Aerial view of the Lake Ozark, Missouri, USA
Kit Leong/

17 Best Lakes near San Antonio

By Dianne Titos | Published on 22 May 2023

San Antonio, the most visited city in Texas, is packed with cultural and historical sites, with the Spanish missions, Battle of the Alamo, and famous Riverwalk routes all well-trodden. However, if you fancy something different away from the city sights, then take a short drive to some of the most picturesque lakes and incredible surrounding scenery you can find.

There is a myriad of amazing lakes, reservoirs and beaches all within a few hours of San Antonio, including Mitchell Lake, Lake Placid, Canyon Lake, Medina Lake and Caddo Lake, ideal for a wonderful day trip meander or a jam-packed weekend visit.

Keep reading to find out more about these epic lake visits and our recommendations on what to do when you are there. Whether you fancy relaxing on sandy shores or enjoying adrenalin-filled water sports, you really are spoilt for choice.

Best lakes near San Antonio for enjoying different recreational activities
ActivityOur favorite lakes (& distance from San Antonio)
Best lakes for fishing

Calaveras Lake (20 miles)

Lake Buchanan (125 miles)
Best lakes for swimming

Lake Placid (20 miles)

Medina Lake (125 miles)
Best lakes for water sports

Lake McQueeney (40 miles)

Lake Travis (100 miles)
Best lakes for a weekend trip

Caddo Lake (400 miles)

Lake of the Ozarks (780 miles)
Best lakes for camping

Victor Braunig Lake (20 miles)

Lake Ouachita (600 miles)

1. Mitchell Lake

20 minutes (10 miles)

Why you should visit: Only a 10-minute drive away from the centre of San Antonio, this lake is small but pretty, with the combination of grassland, wetlands and woodlands making for an ideal habitat for different birds and wildlife to view during a lakeside ramble.

Reflection of fall forest in Mitchell Lake in Texas
Pick up your binoculars for some exciting wildlife watching across beautiful Mitchell Lake.
Ada I Montalvo/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Birdwatching
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Hiking

How to get there: From San Antonio head south along S Flores Street before turning onto Pleasanton Road. Continue onto Moursund Boulevard, before it merges to Pleasanton Road, where you will reach Mitchell Lake.

Our highlights: Mitchell Lake is a bird hotspot so a must for any bird-watching fans. With the diverse habitats stocked with a wide variety of bird species, including waterfowl, raptors and songbirds, there is plenty to bring your binoculars for.

The location and setting of Mitchell Lake are essential for bird research and conservation, hence the research facility and center built right on the fringes.

Mitchell Lake is primarily a wildlife sanctuary and research facility so as well as bird-watching make the most of the network of hiking and nature trails that allow you to explore the area, where spotting turtles and deer is also very likely.

As well as nature in abundance there is a busy entertainment program throughout the year for families, with festivals and events at Mitchell Lake Audubon Centre, so make sure to look ahead when you visit if anything else exciting is going on.

Opening hours: The lake is open year-round

Other things to know: Although open throughout the year, the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center is closed Mondays and during poor weather and a number of the trails may also have restricted access.

2. Victor Braunig Lake

25 minutes from San Antonio (20 miles)

Why you should visit: Originally created to cool waters for local power stations, this lake is now renowned for its fishing, with thousands of fish restocked every year - an angler's dream. There are also opportunities for other water-based fun, as well as rambling around the pretty lakeshore.

The shores of Victor Braunig Lake near San Antonio on a partially cloudy day.
Enjoy relaxing and fishing along the pretty Victor Braunig Lake shoreline.

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Bird watching

How to get there: Take the Interstate-37 (I-37) south to Southton Road. Take exit 130 from I-37 south, before heading along I-37 Frontage Road to arrive at Victor Braunig Lake

Our highlights: Formerly known as East Lake, you can find Victor Braunig Lake a short distance from the center of San Antonio, where Chupaderas Creek meets Calaveras Creek. This lake along with Calaveras Lake were originally built as reservoirs for local power plants, to help cool their systems.

A hugely popular site for fishing, and must-visit for any anglers, the hybrid striped bass and catfish is a particularly popular catch. Head to the lake between January through August to get the best chance of hooking one.

There are also several pretty hiking trails around the lake, where you can see a variety of wildlife. Sit by the waterfront for lunch and enjoy bird watching.

After exploring the local grounds, how about heading onto the water for some higher-energy fun. There are opportunities to water-ski or canoe, where you are taking in the local beauty from a different angle.

Opening hours: Gates open from 6am to 10pm March 15th to September 15th, and open from 6am to 8pm September 16th to March 14th, and there is a charge to visit this area

Other things to know: There are two boat ramps available, so head early if you are planning to use these for fishing. Also, keep up with the fish size regulations, which differ by species. Anything from catfish to black bass might be making its way onto your boat!

3. Calaveras Lake

30 minutes from San Antonio (20 miles)

Why you should visit: This popular lake attracts many visitors due to its fantastic fishing spots, water sports, and wildlife.

Along with Victor Braunig Lake, there are over 40,000 acres of water here, so plenty of space to enjoy the water and the pretty grounds, which are fab for families with a well-equipped playground also a feature.

View across Calaveras Lake, with view of speedboat crossing the calm, blue waters, San Antonio, Texas
Head out on Calaveras Lake to enjoy a fantastic day of fishing or boating on the calm waters.

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking

How to get there: From San Antonio take I-37 south before traveling along the I-410. Take exit 37 from the I-410 north, where you will then follow the New Sulphur Springs Road and Gardner Road to Calaveras Lake.

Our highlights: Calaveras Lake was formed from the Calaveras Dam on Calaveras Creek, now spanning 3,624 acres, with a maximum depth of 90 feet.

Ideal for day and night fishing, this really is the place to head if you are a fishing fan, with easy access, plenty of great fishing spots and the opportunity to catch catfish, largemouth bass, white bass, and sunfish – and more.

Make sure to also take to the calm waters on a canoe or paddleboard to get great views across the lake. Calaveras Lake has plenty of picnic areas equipped with tables, grills, and all-important shade, so head to shore afterward with supplies, and enjoy the views as you enjoy lunch.

There are plenty of camping spots here so stay a night or two. Locally there are also sites including San Antonio Museums National Historical Park very close by, so much on the doorstep to explore when you visit Calaveras Lake.

Opening hours: Gates open 6am to 10pm March 15th to September 15th, and open from 6 am to 8 pm September 16th to March 14th.

Other things to know: You will need to pay a small entry fee and also a fishing license fee should this be an activity you are looking to do. You can get a day ticket for this easily enough during your visit.

This is a great spot for swimming and cooling off on a hot day, however, be mindful that alligators have been spotted before, so be cautious of wildlife around the lake if you do head into the enticing waters!

4. Lake Placid

35 minutes from San Antonio (35 miles)

Why you should visit: The narrow and sheltered Lake Placid is ideal for on-the-water recreation such as paddleboarding, wakeboarding and kayaking, as well as swimming in the shallow waters.

You can also take advantage of the free boat access, fishing for the likes of largemouth bass and crappie during your visit.

Views across Guadalupe River, clear waters and lush woodland, New Braunfels, Texas
Lake Placid is one of the rivers along Guadalupe River, where a water cruise is ideal to take in the lovely views.

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water skiing
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Spotting
  • Wakeboarding
  • Fishing

How to get there: Take I-37 south, from Market Street. From here follow I-10 east to US-90 in Seguin. Taking exit 603 from I-10 you will then reach the US-90 which leads you to Lake Placid.

Our highlights: With a depth of only 20 feet this is a great venue for swimming and fishing, and as a relatively small lake it can also be nice and quiet compared to others in the area.

As it is a fairly narrow reservoir, kayaking and canoeing are also particularly popular, with the wind conditions (and seeing the lovely houses from the waterfront!) making for a nice time on the water.

If you fancy a visit away from the waterfront then head to the picturesque town of Sequin for a few hours, where you can meander around the pretty town during a walking tour. Sebastopol House and its eclectic style are definitely worth a closer look during your visit.

Bonus: Lake Placid is one of the lakes along the Guadalupe River that supplies water to the area.

Opening hours: Open all year round

Other things to know: Public access is limited as most of the land around the lake is privately owned. If you are heading with a boat in tow, use the boat ramp from In-0. Fishing is also generally easier by boat given so much land is owned around the lake.

5. Boerne City Lake Park

40 minutes from San Antonio (35 miles)

Why you should visit: This reservoir is renowned for its clear waters, making it an amazing spot for swimming.

Ideal for families due to the size and fun to have, including kayaking and paddleboarding in the clear waters, or a spot of disk golf, as well as lots of shady spots for picnicking and sunbathing. This small lake still packs a punch, offering plenty to see and do.

Beautiful sunset across the lake at Boerne City Lake Park
Head to Boerne City Lake Park later in the day and you will be rewarded with stunning sunset over the waters.
gabriella salinas/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking

How to get there: From San Antonio head north along I-10, before taking exit 538 from I-10 west. Continue on Frontage Road, before taking Upper Cibolo Creek Road to City Lake Road and arriving at Boerne City Lake Park

Our highlights: With no motorized vehicles allowed head to the lake with paddleboards, canoes – even doughnut rings – and you can be sure to have fun on the water for the whole family.

The fishing pier is a great spot for trying your hand at trying to hook a fish. Whilst not as popular for fishing as some of the larger lakes, you are still likely to make a catch of the day, including smallmouth bass and bluegill.

Head out on one of the many walking trails around the lake. You can enjoy bird and wildlife viewing across the pretty shore grounds. Or coincide a nature ramble with taking part in the 18-hole disc golf course.

The course weaves through the shaded forest areas. Keep score on who manages to complete the course with a limited amount of disk throws.

Opening hours: Open year-round from 5am – 10pm

Other things to know: Throughout the year you are unable to use a motorboat or jet ski here on the water, so make sure to take along only canoes and paddleboards or similar if you are planning to head out on the water.

6. Lake Dunlap

The dam's middle spillway unexpectedly collapsed in 2019, and the water was drained from the site. However, since then there has been much restoration of the lake and the area is expected to reopen in Summer 2023.

40 minutes from San Antonio (40 miles)

Why you should visit: Just an hour's drive from San Antonio, Lake Dunlap, nestled in Guadalupe County, Texas, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Soon, it is planned that the lake will reopen and welcome any adventurer looking to wakeboard, boat, kayak and paddleboard.

Turquoise waters of the Guadalupe River, snaking through New Braunfels, Texas. There are rocks in the foreground and trees on the shore across
While planning your visit to Lake Dunlap in Summer 2023, why not make some extra time to admire the stunning scenery of Guadalupe River in New Braunfels?

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Wakeboarding
  • Canoeing

How to get there: Take I-35 north, before taking exit 187. From here FM725 south and Ferryboat Lane to Satterfield Road in Guadalupe County, where you will shortly arrive at Lake Dunlap.

Our highlights: Below, you will find just a couple of things to look forward to when Lake Dunlap reopens.

The narrow and calm waters are ideal for all the family to use, with wakeboarders and canoeists particularly liking the area.

The lake is planned to provide great opportunities for swimming, with designated swimming areas to enjoy a refreshing swim in the lake's clear waters.

Opening hours: Check the Lake Dunlap website for up-to-date opening hours as the preparations to reopen the area are underway.

7. Lake McQueeney

40 minutes from San Antonio (40 miles)

Why you should visit: Located on the Guadalupe River, this incredibly scenic lake is perfect for outdoor recreation including water skiing and boating.

View across lake and boating docks of Lake McQueeney, Texas
Lake McQueeney is perfect for fun on the water, with impressive lake and surrounding scenery to enjoy.
Larry D. Moore

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Fishing
  • Water-skiing
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Swimming

How to get there: Take (I-37 from Market Street, then follow I-10 east to FM725 north in Seguin. From here exit 604 from I-10, driving Admiral Benbow Lane in McQueeney where you will arrive at Lake McQueeney.

Our highlights: Water-skiing and kayaking on the water are popular activities, with the calm waters and beautiful scenery the perfect backdrop.

Also a great spot for fishing, this lake is brimming with carp and catfish, with angling one of the highlights of a visit to Lake McQueeney.

A close community, Lake McQueeney hosts many popular events, such as during 4th July when the area is buzzing with a boat parade and fireworks. Check out the local calendar to see what's on

Although it can be difficult to access the water unless you are a local resident or a part of the local private members club, with some planning, you can make a weekend of it as a couple or a group where you can enjoy the lake views for several days and use the waters to your heart's content.

Bonus: This lake is well known by water-skiers, for its calm waters and great conditions. It has been used to hold competitions for the experts, through to training sites for the less experienced. The ‘Water Ski Capital of Texas' is definitely a popular site to head with skis.

Opening hours: Open all year round

Other things to know: Although the public lake is open all year, the surrounding area is private and there is no public ramp access. Therefore, to best enjoy the water consider hiring one of the lake houses for the weekend and really making the most of it.

From March 2023 the water within Lake McQueeney is also being drained to allow necessary work on the dam and surrounding areas, therefore make sure to keep an eye on developments and access before heading to the lake.

8. Canyon Lake

50 minutes from San Antonio (40 miles)

Why you should visit: A large reservoir spanning over 8,000 acres, this is set up for an amazing water experience, with great places for swimming, fishing and boating.

The beautiful scenery provides a stunning backdrop as you head out on jet skis or paddleboards or just relax on the sandy shoreline taking it all in.

Beautiful blue waters of Canyon Lake close to San Antonio, New Braunfels, Texas
Sit back on the sandy shores of Canyon Lake and admire the breath-taking deep blue waters.
Tricia Daniel/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Hiking
  • Scuba Diving
  • Picnicking

How to get there: Take I-10 west, before traveling on the US-281 north to FM1863 in Bulverde. Take the exit for Farm to Market Road 1863 from US-281 north, before continuing along FM1863. From here take Smithson Valley Road to Sherwood Drive in Canyon Lake.

Our highlights: One of the deepest lakes in Texas, this makes it a popular site for a myriad of water activities including scuba diving, with several operators providing dives from this shore-accessible freshwater site.

An ideal spot for any water-based activities you can think of, with water-skiing, paddleboarding and sailing as particular favorites. Try and arrive early in the busier summer periods, and nestle in a quieter spot to enjoy the water sports and views

It is also one of the closest places to San Antonio where you can enjoy freshwater scuba diving, with sites at North Park, Comal Park, and Overlook Park all great for entering the water

Plenty of hiking trails to enjoy exploring the diverse landscape and wildlife-rich woodlands are available. Head out on the Hancock Trail, a 4-mile hike that takes you through wooded areas and along the shoreline. It offers a peaceful and tranquil way to enjoy the scenery.

Opening hours: Open all year round, the lake is accessible from 8am to 10pm in the spring and summer (May to September) and 8am to 8pm (October to April).

Other things to know: In 2023 the lake management team is creating new access ways to Canyon Lake, with some obstructions to travel, so make sure to check the local alerts before arriving as some areas have reduced access.

With its size and water recreation on offer, it can get particularly busy during peak summer, so worth considering a visit during the shoulder months or earlier on in the day before the crowds arrive.

9. Medina Lake and Paradise Canyon

1 hour 15 minutes from San Antonio (55 miles)

Why you should visit: This clear-water residential lake is around 18 miles long, and ideal for water sports including water skiing and wakeboarding, plus scuba diving in the calm and clear waters.

With so much to enjoy, you might choose to take advantage of one of the many rentals dotted along the shore of Medina Lake, where you can enjoy more than one day of boating action.

An aerial view of expansive Medina Lake, Texas
Make sure to head to Medina Lake at the height of the water level to make the most of water sports and boating on this impressive lake.
Mia GiAngelos/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Picnicking
  • Wakeboarding
  • Paddleboarding

How to get there: From San Antonio head on Interstate-10 (I-10) east, before taking the US-90 and TX-211 to FM1957. Continue on west to Rio Medina, where you will arrive at Paradise Canyon – great for a fun stop-off.

Afterwards, head south on Co Road 2615, before the FM1283 to Lakehills, which arrives shortly after at Medina Lake.

Our highlights: Take advantage of the clear and calm waters to scuba dive, with plenty of underwater sites that have been mapped and tagged. A diving novice? Then there are places you can take training or hire equipment during your visit

Picnicking is popular here, with beautiful lake views to enjoy and BBQ grills and tables set up ready to enjoy a feast. If you are here with little ones then the great play equipment at Playscape Park is bound to keep them entertained.

Medina Lake has a heavily fluctuating water level, so you can visit at various times of the year and have quite different boating experiences - although if the water level gets too low then the lake may close.

Make sure to head to Paradise Canyon en route, a short distance from Medina Lake, where you can swim, relax, and be entertained along the Medina River.

Bonus: The Iron Tree Pavilion hosts many festivals at Paradise Canyon including Music on the Medina, so be sure to check out the calendar of events for when you visit.

Opening hours: The boat launch is open 24 hours, and the park is open from 7am to 8pm every day.

Other things to know: Given the changing water levels, keep an eye on the water level information on the lakes website and socials before you travel.

10. Choke Canyon Reservoir

1 hour 20 minutes from San Antonio (90 miles)

Why you should visit: Although a little further afield from San Antonio, this lake is over 18,000 acres in size and renowned as having some of the best access places to enjoy boating and fishing in the area.

Red tinged sky of Choke Canyon Lake wetland at dusk
Take a tour across Choke Canyon Lake in the day, before enjoying the beautiful sunset across the wildlife-rich wetlands.
Norm Diver/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Hiking

How to get there: Head along I-37 South, then pick up US-281 S from Market Street. From here travel along the TX-72 W to Choke Canyon Reservoir.

Our highlights: Choke Canyon Reservoir was named because of the surrounding low-lying hills forcing three rivers (Frio, Nueces, and Atascosa) into a restricted channel – hence the name Choke Canyon.

With the option to take a guided tour with the park rangers around this exciting and scenic area, you will be spoilt for choice with what wildlife and birds you might come across. Watch out for the alligators, plenty are spotted here!

A highly regarded fishing spot, this is popular with anglers who arrive to catch the impressive blue catfish and bass. Try your hand at catching a trophy fish

The south side of the lake offers a great spot for boating, with plenty of access points to take out boats and gear. However, keep in mind to beware of the alligators!

Opening hours: Open all year round

Other things to know: The South Shore is for day use only from 6am to 10am

11. Lake Travis

2 hours from San Antonio (100 miles)

Why you should visit: For over 60 years visitors have been heading to Lake Travis for water sports, fishing and beaches, it is renowned for its beautiful turquoise waters and unrivaled Texas Hill Country views. This lake is one of the most popular in Texas and busy year-round.

A huge lake spanning nearly 65 miles long, with over 270 miles of shoreline, it is a welcome oasis from the searing Texas heat over the summer months. A visit from San Antonio to Lake Travis will satisfy any traveler, from those who are looking for a tranquil hideaway, to those looking for an all-day party.

Aerial view of Lake Travis scattered with boats and visitors enjoying water sports, in Austin, Texas
The expansive Lake Travis is ideal for water sports and fishing, with amazing scenery at every angle.
Ryan Conine/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Jet skiing
  • Ziplining
  • Hospitality

How to get there: Head from San Antonio on I-35 north, to TX-360 in Austin. From here take the Texas Loop 360 from TX-71 west and US-290, before the TX-360 Loop north, where you will reach Lake Travis.

Our highlights: Lake Travis contains over 11.5 billion tons of water, so you can see why it's so popular for water activities, with the sheer scale offering something for everyone.

So much boating fun to enjoy here, with wakeboarding, sailing, paddleboarding and jet skiing – and much more. If you fancy a party with friends then hire a chartered rental and head to Devil's Cove, a great place to hang out and party on the water.

Zipline Adventures is a great way to see the impressive lake and scenery from a different angle. Taking the longest and fastest zipline in Texas sees you transported 2800 feet across stunning Lake Travis.

Bonus: Head for dinner at the memorable The Oasis on Lake Travis restaurant, where you will enjoy a dining experience like no other. This huge outdoor restaurant enjoys unrivaled lake views, particularly during sunset, with a delicious meal and unforgettable evening.

Opening hours: Open all year round

12. Lake Buchanan

2 hours from San Antonio (125 miles)

Why you should visit: This huge lake is over 23,000 acres, one of the largest lakes in Texas, and with that brings tons of water activities and inland fun to enjoy.

Boasting breathtaking natural beauty, surrounded by rolling hills, rocky shores, and pristine landscapes, it really has something for everyone.

The lighthouse and lake across Lake Buchanan, Texas
The tranquil waters of Buchanan Lake with iconic lighthouse standing proud, provides a pretty setting for a swim.
Fred LaBounty/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Fishing
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Swimming

How to get there: Pick up I-10 west, then US-87 north and TX-16 to Ranch Road 2241 in Llano County. Continue on Ranch Road 2241, before driving to Rolling Waters Lane in Buchanan Dam, arriving at Buchanan Lake shortly after.

Our highlights: The clear waters of Buchanan Lake are ideal for swimming. Head here to cool off from the midday heat, and paddle in the calm waters.

The Texas Hill Country is also full of hiking trails and interesting caverns to explore. The varied terrain and gorgeous scenery make hiking in the Texas Hill Country.

For a super exciting hike or bike visit the repurposed ski lift at Spider Mountain Bike Park that can carry bikers and hikers to the summit. Once at 350 feet the trails down are impressive, packed with beautiful flora, limestone rocks and wildlife aplenty

The lake is named after J.P. Buchanan, a businessman and politician who served as the secretary of state and was also heavily involved in the improvements of Colorado River.

Opening hours: Open all year round

Other things to know: The main boat ramps are on the east side of the lake, so if you are heading there with equipment then it is best to head to this side to disembark.

13. Amistad Reservoir

3 hours from San Antonio (175 miles)

Why you should visit: This huge 64,900-acre lake unusually spans the Mexico border and is renowned for its clear waters and excellent fishing ground.

Make sure to bring any equipment you need with you, as the beautiful waters nestled in the beautiful hills is ideal for a host of different water recreation and fun.

A wide view of Amistad Reservoir with two bridges shown in the image. There are some trees and shrubs in the reservoir in the foreground.
The beautiful expansive waters of Amistad Lake are ideal for fishing and boating.

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Diving
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Picnicking

How to get there: From San Antonio follow I-10 east, then follow US-90 to FM2369. Take US-90 west to Box Canyon Drive in Val Verde County, before arriving at Salem Point Road and Amistad Reservoir.

Our highlights: Fishing, particularly for bass, is one of the key draws of this lake, with largemouth and striped bass both stocked during the year. Known as one of the best fishing spots in Texas, you can be sure to see many anglers when you visit

Take a trip across Diablo East, where Viewpoint Road provides amazing views of the lakes. Stop along the way to swim in the clear waters, scuba dive, or just enjoy a pretty view for a picnic.

For the best views of Amistad Lake then pay a visit to Amistad Dam. However, as Amistad Dam is an official Port of Entry, make sure to bring a passport if you are planning to cross the dam.

Bonus: Interestingly, this lake overlaps the border with Mexico, with the Amistad Reservoir created as a result of the Amistad Dam, a joint effort between the US and Mexico to control and regulate the flow of the Rio Grande and help with water storage.

Opening hours: Open all year round, however, if water levels reduce then some of the areas of the lake may be inaccessible.

Other things to know: You need to bring all your equipment with you, as there are no rentals to use.

14. Lake Livingston

4 hours from San Antonio (270 miles)

Why you should visit: The second-largest lake in Texas is brimming with recreational activities both on and off the water, with bass fishing a particular draw to this lake, and tons of superb hiking trails dotted across the shoreline and neighboring Lake Livingston State Park and Dam.

A wooden boardwalk with fallen leaves meandering through a deciduous forest in Lake Livingston State Park, Texas,
Take the opportunity to meander through the beautiful woodlands and waterways of Lake Livingston State Park.
Teresa Otto/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Bird watching
  • Fishing
  • Camping

How to get there: Take I-37 south, and US-281 from Market Street, before following I-10 and TX-99. From here follow TX-75 north, and US-190 to Fishermans Bend Drive in San Jacinto County, where you then arrive at Lake Livingstone.

Our highlights: The lake is named after the hometown of Moses L. Choate, the park owner who acquired the land in 1835 and donated 100 acres for the county seat.

As one of the largest lakes in the state, and particularly well stocked with white bass, it is geared up for great fishing – and testament to this is the many anglers that head here to fish in the plentiful waters.

With over 450 miles of shoreline, there is plenty for hikers to enjoy exploring around the impressive lake, with several trails including the popular and scenic Trinity Trail

Make a visit to Livingston Dam close to the lake, with its impressive structure and popular sight for bird watching. Lake Livingston State Park is also a must, found along the southeastern edge of Lake Livingston. Here you can swim, hike and picnic on the pretty grounds.

Opening hours: Open all year round, with Lake Livingston State Park open from 6am to 10pm (Timings can vary depending on the season so worth checking ahead of a visit)

15. Caddo Lake

7 hours from San Antonio (400 miles)

Why you should visit: Found crossing the borders of Texas and Louisiana, this lake is set in the heart of Caddo State Park and is renowned for its beauty and giant cypress trees surrounding the waters.

This beautiful lake is popular for fishing, hunting and hiking, where you can easily extend your stay to a night or two with so much to see and do.

Wide view of pier on Caddo Lake surrounded by fall leaves and cypress trees, Texas
Stunning cypress trees and forests surround Caddo Lake, ideal for kayaking and taking in panoramic views across the lake.
Silvio Ligutti/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Picnicking
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking

How to get there: From San Antonio head along I-35 north, before taking exit 338A and following I-20. Shortly after you will reach US-59, so take this north before re-joining I-20 east and then following US-59. A final move to TX-43 north then leads you to Caddo Lake.

Our highlights: The amazing backdrop of cypress trees and lush forests surrounding the lake, make for a perfect bird-watching extravaganza. Take your binoculars and you'll be likely to spot blue herons, eagles and osprey.

Caddo Lake State Park Pine Ridge Loop is a short but pretty trail to take on, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly.

An angler's dream, this is a popular spot for fishing, with over 80 species of fish in the waters to catch. Take out your own boat or rent from one of the many rental options dotted across Caddo Lake State Park

One of the most scenic spots for kayaking, there are over 50 miles of trails you can enjoy along the water. Take your own paddleboard or kayak and set out to explore this exceptional landscape

Bonus: Caddo Lake saw a first in the world: it had an over-water oil well drilled in 1911!

Opening hours: Open all year round

Other things to know: This is a wonderful place to visit whatever the month, so make sure to head here for a day or more and take in different seasonal views throughout the year.

16. Lake Ouachita and Hot Springs

9 hours 25 minutes from San Antonio (600 miles)

Why you should visit: Not only is Lake Ouachita the largest lake in Arkansas, but it is also known as one of the cleanest, and an abundance of outdoor recreation can be enjoyed at this beautiful lake surrounded by the impressive Ouachita Mountains.

Beautiful scenic lake view from a mountain trail across Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
Marvel at impressive Lake Ouachita from the heights of Ouachita Mountains, where you can enjoy stunning sights before heading back down to enjoy a relaxing dip in the clear waters.
Kat Byrd I/

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Hiking
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Scuba diving
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing

How to get there: Take I-35 north, before moving along to I-35E and then I-30 to AR-7, before driving to Central Avenue in Hot Springs. From Hot Springs head along AR-298 where you will arrive shortly after at Lake Ouachita.

Our highlights: Head out on a guided scenic lake tour to get great views across the lake, where you can understand more about the wildlife and geology of this impressive lake and shore as you sit back and relax.

The beautiful clear waters make the perfect spot for a dip. There are specific swimming beaches and even ten designated swim areas across the lake, so plenty of places to dip into the water.

Scuba diving here in Arkansas is also a special experience, and with great visibility and a depth of 200 feet at the lake, you can be sure of an epic dive.

With so much to do at this impressive lake and parkland, take advantage of one of the 90-plus camping sites, where you can pitch a tent or snuggle in a cabin and spend a few days exploring this amazing area.

If you'd like a detailed rundown of an amazing road trip in Texas to Lake Ouachita, check out our definitive guide to the road trip from Dallas to Lake Ouachita and Hot Springs.

Bonus: Hot Springs holds several music festivals throughout the year, so make sure to head to Hot Springs Music Festival in June or Hot Water Hills Music & Festival at the end of September/beginning of October en route to Lake Ouachita!

Opening hours: This lake is open year, although visit between May to November to make the most of the recreational activities on the water.

Other things to know: If you are operating any motorized boating equipment, you can get a license beforehand to take it out onto the water.

READ MORE - Road Trip from Dallas to Lake Ouachita and Hot Springs

[hd id=ozarks]17. Lake of the Ozarks[/h2]

12 hours from San Antonio (780 miles)

Why you should visit: With the lake covering 54,000 acres there is plenty of room for fun, with a multitude of exciting recreation on and off the water to enjoy, with millions of tourists visiting each year to swim, fish, boat and hike.

Lone row boat bobbing on Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, Texas, USA
Take to the waters of Lake of the Ozarks for unrivalled views across the man-made lake, spying amazing wildlife and fishing in the plentiful waters.

Main activities you can enjoy at this lake:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Jet-skiing
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Sunbathing

How to get there: Take I-37 and US-281 S from Market Street. Then head along I-10, TX-130 and then TX-130. From here continue to Craig County before following the I-44 to MO-32. Drive to MO-5 in Jasper Township, before arriving in Lake of Ozarks.

Our highlights: This famous lake is the largest man-made, non-flood control lake in the US, reaching across four Missouri counties: Camden, Miller, Morgan, and Benton.

Millions of tourists each year are drawn to the Lake of the Ozark's incredible setting and opportunities. The waterfront and shoreline offer so much to enjoy, with water sports, underwater exploring, or parasailing.

An angler's dream, the lakes are well stocked with catfish and bass and are thought to be one of the best places to fish in Missouri.

If you fancy something a bit different then head to the underground world of Bridal Cave, where you can visit the caves and see the underwater lakes. The scenic cave will reveal some of the best onyx formations around.

At the end of summer each year a powerboat race called ‘The Shootout' is held, drawing attention and visitors from miles around, and an impressive race on the waters.

Our ultimate guide on the road trip from Dallas to the Lake of the Ozarks will help you plan your visit to this scenic lake.

Bonus: Ozark, the popular and exciting TV series featuring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, is set in and around the Lake of the Ozarks.

Opening hours: Open all year round

READ MORE - Road Trip from Dallas to the Lake of the Ozarks