When most people think of Texas, they either think of big cities or deserts and tumbleweeds. But Texas is a huge state, with incredible geographical diversity, including mountains, deserts, and plains. The abundance of water recreation is among some of the best kept secrets about Texas. Most lakes in Texas are formed by reservoirs at the dams of rivers. You can enjoy the comfort and relaxation of lakeside living in one of the many affordable lake towns in Texas.

Lake Texoma - Sherman / Denison / Gainesville

Kayaker heading out to Lake Texoma near beach in Texas.
Lake Texoma / Shutterstock

This lake on the Texas-Oklahoma border is formed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir. It’s the 12th largest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir in the country. Lake Texoma is a popular recreation site, attracting more than 6 million visitors every year. Because the reservoir is so large, several small towns provide easy access to Lake Texoma, including Sherman, Denison, and Gainesville. In addition, the area is only a little over an hour north of Dallas

 Lake Granbury - Granbury

Homes along Lake Granbury in Texas.
Lake Granbury / Texas

Lake Granbury is a reservoir formed by a dam, making it one of three lakes damming the Brazos River. The lake flows through the city, which is a charming and historic small town about 40 miles south of Fort Worth. The peacefulness along the lake in Granbury attracts people who work in Dallas or Fort Worth that are looking for a quiet escape.

Eagle Mountain Lake - Azle / Newark / Pelican Bay

Open water on Eagle Mountain Lake in Texas
Eagle Mountain Lake / Photo by Gordon Reid / CC BY-SA

Eagle Mountain Lake is a reservoir formed by damming the West Fork of the Trinity River. Housing in Eagle Mountain Lake is generally slightly cheaper than or comparable in cost to other Fort Worth suburbs, but have the added benefit of easy access to fishing and boating on the lake.

Caddo Lake - Karnack

Cypress trees and greenery in LAke Caddo in Karnack, Texas
Caddo Lake / Shutterstock

Caddo Lake is a 25,000-acre lake and bayou on the border of Texas and Louisiana. Swimming is unlikely because the lake contains alligators, but it’s a great spot for boating. Fun fact: hundreds of Bigfoot sightings have been reported on the Texas side of Caddo Lake since 1965.

Canyon Lake- Fischer / Sattler

Beahces along blue Caddo Lake in Texas.
Canyon Lake / Shutterstock

Canyon Lake is a Census Designated Places (CDP) near New Braunfels that includes smaller unincorporated areas like Canyon City, Cranes Mill, and Sattler. The area is a popular getaway for people in both Austin and San Antonio, since it’s within less than an hour’s drive of both cities. Housing is affordable along Canyon Lake, but prices are going up as more people discover it’s a peaceful place away from city life.

Lake Cypress Springs - Scroggins

Mother and daughter out on fishing pier at LAke Cypress Springs in Texas.
Lake Cypress / Shutterstock

Houses in Scroggins can be affordable, but this city has more high-dollar properties as well. That’s because Lake Cypress Springs is not exactly a secret anymore. In fact, it was rated as one of Texas’ most beautiful lakes by D Magazine, thanks to its spring-fed clear water. You can nearly see to the bottom of the lake, which is rare in Texas. About 100 miles northeast of Dallas, Lake Cypress Springs is more likely to be the second home of Dallas’ wealthy families than a primary residence.

Lake Austin - Matagorda 

Kayak on peaceful Lake Austin in Texas
Lake Austin / Shutterstock

You might think Lake Austin would be in Austin, but it’s actually 12 miles southeast of Bay City, along the Gulf of Mexico. The lake is fed by Peyton Creek and drained by Live Oak Bayou into Matagorda Bay and includes marshland that is home to many forms of wildlife. Known by many as a great fishing spot, this South Texas lake town is both affordable and beautiful. 

Lake Buchanan - Buchanan Dam

Red and white lighthouse along Lake Buchanan in Texas
Lake Buchanan / Shutterstock

Formed by the reservoir at the dam of the Colorado River, Lake Buchanan is a popular fishing and boating site near Austin. Gorgeous views of the Texas Hill Country can bring some premium prices for real estate in the area, but you can still find an occasional bargain.

You don’t have to live in coastal states to enjoy the relaxation of a lakeside retreat. You can find many beautiful lake towns in Texas—even within a short drive of the major cities.