Editor’s note: this article was first published in August, 2018. Check with individual parks for opening days and hours.
Picture a lake on a hot summer day, the sun dancing and sparkling across its surface. Makes you want to hop right in. New Jersey boasts many lovely lakes. Some are located in state parks and offer hiking trails, picnic areas, boating, camping facilities, and more.
Here are our favorite lakes for your swimming pleasure. Check websites for fees, hours of operation, and locations.
Have we missed your favorite lake? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
Mahwah (Bergen County)
Darlington County Park in the foothills of the Ramapo mountains has three lakes. Two of these lakes are for swimming and the third allows fishing. You’ll also find a picnic area (bring your own grill), white sand beaches, a state-of-the-art playground, basketball, tennis, and handball courts.
Landing (Morris County)
Lake Hopatcong, located in Lake Hopacong State Park, is New Jersey’s largest freshwater lake and offers boating, fishing, water sports, and swimming. A concession, picnic grills, volleyball courts, and playgrounds are all near the beach. Lovely restaurants, marinas, and public beaches surround parts of the lake.
Morris Township (Morris County)
Sunrise Lake Beach Club in Lewis Morris Park is a child’s dream. Kids can enjoy an inflatable obstacle course (for ages 7 and older) and a fun Zoom Flume, while grown-ups can rent a paddle boat or a wibit (inflatable water structure). Tiny Tot Tuesdays in July allow children 4 and under to swim without bigger kids splashing about.
Sparta (Sussex County)
Tomahawk Lake offers swimming and boating as well as a waterpark with slides and rides, mini golf, and a snack bar. Children under 4 feet tall can safely enjoy Papoose Land without the frenetic older children and teen activities. Tomahawk even has a beer garden and catered picnics. Fun for grown ups, too.
Sussex (Sussex County)
Lake Marcia is in High Point State Park and boasts sand beaches (as well as grass ones). You can camp, hike, fish, boat, visit the concession stand, and picnic at provided tables and grills. There’s a playground as well as trails for bicycles and horseback riding.
Clinton (Hunterdon County)
Spruce Run Reservoir is in the Spruce Run Recreation Area and has someone for everyone. In addition to swimming, outdoor enthusiasts can check out basketball courts or rent a canoe, kayak, motor oat, or pontoon boat. Spend the whole day and dine al fresco in picnic areas, complete with grills, or visit the concession stand.
Lebanon (Hunterdon County)
Round Valley Reservoir in the Round Valley Recreation Center offers a little something unique: scuba and skin diving. If you’re not up for those adventures, you can still enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and hiking at this scenic venue.
Hopewell (Mercer County)
The Quarry Swim Club is surrounded by rock cliffs. It’s a private facility but special passes can be purchased for six visits rather than the entire season. Three large floats, inner tubes, diving boards, a snack bar, picnic tables with grills, and a sand volleyball court are all available in this rustic setting.
Old Bridge Township (Middlesex County)
Hooks Creek Lake in Cheesequake State Park is near the shore but a bit more serene. In addition to swimming in the pristine lake, visitors enjoy playgrounds, concession stands, and hiking. Wander around the fresh and salt marshes, camp, and visit the nature center to meet the resident animals. There’s also a crabbing bridge.
Bellmawr (Camden County)
Bellmawr Lake offers swimming, a water slide, beach volleyball, horseshoes, and a picnic area. There’s also mini golf as well as a beach bar for adults. They host private beach parties if you’d like to host birthday celebration or family reunion.
Dennis (Cape May County)
Lake Nummy is located in Belleplain State Forest and has cabins on the lake and yurts for rent. That’s right, yurts! Create your own nearby getaway and spend some time fishing, boating, and camping as well as swimming. There’s a concession selling refreshments, beach supplies, and novelty items.
Pittsgrove Township (Salem County)
Parvin Lake is located in Parvin State Park on the edge of the scenic Pine Barrens where there’s plenty of vegetation and wildlife. In addition to swimming visitors can picnic, boat, canoe, hike, bike, and fish. There’s also a food concession.
Shamong (Burlington County)
Atsion Lake is located in Wharton State Forest and home to many birds and other wildlife. Visitors enjoy swimming and canoeing in the lake, rivers, and streams. Mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding are popular on the park’s miles of unpaved roads. Wharton State Forest offers camping, fishing, picnic tables, playgrounds, and a concession stand.