When the weather is hot, I am also on the lookout for places I can splash around with my water-loving appetite and relax by some of the beautiful water holes in the local area, and when I was on a long-term stay in Houston last summer, it was no different.
The only problem was when I started asking for recommendations, some people didn’t know where I could find a local spring or water hole.
However, many people recommended some great local lakes. So, this got me thinking, let’s find out for myself, and I decided to go and investigate for myself.
I had the privilege of visiting some of Houston’s most splendid springs and water holes. Some of which I was already familiar with and some of which I was experiencing for the first time.
Where to Find The Best Water Holes And Springs in Houston
Throughout this guide, I will tell you where to find the most amazing springs and watering holes in and around Houston.
Unfortunately, Houston city itself is lacking slightly when it comes to its own springs. However, there are plenty of places surrounding Houston which are just an hour or two drive away.
You could even make a weekend of it and check out some nearby hotels to take full advantage of the areas surrounding these amazing water holes.
This list is in no particular order, but I have started with the closest to Houston. I will list the location, and best attributes of each and every place, so that when you’re in the mood for a day by the water, you will have a great selection right here at your fingertips.
1. Huntsville State Park
|Location||565 Park Road 40 West, Huntsville, Texas 77340|
|Distance From Houston||67 miles|
|Entrance Fee||Adults: $7.00, Children under 12: Free|
|Opening Times||6:00 am - 10:00 pm daily|
|Reason to Visit||210-acre lake, fishing, kayaking, swimming|
Before this was a public park, it was a popular camping ground for locals and tourists. Still, it was transformed into the beautiful lakeside spot it is today during the 1930s.
Set amongst acres of pine trees and majestic woodland, this is one of the most stunning locations to relax, camp, and kick back by the lake.
You’ll find yourself lost in this national forest state park just a short drive north of Houston.
If you fancy your hand at fishing, this is the perfect location for catching aquatic species such as perch, catfish, bass, and crappie. They have a boat ramp and cleaning stations for your catch should you wish to get out onto the lake.
The lake is an idyllic spot for swimming too. Swimming is permitted all day, from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Personally, I prefer a sunset dip when visiting this water hole. I find it’s the best time to take in the peace and quiet.
If you don’t already have your own kayak but fancy your hand at the sport, they have kayaks available to rent at the Raven Lodge.
You can make the most of your visit here by staying in one of their quaint shelters. There are also over 160 campsites in the vicinity should you want to stay further afield.
There are plenty of events to get involved in, such as nature exhibits, bird watching, ranger training, and plant studies.
Extra Read: 7 Best Places to Go Kayaking in Houston – Our Ultimate Guide
2. Galveston Island State Park
|Location||14901 FM 3005, Galveston, Texas 77554|
|Distance From Houston||57 miles|
|Entrance Fee||Adults: $7.00, Children under 12: Free|
|Opening Times||All day, every day|
|Reason to Visit||Kayaking, canoeing, beach, coastal bird watching|
You won’t be short of things when you visit Galveston Island State Park, whether water activities, taking in the scenery, or strolling over sand dunes along the coast.
I always find this the perfect spot to take a picnic on the weekend and find a place to sit with a good book while I let the sounds of the sea brush over me. It’s unbelievably tranquil.
The park offers a range of activities, such as swimming, hiking, bird watching, and mountain biking.
There is also a lot of geocaching that goes on here, which I’ve noticed is becoming increasingly popular at the moment. I’ve not tried this out, but it’s on my bucket list, as I enjoy a good treasure hunt.
If you want to stay over, there are bay campsites and beach stays available, and they also have lodges on site which you can rent out.
If you love fishing, but don’t have a license, worry not; here, you can fish until your heart’s content with unlimited fishing during certain times of the year.
If you enjoy hiking, there are four trails to choose from, leading you through some amazing habitats. Some of them are suitable for bike riding too. I’ve completed two out of the four, but I intend to return and do the rest.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing day, you can rent beach chairs, cabanas, and umbrellas to spend your day sitting by the shore.
There is also always something going on regarding events and ranger programs, and their nature center is open every weekend from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.
There are also plenty of museums in the area and shops and restaurants in case you want to venture away from the water hole for a while.
Check Out: 8 Amazing Places to Hike In and Around Houston
3. Lake Livingston State Park
|Location||300 Park Road 65, Livingston, Texas, 77351|
|Distance From Houston||74 miles|
|Entrance Fee||Adults: $6.00, Children under 12: Free|
|Opening Times||Every day: 6:00 am - 10:00 pm|
|Reason to Visit||Geocache, fishing supplies, camping options, screened shelters, souvenirs|
If you love all things aquatic, then Lake Livingston State Park will make the perfect day out or weekend break, with boating, fishing, swimming, and paddleboarding all on offer.
If you wish to rent a boat, you’ll need to visit the PaddleEz website, where you can arrange your booking and reserve a kayak. I highly recommend this if you’re visiting, as the views once you are on the lake are truly breathtaking.
Suppose you love sitting by the water but prefer to keep your feet on dry ground. In that case, visit the park store, where you can get your hands on some lovely gifts and souvenirs, snacks, ice cream, and fishing supplies should you wish to have a go at fishing.
Because this is one of the largest lakes in Texas, it has become increasingly popular with fishermen, families, and holidaymakers over recent years, which means it can get a little overcrowded, especially on the weekends.
If you want to avoid this, I recommend visiting while the kids are in school and during the week.
If you’re a keen angler, expect to catch species such as perch, crappie, bass, and catfish, depending on the time of year. Three boating ramps, a fishing pier, and a couple of cleaning stations are available.
4. Sea Rim State Park
|Location||19335 S Gulfway Drive, Sabine Pass, Texas 77655|
|Distance From Houston||100 miles|
|Entrance Fee||Adults: $3.00, Children under 12: Free|
|Opening Times||Daily: 8:00 am - 10:00 pm|
|Reason to Visit||Horseback riding, paddling, fishing, beach combing|
Located Southeast of Beaumont, this fabulous state park is a prime spot for locals and out-of-towners to come and relax and take in the scenery, which spans over 4000 acres.
You can take a stroll down the five miles of breathtaking coastline and let all your worries wash away after taking a dip in the freshwater. Suppose you’d instead get further out into the water.
In that case, however, you can rent a canoe or kayak and explore one of their paddle trails ranging from 1.79 miles for novices to 9.59 miles for anyone more experienced.
If you’re a horse owner, you’re going to jump at the chance to visit here; you cannot only ride your horse for over three miles along the coastline.
You can also keep them with you if you decide to camp out; however, keep in mind that they don’t have facilities for your horse, so you’ll need to ensure you have everything you need to tether them up to a trailer.
There are 15 campsites to choose from, so you won’t be stuck finding a place to stay. However, I suggest booking early if you have a particular site in mind, especially during busy seasons, to avoid disappointment.
Fishing is an option too, and you don’t even need to worry about lugging all your fishing gear with you, as it’s all available to rent. You don’t need a license, either.
5. Fort Boggy State Park
|Location||4994 Highway 75 South, Centerville, TX 75833|
|Distance From Houston||120 miles|
|Entrance Fee||Adults: $3.00, Children under 12: Free|
|Opening Times||Daily: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm|
|Reason to Visit||Overnight stays, geocaching, hiking, group gatherings, water sports|
Don’t worry; this is not a bog, as the name might suggest. It is a beautiful park, lake, and camping spot situated on the edge of East Texas. This is a tranquil spot surrounded by water, woods, and acres of Greenland.
If you’re looking for a picturesque pitch to set up camp for the weekend, then Fort Boggy is faultless.
If you’re an avid hiker, you’ll fall in love with this spot, with over 1800 acres of land to explore, which are suitable for beginners, intermediates, and bikers.
The trails stretch 3.5 miles, and there is an option to trek around the lake, which is 1.5 miles, and great for an easier route. Or you can opt to take the woodland trail and do some bird watching in the nature reserve.
If you’re after a great fishing spot, you’re in luck because they have that too, and the best part is that you don’t need to have a license. There is the option to fish from the pier or the bank and get your hook into the largemouth bass, sunfish, and rainbow trout (if they’re in season).
If you’re looking for an overnight stay, why not go all out and spend the night in a cabin in the woods? They have on-site facilities such as shower rooms and restrooms should you want to stay on the campsite.
It’s worth mentioning that this site is not pet-friendly, so you’ll have to leave your four-legged friends at home.
Traveling with Pets? Try This: 7 Best Pet-Friendly Hotels in Houston, Texas
6. Barton Springs Pool
|Location||2131 William Barton Drive, Austin, TX 78746|
|Distance From Houston||168 miles|
|Opening Times||Daily: 5:00 am - 10:00 pm|
|Reason to Visit||Home of the Barton Springs Salamander, activities, swimming, bathhouse|
Known as the jewel of Texas, Barton Springs Pool is probably my favorite out of all the springs and water holes around Houston.
Mainly because of its picture-perfect scenery, clear blue waters, and the fact that it’s home to the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, which makes the pool a federally protected habitat.
Although there may not be as many activities to participate in here as with other spots I have talked about, there really doesn’t need to be; taking a dip in the clear waters and taking in the picturesque surroundings is enough.
The pool measures a whopping three acres in size, so you can only imagine how immense it looks on the first arrival, and because it is fed from the underground springs, it makes it the ideal spot for swimming as the water sits at a comfortably warm 60-70 degrees.
Many people never even knew about this idyllic paradise a few years ago. Still, more and more people are discovering its beauty recently, becoming a hot spot for tourists, locals, and swimming enthusiasts.
So, during peak times, the banks are crowded with people relaxing on their towels or enjoying a picnic between swims.
However, even when at its busiest, there is always a spot to claim due to its immense size. Whether by the water or shaded under a pecan tree.
In a Nutshell
So when it comes down to it, there is a great deal of choice regarding springs and water holes around Houston, and that’s not all. There are others, such as Pedernales Falls if you like a bit of white water swimming, or the Colorado Bend State Park.
So, where will you pick for your next day by the water? I hope that by telling you about my favorite picks, I’ve helped you to narrow down your choice.
If you’re traveling around Texas and looking for more exciting things to do, I can help you out with that, too, with my guide on the most adventurous things to do in Houston.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, check out the best beaches in Houston for beautiful spots.