This oppressive West Texas heat has us all wishing we could just run away to a breezy beachfront to sit, relax, and cool down. Now, if you're thinking you have to drive to Isa Blanca, Galveston, Rockport, or South Padre, I have news. Honestly, you could stay right here in Abilene and find that breezy beach.

It's more possible than you think. In Abilene, you'll find Johnson Park. In the greater Big Country, there are places like Clyde Lake, Lake Brownwood, and Lake Proctor. Around San Angelo and the Concho Valley, there's Lake Nasworthy or O.H. Ivie Lake.

While these are not genuine oceanfront beaches, they are still sandy areas adjacent to large bodies of water. Our local area lakes offer shaded areas for picnicking, barbecuing, and family gathering. Some have playground equipment as you'll see in the photos. If you are planning on visiting any of these places, please check in advance to see if any burn bans are in effect.

Many of our area lakes are free to enjoy. There are a few that will charge either by the person or the car load. For example, Clyde Lake is free to "Clyde city residents" and you must bring proof of residency. Non-residents will pay $2 per person, per day.

Most locations charge for camping, so make sure you reserve in advance and find out what amenities are available (bathrooms, covered pavilions, RV hook-ups, etc). Plan, prepare, and enjoy, but more importantly, stay cool.

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