Escape the summer and autumn heat by enjoying a lakeside getaway. A trip to the lake provides all the family-friendly fun you want. Look forward to sunbathing on the shore, as well as swimming and boating on the water. Book a stay at one of many Texas vacation rentals for your upcoming lake trip. That said, here’s a cheat sheet to the 10 best lakes in Texas.

1. Lake Conroe

Conroe
Source: Flickr / eng1ne

In east Texas, Lake Conroe offers a wealth of fun. The lake comes alive in the summer with visitors zooming around it on motorboats and jet skis. Put your boat in the water at Lake Conroe Park. This park also offers boat slips, a fishing pier, playground, and picnic tables. Fishing is popular here with most people catching largemouth-, white-, and striped bass along with bluegill and channel catfish. With pony rides, a petting zoo, and mini golf, 7 Acre Wood is worth a visit. Take older family members to Cork This! Winery for a tasting.

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2. Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Sam
Source: Flickr / Roger Mommaerts

If your family loves to fish, the Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the place to stay for your vacation. This is a hot spot for anglers in East Texas and hosts as many as 300 fishing tournaments throughout the year. Marinas and public launches make it easy to get your boat in the water and all the supplies you need to go fishing. At Powell Park Marina, find an inflatable water park for your kids to climb, slide, and play in the water. Tired of eating fish? Stop by Bob’s Burger Shack for a juicy hamburger.

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3. Possum Kingdom Lake

Possum
Source: Flickr / Nicolas Henderson

Possum Kingdom Lake sees a lot of visitors from Dallas since it’s less than an hour’s drive. This lake teems with boats, jet skis, and fish, including channel and blue catfish and white crappie. Possum Kingdom Lake offers boat rentals, food, snacks, and gas to get your family out on the water. Possum Kingdom State Park encompasses the lake, and while out hiking, you might run across a Texas longhorn. Practice your swing and take in the stunning views when you tee off at the Cliffs Golf Course.

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4. Lake Buchanan

Buchanan
Source: Flickr / John W. Schulze

With 124 miles of shorelines, Lake Buchanan is one of the largest lakes in Texas, and idyllic location for a family trip. Numerous homes dot the shores so finding a vacation rental is a snap. Walk down the gravel shores into the water for an afternoon swim or cast your line to catch a few striped bass. If you’re into birdwatching, you might catch sight of a roadrunner or nesting bald eagle here. Spend an afternoon exploring the unique and nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park or opt for a tasting at Perissos Vineyards.

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5. Lake Travis

Travis
Source: Flickr / Matthew Rutledge

Hidden away in the Texas Hill Country, Lake Travis is a low-key destination, where you can while away the days fishing, boating, and playing in the water. Put your boat in the water at Bob Wentz Park. This park offers picnic facilities, volleyballs, and a concession stand. Soar above the water at the Lake Travis Zipline Adventures. Sessions last around three hours and include time on its private beach. Relax with a walk in the early evening at the Bee Cave Sculpture Park.

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6. Lake Texoma

Texoma
Source: Flickr / Stinkydog~Productions

Crossing the border between both Texas and Oklahoma, Lake Texoma gets a lot of visitors throughout the year. The lake has many natural minerals that lead to some large fish, and you can catch striped bass as large as 15 to 20 pounds. Hike the trails that wind around the lake and make your way up to the bluff above the lake for amazing views. Enjoy your seafood with a little kick when you have dinner at the De Happy Cajun, or stop by Island Bar and Grill for burgers and your favorite comfort foods.

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7. Lake Whitney

Whitney
Source: Flickr / Nicolas Henderson

Bring your binoculars and field guide on your trip to Lake Whitney. This lake sits along the shores of the Lake Whitney State Park on its northern shores. As you kayak around the shoreline, it’s possible to catch sight of egrets, ibis, hawks, brown pelicans, bald eagles and so many more. You might even see foxes, coyotes, deer, and bobcats in the tall prairie grass and among the trees. Check the schedule at the Open Range Cowboy Church for its yearly rodeo, or opt to explore the winding trails with a tour on horseback from Adventure Stables.

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8. Toledo Bend Lake

Toledo
Source: Flickr / George Bannister

Toledo Bend Lake stretches from Texas to Louisana. The lake has marked boating lanes to ensure the safety of swimmers. It also keeps you from hitting submerged trees and other obstacles. Featuring many sandy beaches, this lake is popular with families who want to build sandcastles and spend their days splashing in the water. Skip eating fish each night and opt for a little spice in your life at Pepe’s Mexican Grill. Country Boy Restaurant offers a more upscale experience and requires reservations.

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9. Canyon Lake

Canyon
Source: Flickr / Chris Luczkow

Nestled in the Texas Hill Country, Canyon Lake offers family-fun, including boating, fishing, and swimming. Dotted around the lake are eight parks, where your family can swim, enjoy a picnic, and play. There are bluegill and largemouth-, striped-, and white bass in the lake that you can catch and take back to your vacation rental for dinner. Nearby Canyon Lake Gorge features many fossils and a set of dinosaur prints. The Visitor’s Center gives guided tours so you don’t miss anything. Take an underground tour of the Natural Bridge Caverns.

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10. Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird
Source: Flickr / Anne Worner

Lady Bird Lake offers you the best of both worlds with a lake vacation and city escape due to its Austin location. While you can’t take a motorboat out on this lake, you can launch a rowboat, kayak, and canoe from Zilker Park. Austin Kayak rents kayaks and stand up paddle boards for a day or longer period. A hiking and biking trail of a little over 10 miles surrounds the lake, and your family can meander along in the evenings looking for birds and wildlife. If you’re faced with a rainy afternoon, take the kids to the Austin Children’s Museum, where they can play with the interactive exhibits.

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