overnight stays.
GRANBURY | 1.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Visit Granbury
In the heart and center of the DFW metroplex is 8,000 acre Lake Grapevine, one of the most well-known and popular local lakes. There are 8 parks around the lake with picnic areas and camping spots, beautiful walking trails to enjoy, and fishing. Lake Grapevine is also a huge hit for boating, water sports, sailing and glow paddling at night As far as boating goes the options include bringing your own, renting or chartering! And we haven’t even mentioned the FLOATING WATERPARK.
WhoaZone is essentially a huge floating playground where you can bounce, slip and slide on top of the lake!
Planning your visit: One of the best views of Lake Grapevine for spending the day on shore is none other than Rockledge Park. For camping and rentals there’s Meadowmere Park ($35/site), Vineyards Campgrounds ($47-67 for RVs and cabins starting at $133), Murrell Park ($10/night) and Twin Coves Park with a permit ($10/vehicle with MasterCard or Visa only).
GRAPEVINE | 30 MINUTES FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake Grapevine
Lake LBJ starts in Austin and stretches north for 85+ miles so it’s a prime location for sailing, boating and all water related activities you like to enjoy. Lake LBJ is a constant-level lake, which means it’s very popular and can get crowded. Pick your times wisely and also check out some of the coves to anchor in to swim and raft. Sunrise Beach is a shallow sandbar at Lake LBJ and is the best spot to set up a volleyball net or socialize with some of the other boaters. Take a break from the water by pulling up to one of the waterfront restaurants like Boaters Bistro!
Planning your visit: The great thing about Lake LBJ is that there are plenty of rentals, RV parks and hotel options to easily plan your stay. Kingsland Community Park is open to the general public and is a great place if you’re just spending the day lakeside. It’s 100% waterfront with a boat launch, fishing/swimming piers, a covered pavilion, and big, shady trees to accommodate picnics.
HILL COUNTRY | 3.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake LBJ
Lake Lewisville is where you will find many North Texas residents spending their summer months. The shoreline is filled with camping and fishing spots as well as marinas and boat ramps to enjoy some time on the lake. If you cross any one of the 9 bridges that stretch across the lake you will see people taking advantage of the beautiful weather by boating, fishing, paddling, kayaking, sailing, swimming or relaxing on the picturesque shores. Another thing you will see a lot of on Lake Lewisville are party barges which you can rent with friends!
Planning your visit: Crowding is the least of your worries on Lake Lewisville’s roomy waters but if you’re looking to socialize, check out Party Cove. You can use any one of these boat ramps if you are bringing in your own or utilize boat rentals. There are a multitude of camping options whether you’re tent camping or RV camping at Lake Lewisville and you’ll find sites that are waterfront.
LEWISVILLE | 45 MINUTES FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake Lewisville
LAKE O’ THE PINES
If you are needing a big city getaway, Lake O’ The Pines is a charming and scenic retreat. Considered the “East Texas Treasure, you will truly feel transported to lakeside living when you are encircled by its tall pine trees or gazing at the billions of stars at night. This well known fishing spot offers a regular variety of bass, catfish and chain pickerel.
Planning your visit: Around the shoreline sits 7 parks with picnic tables, playgrounds and boat ramps. At Lakeside Park there is even a beach area! For on-site stays from tent camping to RV camping, there is Alley Creek Campground ($18-$44/night), Buckhorn Creek Park ($18-$26), Johnson Creek Campground which also offers a group camping area ($18 - $175) and Brushy Creek Campground ($18-$26/night). If you’re looking for more of a brick and mortar stay, Old Camp Joy cabins come highly recommended.
NORTHEAST TEXAS | 3 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake O' The Pines
Among the rolling hills in East Texas, Lake Palestine rests amidst the pines and is the largest lake in the Tyler area. The mild-winter weather makes Lake Palestine a great year round destination! There is something for everyone whether you prefer biking, fishing and water sports or more laid back activities like cruising on a boat, hiking and canoeing. A surprisingly popular activity for Lake Palestine is houseboating!
Planning your visit: Lodging for visitors includes RV parks, campgrounds, resorts, cabins, motels and B&Bs which you can find in their lodging guide. Several private marinas and campgrounds provide boat launch ramps, rentals and docks which you can access here.
TYLER | 2 HOURS FROM DALLAS
LAKE RAY ROBERTS
Around 10 miles North of Denton, Lake Ray Roberts is a beautiful lake destination with for a quick day jaunt with a beach vibe! Backpacking, geocaching, horseback riding, cycling, hiking and camping can all be enjoyed on land and lake activities typically seen are fishing, swimming, canoeing and water sports. The main attraction for visitors is the large beach area at Isle Du Bois!
Planning your visit: There is a $7/day fee for ages 13+. Planning to stay? Isle Du Bois ($75/day) and Johnson Branch ($75/day) are the two main campgrounds at Lake Ray Roberts. The boat ramps are open all year ranging from no fee required, park entrance fee only and additional fee required.
DENTON | 1 HOUR FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Ray Roberts Lake State Park Isle Du Bois
LAKE TEXOMA STATE PARK
Where Washita River meets Red River, you’ll come across one of Texas’ most popular lakes, Lake Texoma on the Texas/Oklahoma border. It is one of the largest lakes in the country and sought out by vacationers and day trippers year round. Anglers flock to Lake Texoma with its 70 species of fish including bass, crappie and catfish. Water sports are the most desired lake activities here. You’ll see boating, sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing and more since Lake Texoma offers so much room to go crazy!
Planning your visit: Fit in like a local by calling Lake Texoma just plain Texoma or Texomaland! If you are staying overnight, you have no shortage of campgrounds or rentals to select from. Several marinas and boat ramps dot the Lake Texoma area and their events calendar typically holds numerous fishing tournaments, which you might enjoy!
DENISON | 1.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake Texoma Association
Lake Travis is a lake experience like no other. It is one of the most beautiful and popular lakes in Texas. Nearly 250 miles of shoreline are waiting for you with picnic spots. Among the standard lake activities like boating, fishing and watersports, you can find rare lake experiences like ziplining high over the lake, a 600 foot water playground and obstacle course, boats tying together at the Devil’s Cove party spot for a big floating party and one of the best firework shows for the 4th of July!
Make sure you snag a dinner reservation at The Oasis, which has been called the “Sunset Capital of Texas' because of its cliffside location and unparalleled views of Lake Travis 450 feet up!
AUSTIN | 3 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Lake Travis Guide
POSSUM KINGDOM LAKE
Possum Kingdom Lake, widely known as “PK” to locals and regulars, is best known for its Hell’s Gate, two extremely large cliffs that act like “gates” to a party cove where you can anchor, let loose in the sun and have a good time. Hell’s Gate is a key spot for daring cliff jumpers like Red Bull’s cliff diving competition that they host in the summer. These cliffs make PK a scenic place to get away.
Planning your visit: On July 4th, there is an incredible firework display that is definitely road trip worthy! There are two locations where you can enjoy camping; Possum Kingdom State Park and BRA Park with 5 camping areas. Possum Kingdom State Park also has cabin rentals available ($75-$135/night). Boat rentals can be purchased at Naylor by the Water, Hell’s Gate Watercraft Rentals or Sam’s Dock. If you plan on hiking, use this trail map!
GRAFORD | 2.5 HOURS FROM DALLAS
photo courtesy of Possum Kingdom Lake
WHITE ROCK LAKE
Last but not least, our own White Rock Lake, one of the most heavily used in Dallas Parks system and also a Dallas favorite for sitting back and enjoying the wildlife and nature. There is a 9.33 mile hike and bike trail, picnic areas, boat ramps, piers, a bird watching area and more activity areas to choose from. On a given day you will see people sailing, kayaking, canoeing and stand up paddleboarding, but the most noteworthy activity at White Rock is actually rowing! Motorized boats are not allowed.
Planning your visit: For the Love of the Lake was nice enough to create a map of White Rock Lake showing you key points like where to picnic, where to drop in your boat and all other areas of interest for your daytrip!
WHITE ROCK | DALLAS