Canyon Lake lies off the beaten track midway between San Antonio and Austin. This community sits on the west side of the lake that boasts 80 miles of shoreline and is renowned for its water based activities. Many of the vacation rentals in and around Canyon Lake occupy water-front locations with stunning views, and direct access to the water for boating, swimming, and fishing. Cabins up in the hills offer a private, rural family retreat with plenty of peace and quiet. There are numerous outdoor activities for adventurous families, and it’s a short 20- to 30-minute drive to major shopping centers and malls to stock up on supplies.

1. Take a Boat out on the Water

If you have your own boat, opt for a vacation rental with access to a ramp so you can explore the lake at will. To hire a boat, stop by the Canyon Lake Marina. It prides itself on offering a family-oriented service that ensures you and your family have a safe and memorable experience. Rentals include pontoon boats and speedboats with seats for the whole family. They also offer wave runners, kayaks and paddleboards for additional days of fun.

2. Go for a Swim

If you don’t have swimming direct from your vacation rental, pack a picnic, load up the inflatables, and head off down to Comal Park. Open from April 1 through September 30, this park has a large swim beach as well as boat ramps, restrooms, and a children’s playground.

3. Go Fishing

Remember to take your fishing gear to your vacation rental, and if the kids aren’t already hooked, now’s the time to learn. If you have your own private dock, let them cast a line while you relax on the deck with a coffee and your favorite paperback. Get your bait and tackle at Fisherman’s Corner to the north of the lake. This family-friendly business also has catfish ponds where kids can fish for free with no need for a fishing license. To try pier fishing, head out to Guadalupe Park and try fishing for trout from the pier. Parking is free of charge, but you’ll need a local fishing license.

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4. Try Tubing the River

If you fancy floating gently down the river on a giant inner tube, head to the Tube Haus at the start of the famous Horseshoe Loop on the Guadalupe River. Your fee gives a whole day of tubing fun, parking, and your return shuttle should you opt for the Long Float. You can even hire a tube for your family dog and an extra tube to hold your cooler so you can all enjoy cold drinks while you go with the flow.

5. Try Paragliding

Experience the thrill of soaring 400 feet or more above Lake Canyon during an exhilarating 15-minute para sailing flight. Canyon Lake Adventures experienced staff takes you out on a boat with up to 12 other flying and non-flying passengers, so you also get to enjoy a boat trip while awaiting your turn. Choose whether to fly alone, in tandem or in a harness that holds three at a time. Kids must be at least six years old to parasail and weigh at least 130 pounds to fly alone.

6. Go Hiking

If your kids prefer to keep their feet on dry land, the area is full of hiking trails. The Guadalupe Park Trail is a pretty kid and dog-friendly trail that runs 1.8-miles out and back, running alongside the river. There’s plenty of shade in summer, and you can take a paddle in the water to cool off. Get the kids to look out for squirrels, deer, and hawks, and in summer and fall, enjoy the firefly display.

7. Explore the Area on Horseback

If your family enjoys horsing around on holiday, visit the Sunnye’s Stables and take a trail ride through the surrounding forests. Friendly guides lead any younger children that aren’t comfortable riding on their own. They also offer longer trail rides through the State Parks and along the banks of the lake for more experienced riders and kids age eight or over. Reserve the trip at least two weeks ahead as they need time to get the horses to the starting point.

8. See Dinosaur Footprints

The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country is a surprisingly exciting place to visit. For a small entry fee, you get to see real dinosaur tracks made around 110 million years ago. There are also fossils, antique items, Native American exhibits, and an outdoor exhibition of ancient farm equipment to give the kids a real sense of history.

9. Enjoy a Magical Day at Wonder World Park

If your kids enjoy the learning about the natural world, make the 45-minute trip to Wonder World Park at San Marco. This one-of-a-kind theme park is home to the Balcones Fault Line Cave where you can venture deep underground to see the devastation caused by a major quake. Other activities include an anti-gravity house where water flows uphill and a train ride through waterfalls to a petting park to meet the deer and other animals. Check their website for opening hours as these vary.

10. Cool off at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort

When the heat is high, pack the swimming costumes and set off to Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort in nearby New Braunfels. With numerous ways to get wet in pools, beaches, slides, chutes, and rivers, there is something for every member of the family.

11. Go on Safari at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch

Drive around 20 miles south of Canyon Lake and join an exciting African Safari at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch. Tour the 450 acres of land and get up close to magnificent wild animals such as zebra, ostrich, and giraffe. At the end of your tour, feast on juicy burgers and fries at the Safari Camp Grill. You can enjoy the wildlife ranch nearly any time of year with it being open 362 days a year.

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