Swimming Lakes Near NYC for a Family Dip During Summer 2021

 Enjoy the spacious shore and freshwater at Fahenstock State Park's Lake Canopus. Photo courtesy of I Love the Hudson Valley
Enjoy the spacious shore and freshwater at Fahenstock State Park's Lake Canopus. Photo courtesy of I Love the Hudson Valley

New Yorkers are lucky to be surrounded by water: When we get the urge to take a dip on a hot summer day, there are plenty of family-friendly beaches right here in NYC, plus those on Long Island or at the Jersey Shore. But, for families with little kids, the ocean can be intimidating, with its choppy waves and miles of hot sand without an inch of shade.

If you're itching to get the kids out of the city to enjoy a swim in the great outdoors, what better place than one of our area's beautiful, tranquil, freshwater swimming lakes? We've rounded up the best swimming lakes near NYC. Some are even close to our favorite family-friendly campgrounds, making them perfect for a weekend getaway.

Remember that many of these state- or locally-run parks have limited parking spaces, and capacity limits are still in effect at some, so once the lot is full, they'll start turning people away. Plan to get there at opening time or risk being turned away. Before you go, be sure to read up on park rules and prices. Some allow barbecues; others do not. Many do not allow flotation devices, blow-up rafts, pool noodles, water wings, or other water toys.

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Best Swimming Lakes in New York State for Summer 2021

1. Canopus Lake — Carmel, New York

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends; daily beginning Saturday, June 26
This 100-acre lake in Fahnestock State Park boasts a large beach with picnic areas and hiking trails nearby, plus rowboat rentals and family camping. You'll also find a snack stand, restrooms, and shower facilities. Beware, this beach isn't staffed by lifeguards.

RELATED: Family-Friendly Campgrounds Near NYC for Summer 2021 Camping

Lake Taghkanic
Lake Taghkanic offers a sandy beach, plus playgrounds and more fun for kids. Photo courtesy of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

2. Lake Taghkanic — Ancram, New York

1 hour, 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends; daily beginning Saturday, June 26
This gorgeous Hudson Valley state park lake features a sandy beach for swimming, along with playgrounds, restrooms, a snack bar, picnic areas, and hiking trails, plus paddleboat and kayak rentals. If you can't bear to stay only one day, book a cabin or campsite along the water's edge. It's one of our favorite summer spots.

RELATED: 35 Things To Do With Kids in the Hudson Valley

Lake Tiorati
Lake Tiorati in Harriman State Park is always popular in the summer. Photo courtesy of New York State Parks

3. Lake Tiorati – Southfields, New York

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends; daily beginning Saturday, June 20
This popular swimming lake in Harriman State Park boasts a lovely sandy beach that can get crowded on hot summer weekends. The bathhouse has restrooms with showers. There are plenty of picnic areas and grills, but you might want to bring a full picnic basket—there's no concession stand, just vending machines.

RELATED: Easy New York State Park Hikes in the Hudson Valley

Take a dip in family-friendly North-South Lake. Photo by Diana Kim

4. North-South Lake – Haines Falls, New York

2 hours, 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
If you're hoping to take the family camping, consider booking at North-South Lake Campground. Swimming is available at two beaches, as long as a lifeguard is present (call the campground for exact hours). Kids can stay busy with lots of additional activities, from hiking to horseshoes to playing on the playground.

RELATED: Best Spraygrounds and Sprinklers for NYC Kids

Greenwood Lake
Greenwood Lake is one of the closest swimming lakes to NYC. Photo courtesy of the Village of Greenwood Lake, New York

5. Greenwood Lake – Warwick, New York

1 hour, 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Currently open to residents only.
This 9-mile lake is divided in half by the New Jersey-New York border. On the New York side, in the town of Warwick, you'll find a smallish sandy town beach for swimming, known as Warwick Town Beach or Thomas P. Morahan Waterfront Park. The beach park, with restrooms, a volleyball court, and a playground, is popular with locals and has a low-key vibe. There are a few picnic tables, and sometimes a food truck or two shows up. Beach passes are limited to residents only this season.

RELATED: How to Get to NYC Beaches by Ferry or Train

Highlands Natural Pool
Highlands Natural Pool is carved out of a hillside in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Highlands Natural Pool

Best Swimming Lakes in New Jersey and Connecticut for Summer 2021

6. Highlands Natural Pool — Ringwood, New Jersey

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends through June; daily in July and August
This Olympic-sized freshwater natural swimming pool in New Jersey is fed by a mountain stream and was carved out of a hillside in the 1930s. The pool goes up to 10-feet deep and includes a fenced-off shallow children's area. There is a snack stand, a picnic area, a beach volleyball court, hiking trails, and restrooms with changing facilities but no showers. The number of non-members allowed in is limited.

7. Lake Marcia at High Point State Park – Sussex, New Jersey

1 hour, 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Opens for the season Tuesday, June 15; open Saturdays-Tuesdays thereafter.
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. Lifeguards protect the beach, and there is a bathhouse and food concession adjacent to the beach. In addition, High Point offers more than 50 miles of trails as well as picnic and camping facilities. The interior of the monument is closed until further notice.

8. Lake Wawayanda, Wawayanda State Park – Hewitt, New Jersey

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open Wednesdays-Sundays
During the summer months, the clear waters of beautiful Lake Wawayanda, part of the Wawayanda State Park, draw folks from all over the state and beyond. The park is known for its scenic forested hills, many trails (including part of the Appalachian Trail), and a 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 paddleboats. The lake gets crowded on the weekends, so be prepared to arrive early. There is a fee, per carload, to enter the park. Prices can be found here. The lake will be limiting the number of visitors once capacity is reached.

RELATED: Easy New York State Park Hikes for Families

Lake Hopatcong
Lake Hopatcong State Park in New Jersey offers refreshing lake swimming, grills, a concession stand, and playgrounds. Photo courtesy of Morris County, N.J.

9. Lake Hopatcong — Landing, New Jersey

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Opens for the season the week of June 14; check the swimming schedule for hours.
New Jersey's largest lake is a significant draw for swimmers during the summer. Hopatcong State Park, at the southwest end of the lake, boasts a sandy beach perfect for sandcastles, with picnic areas, a playground, a concession stand, restrooms, and shower facilities. Lifeguards keep the horseplay under control (we've seen them in action!). Get there early as the parking lot fills quickly on weekends.

10. Round Valley Recreation Area – Lebanon, New Jersey

1 hour, 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Open daily
Swimmers, boaters, and fishermen enjoy the blue waters of Round Valley Reservoir. Swimming is permitted in the day-use area only during the summer months, while lifeguards are on duty. 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.

11. Bantam Lake – Morris, Connecticut

2 hours from Midtown Manhattan
This freshwater gem in Litchfield County, the northwestern section of Connecticut, has two beaches, but just one is open to the public. Sandy Beach on East Shore Road has a concession stand, restrooms, and a shaded picnic area.

A version of this article was first published in 2017. It is updated annually.

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