If one is looking to escape hot summer days by finding a place to swim in Northern New York, they don't have to look far. Northern NY is home to well maintained state parks with large swimming areas down to small spring fed pools/swimming holes. If you have grown up in this area, you are likely already familiar with many of these, but for those that are new to the area or only here for a few years, you might be looking for various places to cool down out of the house!
1. Wescott Beach State Park, conveniently located just outside of Watertown, NY and on the ever popular Lake Ontario has a beach with lifeguards that is available for day use or for campers. It is equipped with playgrounds for children and a volleyball court and also has a small marina for boaters.
2. Southwick Beach State Park, also located on Lake Ontario, is south of Watertown in Henderson. Southwick also allows for camping and day use. The beach is large and sandy, with the option to swim outside of the lifeguard area further down the beach. Southwick is home to sand dunes that have been preserved, some of which have been unfortunately been affected by the flooding this year. There is also an easy to walk nature trail off the beach.
3. If you are looking for a smaller option, the park in Croghan, NY has a small, free, spring fed beach. It is commonly referred to as a pool or a swimming hole. The swim area is almost completely fenced in and is a great place to take small children as they are easy to keep an eye on. The water can be brisk, but the kids don't seem to mind! There is also a pavilion and playground right beside the swimming area.
5. Lowville, NY is home to Whetsone Gulf State Park. The park is situated in and around a gorge. It has camping and day use picnic and swimming. The swimming area is man made and since the water is flowing continuously, it can be cold, but it is a smaller, less crowded park. There are playgrounds and pavilions available for use as well as a fitness trail and a more challenging trail around the gorge. Whetstone also has a reservoir above the gorge which a popular spot for canoeing and fishing.
6. If you are looking to travel a little further, another popular summer destination is Old Forge, NY. Located in the Adirondack Mountains, the Old Forge area has a number of State Parks and camp grounds You can find summer cabin rentals or pitch a tent. Right in Old Forge is the largest water park in the area known as Enchanted Forest Water Safari. Water Safari is fun for little ones all the way up to adults. There are also dry rides and a path through the Enchanted Forest. If you are looking for something a little quieter, just before Water Safari is a small, free, public beach which can be great for toddlers (or parents ;) ) that aren't quite ready for the bigger crowds.
7. Lake Bonaparte is located just before Harrisville, NY. Lake Bonaparte is a popular lake for boating, tubing, water skiing and swimming. While it has numerous private properties and camps, some of these properties are available for rent and there is a public swimming area.
8. If you travel north, Alexandria Bay is home Grass Point State Park. Grass Point State Park boasts some of the best fishing in the country and a sandy beach with shallow water good for children. The park is open for camping and day use.
9. For those located in southern Lewis County, Delta Lake State Park, located in Rome, NY, is a short drive with another nice swimming area. Delta Lake also has camping and day use options. The beach is spacious and sandy, with water that can get quite warm in the summer. Last year the beach had a water wheelchair available for those in need to allow them to also enjoy the water with their families.
10. South of Southwick Beach State Park, located in Pulaski, NY is Sandy Island Beach State Park. Sandy Island Beach State Park is part of the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland System. According to parks.ny.gov, "the area is the only significant freshwater dune site in the northeastern United States". It has walkovers and viewing platforms to protect the fragile dunes that lead down to the beach which is available for day use swimming.
Have a spot to add? Feel free to let me know!