For most Philly-area folks, a beach vacation means a trip down the shore, but you could also head up north and find plenty of places to get your toes wet.
While we usually think of the Poconos as the spot for hiking, natural sightseeing, and other outdoorsy activities, it’s also a great place to go if you’re looking to take a swim. There, you’ll find no shortage of lakeside beaches and swimming areas to go for a dip and you can even do a little canoeing or kayaking.
So, we’ve already highlighted where to stay on your Poconos getaway, and run down a multitude of things to do while you’re up there — but what if you just want a good, old-fashioned swimming day? Here’s a few good places to consider before you dive in.
Head to this state park to swim in the beautiful Beltzville Lake, where you’ll find a 525-foot sand beach that leads to an area of the 949-acre lake that’s roped off for swimming. And from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you’ll also find a concessions stand offering food and drinks — plus a rental stand where you can rent kayaks, paddleboats, and pontoon boats (you can even go waterskiing along the lake’s south shore).
📍 2950 Pohopoco Dr., Lehighton, 📞 610-377-0045, ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org, 💲 Free, 🌐 dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/BeltzvilleStatePark
Known as the “gateway to the Poconos,” the massive, 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area has tons of great swimming areas, but because it’s so huge, it can be tough to decide where to start. One popular area is Milford Beach, located on the north end of the park near the town of Milford. This spot has a grassy beach, picnic areas, a pavilion, restrooms, and a boat and canoe launch, so there’s plenty to keep you there all day..
If Milford is full, or you just want to explore the Delaware Water Gap a little more, head about 25 miles south to Smithfield Beach. Set just north of Delaware Water Gap, Pa., (the town, of course), Smithfield offers a grassy beach, picnic areas, restrooms, and a boat and canoe launch. And if you’re feeling a little adventurous — as in, “let’s head over to New Jersey” — there’s another swimmable spot just across the Delaware River known as Turtle Beach.
You can go to Hickory Run State Park for a nice hike, or to see the beautiful Hawk Falls or Boulder Field — or, you could stop in for a swim. The park’s Sand Spring Lake has a large sand beach with plenty of room to swim, and it’s open from late May to mid-September. Plus, there’s an on-site snack place that offers sandwiches, ice cream, drinks, and other refreshments.
📍3613 PA-534, White Haven, 📞 272-808-6189, ✉️ email@example.com, 💲 Free, 🌐 dcnr.pa.gov/stateparks/findapark/hickoryrunstatepark/Pages/default.aspx
Constructed in 1926, the man-made Lake Wallenpaupack in Pike County stretches 13 miles, covering 5,700 acres, and has 52 miles of shoreline, so there’s plenty of room for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. If you’re looking to swim, check out the Palmyra Township Public Beach (the only public beach on Lake Wallenpaupack), which is open daily throughout the summer, and includes amenities like a concession stand, bathrooms, picnic tables, and grills (plus lifeguards, which is always a plus).
If one beach in a park isn’t enough for you, head to the Promised Land — a Pike County state park where you’ll find two sandy beaches that are open for swimming from 8 a.m. to sunset. The main beach is located in the Day Use Picnic Area and includes a refreshment stand with food and drinks, while the Pickerel Point Beach is located on Pickerel Point (naturally). Boat rentals — including rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats — are available.
📍 100 Lower Lake Rd., Greentown, 📞 570-676-3428, ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org, 💲Free, 🌐 dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/PromisedLandStatePark
Until 1954, the quaint town of Jim Thorpe was known as Mauch Chunk, but this camping and recreation spot still carries the area’s original name. Here, you’ll find Mauch Chunk Lake, which offers sandy beaches, woodsy views, and a large swimming area. The beach area, which is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., includes a refreshment stand and pavilion, and lifeguards are on duty. If you want to go, though, get there early as park visitation is limited to 700 people per day.
Stretching across Monroe and Wayne Counties, Gouldsboro State Park is great for everything from hiking to cross-country skiing — but in the summer, it’s all about the 250-acre Gouldsboro Lake. Like with other state parks, you’ll find a nice, sandy beach to relax on after you take a dip — or, you can head to the boat rental stand for rowboats, kayaks, paddleboats, canoes, and electric motor boats, if you’re feeling more nautical.
📍 SR 507 & State Park Rd., Gouldsboro, 📞 570-894-8336, ✉️ email@example.com, 💲Free, 🌐 dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/GouldsboroStatePark
If you happen to be renting — or if you own — a vacation home in the gated community of Arrowhead Lake this summer, don’t miss the opportunity to swim at the development’s namesake lake, or its smaller counterpart, North Arrowhead Lake. The community offers four beach areas where you can swim and relax, and each spot includes playgrounds and roped-off swimming areas. Note, though, that these amenities are only for residents, renters, and their guests (no public access), and you’ll need to be registered with the Arrowhead Lake Community Association to use them.
Located near Gouldsboro State Park, Tobyhanna State Park stands at 5,440 acres, including its 170-acre Tobyhanna Lake. Here, you’ll find a sand beach to rest on between swims and amenities like a bathhouse with changing areas, plus showers (which are available for a small fee). Prospective boaters can head to a rental area to rent rowboats, kayaks, paddleboats, canoes, and electric motor boats.
📍 114 Campground Rd., Tobyhanna, 📞 570-894-8336, ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org, 💲Free, 🌐 dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/FindAPark/TobyhannaStatePark
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