As summer drags on and the days get hotter and hotter, many of us are looking to cool off with a dip in a local swimming hole. While there are plenty of waterparks and public pools, there’s nothing like a natural swimming hole on a hot summer day. 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 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
19230 Morris Ave, Manvel, TX 77578 (30 minutes from downtown Houston)
Twin Lakes RV Resort is a camping resort, but they offer day passes as well, for those who just want to escape the city for the day. Located just 30 minutes south of downtown Houston, this is the perfect swimming hole if you’re short on time. Here you can enjoy 31 acres of clear, aquifer-fed water.
Twin Lakes is primarily a scuba diving facility, with depths up to 50 feet, but they welcome non-divers as well.
Winter Schedule – Oct. 16 to Mar. 15
Wed. 2:00 PM to sundown
Sat. & Sun. 7:30 AM to sundown (Check in 1 hour before dark)
Summer Schedule – Mar. 16 – Oct. 16
Saturday & Sunday: 7:30 AM to sundown
Tues. – Fri. 2:00 PM to sundown (Check in 1 hour before sundown)
Closed Monday, except holidays (Labor Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July)
Night dives available upon request
With 12 or more, you can reserve an area.
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. You also must have a personal swim buoy or they will make you purchase one there. Here’s an affordable option.
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.
This swimming hole holds a special place in our hearts because it’s one of the first we visited. We didn’t realize you could actually swim here at first, so we showed up fully dressed on our first visit, but there were plenty of people enjoying the water in swimsuits.
We also so people setting up chairs in the water, rolling their coolers out, and sitting around with friends, enjoying the refreshing water while chilling with friends.
Entry is $3 for ages 13 and up.
301 FM 2025, Coldspring, TX 77331 (1 hour from downtown Houston)
Double Lake is a small but beautiful lake nestled in the Sam Houston National Forest. Here, you can swim, fish, or paddle in the lake, or enjoy one of the hiking trails around the lake. During peak season, you can rent canoes here, as well.
If camping’s your thing, you’ll be happy to know you can camp here, too.
Day-use fee is $7 per vehicle.
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 offers day-use passes for $5 per vehicle per day, or use of the boat launch for the same price.
The boat launch is open year-round and the swimming area is open from April through September.
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. They also offer kayak rentals starting at $10 for two hours.
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. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t point out that alligators have been known to make an appearance at this Houston area swimming hole.
Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats are available for rent.
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.
649 Pinedale Road, Huntsville, TX 77340 (1 hr 15 minutes from downtown Houston)
If you’re looking for a Houston-area swimming hole that will transport you to an entirely different locale, you’ll want to visit Blue Lagoon. The waters of this swimming hole have a distinctly blue hue, which can be attributed to the limestone bed, not often seen in the Houston area.
Blue Lagoon is primarily a scuba diving training facility. While that means that priority is given to scuba divers, they do allow non-divers in, if there’s room. Non-divers cannot make reservations, but you can show up and hope for the best. They also post on their Facebook page when capacity has been reached.
They are closed every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
- Certified Diver $25
- Non Diver Cost is $30
- Children 9 and under $10.00
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 one of our favorite swimming holes. The water here is pretty deep, so you’ll want to make sure to bring tubes and/or life vests for the little ones. There is a shallower, beach-entry area, but it’s where the paddlers launch from and swimming is prohibited during the time the park’s canoes, kayaks, and paddle board rentals are active.
When it comes to renting the aforementioned kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards, you have two options. You can either rent them at the park office or via Paddle EZ self-service rentals for $18/hr. The Paddle EZ self-service rental is actually pretty cool. You pay on your phone and get a code, which you then use to unlock the boat.
Entry to Lake Livingston State Park 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. Keep in mind that day passes are available on weekdays only. On weekends and holidays, the lake is reserved for campers only.
Kayak, canoe, and paddle board rentals are also available. 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.
Entry is $5 per person.
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 that because it’s rather shallow, the water can get pretty warm in the dog days of summer. I recommend hitting up this Houston swimming hole May-July rather than, say, August.
This is one of our favorite parks in which to spend the morning hiking, afternoon swimming, and evening grilling. When the sun starts to set, you’re treated to the most spectacular sunset across the lake.
There’s very little shade here, so I recommend bringing some sort of awning for protection.
Entry is $4 per person age 13 and up.
634 Park Road 48 South Jasper, TX 75951 (2 hours from downtown Houston)
The swimming area at Martin Dies Jr. State Park is located in the Hen House Ridge Unit and is open from sunrise to sunset.
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.
Entry is $5 per vehicle per day.
Have you enjoyed any of these Houston area swimming holes? Let us know in the comments!