Want to get your kids out on the water? Kayaking is a great family-friendly activity that just about everyone of any age can enjoy.
Not only does kayaking help develop motor skills, balance, and upper body strength, but it’s also loads of fun and a great way to explore lakes and rivers.
As hot and dry as Texas can be, it’s also home to a surprising number of family-friendly kayaking spots that are often situated near campsites, picnic spots, and beautiful parks.
Here are ten of the best kid-friendly kayaking spots in the Lone Star State.
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10 Best Places To Take Your Kids Kayaking In Texas
1. Inks Lake State Park
Close to Austin is a beautiful body of water called Inks Lake State Park. This tranquil, enormous lake has an abundance of different kayak routes, including one that leads to the Valley Spring Creek Waterhole—a great place to stop paddling for a while and enjoy a refreshing dip.
Inks Lake is known for its majestic sunrises, so if you can get the kids together early enough, a dawn family paddle can make for a core memory experience.
2. Ladybird Lake
Turtles, ladybirds, and miles of smooth waters are what Ladybird Lake offers families from across the US. This gentle lake is widely known as one of the most metropolitan places to kayak in Texas due to its location, right in Austin.
Just be careful about spending time around this lake after dark, as it tends to be a popular destination for the occasional fruit bat—they won’t bother you, but some kids might find them unsettling.
3. Mustang Island State Park, Bay Side
With powdery soft sand, crystal-clear waters, and the occasional dolphin pod, Mustang Island State Park should be on every Texas kayaker’s bucket list. Separated into two sides (the Gulf side and the bay side), Mustang Island has plenty of space to roam the waters without bumping into another paddler for hours.
The only thing to bear in mind about Mustang Island is that the road leading up to it is quite rural, so you’d need access to a car that can handle a few bumps.
4. Galveston Island State Park, Bay Side
Galveston has over 32 miles of beaches, and Island State Park in Bay Side is one of the most beloved and popular kayaking sites in the whole of Texas. Found on the Gulf of Mexico strip, this park is protected by a breakwater and is known for its shallow, swimming-friendly bay that attracts many families on the weekend.
Because of the breakwater, Galveston’s waters are extremely calm and gentle, making it the perfect place to teach young ones how to paddle for the first time.
You can paddle intuitively or follow the trail as laid out by the reserve. There is also a nearby campsite if your family likes the idea of a multi-day kayaking adventure.
5. Guadalupe River
Found in the center of Hill Country, this beautiful river is a family-friendly kayaking hotspot that is popular for swimmers, paddle boarders, picnic-ers, and kayakers alike. The crystalline waters are easy to see through and wonderfully cool to swim in, so make sure your kids bring their swimsuits.
There is also a fascinating variety of trees near the Guadalupe River, including pine, sycamore, cypress, and even pecan. Settle down under the greens after a tranquil journey across the river.
6. Possum Kingdom State Park
With more than 300 miles of shoreline to explore, Possum Kingdom has some of the best kayaking in the US. Its open waters make it more appropriate for older kids (12 and up) or families who have a bit more experience with paddling away from the shore. Due to the scale of Possum Kingdom, there is also the occasional motorboat to look out for, so make sure to keep an eye out for any that might cross your path.
Before you set out, it’s a good idea to ensure your whole family knows the basic rules, and Kayak Guru has an excellent guide that can help with this. This will ensure that you all know what to do to stay safe when out on the water or when encountering boats or other obstacles.
7. Lake Bastrop
Lake Bastrop is a great place to go if you want to experience more than one outdoor activity. The 900-acre lake is surrounded by a beautiful pine forest, which is safe to hike in with kids who have little experience with that kind of terrain.
With calm, still waters that several fish call home, Lake Bastrop is an excellent place to start your family’s kayaking journey in Texas.
8. Colorado River
One of the longest rivers in America, the Colorado River is renowned for offering safe, entry-level kayaking conditions that the whole family can enjoy. A large, broad river mouth and long, winding path make this river easy to navigate and provide plenty of natural scenery to take in while you paddle onward with your kids. There are virtually no rapids or hazardous spots to avoid on the Colorado River, making it perfect for children of all ages.
9. Lake Whitney
In 1951, Lake Whitney was created as an overflow for the Brazos River. Over the years, it’s become one of the most family-friendly locations, not just for kayaking but for anyone who enjoys watersports and fishing.
One of the prettiest lakes in Texas, Lake Whitney has calm waters and plenty of coves, marinas, and beaches. If you have little ones who’ve never kayaked before, this is a great place to get them started, as the lake is huge, and you can choose a secluded spot with easy entry and exit to the water.
10. Lake O’ The Pines
Living up to its name, Lake O’ The Pines is a reservoir surrounded by towering pine trees. The shore is lovely and shady, and there are plenty of parks, campgrounds, restroom facilities, playgrounds, and picnic spots dotted around the lake.
There are several beaches that make launching lightweight kayaks even easier and are great for kids who want to stay close to the shore. The lake has a surface area of 18,680 acres, so you’ll never run out of places to explore, and there’s good fishing, too, if you and your kids want to try to reel in a catch from your kayaks. The water conditions are generally mild, except in poor weather when it’s best to stay off the lake.
Any one of these family-friendly kayaking spots is ideal for taking your kids on an unforgettable adventure. Perhaps it will be the first of many!