May is upon us, folks, which means summer in Texas is fully underway. We all know what that means – spending as much time outdoors, preferably near a body of water, as possible. Sure, Texas isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think about beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and pale white sand, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves and appreciate what we do have. Surprisingly, there are a lot of waterfront spots here that are worth adding into your summer plans. Here are our top 10 picks.
1. Santa Elena Canyon (Big Bend National Park)
This view is one of the most spectacular in the state, in my opinion. The Rio Grande runs between the towering rock walls of the canyon, creating a pathway for swimmers and kayakers alike to enjoy. There's an area off to the side to just sit and relax as well if you'd rather just watch the gentle ripples and waves of the water.
2. Mount Bonnell (Austin)
Climbing the endless stairs to the top of the mountain might be exhausting, but it's all worth it when you reach the summit and gaze out over the Colorado River below. It's especially beautiful if you go at sunset and see the fading light shimmering on the water.
3. Kemah Boardwalk (Kemah)
It's no Santa Monica by any means, but it still provides a nice view of Galveston Bay with plenty of restaurants and benches to sit down and look at the water.
4. Lake Sam Rayburn (Jasper)
The serenity of small town lakes is indescribable. My family and I have been coming here for as long as I can remember for picnic lunches underneath the pavilion and leisurely walks on the jetties. It's a really popular fishing spot, too, and there's even an area designated for swimming.
5. Congress Avenue Bridge (Austin)
We all know what this bridge offers us at night - a spectacular show of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats beginning their migration home for the winter. But it's just as beautiful a sight during the day. You'll see the sun glistening on the expansive Lady Bird Lake below, and paddle boarders and kayakers enjoying a nice summer day.
6. South Padre Island Beach
South Padre is definitely the prettiest beach in Texas. It may not be perfect, but compared to Galveston's muddy sand and murky water it's heaven. Plus, you might get to witness the hatching of adorable baby sea turtles!
7. The Spot Restaurant (Galveston)
Like I just said, even though Galveston's beaches might not be aesthetically pleasing, the water at least appears blue when you aren't right up close to it. The Spot, a restaurant on Seawall Boulevard, offers upstairs outdoor seating that gives you the illusion of being in a faraway tropical paradise. They have some of the best burgers and salads on the island, too. Just watch out for seagulls trying to steal your food!
8. Hamilton Pool (Dripping Springs)
Of course I had to include the place that's been voted the most beautiful nature spot in Texas time and time again. Even if you don't swim in the water, sitting on the sandbar with a view of the mystical grotto in its entirety is an experience you won't be forgetting anytime soon.
9. The Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar (Gruene)
The next time you're in the New Braunfels area, take some time to check out the quaint historic district of Gruene - namely, this restaurant overlooking the Guadalupe River. Something about the combination of the rustic barn setting, the amazing food, and the gorgeous view gives this restaurant a special place in my heart.
10. Krause Springs (Spicewood)
If you don't want to fight the crowds at Hamilton Pool, Krause Springs is definitely a comparable alternative. The waterfall trickling down the leaves of the canopy-forming trees makes it look like a scene out of Tarzan.
Have you ever been to any of these waterfront spots in Texas? Which one is your favorite?