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15 Superb Recreational Lakes near San Antonio, TX (2023)

San Antonio has a wide selection of amazing recreational lakes. From small urban ponds to nationally-recognized reservoirs and unique swimming holes, the city has it all. But which one to choose?

San Antonio is amazing when it comes to lakes. The spread is wide, and the diversity is unparallel.

You have family-friendly urban lakes like Lions Park or Woodlawn. There are unique swimming holes like Blue Hole Regional Park or Paradise Canyon.

And if you want great fishing, Calaveras and Victor Braunig Lakes are just minutes away. Plus, there is good-old Canyon Lake that you can always rely on.

Frankly, very few cities in America can boast of such a selection. You can rent an RV and check them all out or find the special few. Check out what Sant Antonio has to offer.

Lakes near San Antonio:

  1. Canyon Lake
  2. Medina Lake
  3. Calaveras Lake
  4. Victor Braunig Lake
  5. Lake McQueeney
  6. Lake Dunlap
  7. Lake Placid
  8. Boerne Lake
  9. Choke Canyon Reservoir
  10. Blue Hole Regional Park
  11. Paradise Canyon
  12. Elmendorf Lake
  13. Woodlawn Lake
  14. Lions Park Lake
  15. Amistad Reservoir
Lakes near San Antonio Texas Comparison Table

1. Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake
Source: wikimedia
  • Official Page: Canyon Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 42 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Scuba Diving

Canyon Lake is an 8,308-acre reservoir north of San Antonio. It’s the most versatile and well-developed lake in the area. If you’re renting an RV in the area, this should definitely be your first stop.

The Corps of Engineers manages the reservoir, and together with private businesses, they offer over 20 boat ramps, a dozen of parks, a few marinas, and a variety of lodges.

The unique thing about Canyon Lake is its water. It’s much clearer than other Texan lakes and has a gorgeous turquoise tint. Also, it’s much cooler, which sustains the rainbow trout population and provides excellent swimming in summer.

Canyon Lake is a haven for boaters. The place is filled with jet skis, pontoon boats, and Seadoos, pulling all sorts of craft. It’s a well-known spot for wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing.

Also, it’s an excellent paddling destination. The lake’s shoreline is diverse, and you can explore towering cliffs, submerged timber, or land on sandy beaches.

And the best thing is, you don’t need to invest in kayaks or boats. There are dozens of rental places around the lake with any type of craft, from SUPs to double-decker pontoons.

When it comes to fishing, it’s bass territory. Largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass dominate the lake, although there are trout and many other species, too. 

However, there are some difficulties with fishing. Shoreline access is limited because of the cliffs and private land, but public parks usually have fishing piers. 

Also, the lake is buzzing with activity in summer, and quiet spots are hard to find. Like most large lakes, you need to have local knowledge to fish effectively, so hiring a guide can be good.

Overall, it’s the top lake destination near San Antonio. It does get crowded, but it’s a lot of fun.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

2. Medina Lake

Medina Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Medina Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 34 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Camping, RVs, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Medina Lake is a 5,426-acre reservoir just 40 minutes from San Antonio. It’s a gorgeous reservoir known for boating activities and a built-up shoreline with lovely houses that you can rent on Airbnb.

Unlike Canyon Lake, there are only a handful of access areas at this reservoir, but at least it’s not as busy.

Boating is the main reason to come to this lake. It has plenty of space for wakeboarding, jet skiing, and tubing. And if you prefer kayaking, there are gorgeous white bluffs and cozy coves to explore.

However, fishing here is touch-and-go. The lake is dominated by largemouth bass, but catching one will require skill and some luck. This reservoir has never been known for fishing.

The biggest drawback to Medina Lake is fluctuating water level. The thing is, the reservoir shares its water with local farms, so the level is always lower than at other lakes. You can check the current conditions here.

Despite the drawbacks, it’s an amazing destination, especially if you’re into boating or lakeside cottages. It’s worth a try.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

3. Calaveras Lake

Calaveras Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Calaveras Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 22 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, RVs

Calaveras Lake is a 3,624-acre reservoir just 30 minutes from downtown. This lake is all about fishing and boating.

The only access point to the lake is Calaveras Lake Park on the eastern bank. It has a boat ramp, fishing pier, and good shoreline access.

Swimming is prohibited at Calaveras Lake; the large sign reminds you of this when you enter the park. Instead, it’s a nice place to kayak and canoe.

However, the main reason folks come to this place is fishing. Since the early 1990s, the lake has been heavily stocked with red drum that now dominates the reservoir.

The local red drum record is the 30-pound lunker pulled in on a magic spoon. Also, the reservoir holds a state record for a rare orangemouth corvina – 16.3 pounds.

Calaveras Lake isn’t as developed as many other options on the list, but it’s a unique fishery, and it’s close to home.

Related: 6 Fantastic Lakes near Victoria, TX

4. Victor Braunig Lake

Victor Braunig Lake
Source: wikimedia
  • Official Page: Victor Braunig Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 16 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, RVs

Victor Braunig Lake is 1,350 acres in size. It’s Calaveras’s neighbor and a partner in crime. Both reservoirs are managed by the same organization and provide a similar set of facilities.

Just like Calaveras, Victor Braunig Lake is an exceptional fishery stocked to the brim with red drum. Yet, it has a slightly larger record for this fish – 31.87 pounds.

Also, this reservoir is responsible for a whopping three state records – nile perch, spotted seatrout/corvina hybrid, and a tarpon. Not bad for a 1,000-acre lake!

Swimming isn’t allowed at Victor Braunig Lake as well. 

However, it’s worth noting that it’s not all fishing here. Both lakes are excellent for bringing the family for camping or picnics, too.

Yet, when it comes to boating sports like wakeboarding and skiing, they’re not prohibited per se, but you rarely see people do it here. But you do see an occasional jet ski or two.

In short, it’s an excellent picnic spot and a superb fishery just 25 minutes from downtown San Antonio.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

5. Lake McQueeney

Lake McQueeney
Source: wikimedia. Larry D. Moore/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Official Page: Lake McQueeney
  • Distance from San Antonio: 37 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Lake McQueeney is a small 396-acre on the Guadalupe River. It’s a place with lakeside homes known for skiing and wakeboarding.

Although it’s a public lake, there is no public access like boat ramps or parks. So, to enjoy the lake, you need to rent a lakeside house on Airbnb or VRBO. 

Alternatively, you can use Laguna Marina for launching and storing your boat or become a member of the private club on the lake.

Fishing is pretty good at Lake McQueeney. There is plenty of largemouth bass, carp, and various catfish. However, anglers complain about boat traffic that can be relentless on hot summer days. 

Overall, it’s a high-end destination with a price tag. It’s best suited for family reunions, groups of friends renting together, and romantic retreats.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

6. Lake Dunlap

Lake Dunlap
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Dunlap
  • Distance from San Antonio: 33 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Lake Dunlap is another small reservoir on the Guadalupe River. It’s 410 acres in size and offers similar recreation opportunities to Lake McQueeney.

However, unlike McQueeney, the reservoir benefits from a public launching ramp located on the river under the I-35.

In May 2019, Lake Dunlap’s dam collapsed, draining most of the water. The reconstruction works have already started, and by summer 2023, the lake should be filled again.

Like Lake McQueeney, Lake Dunlap is a public reservoir with a densely build-up shoreline. There are plenty of listings on Airbnb and VRBO, so you can experience lakeside living by renting holiday homes, lodges, or cabins.

Boating activities like wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing were prevalent before the collapse and are likely to resume after the reconstruction.

And when it comes to fishing, the lake used to be a prime spot for largemouth bass and rainbow trout. But looking forward, it’s unclear how the fish population will recover and will TPWD restock the reservoir. One thing is for sure, it will take time.

Related: 6 Fantastic Lakes near Victoria, TX

7. Lake Placid

Lake Placid
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Lake Placid
  • Distance from San Antonio: 33 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Lake Placid is another option on the Guadalupe River. It’s 198 acres in size and offers excellent boating and kayaking.

The reservoir has a free public boat ramp located under the I-10. But when it comes to parks or designated swimming areas, there are none.

For this reason, the best way to enjoy the lake is by paddling or boating. It’s a narrow, river-like reservoir that offers protection from the wind, so kayaking or canoeing here is enjoyable. Plus, you can check out lakeside properties from the water.

Like Dunlap and McQueeney, Lake Placid is known for wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing. However, unlike the two, it’s a less-popular place which means it doesn’t get crowded when the season is on.

You can rent lakeside properties here for less money and enjoy a very similar lake experience to the two lakes upstream.

Fishing is OK at Lake Placid. It has largemouth bass, crappie, and various catfish. Shore access is restricted, so having a boat is a must.

In short, it’s an excellent choice for boating activities and for renting lakeside homes. But if you’re looking for a picnic space or camping, there are much better alternatives on the list.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

8. Boerne Lake

Boerne Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Boerne Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 36 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Sailing, SUPs, Swimming, Picnics, Hiking, Disk Golf

Boerne Lake is a charming reservoir easily accessible from I-10. Although only 100 acres in size, it offers plenty of recreation and well-kept grounds.

The only way to access the reservoir is to visit Boerne City Lake Park. It has picnic spots, walking trails, a boat ramp, a fishing pier, and even a disk golf course. There is everything you may need for a day on the lake.

What makes this reservoir special is its clear water. Now, it’s not Caribbean-clear, but it’s undoubtedly one of the cleanest reservoirs around, making it excellent for swimming.

Motorized boating is prohibited at Boerne Lake. Instead, it’s a popular paddling and sailing spot. The modest size means it’s not intimidating for beginners, and there are no jet skis to worry about either.

However, fishing is average at Boerne Lake. It’s not a fishing destination per se, but you can catch something here. The common varieties are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill, but as you may expect, the sizes are modest. 

Overall, Boerne Lake is a superb family destination, perfect for picnics, kayaking, and swimming. But for camping or boating, try bigger lakes.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

9. Choke Canyon Reservoir

Choke Canyon Reservoir
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Choke Canyon Reservoir
  • Distance from San Antonio: 86 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Camping, RVs, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking

Choke Canyon Reservoir is a massive 25,670-acre lake south of San Antonio. It’s an incredible wildlife hotspot and an excellent fishing lake.

The best place to visit is Choke Canyon State Park on the southern shore. It offers boat ramps, camping, and miles of nature trails.

The wildlife is impressive at the lake. You will definitely see wild boars, deer, and various birds. And because this is a state park, rangers will help identify species and do guided walks.

Despite the numerous alligators who live in the lake, swimming is allowed here. Yet, paddling is a lot more popular. Thanks to all the wildlife, it’s an exciting place to kayak and canoe.

Although boating sports like wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing are allowed, it’s uncommon to see people do it. Choke Canyon Reservoir is all about serenity and nature.

Still, another big reason to visit this lake is fishing. It’s a highly-rated spot for largemouth bass and blue catfish. And if you really want a challenge, try going for an alligator gar; they are monstrous here. The biggest one caught at Choke Canyon came at 216 pounds.

Although it’s quite a drive away, Choke Canyon Reservoir is worth visiting, especially if you like fishing and wildlife photography. 

Related: 6 Fantastic Lakes near Victoria, TX

10. Blue Hole Regional Park

Blue Hole Regional Park
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Blue Hole Regional Park
  • Distance from San Antonio: 63 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Picnics, Hiking

Blue Hole Regional Park is not a typical lake destination. Instead, it’s a famous swimming hole with crystal clear, spring-fed water that is refreshing even in the midst of summer.

The park offers 4 miles of hiking trails, picnics on the grass, and well-kept restrooms and changing facilities, all of which are free to the public, except for swimming.

Because of its popularity, swimming here is paid for. And it’s not just that, you should also book it in advance on the park’s website. You will be allocated a 4-hour time slot and asked to leave at the end of your turn.

However, it’s worth the money. The water is clear and refreshing. There are Tarzan-style swings and shallow areas for kids.

The only drawback is that it’s a summer-only swimming hole. The season starts in May and finishes in September. However, the park is open year-round for hiking and nature trips.

Overall, it’s a fantastic day-use spot. And thanks to the booking system, it’s never overrun with visitors. The only thing you have to worry about is what to bring, an inflatable flamingo or a giant unicorn.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

11. Paradise Canyon

Paradise Canyon
Source: flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Official Page: Paradise Canyon
  • Distance from San Antonio: 33 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Swimming, Fishing, Picnics, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Paradise Canyon is technically a river destination, but it’s a superb spot without which the list just won’t be complete.

Sitting on the Medina River, this spot offers plenty of water activities. It’s a popular place to swim and tube in summer, have picnics with friends and family, and camp. 

On hot summer days, the place is buzzing with swimmers and tubers. But when the season dies out, it becomes a charming nature spot with excellent kayaking and fishing.

The amenities are pretty good here. There are hundreds of picnic tables, a store, and a rental place with tubes and kayaks. And if you’re planning an overnight trip, there are cabins and a lodge, in addition to the tent and RV sites.

In summer, fishing at Paradise Canyon is problematic because of the tubers and swimmers, but you can get closer to the dam, where there are fewer people, and try your luck there. The typical species at Medina River are largemouth bass, crappie, and perch.

In short, Paradise Canyon is a buzzing swimming spot that you should visit at least once. But if you want to try fishing here, it’s better to come before the season starts.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

12. Elmendorf Lake

Elmendorf Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Elmendorf Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 3 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Walking, Picnics, Playgrounds

Elmendorf Lake is a small reservoir on the West Side of San Antonio, just 10 minute drive from downtown. It’s a popular spot and a breath of fresh air in the otherwise urban jungle.

The lake is part of the Elmendorf Lake Park, which offers playgrounds, picnic spots, and walking paths. It’s a pet and family-friendly place loved by locals.

Fishing is very popular at the lake. It has a nice fishing pier and plenty of bank access. However, because of the tremendous pressure, it’s not good. 

The reservoir is stocked with channel catfish, but largemouth bass is still the most typical catch. If you’re fishing casually, it’s a nice local spot, but for anglers who take it more seriously, Calaveras Lake is a much better option.

Also, the lake is open for kayaking and canoeing. It’s a small place where one hour is enough to explore every nuke and cranny. 

Swimming isn’t allowed at Elmendorf Lake, but the park offers a small public swimming pool with a splash pad. It’s a lot of fun for the kids and a great way to cool off in summer.

Overall, it’s a charming spot best suited for afternoon walks and cookouts with family and friends. But paddling and fishing are better elsewhere, although not as close to home.

Related: 6 Fantastic Lakes near Victoria, TX

13. Woodlawn Lake

Woodlawn Lake
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Woodlawn Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 4 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Walking, Picnics, Playgrounds

Woodlawn Lake is another urban pond in San Antonio. Located just 4 miles from downtown, it’s one of the most popular lakes in the city.

The facilities and restrictions here are very similar to Elmendorf Lake. The park offers playgrounds, sports courts, and a 1.3-mile loop around the lake that takes about 25 minutes to complete.

However, fishing is below average at Woodlawn Lake. Occasionally, it gets stocked, and then you read about it on the news. 

You can catch largemouth bass, carp, and catfish here, but it’s nowhere near as good as Calaveras or Victor Braunig Lake.

Swimming isn’t allowed at Woodlawn Lake, but there is a public swimming pool at the park’s far end. 

As urban lakes go, this is a lovely spot with excellent facilities, best suited for evening walks and picnics. But as a recreational lake, it’s not amazing.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

14. Lions Park Lake

Lions Park Lake
Source: pixabay
  • Official Page: Lions Park Lake
  • Distance from San Antonio: 5 miles (10 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Walking, Picnics, Playgrounds

Lions Park Lake is an urban lake in the southeast of the city. At first sight, it’s just another option in San Antonio, but actually, it offers more than others.

For example, Lions Park Lake is the most stoked reservoir within city limits. In summer, TPWD provides plenty of channel catfish and has been doing so since the early 1990s. And in winter, the lake is stocked with rainbow trout, a prized and beautiful catch. 

Although too small to produce lunkers, anglers report great results at this lake, making it an excellent choice for neighborhood fishing.

Hi-Lions Park, where the lake is located, also offers playgrounds, pavilions, picnic areas, and a few miles of trails that connect to Salado Creek Greenway. From here, you can walk or cycle all the way to Willow Springs Golf Course. 

Like other lakes within the city, swimming is prohibited at Lions Park Lake, but there is a public pool for colling off in summers.

Overall, the lake is an excellent neighborhood fishing spot where you can take the family for picnics and BBQs. It’s probably the best urban reservoir in the city.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

15. Amistad Reservoir

Amistad Reservoir
Source: wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Official Page: Amistad Reservoir
  • Distance from San Antonio: 165 miles (2h 40min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Camping, RVs, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Hiking, Scuba Diving

Amistad Reservoir is a massive 64,900-acre lake that straddles the border with Mexico. It’s a unique destination recognized nationally for its clear water, excellent fishing, and history.

National Park Service manages the reservoir and provides a dozen access points. Yet, it remains remote and has hardly any facilities. 

There are no commercial marinas on the lake, nor are there any cabins, lodges, or boat rentals. Anything you’re planning to use, you have to bring with you.

However, when it comes to activities, there are hardly any limits here. Swimming, paddling, wakeboarding, and even scuba diving are all possible.

The lake’s steep, towering cliffs provide a stunning backdrop when kayaking and boating. And some caves and landings can only be accessed by water.

Yet, where it excels is fishing. It’s a bass territory. It’s stocked with half a million largemouth every year and a few hundred thousand striped. The largest ones caught were 15.68 and 45 pounds, respectively.

Fishing is absolutely incredible here, and the lake is frequently featured as one of the best fishing spots in Texas. It is home to over 100 fishing events every year. 

Granted, it’s a long haul from San Antonio, 165 miles, but the lake is worth it. It’s unique, it’s versatile, and it’s remote. 

Probably, it won’t suit casual lake-goers, but for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts, this is where the adventure begins.

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