Best Places to Swim in Texas

Welcome to Go Inside: Exploring Texas Culture! Brought to you by First Choice Power, this series will explore the legends and history that make up the meat and bones of the Lone Star State. Specifically, we’ll share our favorite indoor attractions to visit, which includes the great museums and quirky cultural outposts that fill the Texas landscape.

With our warm temperatures pretty much year round, Texas and it’s abundance of beautiful natural water sites means our state loves life on the water!

Our Hill Country spring fed rivers are like nothing else, and our expansive coastline leaves plenty of room to fish, boat, and soak up the sun.

Follow along as we take you around the state to where our water loving culture thrives. You might find a few places you’ve always had on your list to check out!

Best Places to Swim in Texas | The Light Lab

The Hill Country Rivers

Rather than naming just one river, we group the spring fed rivers of the Texas Hill Country together given there are more than one to swim or float on.

Forming Canyon Lake outside of San Antonio, the Guadalupe River runs through prominent towns such as San Marcos, New Braunfels, and Gonzales, eventually ending up in the Gulf of Mexico. River rats, as we are lovingly called, can float on the river in tubes, fly fish, swim, or even canoe along it. Tubers can be dropped off at one location, and services can pick you up at the end of the float to drive you back .

For those of you who love camping, stay a few nights at the Guadalupe River State Park and soak in the tiny rapids framed by those ancient mythical cypress tress that line the river.

Another favorite river spot is the Frio River. It runs through the state’s most popular park, Garner State Park outside of Leakey, and is named aptly for it’s cold temperature. This is another popular river for floating or fishing in.

Lastly, the Blanco River is another clear river flanked by white limestone cliffs. Perfect for tubing in certain places, and a great place to bring a picnic and dip your toe in the water, the Blanco River runs through the town of Blanco and eventually joins up with the San Marcos River.

Best Places to Swim in Texas | The Light Lab

Life On the Lake 

Texas loves life on the lake! Every region except West Texas features at least one major body of water to boat, swim, fish and chill on.

A reservoir on the Colorado River, Lake Travis is Central Texas’ favorite lake and only a 30 minute drive northwest from Downtown Austin.  A place to go cliff diving, scuba diving, boating, fishing or swimming, it is also home to one of the state’s only nude parks for sunbathing and swimming, Hippie Hollow!

One hour outside of Houston is Lake Conroe, a 21,000 acre lake and another easy going area of the state home to lovers of boating, fishing, jet-skiing and that relaxing lake life. It runs through the East Texas Piney Woods, and for those not wanting to pack a picnic, you can find a few eateries along the lake.

Possum Kingdom Lake lies two and half hours west of Fort Worth, and its deep blue water sits among giant cliffs that beautifully loom above boaters and swimmers. Hell’s Gate is a narrow passage between two cliffs that stands as gates to the entry of a smaller cove on the south end of the Lake. On the Fourth of July, it hosts one of the state’s largest fireworks displays! Pull up your boat, toss out the anchor, and relax into the summer sunset.

Best Places to Swim in Texas | The Light Lab

Life on the Gulf Coast

With a general coastline of of 367 miles and a tidal shoreline of 3,359 miles, the bays, beaches, and other inlets along the Gulf of Mexico bring the beach vibe up and down the coast of Texas for lovers of all things oceanic. From sleepy fishing towns to major tourist beaches, we have it all.

Galveston Island, just 47 miles south of Houston, caters to surfers, art lovers, thrill seekers, those looking for a quiet place to watch the sunset, or those in search of some of the state’s finest freshly caught seafood. It’s the go-to place for beach lovers living in Space City and lends an air of true escape when you need to get out of town for the day.

Check out the old-fashioned amusement park on the seawall, the Pleasure Pier,  or head to Moody Gardens to learn about conservation and wildlife. The historical district of Galveston is The Strand, where Victorian style buildings now house restaurants, antique stores, and curio shops.

But if you’re on the island for the beach, there is plenty of that. Galveston Island State Park is a great option for families to spend the day at the beach. There are available restrooms, a shower to rinse off, and the backdrop is the natural sand dunes and flora native to Galveston.

The Padre Islands are great destinations for both college students and families, with plenty of places to stay and tons of culture to keep everyone entertained beyond beach lounging. South Padre, the worlds longest barrier island,  is home to Schlitterbahn and eco tours, whereas North Padre tends to be slightly sleepier. This is Texas’ version of a Florida-type resort town where tourists go for the freshly caught Gulf seafood and an escape from the daily grind.

Crystal Beach is located on the Bolivar Peninsula, 97 miles from Houston, where you can drive your car or truck right onto the beach. The community also allows visitors to fish, camp, and build fires on the beach. The scene of jeeps and massive trucks blasting their bass tunes driving slowly along the shoreline is quintessentially Texan. We can’t imagine the same scene in California!

Where’s your favorite place to hang out on the water in Texas? Let us know!

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.