Houston goes by a lot of nicknames, like Space City or Bayou City, but it’s not often referred to as a great city for paddling. However, with sunny summers and several accessible bodies of water nearby, you can actually find fantastic places to go stand up paddle boarding in Houston and its surroundings.
While stand up paddle boarding might seem like an unconventional activity for Houston’s giant sprawl, we’ve compiled this guide to 8 of the best places to go stand up paddle boarding in Houston.
Places to Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Houston
1. Buffalo Bayou
For a quintessential stand up paddle boarding experience, Buffalo Bayou is a must-see spot. If you’re looking for an opportunity to go stand up paddle boarding with views of Houston’s skyline, Buffalo Bayou is virtually the only place. This central waterway runs through the main areas of the city, and is one of the most picturesque and accessible places to go stand up paddle boarding in Houston.
On Buffalo Bayou, you can paddle by views of the downtown Houston skyline, under industrial bridges, and through the city’s most vivid green spaces. You’ll pass by the city’s iconic Buffalo Bayou Park and soak in the city views for miles. To get started, you can rent a stand up paddle board from Bayou City Adventures at the new Lost Lake Visitor Center. They provide hourly and daily rentals, as well as guided excursions, tours, and lessons.
- Address: 3422 Allen Pkwy, Houston, TX 77019
2. Lake 288
Located south of Houston’s city center, 288 Lake is a small, spring-fed lake with clear water and tranquil surroundings. Known best for being a hotspot for triathlon swimmers, it’s also a peaceful place to go stand up paddle boarding in Houston if you’re seeking cool, clean water and a peaceful vibe. Be sure to bring sunscreen, as 288 Lake doesn’t have much shade.
Note that there’s a fee to enter 288 Lake ($15 per person per day), and you can rent a stand up paddle board at the lake starting at $15 per hour.
- Address: 4800 Schurmier Rd, Houston, TX 77048
3. Lake Conroe
Lake Conroe is Houston’s most popular lakeside getaway, and it’s a perfect short trip to go stand up paddle boarding for a few hours. The lake is 21,000 acres, and is full of people in pontoon boats, jet skis, paddle boards, and more. Boasting plenty of docks and green spaces along its shores, Lake Conroe a lovely place to escape the downtown area and soak up the summer sun. We’ll admit it – Lake Conroe isn’t quite within Houston city limits, but it’s a very easy day trip that’s popular among Houston locals!
Don’t forget sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat, since there isn’t much shade above the lake. Additionally, be careful paddling on especially crowded days, as there are often people speeding around on motor boats and jetskis.
In the Lake Conroe area, there are a few places to rent a stand up paddle board if you don’t have your own. Paddle board rentals at 1097 Watersports start at $22 per hour.
- Address: 12947 Lake Conroe Hills Dr Suite B, Willis, TX 77318
4. The Woodlands
Situated on the north side of Houston, the Woodlands is a suburb of the city that’s home to a large lake area surrounded by various waterways and tributaries. Because there aren’t tides or crazy currents, it’s a perfect beginner-friendly spot for stand up paddle boarding in Houston!
Like its name suggests, the Woodlands is full of neighborhoods, parks, and green, wooded areas. Because it’s not too far from Houston, it’s a great way to leave the city without going too remote, and it’s a very easily accessible Houston paddling spot.
There are two places to rent stand up paddle boards on the waterfront in The Woodlands – Lakes Edge Boathouse and Riva Row Boathouse. Rentals start at just $20 for the first hour, plus $5 for each additional hour – some of the cheapest Houston stand up paddle board rentals available!
- Lakes Edge Boathouse – Address: 1970 Hughes Landing Blvd, The Woodlands, TX 77380
- Riva Row Boathouse – Address: 2101 Riva Row, The Woodlands, TX 77380
5. Kemah Boardwalk/Clear Lake
Kemah is on eastern side of Houston by the bay, and is most famous for its buzzing boardwalk that has tons of rides, shops, and restaurants. Many locals go there with their friends or families to enjoy a nice meal and watch the sunset over the water. However, one thing that locals don’t know is that Kemah is also an excellent place to go stand up paddle boarding in Houston. With several bay areas and inlets to explore, it’s a paddler’s paradise, and there’s enough to see and do there to fill several hours.
In Kemah, you can rent a stand up paddle board from nearby Kayak Shack, which offers rentals starting at $25 an hour. They also offer guided tours of the area – two of the most fun ones are their Friday night fireworks tour and their sunset tour (offered on kayak and SUP).
- Address: 622 Marina Bay Dr, Kemah, TX 77565
Not far from Kemah lies Seabrook, which is close to NASA, the bay, and a charming residential area called Taylor Lake. For a fun and peaceful Houston paddle boarding experience, you can hit the waters near Taylor Lake and paddle around for hours. For extra fun, pair your Seabrook stand up paddle boarding adventure with a trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
You can rent a stand up paddle board near Taylor Lake at Pinky’s Kayak Rentals. Rentals start at $25 per hour and cost less the more hours you rent for. Pinky’s also has SUP Yoga and guided group offerings if you’re interested in trying something new and different on your paddle board!
- Address: 4106 E NASA Pkwy #1, El Lago, TX 77586
Map of Houston Stand Up Paddle Boarding Spots
Places to Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding Near Houston
Galveston is an island located off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s a common spot for Houstonians to spend a day or a weekend when they want to be closer to the water. With all of the waterways in the area, Galveston is another perfect spot to go stand up paddle boarding near Houston.
The most obvious place to start is at the beach, where there is tons of open water to paddle on. However, when there’s a lot of wind or strong currents, it can be a really tough workout to paddle on the open gulf water. Aside from the beach, there are several places to paddle in Galveston through its many inlets and channels, which typically have calmer water and are more beginner-friendly.
To rent a stand up paddle board, you have several choices. SUP Gulf Coast offers paddle board rentals, guided tours, classes, and more on Galveston Island. You must make a reservation on their website in advance.
8. San Marcos River
No list of places to go stand up paddle boarding near Houston would be complete without a section on the San Marcos River. Located between Houston and Austin, this Texas waterway is one of the most beloved recreation areas in the state. It’s got lots of shady areas, a few small rapids, and plenty of beautiful nature views.
You’ll find clean water and plenty of fellow paddlers along the San Marcos River, especially in the summer, when Texans come ready to hit the cool waters. Here, it’s best to go on a guided stand up paddle boarding tour to get the most out of your experience. Paddle SMTX offers incredible SUP Glow Night Tours and Sunset River Tours that include rentals and some free time to explore on your own. Check out their website to learn more.
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