Austin, Texas has plenty of fantastic spots to spend your free time during the summer, but few others can rival the popularity and variety found in Lake Travis. Aside from being a gorgeous body of water, Lake Travis is the site of numerous recreational activities, dining options, sightseeing spots and entertainment.
The lake itself is massive, measuring in at an impressive 63.75 miles long. It has 271 miles of shoreline, more than half of the length of Rhode Island’s coastline. It’s no wonder why the lake is often referred to as the “Crown Jewel” of the highland lakes, covering a whopping 18,929 acres.
Lake Travis is a manmade reservoir, constructed in 1942 in a herculean effort to contain floodwaters and protect the Austin area from natural disasters from flash flooding. In fact, the lake is capable of managing a water level difference of 100 feet, from minimum to maximum water change. This is massively important during the flood season, acting as a barrier between the residents of the Austin area and the forces of nature brought upon by the mighty Lower Colorado River.
Living in Central Texas means that a trip to the ocean is a pretty big commitment. Fortunately for the residents of Austin and other local counties, Lake Travis’ luminescent blue waters offer a solution for those of us who are naturally drawn to large bodies of water. Read on to discover what else this majestic lake has to offer.
Lake Travis provides opportunities for people of all ages. Whether you are looking for relaxation or high octane experiences, Lake Travis delivers.
There are plenty of places you can find a great deal on boat rentals on Lake Travis. You can find rentals for watercraft varying from jet skis to yachts, depending on what kind of day you have in mind.
Zip around on a personal jet ski for a day and explore the largest lake on the Lower Colorado River. Link up with a group of friends or take on the day solo.
More interested in having a party? Look no further than the fleet of party boats found all along the banks of Lake Travis. By reserving a party barge you and your friends can relax on the lake, enjoy the views and watch the sun go down over the water. These chartered cruises can accommodate between 30 and 100 guests, depending on which company you book your outing with.
Looking for something a bit more extravagant? Check out the number of premier yacht rentals available on Lake Travis. These companies almost always provide chartered yacht rentals, so all you have to worry about is having a great time. The driving, docking, anchoring and everything else is taken care of.
Lake Travis Zipline Adventures:
With five zip lines scattered throughout the park, Lake Travis Zipline Adventures is a great way to spend an afternoon with friends or family. Even better, they hold the record for the longest zipline in the state of Texas—a whopping 2,800 feet long!
The circuit of ziplines provides breathtaking views of the lake. Waiting between each zip, you can even take a moment to take in the view…and catch your breath. All told, the ziplines add up to an impressive one mile. The zipline tour packages include everything you need for a successful outing, including equipment, boat transportation water and a trail snack. The tour is led by a professionally trained tour guide who will also offer educational moments throughout the day.
The final zipline, the 2,800 foot adrenaline inducing drop over Lake Travis, is a great way to end the adventure. If you’re deathly afraid of heights, you may not want to look down because this final zip has you propelling off a 20 story cliff!
Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center:
This excursion is a few miles away from the lake itself, but the natural beauty of the nature preserve is well worth the drive. With ecological diversity rarely seen in Texas, Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is located on 75 acres of pristine land, complete with carefully tailored educational programs and an environmental center.
The visitor’s center was constructed to be a model of sustainability, implementing eco-friendly designs such as ground source climate control, solar panels and rainwater collection systems. Inside folks can find a number of terrific exhibits like the Solar Observatory, Geology Learning Wall, Water Cycle Exhibit, Weather Cycle Exhibit and much more. Some might even consider the natural surroundings to be just as educational as the learning center, but that’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself…
This special place has been open to the public since 1976, and has only grown in popularity in the years since. Some of the major attractions in this preserve are the awe inspiring forty foot waterfall and the short walk from an arid savannah into the spectacular grotto. There is also a cave which has been carved into the surrounding rock wall which guests can venture into and explore.
Regardless of whether you are eating in one of the most highly rated restaurants or enjoying a casual lakeside meal, few backdrops add more to the ambiance than direct waterside views. The shores of Lake Travis are dotted with restaurants of all types and sizes, giving visitors a taste of nearly every type of cuisine.
The Oasis on Lake Travis:
One of the most scenic dining options, not just on Lake Travis but in Travis County as a whole, would have to be The Oasis on Lake Travis restaurant. Overlooking the lake, this popular spot is perched 450 feet above the lake, balanced on the natural bluffs that make up many miles of the lake’s coast.
The Oasis on Lake Travis also holds the honor of being the largest outdoor restaurant in the entire state of Texas, providing plenty of space for hungry customers clamoring for a scenic experience. In fact, The Oasis can hold an impressive 2,500 diners.
Known for much more than just pretty views and great food, The Oasis also serves as a venue for live music. Inside, customers can find musicians entertaining onstage in the Starlight Terrace. If you prefer to sit outdoors, there is also live music in Beau’s Backyard.
An evening at The Oasis on Lake Travis wouldn’t be complete without a clear view of a Texas sunset, even garnering the name of “The Sunset Capital of Texas” because of how many people flock to this location to see the sky change colors as the sun dips behind the horizon.
Here’s a fun place for families to get away and cool off during the days in which the Texas sun continues to beat down over our heads. Beachside Billy’s is more than just a restaurant. In fact, this unique location’s full name is Beachside Billy’s Lake Travis Restaurant & Water Park at Volente Beach Resort.
Here, adults and children alike can find respite in the cool waters provided by Beachside Billy’s. Featuring a sandy beachfront on Lake Travis, an adult only pool (complete with swim up tiki bar) and plenty of kid oriented splash pads, play areas, rides and much more, it shouldn’t be hard to get both the kids and adults in agreement to spend a day at Beachside Billy’s.
But of course, you can work up quite an appetite after playing and swimming all day. When that happens, be sure to stop over at the Beachside Billy’s restaurant. Highly rated by locals and residents alike, this restaurant serves up fresh seafood, steak, burgers and more.
Even better? This particular place even has boat access so you can pull up right from the lake. It doesn’t get much better than that…
Canyon Grille Rough Hollow:
Scenery. Fine food. Casual atmosphere.
There’s not much more to ask for from a lakeside restaurant, and yet Canyon Grille continues to go above and beyond to deliver even more. With a choice between the outdoor patio or indoor dining room, you can pick your experience. The outdoor patio sits just above the Rough Hollow Yacht club, and in the background you can see the larger setting of Lake Travis.
Ranging from burgers and sandwiches, Tex-Mex platters and specialty dishes, Canyon Grille has a menu that is sure to please any hungry patron. Reasonably priced and carefully crafted, these menu items combine perfectly with the beautiful natural setting to create a memorable dining experience. As the sun begins to set and the shadows of the nearby hills stretch on the waters of the lake, all you have left to do is sit back, relax and eat.
We’ve covered a lot here. Hopefully this gives you a great place to start when you’re looking for activities to keep you busy and where to grab a bite to eat once you work up an appetite. The wonderful thing about Lake Travis, however, is that there is still more to share!
Next time we’ll show you the best places for sightseeing around the lake, as well as some popular local entertainment venues. If you can believe it, there are still plenty of things we have yet to show you.