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45 of the absolute Best Lakes in Texas & Beaches you can drive to

Where are the Beaches and Lakes in Texas near me?

Summer in Texas can mean indoor activities to keep away from the unbearable heat outside, or it can also mean jumping into the lake nearby and having some splashy fun with the whole family at one of the Best Lakes in DFW.

If you love Camping, we also recommend Eisenhower State Park, or you can rent one of the Lake Texoma Cabins and if you love Hiking, here are 23 of our favorite spots to head to.

Without forgetting beaches, some of our favorites are in Destin, Florida and also Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.

More: Camping, Cabins, and Hiking in Dallas

Apart from various waterparks and pools, Texas has a lot of swimming spots and lakes nearby, and rivers to beaches and there are some best lakes around Dallas and around DFW. These spots are so beautiful (and useful) during summertime.

More: 10 Day Trips within a 2 Hour Drive from Dallas

Beaches and lakes in DFW

Lakes in Texas have a lot to offer! Residents and visitors can have a fun-filled day; you can either do some adventurous activity – like boating, swimming, fishing, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, parasailing to name a few – or, just to relax in a quiet place under the shade or even under the sun (don’t forget your sun screen!).

If you are looking for a fantastic place to cool off and appreciate nature, then we have got you covered.

To help you plan a trip, we have our picks for 32 of the most beautiful Texas State Parks and National Parks

If you want to stay close to home but still get some water action, here are 6 great hotels and resorts for a family staycation, some with Water Parks or Swimming Pools.

lake near me

Lakes within a 3 hour drive from DFW

Find a Lake near me: The Best Lakes in Texas near Dallas

Lake Lewisville

Location: Denton County, Texas

Lake Lewisville is a great escape from the city or the suburbs and is probably the closest boating lake to Plano. It has five marinas in which offers its own amenities- boat rentals and watersports equipment rentals, food, entertainment, and others.  You’ll likely find picnic tables and fishing boats here too. Check out for more details.

And, Lake Little Elm Park which is most of the local’s favorite park and beach on Lake Lewisville. It’s probably the closest swimming lake nearby.

Lake Ray Hubbard

Location: Rockwall / Dallas / Collin / Kaufman Counties, Texas, US

Lake Ray Hubbard is a reservoir located near Dallas, Texas which is one of the largest lakes in North Texas, 22,000 acres. This lake is perfect for any recreational activities and water sports you can think of, to stay away from the hustle and bustle from the city.  There are some parks located around the lake, some beautiful beaches you can have a picnic and enjoy the water. There are also hiking and biking trails, and other outdoor and watersports activities.

White Rock Lake

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

White Rock Lake is a 1,015-acre urban oasis located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Dallas – a really beautiful city based Texas lake.  It is one of the most favorite lakes for kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders in Dallas. And your best place to get away from the city and experience natural areas and wildlife. It’s a popular spot for Runners who like to circle the lake on a cooler day and it’s right next to the Dallas Arboretum.

Lake Texoma

Location: Oklahoma–Texas border, United States

According to Wikipedia, Lake Texoma is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States, the 12th largest US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) lake, and the largest in USACE Tulsa District. Denison Dam formed it on the Red River in Bryan County, Oklahoma, and Grayson County, Texas, about 726 miles (1,168 km) upstream from the mouth of the river. It’s a perfect swimming lake nearby.

There are so many things to do in Lake Texoma; this lake is very known as the Striper Fishing Capital of the World and for it’s striped bass. It’s famous for many other water sports, activities and recreations as well.  

If you don’t want to go too far, here are 5 Totally Groovy Unique AirBnB rentals around Dallas and 10 great Outdoor Spots you can explore near Plano, Frisco, McKinney and North Dallas

best Lake near me in Dallas Texas

Lake Austin

Location: Austin, Texas

Lake Austin, formerly Lake McDonald, is a water reservoir on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. The reservoir was formed in 1939 by the construction of Tom Miller Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority, according to Wikipedia. This lake is an excellent choice of a day of water sports, fun as well as hiking and biking. This family-friendly lake is located near the city.

Lake Lavon

Location: Collin County, Texas

Lake Lavon, a 21,400-acre lake in Texas, is an excellent location for family fun for all of Collin County.  It offers 121 miles of shoreline, which gives plenty of beach areas to enjoy with the whole family along with various camping sites to spend more time. Perfect for fishing, skiing, boating, hiking, biking, and relaxing. There are numerous parks located around the lake, all of which you can find detailed information on their site.  

Joe Pool Lake

Location: Dallas / Tarrant / Ellis counties, Texas, United States

Joe Pool Lake is the main attraction for most visitors who came to Cedar Hill State Park and a great Lake near Dallas.  There are a lot of facilities in the park to keep you busy and entertain, which include lakeside for a picnic, swimming area, campsites, boat ramps, and fishing piers. For people with boats, there are different access to Joe Pool Lake.

Cedar Creek Lake

Location: Henderson and Kaufman Counties, Texas

The beautiful Cedar Creek Lake is 32,623 acres, 18 miles long and provides 320 miles of shoreline, which makes it the fourth largest lake in Texas. It is only over an hour drive from Plano, and all fun water activities – boating, fishing, and watersports await you and your family. With its eight marinas, it makes a boat launch easy from any part of the lake. It’s a great choice as one of the best lakes in Texas.

Tyler State Park

Address: 789 Park Rd 16, Tyler, TX 75706

YES, a natural swimming hole, a 64-acre spring-fed lake nestled among 100-foot-tall pine trees in Tyler State Park. By far, one of the best lakes in Texas to beat the heat. Drive through a dense forest until you reach the designated swimming area in the Eastern part.  

This lake is an excellent place for watersports activities, and swimming and lounging, too. There are picnic areas, pavilions, playgrounds, 13-mile of nature trails through pine and hardwood forests, and cabins and campsites to stay for a night or 2.

What more could you ask for from one of our favorite lakes in Texas?

Hancock Springs Free Flow Pool

Address: US-281, Lampasas, TX 76550

Hancock Springs Pool, one of the very few free-flowing pools in the state and the oldest spring-fed pool in Texas, history dates back since the 1800s.

The water comes from a large spring which keeps the water at a constant cool all year round. In 1911 Hancock pool was constructed and has been in operation ever since. They are open Thursday to Sunday throughout the summer.

Lake near me in Dallas

Lake Whitney

Location: Bosque / Hill counties, Texas, United States

One of the many lakes in Texas, feeding the Brazos River near Texas Hill Country.

Balmorhea State Park

Address: 9207 TX-17, Toyahvale, TX 79786

Lake Ladybird

Location: Central Austin, Texas, United States

Close to nearby Canyon Lake, which is worth a visit too – and is a great place to fish for White bass.

Lake Georgetown

Location: Williamson County, Texas

Lake Travis

Location: Travis / Burnet counties, northwest of Austin, Texas

Inks Lake State Park

Address: 3630 Park Rd 4 W, Burnet, TX 78611

You could combine a visit to this lake, with a visit to nearby Lake Buchanan.

Check out these 5 Unique Air BnB Rentals in the Hill Country to stay in if you choose to stay at one of the best lakes in Texas near the Hill Country in Central Texas.

This is a very hilly area, so you’ll find some great hiking trails in this area, close to many of our the best lakes in Texas.

A little further south, close to Houston, you can also check out Lake Conroe.

Lakes in Texas

6 Oklahoma State Lakes that are also within a 3 hour drive

Broken Bow Lake

Location: McCurtain County, Oklahoma

Check out these great places to stay, things to do and places to eat in Broken Bow

Eufaula Lake

Location: Haskell / McIntosh / Pittsburg counties, Oklahoma, US

Lake Murray

Location: Carter County, Oklahoma and Love County, Oklahoma

Lake Thunderbird

Location: Norman, Oklahoma

Lake of the Arbuckles

Location: Murray County, Oklahoma, United States

Lake Altus-Lugert

Location: North Fork Red River

10 Beaches near me in Texas

As well as the many great lakes in Texas. Texas has some beautiful beaches! With its 370 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico’s teal and emerald water, you have a lot of options to choose from.

You can enjoy watersports like boating, fishing, jet skiing, sailing, kayaking, snorkeling or to just relax and get some vitamin Sea.

Although they are not within 3hrs driving from DFW areas, (we only have lake beaches in Dallas) it is still worth checking them out.

Most have condos you can rent either directly or through AirBnB

Here is a list of some of the best beaches in Texas:

South Padre Beach Texas

Mustang Island

Close to Port Aransas, you can go boating, kayaking and collecting seashells on the beaches. One of Texas’ State parks, it’s peaceful and quiet. If you are an RV and camping family, there are 48 campground sites available.

Port Aransas

Around a 7 hour drive with a super clean beach area. Cinnamon Shores is a great base to stay in. You’ll find 6.3 miles of beach along the Gulf of Mexico.

South Padre Beach

South Padre Island

Probably the most popular of Texas beaches but the furthest drive – around 8 hours. Fans of South Padre say it’s gorgeous! About 25 miles from Corpus Christi, there is a wide choice of places to stay and eat. You can go horseback riding, dolphin watches, Port Isabel lighthouse, and also plan some time at one of America’s best waterparks – Schlitterbahn.

It’s renowned as the Sand Castle Capital of the World, so be sure to bring buckets, spades, and other tools to complete.

Rockport Beach

One mile of scenic views and photo ops on a bayfront with pavilions, public restrooms, and picnic sites.

Rockport beach is located in Rockport, Texas, and is consistently highly ranked, not only in Texas but in the nation. Corpus Christi is the closest large city but a bit more than 30 minutes away.

Packery Island Beach, Corpus Christi

A 6 hour drive. You can explore the USS Lexington, Selena Museum, Water Street Market and the Texas State Aquarium. With more than 500 restaurants, many are Oceanside – there are a lot of choices for places to eat and they have more than 80 hotels, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts and campsites.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park

Driving South West from Houston, you’ll find this gem at the banks of the Colorado River. Rent all types of boats and watercrafts, fish and swim. They also have horseback riding, bird viewing and it’s a great spot to go beachcombing to find hidden treasures.

Galveston Beaches

A 5 hour drive and an hour South of Houston. You won’t find white sandy beaches there and the water is not as clear as it is further afield. However there is a lot to do there – Moody Gardens, Pleasure Pier, Railroad Museum, The Strand Boat rides, some great restaurants and a Children’s Museum close by.

Don’t forget to spend a day at the Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark, part of the Schlitterbahn family of Waterparks.

On route between Houston and Galveston, Kemah is a recommended pitstop – the top draw is Kemah Boardwalk with amusement rides, dining, shopping and an outstanding hotel.

You can also take a boat cruise, go sailing, enjoy horse carriages and other attractions.

You can also fit in a trip to Nasa on your way there or back!

Surfside Beach

An hour down the coast from Galveston – it’s a cute fishing village which has several very good restaurants and two great museums – Lake Jackson and Clute (with the largest shell collection in the county) and a Sea Center.

They have some great vacation rentals on the beach and a good grocery store a short drive away.

Crystal Beach

Just north of Galveston on a strip of land opposite Texas City, Crystal Beach has soft sandy beaches, and great sunrises and sunsets. There are 27 miles of drivable beaches and chances to fish and spot native birds!

South Padre Beach

8 Beautiful Florida Beaches where most Plano Moms visit

Pensacola Beach

Within this area, both Casino Beach and Perdido Key are popular with families with both white sands and green waters. Johnson Beach in Perdido Key is great for kids who like to explore their Discovery Nature Trail and Broadwalk (shore fishing is popular here)

Navarre Beach

Slightly closer than Destin and less crowded but also close to Pensacola with tons of things to do including a Zoo. Many houses are directly on the beach and can be rented.

Destin Beaches

One of the most beautiful beaches within distance in Florida, white soft sand and super blue water. There is so much to do, and a local airport nearby if you want to fly and then rent a car to get around while you are there.

We have a few fun picks that we love:

For all of these and many more get more details here, you can book ahead for convenience and your spot ahead of the busy Summer Season. 

Hint: Big Kahuna’s Waterpark has a combo admission with a discount!

Seagrove Beach

Based in Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast this is a mile and a half beach around a small cove with a grove of trees surrounding it.

30A Beaches

Nestled between Panama City Beach and Destin, the Highway 30A runs along the shore line and leads directly to some of the best local beaches. Renowned for being very family friendly with great reviews, it’s a good choice. Seaside is often mentioned as being beautiful and picturesque and Watercolor (right next door) has beautiful white sand. It’s around a 12 hour drive. The 30A area is really popular with Plano Moms.

Seaside Beach

Tons of beautiful cottages to rent for vacations in the area. They have some great Food Trucks and great beachfront places to eat and in their Central Square, they have nightly entertainment in the summer with live jazz and movies under the stars.

Panama City Beach

Renowned for being a Spring Break party place, it’s transformed itself to provide a great haven for families too. You’ll find great places for snorkelling and water activities here in the Gulf of Mexico.

You’ll find tons of Things to do including a Helicopter Ride, Snorkelling, Dolphin Swim Tours and Gulf Marine Park Tickets. For the best deals we recommend advance bookings.

There’s more: Pier Park offers a staggering million square feet of shopping and entertainment, and the city’s event calendar is overflowing with family-friendly happenings.

5 Alabama Beaches you should also check out.

Around a 10-12 hour drive, but most Moms stop in Louisiana to break up the Drive a bit.

Fort Morgan, AL and Dauphin Island – next to each other in Mobile County.

Fort Morgan peninsula has a pristine beachfront and offers a real sense of being away from it all! To visit, we recommend you stay in one of the beach hotels with private access to the beach.

Dauphin Island has beautiful views and tranquility. In addition to kids, you can also bring pets with you and camp with your RV, trailer or tent.

Gulf Shores Main Public Beach

Popular with Plano Moms – a Traditional Beach Town with a Pretty beach, clear water and great places to eat and stay! You’ll find shops, restaurants and activities and some fun bars to hang out in too.

Orange Beach

Renowned for beautiful white sandy beaches and very little overcrowding, although it depends on the time of year. It’s an 8-mile long stretch of coastline where you can enjoy sunset dolphin cruises, flyboarding and sailing. Close by you can also head to the Adventure Island Amusement Park and Arcade.

Cotton Bayou Beach

  • Nestled within the Orange Beach area at the intersection of Highway 182 and 161. They have a number of common amenities and public facilities to make your stay even better – restrooms, showers, lifeguards and free parking. You’ll find several restaurants and shops available.

Which Lake or Beach will you choose? We’d love to hear and get your review in the comments!

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