10 Swimming Lakes Near New York City You Need to Discover

 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

Swimming lakes near New York City add to the bounty of options tri-state families have for taking a plunge on a scorching day. 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 the area's beautiful, tranquil, freshwater swimming lakes?

We've rounded up 10 beautiful, tranquil freshwater swimming lakes in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for summertime visits. 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 with swimming lakes have limited parking spaces, so once the lot is full, they'll start turning people away. Plan to arrive at opening time for the best availability. 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 Upstate Swimming Lakes Near New York City

1. Canopus Lake – Carmel, New York

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends starting May 28; daily beginning Monday, June 20
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. Be aware that this swimming lake isn't staffed by lifeguards.

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Lake Taghkanic offers one of our favorite swimming lakes near NYC
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 starting May 28; daily beginning Saturday, June 25
This gorgeous Hudson Valley state park swimming lake features a sandy beach for swimming. The park also has 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

Take a dip in Lake Tiorati one of our favorite Hudson Valley swimming lakes
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 starting May 28; daily beginning Monday, 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

North-South Lake is a family-friendly swimming lake near NYC
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 the lake's 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.

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Highlands Natural Pool is a cool swimming lake near NYC
Highlands Natural Pool is carved out of a hillside in New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Highlands Natural Pool

Best New Jersey and Connecticut Swimming Lakes Near NYC

5. Highlands Natural Pool – Ringwood, New Jersey

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open weekends, beginning May 28, 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 entry to this swimming lake in New Jersey is limited.

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

1 hour, 30 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Opens for the season in the third week of June (tentatively); check the website for updates.
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. Its spring-fed Lake Marcia is a cool swimming lake. Lifeguards patrol the beach, and there is a bathhouse and food concession adjacent to the beach. In addition to being one of our favorite swimming lakes in New Jersey, High Point offers tons of recreation, including more than 50 miles of trails as well as picnic and camping facilities.

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

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open mid-June through Labor Day
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. The crystal clear waters make this a particularly spectacular swimming lake, 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 swimming 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.

RELATED: Top Beaches Near NYC for Toddlers

Lake Hopatcong is the largest of New Jersey's swimming lakes
Lake Hopatcong is the largest of New Jersey's swimming lakes and Lake Hopatcong State Park also offers grills, a concession stand, and playgrounds. Photo courtesy of Morris County, N.J.

8. Lake Hopatcong – Landing, New Jersey

1 hour from Midtown Manhattan
Open mid-June through Labor Day
The largest of New Jersey's swimming lakes, Lake Hopatcong is a significant draw for swimmers during the summer. Lake 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.

9. Round Valley Recreation Area – Lebanon, New Jersey

1 hour, 15 minutes from Midtown Manhattan
Open mid-June through Labor Day
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 at this swimming lake, including playgrounds, volleyball courts, changing areas with showers, and a concession building that sells food and beach supplies.

10. Bantam Lake – Morris, Connecticut

2 hours from Midtown Manhattan
This freshwater swimming lake in Litchfield County, the northwestern section of Connecticut, has two beaches, but only 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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