Best Swimming Lakes near Philadelphia
There are no two ways about it: Kids love swimming.
Lake swimming is perfect when the beach or the pool is too crowded, or when you just want to mix it up a bit. There are quite a few lakes in the Philadelphia area that offer great little beaches, picnic areas, and, of course, swimming. As an added bonus, most of these lakes are located in state parks, which offer lots of other great activities, including camping and hiking. So get your bathing suits on, load up the car, grab the sunscreen, and head out to one of these great local swimming lakes.
Swimming Lakes for Families in Pennsylvania
1. Blue Marsh Lake — Leesport, PA
Just past Reading, Pennsylvania, this man-made lake features a very small beach area. Amenities include picnic tables, grills, concessions, and public restrooms. There's not a ton of sand here. However, there's plenty of grass to spread out the towels and get some sun. When taking a break from the water, enjoy hiking, biking, or horseback riding.
2. Locust Lake State Park— Barnesville, PA
Two hours from Philadelphia, this state park offers a perfect camping spot with a lake. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, a playground, boating, and hiking. As of June 2021, the site is undergoing renovations so guests might experience inconveniences while improvements are made.
Enjoy swimming, camping, and more at Locust Lake State Park. Photo by Andy S./Trip Advisor
3. Tuscarora State Park — Barnesville, PA
Open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset, Tuscarora State Park offers a beach, boating, public restrooms, showers, concessions, picnic area and pavilion, fishing pier, and hiking. The sand beach is open from late May through mid-September. Buoys mark designated swimming spots and visitors should swim at their own risk.
4. Beltzville State Park — Lehighton, PA
This Pennsylvania state park offers a 525-foot beach that is open from 8am to sunset daily from late May through mid-September. Guests can expect a bathhouse with showers and concessions. Swimmers should swim at their own risk. Other activities offered here include hiking, boating, mountain biking, wildlife watching, hunting, fishing, and picnicking.
5. Dutch Springs — Bethlehem, PA
Dutch Springs offers a unique lake experience; it's actually a waterpark. Featuring inflatable slides, trampolines, and more, this lake is for the more adventurous set. You can even go on a scuba diving adventure and see a submerged plane, helicopter, fire truck, and more. There is a grassy area where guests can set up chairs and umbrellas. It also offers snorkeling, paddleboats, paddleboards, and kayak rentals. Camping is also available.
Atsion Recreation Area in New Jersey features a gorgeous sand beach and swimming. Photo by the author
Swimming Lakes for Families in New Jersey
Out-of-towners visiting New Jersey State Parks should arrive early to get a spot. New Jersey residents are eligible for the "Vax and Visit" pass if they receive at least one dose of the vaccine prior to July 1. This pass allows guests to visit free of charge. The NJ State Parks Facebook page regularly updates which parks have reached capacity, so be sure and check there before heading out.
6. Atsion Recreation Center in Wharton State Forest — Shamong, NJ
One of the more beautiful lake beaches in the area, Atsion has gorgeous sand and a large swimming area. Just off the beach, there is a playground and a picnic area with tables and grills. There's also a snack bar and a few beautiful trails and camping nearby. Hours are from 10am to 6pm, which is when life guards are on duty. Inner tubes, rafts, and other floatation devices are not permitted. Note: Cabins are not open for the 2021 season.
7. Hooks Creek Lake at Cheesquake State Park — Matawan, NJ
The Interpretive Center and swimming are not available at this time.
Traditionally, this spot features swimming in Hooks Creek Lake, a family camping area, freshwater fishing, and a picnic area. In addition, children and parents can learn at the Nature Center. Here, guests can explore the three different habitats found at the park as well as discover facts about the Native Americans and early colonists that inhabited the area. Five trails round out the offerings.
Kids will miss swimming in Parvin Lake in 2021.
8. Parvin Lake at Parvin State Park — Pittsgrove, NJ
Swimming is not allowed as of June 2021.
Located at the edge of the Pine Barrens, this spot boasts lots of interesting vegetation in addition to opportunities for camping, boating, hiking trails, fishing, and picnicking. Inner tubes and rafts are not permitted in the swimming area.
9. Round Valley Recreation Area — Lebanon, NJ
This beautiful beach also offers playgrounds and volleyball courts. A concession stand sells snacks and beach supplies. Swimming is allowed in the designated areas from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but not in the main reservoir, which is reserved for scuba and skin diving. A June 2021 park advisory says the final 1.5 miles of the Cushetunk Trail (red) is under construction, so be aware if taking a hike while visiting.
10. Lake Nummy at Belleplain State Forest — Woodbine, NJ
There is no swimming at Lake Nummy for the 2021 season.
Traditionally, families can swim on the north side of Lake Nummy while visiting Belleplain State Forest. In addition, guests can expect plenty of spots to picnic, camping opportunities, and historical and natural interpretative ranger programming. Other amenities include a beach complex with changing area, first aid station, and concessions.
11. Lake Absegami in Bass River State Forest — Tuckerton, NJ
This 67-acre, well-shaded beach has been around since the 1930s. It also offers several great trails if you find yourself in the mood for a walk. In fact, all trails start at the beach parking lot. Visitors can also expect a changing area, restrooms, showers, first aid station, and concessions. Swimming is allowed from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day while lifeguards are on duty. Inner tubes. rafts, and other flotation devices are not allowed, and pets are prohibited.
12. Bellmawr Lake — Bellmawr, NJ
Only about 20 minutes away, this lake's location is a big perk for Philly families. Bellmawr Lake has lifeguards. The property also sells a variety of floats to enjoy. If you bring your own, make sure it is small so as not to impede on other's personal space. On-site concessions are available; make sure to bring cash since credit cards are not accepted. However, there is an ATM located at the main entrance.
Writer Kristen Sullivan contributed to this 2021 update.