15 Best Lakes Near Houston: Adventure Awaits

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

Texas is known for its diverse landscapes, and the lakes near Houston are no exception. They offer a calm respite for nature enthusiasts and a playground for adventure seekers, with activities ranging from exhilarating water sports to serene bird-watching.

Join us as we head on a journey around 15 of the most beautiful lakes near “Space City”!

Lake Houston

Lakes Near Houston, Texas
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Imagine a destination where the liveliness of downtown Houston meets the tranquility of nature; welcome to Lake Houston. The lake, essential to the city’s water supply, also serves as an idyllic playground—whether it’s reeling in a white bass, boating, or exploring the northern trails in Lake Houston Wilderness Park. With camping, cabin rentals, and a kayak launch, it’s a slice of wilderness right on Houston’s doorstep.

Lake Conroe

Lakes near Houston
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Lake Conroe, an oasis spanning 22,000 acres, is a gem about an hour north of Houston that is perfect for both relaxing retreats and exhilarating adventures. With an expansive shoreline and bountiful waters perfect for fishing and boating, no boat is no problem at Lake Conroe, thanks to the ample rental options. As daylight fades, make sure to visit the many lakeside restaurants to cap off a great day by the water!

Lake Livingston

Lake Livingston, Texas
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Just an hour north of Houston, Lake Livingston offers outdoor activities for everyone. One of the largest lakes in Texas, you can spend your day fishing or hiking trails. With a variety of camping options, including tent sites and full hookup campsites, it’s the perfect weekend getaway from the city.

McGovern Lake

McGovern Lake, Texas
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With eight acres of scenic beauty, McGovern Lake offers a tranquil spot for relaxation, bird-watching, or a pedal boat ride. The lake, which underwent major improvements in 1999, now boasts three islands, two of which are sanctuaries for migratory birds. It also accommodates catch-and-release fishing for children below 12 and seniors above 65.

Sheldon Lake

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Sheldon Lake, situated 16 miles northeast of Houston, serves as a sanctuary for a blend of wildlife. From an observation tower, visitors can spot an array of birds in nature, elusive alligators, and unique underwater creatures, offering a visual feast amidst a backdrop of diverse flora.

Kinder Lake

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Nestled next to Discovery Green, Kinder Lake provides a peaceful outdoor environment within Houston’s city limits. It’s an ideal spot for kayaking enthusiasts, with equipment readily available for rent nearby. For something different, try steering a rented motor-controlled sailboat across the Kinder Lake’s placid waters.

Lake Raven

Lake Raven, Texas
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Lake Raven, tucked within Huntsville State Park, offers a serene escape from Houston’s city life. It’s a place where working professionals can trade skyscrapers for sky-filled vistas and watch as the setting sun paints the lake in stunning hues. Whether for a day trip or a weekend getaway, it’s an ideal spot for a relaxing break with family or friends.

Arboretum Lake

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For nature enthusiasts in Houston, Arboretum Lake offers more than just beautiful waters. Situated within the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, visitors can immerse themselves in marshland, coastal prairie, and forest landscapes. Although swimming, fishing, and boating are off the table, the lake delivers close encounters with local flora and fauna during nature trail adventures.

Sabine Lake

Sabine Lake, Texas
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A 96-mile journey east of Houston will lead you to Sabine Lake, a destination that’s truly a fisherman’s paradise. Particularly during the summer, anglers can expect high chances of reeling in a variety of species, including kingfish, amberjack, red snapper, and speckled trout, making the trip well worth the distance.

Smithers Lake

Smithers Lake, Texas
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About thirty miles from Houston, on Dry Creek, sits Smithers Lake, an artificial lake spanning 2,400 hectares. Not only is the lake a top outdoor destination, but it’s also vital to the local community. Smithers Lake is a prime spot for anglers and is well-known as a local power source, providing electricity to surrounding residences and buildings.

Lake Anahuac

Lake Anahuac, Texas
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Situated 45 miles east of Houston, Lake Anahuac, previously known as Turtle Bay, spans across 5,059 acres. An exploration-friendly nature trail along the levee grants access to the lake’s adjoining woodlands and brackish marshes. Along with these natural wonders, visitors can also witness the spectacle of migrating songbirds nesting in the trees.

Lake Charlotte

Person Fishing
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Lake Charlotte, a peaceful man-made reservoir 45 miles outside of Houston, provides an inviting spot for fishing, kayaking, and bird-watching. Home to both freshwater and saltwater species, this lake is a hub of biodiversity. From bald eagles in hunting mode to ospreys and cormorants in winter, it’s a serene escape back into nature!

Lake Longhorn

Scuba diver
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Lake Longhorn in League City, around 30 miles south of Houston, is a destination for watersports enthusiasts. The 49-acre freshwater lake, accompanied by 20 acres of green space, provides the ideal setting for a range of activities – from scuba diving and triathlon swimming to stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. Offering both recreational activities and training, it’s a versatile spot for outdoor enthusiasts.

Lake Friendswood

Running race
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Lake Friendswood, a 50-minute drive from Houston, boasts various outdoor facilities. With two fishing docks, a kayak/canoe launch, and a pavilion, it’s a haven for outdoors enthusiasts. The area also includes fitness stations along a 1-mile hiking, jogging, and biking trail. The 33-acre lake, stocked four times a year by Texas Parks & Wildlife, is a great spot for fishing, too!

Addicks Reservoir

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Addicks Reservoir, located within Houston, provides a refreshing retreat for locals after the workweek. The area around the reservoir offers a wide array of recreational activities, from golfing and horseback riding to hiking and biking. It’s a place where memories are made, and the selection of field sports ensures there’s always an activity to enjoy.

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Apostle Islands
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Havasu Falls
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Olympic National Park Hoh Rainforest
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