5 Houston-area swimming spots you should visit

By Cathy Hernandez - Reporter

HOUSTON - It can be tough to get a break from the Houston heat when you're outside. However, there are some pretty great places to take a swim in the area.

If you and your family want to take a dive, but don't want to face a long drive, crowds and traffic, here’s a list of places that you should check out.

Sylvan Beach

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Located in La Porte along Galveston Bay, Sylvan Beach is only a short 30-minute drive from Downtown Houston.

In addition to enjoying the beaches, Sylvan Beach offers a skate park, boat ramp, fishing pier, picnic area and playground for children.

It's open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and admission and parking are free.

Large crowds flock here on the weekends, and especially holidays, so park officials recommend families come early.

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Lake Conroe Park

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Located in Montgomery, Lake Conroe Park is an hour north of the city on Interstate 45, on the southeast side of Lake Conroe.

Families can take advantage of the fresh-water swimming, sand volleyball, a picnic area and fishing.

It’s open from Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission is $2 a person.

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Twin Lakes

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Twin lakes RV Park on Highway 6 in Manvel is just 22 miles south of downtown Houston.

Spanning 25 acres, Twin Lakes is known as a training spot for scuba divers, but families can take a swim, enjoy a picnic or throw in a pole for fishing.

It's open Tuesday through Friday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on the weekends from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The park is closed on Mondays.

Admission is $10 a person.

The owner encourages families to come prepared.

“We’d actually recommend that you bring your own floats and a life jacket -- the water’s deep,” said owner Mike Ponstingel.

The park does rent life jackets for $10.

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Raven Lake

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Raven Lake, which is 210 acres, is located in Huntsville State Park, where families can swim, camp and fish. They can also rent a canoe, paddleboat or kayak.

People 13 years and older pay $7 to get inside the park, which is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Campsites vary in price.

Because it gets very busy, park officials recommend people make a reservation online for the day or overnight camping before they arrive at the park.

About 8,000 people visited the park during the July 4th weekend and nearly 10,000 people visited during the Memorial Day weekend.

"Huntsville State Park offers opportunities for all people," park superintendent Kody Waters said. "It gives everyone an opportunity to get outside and enjoy time with friends, family, or just time alone to unplug from the daily grind."

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Quintana Beach County Park

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Families can enjoy 52 acres at Quintana Beach County Park in Brazoria County, open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

The sandy beach along the Gulf Coast is the biggest draw for families, without a lot of worries.

“It’s a pedestrian-only beach, so if you come out here with your family, with young kids, you don’t have to worry about the cars driving up and down the beach,” parks interpreter Mike Mullenweg said.

In addition to swimming, the park offers RV campsites, cabins, picnic tables, volleyball and a playground.

It costs $5 a car during the summer weekends. At other times, admission is free.

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