15 Lakes In NJ To Cool Off In This Summer


New Jersey may be known for the shore, but we’re letting you in on a little secret—there are a bunch of pristine swimming lakes in NJ that are just as fun and family-friendly as the ocean. What’s more, they offer lots of ways to spend a family day on the water, whether jumping from inflatables, spending the hours in a canoe, dropping in a fishing line, or renting a motorboat for a sunset cruise. Ready to go jump in a lake? Read on for where to find the best lakes in New Jersey and what to know before you visit this summer. (featured photo credit: @livinglifetwointow)

15 Of The Best Lakes in NJ For Families

Lakes In NJ

Sunrise Lake has a water top obstacle course, beach, and more, so it’s one of our top lakes in NJ. Photo Credit: @jessielee.1

Lakes in North NJ

Lake Hopatcong
While it’s known for boating, NJ’s largest lake, Lake Hopatcong, has plenty of other options for the family, like fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, playgrounds, and restaurants with decks overlooking pretty water views. Swimming is permitted at Hopatcong State Park during the summer while lifeguards are on duty. If you plan to spend the day, there are facilities, like a bathhouse complex containing restrooms, showers, changing areas, and a concession stand to pick up food and sundries.
1 Lakeside Boulevard, Hopatcong, NJ 07843

Lake Marcia
Located within High Point State Park (and part of the Appalachian trail), this location is perfect for new summer memories with the kids. With a beach and crystal clear lake, littles can spend the day on the water’s edge playing in the sand and dipping their toes in the shallow water. Swimming is permitted in Lake Marcia from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, and there is a bathhouse and food concessions on site. Want to stay longer? Bring your tent, sleeping bags, and s’mores to one of the campsites you can reserve beforehand.
1480 Route 23, Sussex, NJ 07461

Lake Pompton
Pompton Lakes has two recreational lakes and three rivers, all with public access, allowing for shoreline fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. During summer, you can spend the day renting a paddleboat, canoe, or kayak by the hour (if you own a boat, you can always launch it year-round). There are 10 parks with waterfront access, a dog park, five refurbished tennis courts, and hiking trails, plus there is a multi-use (bicycle and pedestrian) greenway path that follows the route of the former Morris Canal. There is a newer redone Rotary Park and walkway along the shoreline of Pompton Lake, too.
Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442

Franklin Lakes
Although no swimming is allowed, you can spend the day on a kayak, canoe, pedal board, and stand-up paddleboard at the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve. There are also trails (including a handicapped-accessible one) at this 120-acre passive recreational facility around a beautiful 75-acre lake. Off the water, you can go walking, hiking, jogging, fishing, bird watching, and picnicking. And if you don’t have any equipment, no worries—Ramsey Outdoor has an onsite spot to rent boats and boards.
1 Nature Preserve Way, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417 (Entrance off High Mountain Rd)

Tomahawk Lake and Water Park
When your kids are looking for action, head to Tomahawk Lake. With plenty of rentable boating options, like bumper boats, paddle boats, rowboats, and more, the whole family can have an action-packed day on the water. Season passes are available, and make sure you head to the waterpark, featuring twisty and thrilling body and coaster slides that plunge into the lake.
155 Tomahawk Trail, Sparta, NJ 07871

Wawayanda State Park
If you prefer a smaller lake and a quiet getaway, Swartswood Lake in Hewitt, NJ, is perfect for a first lakeside adventure. Open for swimming from mid-June to Labor Day, while lifeguards are on duty, the whole family can swim in the lake’s calm waters or enjoy picnicking on the gorgeous beach nearby. It’s also convenient, with changing areas, restrooms, a first-aid station, and a food concession stand nearby.
885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt, NJ 07421

Shepherd Lake
Shepherd Lake in Ringwood State Park is another excellent option for a gorgeous beach, hiking trails, and even a famous botanical garden. The 74-acre lake is perfect for a swim—beyond that, you can hang out on the beach, fish, kayak, canoe, and walk on one of the fantastic trails nearby.
1304 Sloatsburg Road, Ringwood, NJ 07456

Greenwood Lake
One of the largest lakes within the Highlands region of northern New Jersey, Greenwood boasts a two-state address, with half of the lake stretching into New Jersey and the other half in New York. Swim, fish, kayak, paddleboard, sail, and more are available at this Skyland region lake, though you’ll have to go to the NY side to access the lake for a swim and beach time. There’s also a 16.8-mile dedicated bike trail around the lake—the loop begins and ends at Brown’s Point Park in West Milford, New Jersey, crossing into New York State, with scenic lakeside stops along the way.
Greenwood Lake, Vernon, NJ 07421

Sunrise Lake
Looking for something for every age in the family, even large groups? Sunrise Lake is the place. With an inflatable obstacle course on the water, beach, beach tent rentals, and options for private lake use reservations, this hits all the marks when trying to appeal to everyone. And if you’re a mom to little ones, Sunrise Lake runs a “Munchkin Mondays” event every Monday in June through August, where you can enjoy the lake and beach with other toddler families.
Sunrise Lake, Mendham, NJ 07945

Lakes in NJ

Serene and peaceful are the perfect words to describe the Manasquan Reservoir. Photo Credit: @travelwithsmalls

Lakes in Central NJ 

Hooks Creek Lake
Bring your hiking shoes—this lake is located in Cheesequake Park, where there are lots of trails and wood bridges to explore. Swimming is permitted in Hooks Creek Lake from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend while lifeguards are on duty, and there’s a beach complex where you can change and fuel up on snacks after a swim. You can also fish from the fully stocked freshwater or try to catch the blue crabs that hang by the crabbing bridge near the beach.
300 Gordon Road, Matawan, NJ 07747

Round Valley Recreational Area
The huge sandy shore makes this a must for swimmers—you can find a roomy spot and relax in the sand after a dip. With a complex that’s got changing areas, restrooms, showers, a first-aid station, and a concession stand, you can spend the whole day here swimming and taking part in the action. Kids will love hanging at one of the two playgrounds and tossing a ball over the volleyball nets on the beachfront.
1220 Stanton-Lebanon Road, Lebanon, NJ 08833

Manasquan Reservoir
Hike, bike, or run the 5-mile trail around the Manasquan Reservoir or spend the day fishing or boating on the open water. This Monmouth County Parks System spot has over 1,200 acres of land and water. Kids can visit the playground or take a trip out on the water in a kayak or rowboat with an adult. Don’t miss the Environmental Center, which offers learning and discovery-related experiences. View interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, and educational activities—and good to know, it’s also an excellent place for a birthday party.
311 Windeler Road, Howell, NJ 07731

Lakes in NJ

Giving lake life a thumbs up at one of the many lakes in NJ to do boating and watersports. Photo Credit: @livinglifetwointow

Lakes in South NJ

Lake Atsion in Wharton State Forest
This park has everything, from historic Batso Village within Wharton State Forest to tent camping for an overnight experience. Swimming facilities are available at the Atsion Recreation Area from Memorial Weekend to Labor Day while lifeguards are on duty. And you’ll find plenty of rivers and streams for canoeing, hiking trails, unpaved roads for mountain biking and horseback riding, plus areas to observe birds and other native wildlife.
715 Route 206, Shamong, NJ 08088

Lake Absegami
Located in Bass River State Forest, this lake is a perfect getaway for your family. With a designated swimming area, fishing, trails, camping, and rental cabins, there’s enough here for a day trip, overnight, or even a week-long vacation. Daytrippers will appreciate the beach complex, but keep in mind it’s undergoing an upgrade—they recently started construction, but you will be able to sit on the beach, rent a kayak/stand-up paddleboard, and use the playgrounds and recreation field. The restrooms are currently closed, but portable sanitary facilities are available.
762 State Road, Bass River Twp., NJ 08224

Lake Nummy
With a name like Lake Nummy, how could you go wrong? Located in Belleplain State Forest, you’ll find everything you need for an action-packed day of fun, including a beach area, rec center, areas for paddle boarding, canoeing, fishing, and plenty of trails to take a hike. Pack a picnic and set it up at one of the picnic tables near the beach (charcoal grills are nearby if you want to cook out). Like it enough to spend more time? Check out the cabins and campsites within the park.
1 Henkinsifkin Road, Woodbine, NJ 08270

Become an NJMOM Insider! For all the best things to do with your family around New Jersey, sign up for our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox each week, and don’t forget to tag your photos #NJMOM and @njmom for a chance to be featured on our social media.

About Author

Ali, raised on an alpaca farm by bakery owners in Princeton, NJ, is a Jersey girl through and through. Upon meeting her Red Bank-based in-laws, she fell in love with the Jersey shore and all it has to offer — from great hiking trails, to the fun towns, to the beach only minutes away. She especially loves being close to her soon-to-be husband’s large Irish family, where the 30+ first cousins are now starting families of their own- and can’t help but spend all her time with all of their babies. In her spare time, you can find her wandering around quaint NJ towns, oil painting, trying her hand at baking complicated desserts, and hiking Sandy Hook trails.