Kid Friendly Lakes

Would you like some kid friendly lakes in the Southwest U.S. to visit, and some ideas for what to do there? Families always want activities for quality time together. We've been to some, and also scoped out more to help you out.

In the southwest states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. That's our focus, where we travel.

We also have ideas for you to consider. For what activities to involve your kids with, when you visit a lake. Come on in, and choose your preference, or just scroll on down!

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Things to Do at Lakes With Kids

Looking around, there are really fun lakes for kids. Children usually like active things, getting animals involved, & things to do at lakes that are fun in the water. Specific ideas:


Kid Friendly Lakes for Animal Encounters

  • Is your child interested in learning to fish? That's a learning experience: from getting a license, knowing the laws, the fish to catch (or return to their habitat & why) & how, the equipment to use. What else can you think of?
  1. Many lakes throughout the Southwest sponsor Free Kids Fishing Days
  • Take the kiddos to lake parks that have towers or blinds where they can scout out wild horses, or birds
  • Educational display trails at lakes explain wildlife seen in that lake's environment. Have a walk to read them together. Then try to spot animals. That's some nice family time!
  • Horseback riding at lakeside riding trails is loved by many children. Check nearby horse rental corrals. Some may specialize in kids' trail-rides.
father and son on a horseback ride by a lake is one thing for kids to do at lakeside

Lake Park Playgrounds for Kids

Lots of lakeside parks include playgrounds for kids. Seems pretty obvious, yet there are unique styles worth checking.

  • Some are including miniature golf, which kids usually love. It suits them really well. A newer rage is disc golf. You can find some lakeside parks with that option too. Usually the older youth will handle that better.
Young girl at miniature golf course, 7th hole, considering her shot angle so it doesn't end up in a lake!Some Lake Parks Have Miniature Golf
Kids Usually Love This!
  • Organizations sometimes sponsor events at playgrounds. They bring in inflatables for fun lake-side activities. Watch for local city lakeside park announcements.
  • Lakeside playgrounds are beginning to appear that feature many exceptionally unique things for kids to do. In particular, they have ADA included, like this One In Arizona>
  • Some kid friendly lake parks with playgrounds include skateboarding, skating rinks or ponds for winter ice-skating. Yes, even things to do at some lakes in the winter time!

Lakes for Kid Friendly Camping

Many kids love camping.

We always took our kids on camping trips. Sometimes it provided an economical vacation to a fabulous place they wanted to go - Like Disney World!

Our son loved the campground style, our daughter not so much. As adults today, that same trend continued on!

But they had that childhood family experience. And sometimes brought friends along, too.

Many lakes have campgrounds. What will the lake include in that experience that makes the campground kid friendly?

artwork of a mother, father, son and daughter by their tent in a campground on a sunny day
  • Hiking on trails. Many are lakeside. Kids can interact with anything happening on/along the water. With oversight & input from parents, friends or other supervising adults. No rush, go at their leisure.
  • Some lakeside campgrounds sponsor evening movies, usually held outdoors. Kids are well-entertained with subjects to their liking. Watch your lake's line-up, & get the kids involved in the choices.
  • Many campgrounds sponsor events geared to kids. Programs can be interactive, to get the young ones involved. Texas is really good, with kids' programs.

Magical & Ideal Kid Friendly Lakes


CALIFORNIA KID FRIENDLY LAKES

Hume Lake Recreation Area - In Sequoia/Kings Canyon. From Fresno, take CA-180E, pass Princess Campground, take right turn-off to Hume Lake Road.

  • Take the kids boating. Rentals available: canoes, kayaks, etc. Nice because only non-motorized allowed in this 87-acre lake. 
  • Take a 4x4 tour. Try paintball. Go mountain biking. 
  • Or swim at the beach by Sandy Cove Day Use Area. 
  • Check out Ponderosa ropes course nearby. 
  • An interpretive lakeside trail is entertaining.2

Lake Siskiyou - Accessed from I-5 Exit738, take West Lake Rd. to Hatchery Lane, left on S.Old Stage Rd., bear right onto W. A Bar Rd. to the lake.

  • Beaches on both lake sides for fun swimming. 
  • Easy kid-style trail circles the lake. Except Sacramento River bridge crossing only open June through Sept.3 
  • Stay in resort campground or cabins, with beach Splash Zone for kids.

Lake Tahoe - Summer or winter, the place to go! Adults with kids: find many things to do around Lake Tahoe!

father and daughter bundled up in their winter ski wear, holding their skis, at the Squaw Valley Ski Slope in the Lake Tahoe area in winter with snow all aroundLake Tahoe Area Skiing Gets Kids Smiling!
Lots of Kid Friendly Winter Action Around
  • Ski Resorts - Open year-round. Of course winter activities: slopes (including for kids). But summers they want you back. The ski lifts open for the vistas, & extend outwards. As at the Gondola, in Heavenly Village Center. They have an ice rink, miniature golf & regular events.
Kids can ride in two gondola cars setting out on their wired tracks in the mountainsEven in Summer Kids Can Ride in a Gondola
Is That Fun, or What?
  • On the Lake - Boating or swimming, it's gorgeous! Water sport rentals throughout the area. 
  1. Sand Harbor, in North Tahoe - the water stays shallow out aways, with a sandy shore. Great for kids! Nearby boulders good for jumping into deeper water for older ones. 
  2. Pope Beach, South Tahoe, another roomy, sandy beach with shallow water for tots. 
  3. Lester Beach in D.L.Bliss State Park is highly favored for quality sand & shady sheltered shore. 
  4. Meek's Bay Resort, a parents' favorite for kids. With picnic tables, restaurant, beautiful beach & wind protection.4
  5. Take them for a Tahoe Cruise! Let them see history while having fun on a paddle boat!
Lake Tahoe sandy beach
Paddleboat cruising across Lake Tahoe.

Other Local Lake Tahoe Activities - Plenty of hiking to be had, evaluate trails per the needs of youngsters' ages/abilities.

  • How about horseback riding or mountain biking? Bring your own or rent locally. 
  • Find nearby rope climbing & zipline venues too!

TEXAS

Lake Travis5 - We loved staying in this area. Huge, long, winding lake in Austin vicinity.

  • Boating, all kinds of water sports, fishing & swimming. But that's not all! Kids will love this lake.
lake travis has a tree-lined, hilly shore in some areasLake Travis Presents Tons of Refreshing Opportunities for Fun
  • Camping at Camp Creek Park, Shaffer Bend, Grelle Recreation Area, Turkey Bend, Muleshoe Bend, Tatum Cove, Collier Cove, Arkansas Bend, Mansfield Dam Park, Sandy Creek, or Cypress Creek. Take your choice, or let your kids pick out the one that suits them.
  • Picnicking day areas at most campgrounds. Let the kids help prepare the food. 
  1. Picnics are the Lake Travis thing to do here: Narrows Recreation Area, Gloster Bend, Dink Pearson Park, Bob Wentz at Windy Point & Hippie Hollow.
  • A bunch of kid friendly lake fun is found throughout Lake Travis. 
  1. For example: Zipline Adventures, Volente Beach Waterpark, Texas Paintball, Lake Travis Water Tours, or Waterloo Adventures Waterpark.
A tree bends over an inlet off larger Inks Lake with tree-lined shoresInks Lake

Inks Lake State Park - Great way to see this lake. Plus the absolutely best kid friendly lake, with fun stuff to do. A Hill Country delight! And family-friendly budget. Tons of campsites, plus cabins.

What can kids do here?

  • Fishing - Borrow tackle right there & fish from piers or shore, even without a license.
  • Swimming - But no lifeguards, so use caution. Large inlet area restricted to no-wake, & swimming for kids is ideally shallow around the Day Use area. 
  1. Older ones might like Devil's Waterhole, where people jump from rock cliffs. Remember: At Your Own Risk. Caution teens it's a danger, & never dive. After checking water depth, jump feet first.
  • Ranger Programs - For kids to take part in nature walks, geology hikes, canoe tours & more. 
  1. Kids: join the Junior Ranger Program - how cool is that!
  • Nearby Road Trips - Take the kids to see the Inks Dam Fish Hatchery, or Longhorn Cavern.

ARIZONA

Dobson Ranch Park - In Mesa, off I-10 Exit 157. Enormous playground with wide range of experiences for all children, of all ages.

  • From zip lines to music play, to assorted good ole swings. 
  • Add in picnic areas & so much more!

KIDS HAVE LOTS OF FUN AT DOBSON RANCH PARK!


UTAH / COLORADO

Dinosaur National Monument - Covering Utah & Colorado also.

  • Though not on a lake it's along the Yampa & Green Rivers. Their confluence is called Echo Park. 
  • A lake was considered, which would have flooded Echo Park. People took action & the dam was stopped. 
  • Now, what a terrific place for kids, with dinosaur fossils & the Junior Ranger Program. 
  • Fabulous campgrounds, visitor center, trails, overlooks & more!

NEVADA

Carson City Area Kid Friendly Lakes

If you'll be in Nevada's capital, there's a couple kid friendly lake areas to scout out. Since Nevada Lakes are around, but not the most abundant as some other states, it's good when we find some gems!

Check on these kid friendly lakes and river-side activities around here!

Washoe Lake State Park - Bring your bicycles to pedal the fabulous paved bike path in this scenic, kid friendly lake park.

  • Day use or overnight camping. 
  • There's a lakeside "Beach Stroll", plus a "Dune Trek" to enjoy the outdoors with the kids. 
  • From town, take I-580N, Exit 10, Eastlake Blvd. 775-687-4319

Carson River Parks1 - Although not on lakes, these river parks will get you some watery aura that adults need for its natural calm. And of course kids need for fun activities.

  • RIVERVIEW PARK - Travel all the way East on Fifth St.
  1. For this 109 acre wetlands adjacent to Carson River. 
  2. There's picnic tables, paved/unpaved trails. Ideal for taking strollers & riding bicycles.
  • CARSON RIVER PARK - With 40 acres. 
  1. You can fish, boat, hike, picnic, bring your horse. 
  2. Inviting grassy area & lots of cooling shade trees.

NEW MEXICO

a boardwalk in wooded area with a quote from Aldo Leopold: a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Aldo Leopold Forest6 - In Albuquerque. Named for this "Father of Modern Wildlife Ecology." He spent time here in "ABQ" & in AZ with the US Forest Service. He was "glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in."

  • Fabulous Interpretive Trail for a learning experience with kids showing their importance of nature appreciation. Accessed from...
  1. Rio Grande Nature Center State Park - With the kids, view the wildlife ponds from indoors or the outside viewing area. 
  2. $3 Day Use fee per car/family. 
  3. From I-40 Exit 147A, go North on Rio Grande Blvd.NW, then left on Candelaria Rd.NW. 

OKLAHOMA

OKLAHOMA CITY - This large metro area provides some nice kid friendly lakes:

  • Lake Arcadia7 - Northeast of town & I-44/I-35 intersection, a couple of kid friendly lake attractions here. 
  1. Spring Creek Park has camping, plus swimming, boating, trails, etc. 
  2. Playground & Disc Golf are fun for kids. 
  3. Planning for Oct.? Storybook Forest is a must! 
  4. Central State Park at the north end. Camping (some utilities) or Day Use here. Take the kids swimming, fishing, boating, or hiking. Then to the playground.
  • Lake Overholser - Three parks abut this kid friendly lake, with much to attract little ones. The North Canadian River, south end, is dammed. 
  1. After a playground jaunt, you can explain how that works, creating a lake. 
  2. A skate court, amphitheater & historic dedication are in Rt.66 Park is on the west side. 
  3. The northeast side flows into the Stitchcomb Wildlife Refuge
  4. If your kids saw this happen, they'd laugh like crazy!! - - -

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See References For Kid Friendly Lakes>

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