Lago Vista is a north shore community on Lake Travis, which is on the northern cusp of the Hill Country. With a population of about 9,400, it’s the second-largest city on the lake (second only to Lakeway). Like its fellow communities, Lago Vista has an economy tied to tourism and recreation, which inspired their town motto, “Live like you’re on vacation.” We’d like to take a moment to take a look at this thriving community’s history.

Bountiful hunting, and rich farming land fed by the Colorado River, has attracted people here for centuries, and its human history dates back over 10,000 years. In 1983, the remains of a woman were found in Leander, 15 miles northeast of Lago Vista. She’s been dubbed the “Leanderthal Lady,” and lived in the Hill Country at least ten centuries ago! Since then, the region has been populated by Native American tribes such as the Apache and Comanche, and explorers from Spain, France, and Mexico.

Stephen F. Austin came by the nickname “The Father of Texas” honestly, and it’s no surprise he was influential in the first settlement of the area that would become Lago Vista. In 1831, he issued 800 land contracts to European settlers—some fresh from their home countries, some from other areas of the United States—to settle on the farmland north of the Colorado River. This program strongly established Anglo settlers in the region, but they were spread out enough that no community in the rural area really “took hold” or incorporated. Indeed, the area was referred to as the “Upper Colonies,” in reference to the nearby city of Austin.

One issue with living in this region was the behavior of the Colorado River itself. It flooded regularly, as often as every six years, disrupting everyday life and the area’s development. Three especially bad floods occurred during the 1930s, and they stirred local authorities to finally take corrective action. With the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) heading the project, construction began on the Marshall Ford Dam in 1937.

By the time the dam was completed four years later, it had been renamed Mansfield Dam to honor Texas Congressman Joseph J. Mansfield. The reservoir north of the dam was called Lake Travis, an homage to Alamo defender William B. Travis. Deep under the lake’s surface to this day are rock walls, outbuildings, and even a bridge, that were deemed too troublesome or expensive to move.

Where’s there’s water, there will be people seeking recreation on and around it, and the creation of Lake Travis was no exception. Hunters, anglers, and nature lovers came to its shores, and some even built seasonal structures there, but no serious development took place in the region until after the challenges of the Great Depression and World War II.

After that point, roads and other infrastructures were built, since the filling of Lake Travis had reduced access to the villages on its shores. The workers hired to work on these projects were one of the first groups of people to give the scenic lakeside land serious consideration, and they built homes there, too. Following suit were World War II veterans, retirees, and Austin citizens who wanted a quieter setting and more relaxed pace. This influx of permanent residents helped Lago Vista to grow and develop further.

In the mid-1980s, the city of Austin announced an attempt to annex as much of the Colorado River bed and surrounding land as they could. Lago Vista was among the communities who took the opportunity to incorporate, giving them the sovereignty and legal status to turn away Austin’s attempt. The city of Lago Vista officially incorporated in 1984.

As a robust resort community, Lago Vista has plenty to keep visitors entertained, and it draws visitors by the thousands looking for fun on and off the lake! From picnics to fine dining, from relaxation to vigorous exercise, there are shops, parks, restaurants, and attractions aplenty for those who’d like to live like they’re on vacation.

Plan your next Hill Country holiday in Lago Vista! To help you toward that goal, we’ve collected business and attraction information about the town. All that info is ready for you at the bottom of this page in listings sorted by category. All the shops, parks, restaurants, and kid-friendly spots in and around Lago Vista are just a click or two away. It’s a great road map for your visit!

If you’d like to take a look at other towns in the Hill Country, we’ve thought of that, too! We’ve put dream vacations together in the area (we live and work here, and we love it), and all the expertise we’ve gathered since 2001 is yours with a FREE download of the Texas Hill Country Travel App! We’ve researched over 1,800 local businesses and attractions, and it’s all in the app, sorted by town and type.

In over 20 years as Hill Country property management professionals, we’ve learned from our neighbors, business people, vacation rental owners, and travelers! Our app takes that knowledge and applies it to your unique vacation needs, from property listings to booking info, from check-in to heading home, and app-exclusive perks! We’ll even keep you up-to-date on special events in the area.

This beautiful region of the Lone Star State is our home, and we love showing it off! We’ve arranged Hill Country getaways for everything from romantic escapes to gatherings like weddings and reunions. Feel free to contact us; we’d love to inspire you to fall in love with the Texas Hill Country just as we have.