Best Swimming Lakes near Philadelphia

Bass River State Forest. Photo courtesy NJ State Park Service
Bass River State Forest. Photo courtesy NJ State Park Service
5/12/23 - By Cait Sumner

Swimming lakes are the perfect summer destination that combines loads of water sports and fun with a day in nature.

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. Most lakes are open Memorial Day through Labor Day. So get your bathing suits on, load up the car, grab the sunscreen, and head out to one of these great local swimming lakes.

Looking for more summer fun? Check out our favorite Jersey Shore Beaches, or browse our roundups of Where to Go Camping with Kids and Kid-Friendly Places to Go Hiking. For all the best area swimming spots, our guide to Beaches, Pools, Spray Pads, and Water Parks has got you covered.


Swimming Lakes for Families in Pennsylvania

1. Blue Marsh Lake — Leesport, PA

Just past Reading, Pennsylvania, this manmade 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 you want to take a break from the water, you can enjoy hiking, biking, or horseback riding.

Locust Lake State Park
Enjoy swimming, camping, and more at Locust Lake State Park. Photo by Andy S./Trip Advisor

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. 

RELATED: Free Splash Pads, Spraygrounds, and Sprinkler Parks in Philly 

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, a picnic area and pavilion, a fishing pier, and hiking. The sand beach is open from late May through mid-September. Buoys mark designated swimming spots.

Beltzville State Park.
Beltzville State Park. Photo courtesy of

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. The lake also has a bathhouse with showers and concessions. Swimmers are advised to swim at their own risk. Other activities offered here include hiking, boating, mountain biking, wildlife watching, hunting, fishing, and picnicking. 

RELATED: Great Things to Do with Toddlers at the Jersey Shore

Atsion Recreation Area in New Jersey
Atsion Recreation Area in New Jersey features a gorgeous sand beach and swimming. Photo by the author

Swimming Lakes for Families in New Jersey

5. 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. Inner tubes, rafts, and other floatation devices are not permitted. 

6. Hooks Creek Lake at Cheesquake State Park — Matawan, NJ

This spot features swimming, 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 and discover facts about the Indigenous Peoples and early colonists that inhabited the area. The area also features five hiking trails.

RELATED: The Best Amusement Parks for Preschoolers Near Philly 

Kids and families will enjoy swimming in Parvin Lake. Photo by the author

7. Parvin Lake at Parvin State Park — Pittsgrove, NJ

Located at the edge of the Pine Barrens, this spot offers a beach area as well as the option to camp, canoe, boat, explore hiking trails, go fishing, and grill or picnic. Inner tubes and rafts are not permitted in the swimming area.

8. 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 when lifeguards are on duty, but not in the main reservoir, which is reserved for scuba diving and snorkeling. 

9. Lake Nummy at Belleplain State Forest — Woodbine, NJ

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 ranger programming. Other amenities include a beach complex with changing area, first aid station, playground equipment, and concessions.

10. Lake Absegami in Bass River State Forest — Tuckerton, NJ

Swimming is not available for the 2023 season, as the NJ Department of Environmental Protection started work on the construction of a new beach recreation complex at Lake Absegami. The picnic area is still available and you can sit on the beach, use the playgrounds and fields, or rent kayaks and paddleboards.

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 conveniently start at the beach parking lot. The new facility will include restrooms, a food concession, and lifeguard facilities. Inner tubes, rafts, and other flotation devices are not allowed, and pets are prohibited.

11. Bellmawr Lake — Bellmawr, NJ

Only about 20 minutes away, this lake's location is a big perk for Philly families. Bellmawr Lake has lifeguards and 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.

This post has been updated for 2023 with additional reporting by Alyce Wilson.

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