10 Swimming Lakes in the Northeast for a Super Summer Getaway
Life is better at the lake, right? A summer getaway to a nearby swimming lake can be as relaxing or thrilling as you make it. Whether you nap on the shaded porch of a lakeside cabin rental or bounce over tranquil waters on jet skis, a lakes vacation is a great way to spend family time while slowing down a few days of summer.
We've put together our top 10 lakes near Northeast destinations, from the Pennsylvania Poconos to tranquil New England. Get ready for some incredible scenery, happy hiking, quaint towns, and plenty of adventure on the water.
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Lakes Near the Poconos
Lakes are scattered throughout the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains region. Some are private, accessible only to those with property, or a rental on the lake. We've included a couple of favorites below, but you can also consider some of the family-friendly Poconos resorts, many of which are situated on a swimming lake.
Lake Harmony — Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania
A lot happens in this Pocono Mountains town of Lake Harmony, from pony rides to NASCAR races to riding ATVs. The lake is a canvass for many activities, including kayaking, tubing, scenic boat tours, pedal boats, and paddleboards. You will find plenty of accommodations that fit any budget, including hotels, motels, and private homes. Split Rock Resort is a family-favorite, offering beautiful views of Lake Harmony, and featuring the H2Oooohh! Indoor water park, a bowling alley, arcade, and movie theater. For families that enjoy camping, the two closest campgrounds to Lake Harmony are Peaceful Woodlands Family Campground (about 5 miles south), which features a pool, two playgrounds, and miniature golf, and Hickory Run State Park (about 6 miles east). You can find camping spots ranging from primitive sites with few amenities to RV sites equipped with full hookups in a resort-style campground.
Lake Arrowhead — Pocono Lake, Pennsylvania
Enjoy canoeing, kayaking, row boating, fishing (license required), and swimming (no lifeguards on duty) on Arrowhead Lake and North Arrowhead Lake. This is a private, gated community, so browsing some 1,000 vacation rentals currently listed on Vrbo will be the best way to get lakefront accommodations with amenities access that includes four beaches, three swimming pools, fishing piers, playgrounds, and tennis courts. For more adventures, consider 8 miles of splashing and paddling with Jim Thorp River Adventures, ride some of the 35 attractions at Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark (about 30 minutes away), or spend a serene day on the trails of Hickory Run State Park (about 20 minutes away) where Boulder Field, a striking boulder-strewn area, is a National Natural Landmark.
Pools, boat rentals, and more family fun await at this Lake George resort. Photo courtesy of Scotty's Lakeside Resort
Favorite Lakes in New York
New York's most famous lakes hover around its western and northern edges far from the famed Hamptons on Long Island. We love bopping around the many lakes of the Adirondacks region. These laid-back NY lakes regions are often the perfect antidote to hectic city life. Find more swimming lakes near NYC with our guide.
Lake George — Lake George, NY
Nicknamed "Queen of American Lakes," this 32-mile-long body of water is the background for an abundance of family-friendly attractions in Lake George, New York. Board a leisurely cruise with Lake George Steamboat Company (The Minne Ha Ha one-hour cruise is ideal for young children) or spend the day building sandcastles and floating in a tube. Adrenaline-chasers can enjoy parasailing, diving, and jet skiing. The fun continues on dry land, with plenty of mini-golf, hiking (the panoramic views from Prospect Mountain are breathtaking), or a day spent at The Great Escape and Hurricane Harbor (temporarily closed due to COVID-19). Accommodations vary from luxury hotels, motels, private rentals, to tent or RV camping at Lake George Escape Campground. A family favorite is Scotty's Lakeside Resort, where amenities include 350 feet of shoreline, a beach-side pool, a children's splash-ground, and hydrobiking.
Seneca Lake — Geneva, New York
If you desire simple pleasures like scenic hikes or a sightseeing cruise, Seneca Lake is the top choice in the Finger Lakes region. Enjoy a trail ride on horseback, let the kids cool off on the "sprayground" at Seneca Lake State Park (swimming is also allowed), or look for the free-range cattle grazing in Finger Lakes National Forest. Vacation rentals include everything from historic lodges, private homes, villas, or glamping tents in the woods. For a luxurious experience, book a suite at Geneva on the Lake Boutique Resort or Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. For a more rustic stay, reserve a cabin or tent site (RVs also welcome) at Back-Achers Campsites, the only private campground with private lake frontage. Not only is Seneca Lake Wine Trail in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country (that's 31 wineries for you, moms and dads!), but the area is notorious for delicious ice cream. Be sure to check out Spotted Duck Creamery, where the custard is made with duck eggs and has been recognized as "the best ice cream stand in Upstate NY."
Lake Champlain — Willsboro, NY or Burlington, VT
One of the region's most beautiful attractions, this 120-mile long lake separates Vermont from New York. Enjoy calm waters and great outdoor recreation, such as swimming, kayaking, and shore fishing. If time allows, walk or ride a bike across the Lake Champlain Bridge Heritage Area, which connects the two states. Regardless of which state you choose to stay in, accommodations abound, including summer lake houses and motels. Grand Isle State Park, the second-largest campground in Vermont, offers 115 tent/RV sites and four cabins. Enjoy your time relaxing on a cruise, venturing out on a fishing trip, or driving the toll road to the historic summit of Mount Defiance.
Tweens and older kids can enjoy paddleboarding at Lake Morey Resort in Vermont. Photo courtesy of the resort
New England Swimming Lakes
New England is littered with gorgeous lakes, swimming ponds, and pretty lakeside retreats. We've pulled together a few of our favorite lakes across the region for a week or weekend away this summer. Find more swimming lakes close enough to Boston for a day trip.
Lake Morey — Fairlee, Vermont
The first steam-powered boat was launched here in 1792 by Samuel Morey, and relaxing on the water has been a tradition ever since. Enjoy sailing, pontooning, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, and tubing. You won't find many hotels in this area, but there are plenty of lakeshore cottages to choose from, so a Vrbo search will be your best bet. If you are looking for more amenities, such as an indoor heated pool, a health club, and live entertainment, check out Lake Morey Resort, a family-owned business that broke ground in 1905. For a special memory "under the stars," take the kids to Fairlee Drive-In Theater.
Enjoy boats and more activities on the lake in northern Vermont. Photo courtesy of Tyler Place Family Resort
Goose Bay — Swanton, Vermont
At the northern tip of Lake Champlain, minutes away from the Canadian border, you will find The Tyler Place Family Resort, offering all-inclusive vacations since 1933. Grab a picnic basket (at no charge) and hike along the secluded shoreline, head out on a Hobie Cat sailboat, go kayaking, canoeing, or on a pontoon boat ride, enjoy the lake trampoline, go fishing, or engage in the many other sports and activities that the resort offers. The area includes other accommodations such as motels and hotels and attractions such as the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. If you love everything maple, don't skip Maple City Candy. In addition to sweet treats and novelty gifts, it even features a maple-flavored breakfast stout for beer lovers.
Lake Winnipesaukee — Laconia, New Hampshire
The NASWA Resort has been welcoming families since 1935 with amenities that include the longest private beach on Lake Winnipesaukee in the New Hampshire lakes region. In normal times, complimentary activities include sunrise kayak cruises, paddleboards, and a 45-minute boat trip in July and August. Camp Naz is a special treat for children, featuring campfire 'n' s'mores and tie-dyeing (for a nominal fee). While boats are on hold at this resort due to COVID-19 concerns in 2020, visitors can still enjoy the sandy beach, plenty of swimming, and other regional activities. Other area accommodations include hotels, motels, and private rentals. Top family-friendly destinations include Funspot arcade and Daytona Fun Park, which offers batting cages, mini golf, bumper cars, and an outdoor high ropes adventure course.
The wooded Sebago Lake in southern Maine is a popular family retreat. Photo courtesy of Point Sebago Resort
Sebago Lake — Casco, Maine
Rent a lakeside house through Vrbo and guarantee yourself a dock, canoe, and fire pit for the duration of your stay; or choose from the many lodges, inns, or motels that welcome visitors to the area. Located in a picturesque setting, Point Sebago Resort offers plenty of activities, such as kayaking, canoe races, boat rentals, fishing, swimming, and mini golf, and entertainment programs such as in-house Broadway-style theater, dancing, and s'mores by the campfire. If you want a birdseye view of the area, book a scenic ride in a seaplane, taking off from Long Lake in Naples, about 15 minutes away from Casco. There are plenty of kid-friendly hikes nearby, and a day trip to Old Orchard Beach for ocean swimming or kiddie rides is less than an hour away.
Moosehead Lake — Greenville, Maine
Home to many hidden coves, inlets, and islands, this lake is ideal for kayaking and canoeing. Spend the day fishing and the night stargazing, and definitely keep on the lookout for moose. Accommodations include hotels and motels, and private rentals such as charming cottages and log cabins. A favorite is The Cozy Moose, which features lakeside cabins equipped with kitchens, WiFi, family games, puzzles, and children's books and toys. Take some time to learn about the region's marine heritage and lumbering tradition with a visit to Katahdin Cruises and The Moosehead Marine Museum.
Find more getaway inspiration in our US Family Travel Guide.