Best Swimming Lakes and Ponds Around Boston

Historic Walden Pond is open for cooling off this summer. Photo by Todd Van Hoosear/CC-BY-SA 2.0
Historic Walden Pond is open for cooling off this summer. Photo by Todd Van Hoosear/CC-BY-SA 2.0

There are plenty of area beaches that are perfect for families looking to spend the day outside, but some kids prefer the warmer and calmer waters of one of Massachusetts' many swimming lakes. We’ve rounded up swimming lakes and ponds around Boston where kids can splash around in freshwater all summer long. A few popular spots are closed this season or open only to residents, but most are open to any family looking to take a dip or cool off.

Looking to stay closer to home? These local spraygrounds and splash pads are another way to beat the heat this summer. Don't miss our summer fun guide for more fun activities, outdoors or in.

Walden Pond
Walden Pond has a roped-off swimming area for little kids. Photo by Tim Sackton/CC by-SA 2.0

Lakes and Ponds for Families West of Boston

1. Walden Pond—Concord

Since it’s a favorite spot for summer swimming, we had to start with Walden Pond. Walden’s waters are super clean and warm, plus there are lifeguards and roped-off swimming areas for smaller kids. A bathhouse with restrooms and changing areas is easily accessible near the main beach. Daily parking fees of $8 for Massachusetts vehicles and $30 for out-of-state cars apply.

2. Cochituate Lake—Natick, Wayland

People flock to the three sections of Lake Cochituate—north, middle, and south—for boating, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, fishing, and, of course, swimming. There are plenty of places to picnic, and nearby trails are perfect for stretching your legs. When swimming in areas managed by Cochituate State Park, daily parking fees are $8 for Massachusetts vehicles and $30 for out-of-state cars. The Wayland Town Beach also allows out-of-towners to visit and swim with a $10 day pass.

3. Hopkinton Reservoir, Hopkinton State Park—Hopkinton

Hopkinton may be best known for being the start of the Boston Marathon, but it’s also home to the terrific Hopkinton State Park. There are two designated swimming areas that are monitored by lifeguards, and the Main Area waterfront has an accessible ramp, so anyone can use the facilities. The state park also has ample spots for picnicking and trails for exploring. Daily parking fees of $8 for Massachusetts vehicles and $30 for out-of-state cars apply.

Hopkinton State Park

Hopkinton State Park. Photo by NewtonCourt/Wikipedia/CC-BY-SA 4.0

4. Lake Quinsigamond—Worcester

This lake has two different areas where families can enjoy a day of swimming. The Regatta Point area on Lake Quinsigamond has swimming and sailing and a great spot for picnicking, and the Lake Park location offers up swimming and picnicking as well as tennis courts. Daily parking fees of $8 for Massachusetts vehicles and $30 for out-of-state cars apply.

5. Crystal Lake—Newton

Visit the beautiful 33-acre Crystal Lake in Newton this summer for a day of fun in the sun. While much of the lake is surrounded by private homes, there are two town parks, a town beach, and a bathhouse that are open to the public. Only Newton residents can buy summer-long swim passes, but anyone can purchase a day pass for $10 per person.

6. Morses Pond—Wellesley 

2021 update: The pond is residents only for the season and requires advanced reservations. 

Morses Pond is a bit of a hidden gem in the local freshwater swimming scene. But it’s one that’s well worth adding to the list of places to head when the temperature rises. There’s a roped-off swimming area that’s monitored by lifeguards, plus a playground, picnic, and barbecue areas, and even an ice cream truck that makes regular visits. There are also canoes, kayaks, and paddle-boards for rent if you're feeling adventurous. 

7. Arlington Reservoir—Arlington

2021 info on whether the reservoir will open has not been released.

The Arlington Reservoir is a great place to take kids for a freshwater dip. It has a swimming area with a beach that’s monitored by lifeguards, a concession stand, a bathhouse, and even a playground. Buy a season pass if you plan to come often, or a day pass for a one-time visit. Those who are feeling adventurous can ride bikes to the reservoir, which is very close to the Minuteman Bikeway. 

Houghton's Pond
The water and beaches are super-clean at Houghton's Pond. Photo by cathgarn via Instagram

Lakes and Ponds for Families South of Boston

8. Houghton’s Pond—Milton

Visitors can’t go wrong with a trip to Houghton’s Pond in the Blue Hills Reservation. This pristine waterway offers lots of outlets for recreation, like swimming, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. The pond is a great place to bring children because it also has a playground, concession area, restrooms, and first-aid station. The swimming area is monitored by lifeguards.

9. Oldham Pond — Pembroke

This pond offers 300 yards of beachfront to stretch out and play on. There are also on-duty lifeguards, daily swimming lessons, a playground, and bathrooms on site. Along with swimming, the pond also allows small motorboats, fishing, and paddleboarding. 

10. Sunset Lake — Braintree

Located just outside of the city in South Braintree, this lake brings the amenities for families. Along with enjoying cooling off in the lake, families can also take advantage of the playground, a waterfront gazebo, and great freshwater fishing.

Lakes and Ponds for Families North of Boston

11. The Mystic Lakes— Winchester

While the western shore of the Mystic Lakes is occupied by private homes, the eastern shore is open to the public. The most popular spot for freshwater swimming in the lakes is at Shannon Beach, where visitors also find a playground, trails, and bathrooms. There are sometimes lifeguards on duty, and locals rave about the free parking.

Pearce Lake
A swim in Pearce Lake is a great reward after a hike through Breakheart. Photo courtesy of Department of Conservation and Recreation

12. Pearce Lake, Breakheart Reservation—Saugus

Head north to Pearce Lake in Breakheart Reservation for a peaceful swim. The lake has a sandy beach with a supervised swimming area, a picnic area, and a first aid station that’s open in the summer. Take to the trails of the reservation before heading to the lake to cool off. The free parking is a nice bonus.

13. Chebacco Lake—Hamilton & Essex

This 209-acre pond spans across two towns and offers boating, swimming, and year-round fishing. While there are lots of private houses along Chebacco Lake, the best place for the public to take a dip is at Centennial Grove, where there is a small beach and bathrooms. This area is only open after 1pm on weekdays when a camp is in session. 


This post was originally published on June 30, 2020.





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