Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding destinations in the Austin, TX area

Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is a great place for summer activities in Austin. | Photo by @event_nerdz/@smittea

Kayaking, canoeing + paddleboarding are great ways to explore the Austin area. These water sports also offer both physical and mental health benefits that extend far beyond a day on the water.

But before we dive in, let’s get a lay of the land (er, water). Check out these unique facts about our region:

  • There are 80,000 miles of rivers and streams across Texas. 
  • Texas has 23 river basins + seven major bays and estuaries.
  • A total of 31 aquifers supply ~60% of the state’s annual water usage.

Next, we should talk about paddling safety, so you don’t capsize:

  • Always wear a personal flotation device.
  • Start small. Water, especially flowing water, can be intimidating. First-timers should opt for a small lake, pond, or city canal. You don’t want to get in over your head.
  • Consider a guided adventure from Austin Paddle Shack before heading out on your own.
  • For a fully detailed list of dos + don’ts, check out this paddling safety guide.

And finally, here are a few local options for getting your feet wet:

  • Lady Bird Lake, downtown | Thankfully, Lady Bird Lake is within city limits, so you don’t have to go far to enjoy this popular spot. Rowing Dock ATX offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals.
  • Lake Austin, Capital of Texas Highway | 25-minute drive | Another convenient place (with less of a crowd) is Lake Austin. The views of the Hill Country from the lake are simply breathtaking. Paddleboard or kayak with Peace Paddling.
  • San Marcos River, central San Marcos | 40-minute drive | If you’re in the Austin area long enough, you’ll hear “let’s float the river.” In less than an hour, travel to San Marcos to relax on the river. BYOB + try a Crystal Kayak Glow Tour with Paddle SMTX.
  • Lake Bastrop, northeast Bastrop | ~50-minute drive | Kayak or canoe the short or long paddle trail with Bastrop River Co.