lake lbj at granite shoals

Texas boasts an abundance of lakes that might surpass your expectations. Many of these water bodies have been formed by damming rivers, transforming them into popular recreational destinations. Among these, Lake LBJ has held a special place in our family’s heart for quite some time. Through a family friend’s residence on the lake, we had the privilege of treating our two-year-old daughter to her inaugural speed boat adventure on the serene waters of Lake LBJ. In recent years, our family has rented VRBOs and made an annual trek to Lake LBJ each October.

Lake LBJ is short for Lake Lyndon B. Johnson. But it was first named Lake Granite Shoals. It is located northwest of Austin in Texas Hill Country. In 1950 the Granite Shoals Dam was constructed turning this arm of the Colorado River into a reservoir.

Boat dock with underwater fishing lights on Lake LBJ at night.

It has become a popular place for recreating on the water including boating, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing, SUPing and kayaking. The lake stays a fairly constant level due to water being released from the dam. Many lake houses that dot the shore have water slides, water trampolines and even pools. Most of the lake houses also have boat docks and lifts with upper decks for socializing or sunning.

The summers are hot and busy. We like to visit in the fall when there are not quite so many people and the weather is a little cooler.

Water slide fun off a boat dock on Lake LBJ.

There are many lake homes available for rent with waterfront views, making it an ideal family vacation destination. Vacation rentals can be found through VRBO, AirBnB and independent property management companies.

Where to Stay on Lake LBJ

Find a lakefront vacation home rental. There are variety of these available on all of the vacation home rental sites.

The Lake LBJ Yacht Club on Horseshoe Bay has cabin and cottage rentals.

Log Country Cove is another area on the Colorado arm of LBJ, with a variety of homes for rent. Some have pools, some are on the water. They are all a bit different. This may be one of the better spots for lakeside cabin rentals in Texas.

fishing on lake lbj
Early morning fishing on Lake LBJ.

One year had luck finding a lake home to rent through Front Desk Vacation Rentals. They also have a variety of homes from those with private pool and hot tubs that sleep 20+ people to a smaller more traditional lake home that we rented near the dam. We found it a great location as it was quiet and a calm area to take out the SUP and kayak, as well as fish.

Then the past three years, we have rented from Hill Country Stays a large home that we’ve shared with others that has a pool and hot tub, and it on the lake.

Lake LBJ is a fairly long lake and runs through the towns of Kingsland, Marble Falls and Granite Shoals, all in Burnet County. The town of Llano is also nearby and a great place for dining.

Kids loving being pulled on a tube on Lake LBJ.

What to Do at Lake LBJ

If you are making a trip to Lake LBJ, likely you are there to be on the water and relax. There’s good fishing. You can rent speed boats, pontoon boats, jet skis and more. Many lake houses come equipped with kayaks and paddle boards. We brought our own SUP and duckie. Many of the boat docks also have water slides or water trampolines. I spent some time just reading a book on top of the boat dock. You surely won’t run out of water fun.

But if you get a cold day, or just need a break from the water, there are a couple of fun state parks very nearby.

I spent several early mornings on Lake LBJ down at the boat dock enjoying my coffee to the sunrise, and the sounds of morning on the lake.

Longhorn Cavern State Park

At Longhorn Cavern State Park you can take a tour of the cave that has provided shelter since prehistoric times, and hear some interesting stories. One story that enthralled our kids was one that tells of Texas Rangers rescuing a kidnapped girl from Indians in the cave. Interestingly, in the 1920s, the main room of the cave served as a dance hall and concert venue.

Inks Lake State Park

This Texas State Park is home to Inks Lake with more boating options. Here you can also hike, geocache, camp and more.

There’s just something special about sunrise and sunset at lakeside cabins in Texas.

Where to Grocery Shop on Lake LBJ

In Texas grocery shopping is all about HEB and Central Market. Avoid Kingsland and drive just a few minutes further to Marble Falls. Here is where you’ll find Marble Falls Lake. But more importantly the Marble Falls HEB boasts an expansive wine selection and helpful workers. It is well worth a few minutes extra driving time.

Insider Tip: Avoid the HEB in Kingsland. It is crowded with a very limited selection of everything.

Where to Eat on Lake LBJ

When we visit Texas, eating TexMex and BBQ top of our list of things to do. There’s nothing better than a Texas margarita with chips and queso out on a patio. Fortunately there are a few good options in the Lake LBJ area.

The boat docks at Boat town on a quiet evening in October.

Boat Town

1538 RR 2900 or, 151 Melodie Lane, Kingsland, TX 78639 | (325) 762-7980

The location of Boat Town can’t be beat. There’s lots of dock space for boats to tie up while guests disembark for food and drink. The views are spectacular and there’s even a swing out on the water. Food is at a premium. But you are paying for the view.

Jardin Corona

301 Main St, Marble Falls, TX 78654 | (830) 693-0015

Texas should not be visited without eating some Tex Mex. Jardin Corona delivers. There’s a row of tables outside, perfect for dining with kids. And, in Octber the weather was great to sit out and enjoy Tex Mex and margaritas after a day on the lake.

Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

604 W Young St, Llano, TX 78643 | (325) 247-5713

This famous BBQ spot in an experience in and of itself. This no frills BBQ joint is know for its huge Pork Chops and moist brisket.

This is about a 30 minute drive from the Kingsland area where we stayed on Lake LBJ. So, it is not on the lake, but rather sits in Texas hill country near the Llano River.

BADU 1891

601 Bessemer Ave, Llano, TX 78643 | (325) 247-1891

This is a really unique date night experience at a historic landmark. We went with local friends and enjoyed the large outdoor patio. The menu combines Texas game with TexMex favorites. You can go simple with a burger, or fancy with a smoked elk tenderloin or duck schnitzel. The wine menu is good. But the margaritas are delicious.

Insider Tip: Llano is home to Sunrise Beach, a beautiful upscale village on Lake LBJ.

Ordering from the outdoor bar at Bill’s Burgers.

Bill’s Burgers Wings & Things

306 W Polk St, Burnet, TX 78611 | (512) 234-8216

Another no-frills dining experience, Bill’s Burgers serves up delicious greasy burgers, and some great wings too. There’s a patio area out back with picnic tables. The kids can run around, and dogs are even welcome.

Alfredo’s Mexican Restaurant

4139 W, Ranch Rd 1431, Kingsland, TX 78639 | (325) 388-0754

If you are staying in the Kingsland area, Alfredo’s serves up pretty good take-out TexMex. You can order fajitas, enchiladas, queso and more off of the regular menu. Or, they have take and bake style family entrees too.

Spyke’s Bar B Que

14601 Ranch Rd 1431, Kingsland, TX 78639 | (325) 388-6996

Spyke’s BBQ has a good take-out menu too. Quality Texas BBQ with good sides and extra large iced teas to go.

Texas is home of many fun lakes. Which have you visited. Like many of the others Lake LBJ has gained popularity. Real estate may have been easier to come by a decade ago. It is harder to find lakefront property for a reasonable price now. But that won’t stop us from renting a lake houses or cabins again here in the future.

Lake LBJ: Where to Stay, Play & Eat

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

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