Awesome Swimming Lakes near New Jersey You Need to Discover

Cool off in Lake Marcia after a hike in High Point State Park. Photo courtesy of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Cool off in Lake Marcia after a hike in High Point State Park. Photo courtesy of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

New Jersey has some of the best swimming lakes in the Northeast, so make a plan to dive into one this summer. From Cheesequake to High Point, most of these lakes are on the grounds of majestic state parks that offer other recreation opportunities, like hiking trails. Some, like Sunrise Lake, are even outfitted with incredible inflatable water parks.

If you're looking for other ways to cool off on hot summer days, check out our rundown of the best NJ pools that offer day passes or our look at the Garden State's top water parks


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Arrive early on weekends and holidays, since the parks get very busy. When parks reach capacity, entry is closed. The NJ State Parks Facebook page regularly updates which parks have reached capacity, so be sure and check before heading out. Swimming hours are typically 10am-5:30pm and the lakes are generally open for swimming starting in mid-June.

Note that the lakes' swimming hours are subject to change due to weather and staff changes. Check the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's daily swim schedule for updates.

Lake Hopatcong: Swimming Lakes in New Jersey You Need To Discover
With 45 miles of shoreline, Lake Hopatcong offers plenty of activities for the whole family. Photo courtesy of Morris County

1. Lake Hopatcong in Hopatcong State Park – Lake Hopatcong

The 4-square-mile Lake Hopatcong is New Jersey's largest freshwater lake, offering outstanding boating, fishing, water sports, and swimming. Located just 30 miles from the Delaware Water Gap and 40 miles from New York City, Lake Hopatcong's 45 miles of shoreline boasts restaurants, marinas, and public beaches. Swimming is permitted during the summer months while lifeguards are on duty. In addition to changing areas and a concession, there are volleyball courts and playgrounds near the beach.

2. Lake Marcia at High Point State Park – Sussex

At 1,803 feet above sea level, the view from the High Point Monument is a spectacular panorama of rich farmland and forest that spans three states. Spring-fed Lake Marcia is cool and refreshing for swimmers. The beach is protected by lifeguards, and there is a bathhouse and food concession adjacent to the beach. In addition, High Point offers more than 50 miles of trails, picnic areas, and camping facilities. Read our full review of High Point State Park.

3. Lake Wawayanda, Wawayanda State Park – Hewitt

During the summer months, the clear waters of beautiful Lake Wawayanda, part of Wawayanda State Park, draw folks from all over the state. The park is known for its scenic hills, trails (including part of the Appalachian Trail), and tranquil atmosphere. Swimmers love that the lake is crystal clear, offering glimpses of fish as they swim by. Adjacent to the beach are changing stations, restrooms, a first-aid station, and a concession stand. Visitors can also rent a variety of boats, including canoes, rowboats, and paddle boats. The lake gets crowded on the weekends, so be prepared to arrive early. 

4. Hooks Creek Lake in Cheesequake State Park – Old Bridge

Located in the heart of Cheesequake State Park, the 6-acre Hooks Creek Lake is a great family destination and a relaxing alternative to the hustle and bustle of the nearby Jersey Shore. The lake is clean and uncrowded during the week. Playgrounds, concession stands, restrooms, and changing areas are available lakeside. The park is also a great place to explore with kids. It is home to fresh- and salt-water marshes, five different trails, campsites, a nature center with live animals, and a crabbing bridge.

5. Atsion Lake in Wharton State Forest – Shamong

Take a cool dip in the pristine waters of Atsion Lake. Located within the Wharton State Forest, the lake is a popular destination for families looking for an alternative to the Jersey Shore. The swimming area boasts three comfort stations with showers and restroom facilities. There are also barbecue grills, a playground, ball fields, trails, nature crafts, and concession stands near the lake. If you plan to go on the weekend, get there early, as the park often fills and is closed by 10am. 

6. Round Valley Recreation Area – Lebanon

Swimmers, boaters, and fishermen enjoy the blue waters of Round Valley Reservoir. Swimming is permitted while lifeguards are on duty in the day-use area only. Swimming is not allowed in the main reservoir. There are plenty of beach-side amenities, including playgrounds, volleyball courts, changing areas with showers, and a concession building that sells food and beach supplies.

7. Lake Absegami in Bass River State Forest – Tuckerton

As of Spring 2024, there is no swimming allowed at Lake Absegami until further notice while a major capital improvement project at the forest's beach complex is being completed. 

Bass River State Forest was the first forest acquired by New Jersey in 1905 for public recreation, water conservation, and wildlife management. Lake Absegami, a 67-acre lake created in the 1930s, is the center of the forest's recreational facilities. It provides an area for swimmers as well as a serene setting for boating and canoeing. After taking a swim, check out the trail through the Absegami nature area, which stretches through the woods and a small bog.

RELATED: 35+ Splash Pads and Spraygrounds in New Jersey

Sunrise Lake Beach Club: Swimming Lakes in New Jersey You Need To Discover
Sunrise Lake Beach Club is one of our favorite summer destinations. Photo courtesy of Morris County

8. Sunrise Lake Beach Club – Morris Township

With an inflatable obstacle course (for ages 7 and older), Sunrise Lake Beach Club is one of our favorite summer destinations. The sandy beach is perfect for building sandcastles and playing volleyball, and kids can enjoy swimming and paddle boats. Restrooms, showers, and changing facilities are available. There's also an inflatable obstacle course for kids 7 and older for an additional fee. The lake is open to the public from Memorial Day through Labor Day; however, aside from holidays, it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Parents with toddlers can check out the lake's Munchkin Mondays programs on Monday mornings starting in late June through August, when the beach club opens exclusively for kids 4 and under and their parents. The best part: Children 4 and under are FREE! This is a great opportunity for little ones to play and explore without large crowds and older kids. Seasonal and daily passes are available. Book reservations online.

9. Tomahawk Lake and Waterpark – Sparta

Tomahawk Lake offers everything a family could ask for during the hot summer months. Situated on 200 gorgeous acres, the grounds feature a swimming beach with a lifeguard and a water park that boasts a variety of water slides and rides, including bumper boats and slides. Parents will appreciate Papoose Land, a specific area designed for children 4 feet and under. There is also an 18-hole miniature golf course, a volleyball and horseshoe area, picnic areas, and a rustic, outdoor beer garden with live music on the weekends. For more information, visit the park's website. Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 

10. Tom’s Lake at Captain Kilroy Park – Wayne

This man-made lake offers swimming and a sandy beach. Nearby, there's a playground, basketball and volleyball court, softball field, a picnic area, locker rooms, and a concession stand. There's also a Wibit Play Area in the water and a diving dock. Purchase day passes or buy season passes. You can even book birthday parties by the lake.

11. Lake Barnegat – Forked River

Located on Lake Barnegat, the Wibit floating playground is open for Ocean County residents only. Admission is $10 per session for Lacey Township residents and $18 for non-Lacey Township residents. An additional beach badge is required for ages 5+ and costs $8 for the season. 

12. Lake Nummy at Belleplain State Forest – Woodbine

Belleplain State Forest consists of a woodsy 21,000 acres in Cape May and Cumberland counties. It is also home to the beautiful Lake Nummy. Visitors will find a beach complex containing changing areas, restrooms, a first-aid station, and a concession stand offering refreshments, beach supplies, and novelties. Picnic areas are nearby and include tables, charcoal grills, and restroom facilities. 

RELATEDTop Water Parks for New Jersey Kids and Families

Smartswood Lake: Swimming Lakes in New Jersey You Need To Discover
Enjoy the beach at Smartswood Lake. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

13. Swartswood Lake in Swartswood State Park – Swartswood

Swartswood became New Jersey's first state park in 1915, established to ensure residents would have access to one of the state's largest freshwater lakes. Swartswood Lake is the park's main attraction, drawing families who enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking in its calm waters. The lake offers a modest swimming area and a nice beach, both of which are spotless and welcoming. In addition, visitors can rent pedal boats, canoes, and kayaks. Next to the beach, visitors can access restrooms, changing areas, showers, a first-aid station, and a kid-friendly (and reasonably priced) concession stand.

14. Parvin Lake in Parvin State Park – Pittsgrove

Parvin Lake has a sandy beach and a small swimming area along with 15 miles of hiking trails. You can also canoe and kayak on Parvin Lake, and canoe rentals are available. Playgrounds, a picnic area, bathrooms, and a concession stand are located on either side of the beach.

15. JCC Camps at Medford – Medford

This camp has it all! Spend the day boating, fishing, and enjoying the climbing inflatables, two pools, fields, splash park water playground, water trampoline, obstacle course, summer sledding slide, water slides, and wading pool! Located on a 4-acre lake, it also has bathrooms, a picnic area, and a snack bar. The swimming dock even has an enclosed area for smaller swimmers. Although this is a summer camp, you can purchase day passes to explore the facilities, Children under 12 are $15 and everyone over 12 is $35. 

This post, originally published in 2014, is updated annually.

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