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Your guide to Lake Travis
Welcome to Lake Travis
One of the Lone Star State’s most popular lake destinations, Lake Travis sprawls 20 miles northwest of Austin in the Texas Hill Country. Expect waterfront restaurants, renowned golf courses, and aquatic adventures on the 64-mile-long reservoir, which has 270 miles of shoreline. Ranches and open green space girdle it, along with four lively communities serving commuters to the state capitol. But visitors mostly gravitate toward the lake’s beauty and bustling social scene.
Cyclists, however, gear up for the undulating granite and limestone hills, part of a fractured plateau, blanketed by parklike open oak forests. World-class road-racers celebrate this terrain as among the world’s best places to ride. The Mansfield Dam Loop remains an especially popular road route: adrenalin seekers can hit speeds of 60 mph on the infamous Tumbleweed Hill. (Don’t worry, there’s a bypass for less gonzo cyclists!) Pump up your tires — and legs — early on weekend mornings to avoid heavy car traffic.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Lake Travis
The climate stays relatively moderate year-round, and Lake Travis never closes, except during extreme weather events. It boasts around 300 days of sunshine annually, and summer highs can creep into the mid-90s Fahrenheit. But don’t sweat the thermometer — Lake Travis averages 78 degrees throughout the year. And it also has 118.2 square miles of water to cool off in. That said, the humidity can get intense from June to August; the most popular months to book vacation rentals here are September to October and March to May.
June does bring the new Lake Travis Film Festival, however, with screenings in Lakeway and Bee Canyon. The area also makes a big splash with its Fourth of July fireworks. And visitors base themselves here for March’s SXSW, August’s Pride celebrations, and October’s City Limits Music Festival, all in Austin.
Top things to do in Lake Travis
Austin Moonlight Towers
A 19th-century criminal spurred the city to keep its residents safe by flooding its streets with light from 165-foot-tall towers. Today 13 of the 31 delicate original structures remain and are protected on the National Register of Historic Places. Visiting over the winter holidays? Don’t miss the Zilker Park tower’s transformation into one of the world’s largest Christmas trees.
Elisabet Ney Museum
Seventeen miles southeast of Lake Travis stands this tribute to a 19th-century German portrait sculptor. Elisabet Ney moved to Austin in 1882 and spent the rest of her life working in this museum, one of the state’s oldest. The limestone building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has some neoclassical elements, along with landscaping and wildflowers attractive to pollinators.
Windy Point Park
Shade trees and lush lawns make this lakeside oasis a favorite among picnickers. Surprisingly, it also ranks among Central Texas’s top scuba spots. Divers can explore boat wrecks and submerged sculptures ― and those with advanced certification can descend into a dramatic underwater canyon.