As summer drags on and the days get hotter and hotter, many of us are looking to cool off. I’ve put together a list of the best Houston area swimming holes, all within 2 hours of Houston. These range from deep swimming holes to wading creeks, so no matter what how you prefer to swim, there’s something for everyone.
This list of places to swim in Houston is sorted by closest to farthest from downtown Houston.
Houston Area Swimming Holes
2391 Gun Range Road, League City, TX 77573 (35 minutes from Downtown Houston)
Lake Longhorn is a privately managed lake that serves as a scuba diving and triathlon training facility. If you just want to swim or rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard, you can do that here as well. With over 30 acres of land surrounding the lake, you can plan to spend the day at this Houston area swimming hole.
You must fill out a waiver and they recommend doing that at home, as the office is a small trailer and you’ll be stuck filling it out in the heat otherwise.
Lake entry is $15/person and kayaks and stand up paddle boards can be rented for $15 for the day.
25840 FM 1485, New Caney, TX 77357 (35 minutes from downtown Houston)
While not the best choice if you want to actually swim, (and while some might doubt my choice to include this on a list of Houston area swimming holes), you can definitely cool off in the shallow waters of Peach Creek at Lake Houston Wilderness Park. Children will love splashing around and swinging from the various tree swings along the creek.
Entry is $3 for ages 13 and up.
301 FM 2025, Coldspring, TX 77331 (1 hour from downtown Houston)
The Double Lake Recreation Area at the Sam Houston National Forest is open for swimming, fishing, or paddling. Nestled in the Sam Houston National Forest, you can camp at this lake as well. There is a park store where you can get some concessions, as well as rent canoes.
13274 Scotts Ridge Rd, Montgomery, TX 77356 (1 hour from downtown Houston)
Located on the west side of the Sam Houston National Forest, with access to Lake Conroe, this Houston area swimming hole has a swimming beach, picnic area with covered tables and grills, and a boat launch. The cost is $5 per vehicle per day.
248 Woodsy Hollow Rd, Goodrich, TX 77335 (1 hour from downtown Houston)
This campground and RV park on Sleepy Hollow Lake offers day passes for swimming, kayaking and paddle boating. It’s a great, affordable option for swimming near Houston.
Entry is $5 per person for swimming, or $10 per person for swimming, fishing and picnicking.
565 Park Road 40 west, Huntsville, TX 77340 (1 hr 12 minutes from downtown Houston)
Huntsville State Park is home to Lake Raven, another great place to go swimming near Houston. You can swim, fish, and paddle in Lake Raven. It’s worth it to note that the swimming area is a bit small and can get crowded. There are signs warning about alligators. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats can be rented here as well.
Entry is $7 per person above age 13.
Remember, advance registration is recommended at all state parks, as they can fill up fast, especially on the weekends.
300 State Park Rd 65, Livingston, TX 77351 (1 hr 12 minutes from downtown Houston)
Lake Livingston is one of the largest lakes in Texas, and a great place to cool off. The designated swimming area is fairly deep, accessible via a ladder. You can swim in the shallower beach entry where the boat rentals are located but only during times when boat rentals are not active.
The park rents canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards via Paddle EZ self service rentals for $18/hr. You pay on your phone and get a code to unlock the boat. Please note that the boats are not sanitized between uses.
Entry is $5 per person aged 13 and up.
21 Wolf Creek Park Road, Coldspring, TX 77331 (1 hr 13 minutes from downtown Houston)
Wolf Creek Park is a quiet park in Coldspring, TX. It serves as a beautiful campground, but also offers day passes for visitors looking to swim in Lake Livingston or rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle board. The swimming area is a large, roped-off area that is deep enough to swim, but stays relatively shallow, making this Houston area swimming hole a great place for kids.
The park is not open for day use Friday, Saturday or Sunday. You must have a camping pass or be visiting someone with a camping pass to use the park on weekends. The park is open for day use Monday (providing it’s not a holiday) through Thursday.
Entry is $5 per person.
6439 Holly Grove Rd, Livingston, TX 77351 (1 hour 26 minutes from downtown Houston)
A little off the beaten path, this creek offers a cold, refreshing respite from the Houston heat.
14222 Park Road 57 Somerville, TX 77879-9713 (1 hour 30 minutes from downtown Houston)
Lake Somerville is a beautiful park with hiking trails, campgrounds, and lake access. This Houston area swimming hole has a large section of shallow water, perfect for younger kids. Just be aware, because it’s rather shallow, the water can get rather warm in the dog days of summer. I recommend hitting up this Houston swimming hole May-July rather than, say, August.
Entry is $4 per person age 13 and up.
634 Park Road 48 South Jasper, TX 75951 (2 hours from downtown Houston)
Martin Dies Jr. State Park is located just outside Big Thicket National Preserve and the Angelina National Forest, where the Angelina River meets the Neches. The swimming area is located in B.A. Steinhagen Reservoir, in the Hen House Ridge Unit, and is open from sunrise to sunset. The park rents canoes, kayaks and cruiser bikes.
Entry is $4 per person age 13 and up.
TX-7, Ratcliff, TX 75858 (2 hours from downtown Houston)
Ratcliff Lake in Davy Crockett National Forest offers a small swimming area. The water is fairly typical of what you might expect in East Texas, and there is a sign warning of alligators, but it is still a fun place to swim.
Entry is $5 per vehicle per day.
Have you enjoyed any of these houston area swimming holes? Let us know in the comments!