Lake Austin
Austin, TX
Texas Outside Rating: 8.5

Acres Of Water & Miles Of Shoreline
1,599 acres and 24 miles of shoreline


Brief Overview:

Review of Lake Austin

Lake Austin is one of the infamous six Highland Lakes, which include Lake Travis, Inks Lake, Lake Buchanan, Lake Marble Falls, and Lake LBJ. At the north end of the lake is Lake Travis and the Mansfield Dam (and the water at this end of the lake is dam cold) and at the south end is the Tom Miller dam and the start of Town Lake - you can't go from lake to lake so don't even think about it! Lake Austin snakes its way through the Austin hill country and at its widest point is only 1300 feet wide. Lake Austin is a Texas Outside favorite because it is a very pretty, a constant level lake with clear water, beautiful scenery including great people watching, and lots to see and do -- plus no known prop dingers except at the north end!

Lake Austin is great for skiing, partying, camping, and prefect for cruising as you sip a cold beer or soda and marvel at the trees, cliffs and big, beautiful, very very expensive homes that line the banks of Lake Austin.

100_1262 100_1302

A Typical Texas Outsider Day

We love to:

  • camp in Emma Long Park
  • cruise on down the lake taking in all the scenery
  • stop and swim in Bull Creek cove
  • boat up to Ski Shores, Hula Hut, or Ables for some food and drinks
  • find some calm water for skiing, boarding, or tubing
  • stop back by Ski Shores a cold beer and some live music

Can't get much better than that!

100_1289 100_1300

Other Cool Things To Do:

Here are some fun things to do that the entire family should enjoy: camp or spend the day on the beach at Emma Long City Park; picnic and play volleyball or horseshoes at West Beach Park; rent a boat or take a tour on the lake with any of these boat rental companies; or drive or boat over to any of the restaurants on the lake for some ok food, cold drinks, and a sunset over the lake.

Some other things to do on Lake Austin include: any part of the lake is great for skiing or boarding if there isn't much boat traffic; you can raft up or swim in Bee Creek or Bull Creek cove; or boat over and have some good BBQ at County Line

100_1308 100_1264

What To Do If No Boat:

Buy one; you're missing a good time! Or you can rent a boat or party barge from a company on this Lake Austin Boat Rentals Page

Pack a picnic lunch and sit on the banks of Lake Austin and fish and swim at any of the day use parks -- Commons Ford, Selma Hughes, or Fritz Hughes.

Spend the day or camp overnight at Emma Long Metropolitan Park and swim, hike, play baseball or volleyball, and in the evening sit on the bank and listen to some good music across the river at The Pier

Nearby Activities:

You have the entire City of Austin at your beck and call with tons of fun things to do including: golf, cultural stuff, hiking, biking, canoeing, tennis, etc. Read some of the Austin golf course reviews by clicking here.

Restaurants, Bars, & Music:

Lake Austin is one of our favorites for restaurants and live music. Hula Hut (fun crowds, good variety of food and drinks, great deck), Ski Shores (small and laid back, but good burgs and music), Abels (ok food and a great deck) and County Line for good BBQ.

Wake Boarding & Skiing:

If there is not much boat traffic, the entire lake is excellent for boarding and skiing. If there is traffic, try either end of the lake.  In 2013 Lake Austin was having a significant problem with hydrilla, so watch out for patches of it and other boats trying to avoid it. 


According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, Lake Austin contains an excellent population of largemouth bass with the potential for a trophy. Many bass weighing over 10 pounds have been caught since the early 1990s; six were over 13 pounds. The lake also has some good quality bluegill, redbreast, and redear fishing, and has low-density populations of flathead and blue catfish. Fishing during the summer months is best done at night due to heavy recreational boating activity in the daytime. Anglers should use caution when fishing at night.

Species Poor Fair Good Excellent
Largemouth Bass

*Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Camping, Waterfront Lodging, and Day Use Parks

We are not aware of any rental lodging on Lake Austin. The only campground on the lake is Emma Long Metropolitan Park which is a Texas Outside Favorite. Click here to read our review of Emma Long.

100_1255 100_1256

Ramps & Marinas

Walsh Landing, Mary Quinlan Park, 360 bridge, and Emma Long Park have ramps. Lake Austin Marina provides gas, ice, slips, and more

Texas Outside Rating of Lake Austin
Water Clarity: 
Water Conditions: 
Skiing & Board Conditions: 
Cruising & Touring: 
Restaurants & Bars: 
Safety Level: 
Lake Lodging & Camping: 
Texas Outside Rating of Lake Austin
(scale of 1 - 10)
Water Clarity:
Skiing & Board Conditions:
Crusing & Touring:
Restaurants & Bars:
Safety Level:
Lake Lodging & Camping:

More Pictures

100_1248 100_1291 100_1265

Texas Outside Lakes Rating Scale

Texas Outside rates lakes on a 1 to 10 scale based on:

  • Beauty: high scores are given for lots of trees, hills, or pretty houses
  • Water Clarity: if you’re standing in two feet of water and can’t see your toes or the water has a deep brown color, we’re talking a 1
  • Water Conditions:  rough water with waves over a foot (good for PWCs or surfing) due to consistent wind or boat wakes don’t rate high on our scale
  • Skiing & Board Conditions:  on the weekends if you can typically find a good cove or part of the lake with glass, we’re talking a 10
  • Beaches:  don’t you hate those beaches when you step into the water you sink in mud up to your knees and loose your flip-flops or it’s all slime and weeds or small rocks – if so, that’s a 1
  • Fun Scale: lakes scoring a 10 have fun restaurants and bars, great coves for raft ups or swimming, and fun rental toys
  • Cruising & Touring:  if you can cruise the lake and look at beautiful houses, nice marinas, pretty coves, or anything similar it will score high
  • Restaurants & Bars:  nothing better than cruising over and having some good food and listening to some great music on the deck of a fun restaurant – the ride back with smooth water and a fun moon is also pretty cool – we’re talking a 10
  • Safety Level: lakes with lots of wild and crazy jet skiers or fast cigarette boats will score low
  • Camping:  we’re looking for beautiful spacious sites right on the water with a nice sandy beach to swim and park the boat
  • Fishing:  the bigger the better and they have to be easy to hook


*Fishing information was provided with permission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife ( in 2006. Texas Parks and Wildlife does not endorse Texas Outside or information presented on ©Copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Texas Outside Newsletter

© 1996-2021 Texas Outside