Our family camps a lot. Since moving to Texas almost 10 years ago, we’ve had the chance to try out many different campgrounds across the state. Today I’m sharing our favorite places to camp in Texas and some of the reasons why we loved our experiences there with our kids. I’ll keep this list of the best Texas camping spots updated in future years as we find new gems and have new Texas campground reviews to add, so you’ll definitely want to save and pin this post. While this post covers the best camping in Texas specifically, if you’re looking for more campground reviews outside of Texas, check out this post on campground reviews for California and Arizona, and all our camping reviews and resources here. I’ve also got some helpful family camping resource links at the end of this post.
Tips for camping in Texas with kids
Texas has a variety of different types of campgrounds. There are National Parks, Texas State Parks, LCRA Parks, and privately-owned parks, to name a few. With kids, you’ll find that Texas State Parks are great places to camp in Texas because of the Junior Ranger program. This program allows young campers to borrow gear and activities to help them get the most out of their camping experience and learn about the local terrain and wildlife, and often kids can earn a badge or pin for completing activities. With the state parks, it’s important to reserve them well in advance, as the prime spots book up quickly. We’ve also found several LCRA Parks to be some of the best Texas camping options. They tend not to book up as quickly (they are hidden gems), are reasonably priced, and well maintained.
When looking for places to camp in Texas, you have to make sure you’re considering weather conditions depending on the season you camp. In the summer, Texas is very hot and humid. We recommend cabins, Airstreams, RV, or shelter camping if possible during the summer to protect you from the elements and provide climate control if possible. Winters in Texas can be very unpredictable, ranging from freezing temps to lovely mild days (you’ve probably heard the saying “if you don’t like the weather in Texas wait five minutes”). Make sure to always plan for freezes if camping in Texas during the winter. Bring thermal sleeping bags and underwear, layered clothing, warm socks, gloves, and knit caps (see my ultimate camping packing list here). Our favorite times of year to camp in Texas are the spring and the fall, when the weather is much less humid and a bit more predictable. That being said, be mindful of camping in areas prone to flooding during the spring, as flash floods can be a real concern.
The best Texas camping sites
Here are the best places to camp in Texas that we’ve personally experienced and can vouch for, in alphabetical order. We will add to this list as we find more great spots.
Big Bend Ranch State Park (Presidio, TX). One of Texas’ quintessential camping spots is this gem in Southwest Texas. Big Bend Ranch prides itself on being rugged and relatively untouched, which gives you an incredibly unplugged feeling. Incredible stars from a lack of light pollution and geological wonders make Big Bend home of some of the best camping in Texas. For those that like primitive camping, I recommend reserving a spot in the Backcountry Zone, where you can’t camp within 1/4 mile of the next camper (giving you total privacy and solitude). Heads up – most of the roads in the state park are unpaved, with a vast majority of them being rocky. But don’t be deterred – there are accessible camping options if you book well in advance for those seeking a less primitive experience. Click here to read my full review and recommendations for Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Buescher State Park (Smithville, TX). Not far from Austin in Central Texas is the hidden gem of Buescher State Park. We have camped here a few times and would happily camp there again. There are plenty of shaded campsites and easy hiking options, including geocaching if that is something your family likes to do. You can also fish and paddle in the lake.
Canyon of the Eagles (Burnet, TX). Not the cheapest of the places to camp in Texas, but you definitely get the bang for your extra buck at Canyon of the Eagles. In addition to great starry views (the Austin Astronomical Society hosts some of their monthly Star Parties here), the camp (or “nature-based resort,” as they call it) has an on-site Naturalist that leads tours and hands-on demonstrations about the local flora and fauna, there are daily crafts for the kids, music in the evening, and more. You might even be lucky enough to spot a Bald Eagle here, though we have not been so lucky the two times we’ve camped at Canyon of the Eagles. The tent camping sites do not have water or electric, but there are options to rent cabins if you prefer more of a glamping experience.
Colorado Bend State Park (Bend, TX). Located in the Texas Hill Country, Colorado Bend boasts the ability to enjoy time in the unspoiled wilderness. Hiking, cave exploring, waterfalls, swimming, and lots of peace and quiet are big perks to camping here. Note that sites have water but no electric… and you won’t need to charge your electronics anyway since there is little to no cell service in the park.
Garner State Park (Concan, TX). Trips to Garner State Park on the Frio River have been an annual tradition for many Texas families for generations. Now that I have visited for the past two years, I can see why. Beautiful Hill Country views, family-friendly hikes, a refreshing swim in the Frio River, and even nightly dances during the summer puts this park towards the top of our list of the best places to camp in Texas. Click here to read more about my recommendations for Garner State Park and the surrounding area.
Guadalupe River State Park (Spring Branch, TX). If you and your kids love to swim, this state park should be high on your list of places to camp in Texas. Guadalupe River State Park has gorgeous swimming holes, but that’s not all. Miles of hike, bike, and horseback riding trails, stellar birdwatching, and an on-site Discovery Center are park perks aside from the great swimming. They will even loan you fishing gear to use inside the park.
Inks Lake State Park (Burnet, TX). At Inks Lake you can kayak, swim, and if you’re daring enough, jump off the rocks at Devil’s Waterhole (which is also a really nice space to swim). The park is also close to the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, a natural habitat that protects more than 245+ birds, including the highly endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler. Balcones Canyonlands is free to enter and offers educational tours around the park and tons of hiking trails. Note: Because it is considered to be one of the best places to camp in Texas, campsites at Inks Lake book up months in advance, so plan ahead for this one.
Lake Bastrop North Shore Park (Bastrop, TX). A well-maintained and quiet LCRA park, we found a hidden gem with Lake Bastrop North Shore Park. While we love (and don’t usually mind) tent camping, the problem is that it is HOT in Texas during the summer. Lake Bastrop North Shore Park is a dream come true for Texas summer camping, as they have air conditioned Airstreams available to reserve for more of a “glamping” experience. At this park you can spend the day swimming in the lake, fishing, making s’mores, playing volleyball, and generally enjoying nature. Tent and RV camping are also options at this park.
Lake Somerville State Park (Ledbetter, TX). If you love hiking and nature walks, this park between Austin and Houston is an ideal place to camp in Texas, with about 40 miles of trails! In addition to hiking, biking, and horseback riding, there are opportunities for swimming, fishing, birding, geocaching, and outdoor games like volleyball and horseshoes at Lake Somerville.
Lake Whitney State Park (Whitney, TX). Another of our personal favorite places to camp in Texas is Lake Whitney, which branches off the Brazos River. It’s easily accessible from the DFW or Waco areas, yet such a serene getaway from the big city. You can see a lot of wildlife at the park, and birders will be especially delighted, as over 200 different species of birds have been spotted in the park. In the spring, Lake Whitney State Park takes on the beautiful colors of all the lovely Texas wildflowers.
McKinney Falls State Park (Austin, TX). It is possible to find natural beauty inside the Austin City Limits… McKinney Falls, just 13 miles from the capitol in downtown, is the prime example of this. If you need an easy camping getaway from Central Texas, add this one to your list of places to camp in Texas. The campsites are all equipped with water and electric, and the park has hiking, swimming, and fishing. One of the best features of the park is the rugged beauty of the falls rushing over limestone rocks.
Meridian State Park (Meridian, TX). 50 miles north of Waco, with options ranging from primitive, to full hookup, to shelters and cabins, there’s something for all camping styles at Meridian. The park offers swimming and birding (you can try to see one of the famed endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers here), but our favorite thing about this park is the hiking. On one of the trails (the Bosque Hiking Trail) you can see fossils in the limestone! Meridian State Park is one of the best Texas camping spots for this reason. Speaking of fossils, there are many cool opportunities for prehistoric explorations nearby, like Dinosaur Valley State Park, Fossil Rim, and the Waco Mammoth National Monument, which I highly recommend visiting for a day trip from Meridian.
Mustang Island State Park (Corpus Christi, TX). One of the only options for beachfront camping in Texas is Mustang Island near Port Aransas on the Gulf. If you want to spend your days swimming and soaking up the sun and breeze on the Texas Gulf Coast, this is one of the best places to camp in Texas.
Pedernales Falls State Park (Johnson City, TX). You can do it all at this state park, and it’s only 30 miles from Austin! Because of that, it’s a very popular spot for camping. If you want to snag one of the non-primitive campsites, plan to reserve your trip early. The unique geology of this park make it a sight to see, and the native plant and animal life will make you feel like you’re one with the prehistoric settlers who once lived in the area.
Russell Park (Georgetown, TX). This park is a super quick getaway from the Austin area that also doesn’t require booking too far in advance. Water recreation is where it’s at in this Georgetown park. Great swimming, boating, and fishing can be done here.
Shaffer Bend Recreation Area (Marble Falls, TX). Located near Inks Lake State Park and the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Shaffer Bend is a perfect place to camp in Texas if you can’t get a reservation at Inks Lake or want a less-crowded option. Shaffer Bend is a quiet campground, and campsites are nicely spaced apart. The swimming is phenomenal at this park; we had a BLAST swimming in the clean, calm water and hanging out on the sandy beaches near our campsite. I highly recommend Shaffer Bend Recreation Area for families with kids. There is enough nature right there in the park for them to explore to keep them occupied without any screentime, plus the options to visit Inks Lake and Balcones Canyonlands. I also recommend checking out the nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park for a day trip while you’re here. Click here to read my full review and recommendations for Shaffer Bend Recreation Area.
More Camping Resources from Fab Everyday:
- The Only Camping Packing List You’ll Ever Need
- Fab Everyday Camping Packing Tips: Organized Camping Supply Box
- Creative S’more Ideas: 15+ Alternative S’mores Recipes
- Outdoor Cooking Recipe: Camping Pasta with Clam Sauce
- Cool Camper – Camping Fashion Inspiration
- DIY Kid’s Camping and Outdoor Safety Necklace Craft
- Kid’s camping craft idea: Leaf Rubbing Tree (easy toilet paper roll craft)
- Outdoor Children’s Activity: Go on a Nature Hunt!