Best Lakes in Houston

Lakes in Houston      Photo by Brooke Campbell on Unsplash

When the summer heat gets to be unbearable, it’s a good idea to have an escape plan. Maybe you’d like to go for a swim, take a boat out on a lake, or get up before the sun for a fishing trip. Whatever your preferred method for beating the heat, we’ve got you covered–just take a look at our list of the best lakes in and around HoustFion.

Best Houston Lakes

1. Lake Raven

Houston lake


Lake Raven, found at the heart of Huntsville State Park, is a lovely 210-acre lake. Anything you might like to do on a lake, you can do here: fish, swim, and paddle. Fish stock includes crappie, perch, catfish and bass. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboat. There are no lifeguards on duty, so swim at your own risk. Because it’s located in a State Park, you can also hike the trails, visit the nature center, and camp overnight.
Where: 565 Park Road 40 West, Huntsville, Texas 77340
How Much: $7 (free for kids under 12)

2. Lake Houston

Houston lake


Lake Houston is a reservoir for the San Jacinto river. It’s also about 11,000 acres of fishing just waiting to happen. The lake is chock full of crappie, bass, catfish, and bluegill. It’s surrounded by heavily forested park land, so you’ll have some protection from the sun. Also, there are hiking trails in the park around the lake and camping grounds if you feel like making a weekend of it.
Where: 25840 FM 1485, New Caney, TX 77357
How Much: $3

3. Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

photo credit Grace Scalzo

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is located 45 miles east of Houston. It’s home to a wide variety of animal species–naturally, as it was founded to help preserve wildlife–and is a great spot for fishing. It’s one of the lakes in Houston with a wider selection of fish. Your options will include speckled trout, southern flounder, redfish, white crappie, and black drum, as well as others. If you’re a fan of birds, this is a great place to spot them. The refuge got its start as a preserve for local fowl, and you can see a lot of colorful and unusual birds in the area. Be aware, though: as in most swampy Texas parks, there will be alligators around. If you want to bring your kids for a day of educational fun, just make sure they understand basic wild animal safety.
Where: FM1985, Anahuac, TX 77514
How Much: Free

4. McGovern Lake

lakes in Houston


McGovern Lake is located in the middle of Hermann Park. It’s not the kind of lake you visit if you’re interested in roughing it. It’s a leisurely lake for people who want to stretch out on a patch of grass in the park with a book for an hour or two. You can rent a boat to pedal around the lake and take in the scenery. In addition, Kids under 12 and seniors over 65 can enjoy catch-and-release fishing on Bob’s Fishing Pier.
Where: 6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030
How Much: Free

5. Sheldon Lake


Sheldon Lake is best-known for its bird-watching and fishing and has a variety of terrains for guests to experience, including marsh and coastal prairie. Hiking and boating are also on the table, so this is another well-rounded park for you to enjoy. One feature that makes Sheldon Lake stand out is its displays of alternative energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar power.
Where: 15315 Beaumont Highway, Houston 77049
How Much: Free

6. Kinder Lake


Kinder Lake is a smaller man-made lake in the middle of the urban park, Discovery Green. While you won’t be able to fish or swim, there are kayaks available for rent. When you can’t take the time to drive a good hour and a half or more outside of Houston, it’s nice to know you can have your very own kayaking getaway in the city center. Or, for a different approach, you can keep your feet firmly on land and send a model boat into the water. R/C sailboats cost $5 to rent for 15 minutes (or you can bring your own), and there’s a designated section of the lake just for them.
Where: 1500 McKinney St, Houston, TX 77010
How Much: Free

7. Arboretum Lake

courtesy Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

If what you’re looking for in a lake in Houston is wildlife and nature, Arboretum Lake will be right up your alley. The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is an educational nature preserve based around marshland, coastal prairie, and forest land. The nature trails are the main draw for this lake–you won’t be able to swim, fish, or boat here. You can, however, see the plants and animals up close and personal and enjoy the activities and events the nature center has to offer.
Where: 4501 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77024
How Much: Free

8. Lake Conroe

lake conroe


Lake Conroe is one of the prettiest and most popular lakes in the Houston area.  21,000 acres of water means there’s plenty of fish to go around. Lake Conroe is a good spot for catfish, bass, and bluegill. It’s also a great place to go to swim in clear, fresh water, or to go boating. There are a lot of piers to dock at if you’d like to stop and grab a bite to eat and quite a few tasty restaurants to choose from. You can also set up overnight at one of the campsites. Birdwatchers are in for a treat if they visit Lake Conroe at the right time of year; it’s a favorite stop for migratory birds.
Where: 14968 Highway 105 West Montgomery, TX 77316
How Much: Free

9. Lake Livingston


Lake Livingston is one of the biggest lakes in Houston, and, in fact, in Texas. It’s an excellent swimming hole that gets properly deep, so it’s perfect for cooling off. The park rents out kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. There’s even a self-service rental option via smartphone for extra convenience. Fishing is also a popular choice here. The lake is known for its white bass population, but you can also catch perch, catfish, or crappie. Once you’re done cleaning your catch, you can hike through the forest or settle into the campgrounds in a tent.
Where: 300 Park Road 65, Livingston, TX 77351
How Much: $5 (free for kids under 12)

10. Mary Jo Peckham Park

mary jo peckham park

Mary Jo Peckham Park is a small park in Katy that is a part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “Neighborhood Fishin'” program. The pond is restocked with catfish every few weeks, as well as rainbow trout. Kids under 16 don’t need a fishing license to fish here, so if you want to encourage your kids to get into the sport, this might be an easy place to start.
Where: 5597 Gardenia Ln, Katy, TX 77493
How Much: Free


If you’re especially interested in fishing, here’s a breakdown of the best fishing spots in the Houston area.

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