For a sunny, sandy day at the beach, Pennsylvania might not be the first state that comes to your mind. However, the Keystone State features nearly a dozen stunning lakes — all with sandy beaches for kids to build sand castles, parents to sit in a chair and read a book, or families to picnic before cooling off in the water.
Keep reading to discover the top 11 lakes in Pennsylvania with sandy beaches.
Does Pennsylvania Have Sandy Beaches?
Despite being a landlocked state, Pennsylvania has over 2,500 bodies of water within its limits to offer residents sandy beach shores. These bodies of water include glacial lakes, reservoirs, natural lakes, man-made lakes, and more. While not a lake or river, the Delaware Estuary lines 112 miles of Pennsylvania in the east.
Pennsylvania is also one of seven landlocked states that butt up against one (or more) of the Great Lakes. In the northwestern corner of the state, Pennsylvania has 77 miles of coastline on Lake Erie.
11 Stunning Lakes in Pennsylvania That Have Sandy Beaches
The lakes in Pennsylvania, most of which have a beach open throughout the summer months, provide families with a fun, friendly atmosphere with water sports, parks, playgrounds, and camping sites in addition to sandy beaches.
Presque Isle State Park Beaches (Erie)
If you’re looking for a handy location with several options for where to spend your beach day, look no further than Presque Isle State Park’s sandy shores. The state park has not one, not two, but nine unique beaches! They include:
- Beach #1 (which is located near the entrance and restrooms).
- Lyons beach.
- Waterworks beach.
- Mill Road beaches (including Stone Jetty, Shore Jetty, Saw Mill, Ainsworth, and Goddard).
- Pettinato beach.
- Pine tree.
- Budny beach.
- Kohler beach.
The beaches remain open between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, with hours ranging from noon to 7:30 p.m. The PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR) outlines guarded zones at the state park for safe swimming, and visitors should not swim outside of them — though they can wade up to their needs.
At any of the Presque Isle State Park Beaches, residents and visitors will enjoy the only surf swimming available in the state of Pennsylvania. In addition to surfing, beachgoers have their pick of picnic shelters, several concession stands, and playground equipment. At Budny Beach, you may see kite flyers and windsurfers at the nearby Sunset Point and Gull Point areas.
A few of the beaches in the state park are smoke-free: Barracks Beach, the Mill Road Beaches, and Kohler Beach. The restriction prohibits cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and other lighted smoking devices. Pets are welcome but must be leashed, attended to at all times, and picked up after. Take care to notice where the guarded and unguarded zones are for dogs to be with their families.
Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach (Lebanon)
For a small daily fee, Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach provides a long stretch of sandy shore (with a kid’s jumping dock!) for families to enjoy on the shores of Mt. Gretna Lake.
The beach area opens for the summer season, closing midway through September. By far, this remains one of the most popular lakeside beaches in the state to celebrate holidays — thanks to its upscale amenities, family-friendly atmosphere, and clean sand and lake.
Mt. Gretna Lake & Beach provides the perfect, soft sand for a day beside the water. It’s largely a family-centered beach for younger children and their families to enjoy. The lake employs lifeguards throughout the summer season and operates a snack bar to keep all visitors safe, happy, and full of great food. The iconic “Big Chair” is a photo-op parents won’t want to miss.
The lake has a full list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for guests, including prohibited items like alcohol, balls, pets, and private boats.
Black Moshannon State Park Beach (Philipsburg)
Named for the local tradition of Native Americans’ calling the watershed “Moss-Hanne” — and the tea-colored water — Black Moshannon State Park Beach has a small but beautiful sandy beach surrounded by lush wilderness.
While the State Park remains open every day of the year, the ADA-accessible sandy beach is only open between mid-May and mid-September between 8:00 a.m. and sunset. The beach doesn’t post a lifeguard, so the strip of sandy beach is swim-at-your-own-risk.
Black Moshannon State Park is a treasure trove of biodiversity with over 3,000 acres of forests and wetlands surrounding the beach. Around the park is an additional 43,000 acres of Moshannon State Forest. Activities on and around the beach include wildlife walking tours, interactive educational seminars, moon and stargazing events, pontoon boat rides, kayaking, canoeing, gardening, nature-inspired painting, bog tours, and much more.
Smoking is completely prohibited on the beach in Black Moshannon State Park. For those who smoke but want to use the beach, there are designated smoking areas nearby the beach.
Conneaut Lake Beach and Boardwalk (Conneaut Lake)
Since 1892, Pennsylvanians and their families have delighted in Conneaut Lake’s shores. The natural glacial lake’s water sparkles and laps at a sandy beach and newly constructed boardwalk, which levels up the fun families can have together.
The park opens seasonally, with beach access only available in the summer. While the shores remain busy most of the summer months when the resort is open, the busiest days coincide with the park’s event weekends.
Visitors can relax on the sandy beach all day if they’d like, or try their hand at one of the many water-based hobbies and sports. Fishing, swimming, water skiing, and paddleboarding remain some of the top picks for visitors to enjoy on the beach. Once you’ve had your fill of the sun and sand, an adjoining amusement park offers even more to do, like mini-golf, the historic roller coaster “Blue Streak” that dates back to 1937, and various other rides and concession options.
Guests of the beach cannot bring outside alcohol, food, or pets onto the sandy shores.
Seven Points Beach (Hesston)
The Raystown Lake Seven Points Beach area is part of the larger Raystown Lake Region. Located a few steps away from the Seven Points Marina, this beach has two types of gently sloping beaches to enjoy.
Open from dawn to dusk during the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Seven Points Beach sees the most activity on holidays. However, any weekend with great weather will see the sandy shores fill quickly with eager families ready to relax together.
At Seven Points, kids (and their conscious parents!) will love the sandy, shallow waters on the banks of the beach. Perfect for building sandcastles and splashing around, the blocked-off shallow portion of the lake entrance is made for young children to enjoy safely. Adjacent is a concrete slope down into the lake for adults. When you get hungry, visit Lighthouse Concessions for food and drinks to enjoy the lakeside or at one of the many picnic tables.
The beach area doesn’t allow pets, but leashed dogs can enjoy the rest of the park.
Keystone State Park Beach (Derry)
The beach at Keystone State Park has a small, beautiful sandy slope into clear water. The sandy shore overlooks the gently-flowing water of Keystone Lake and the lush forest on the other side of the bank.
Open between late May and Labor Day, guests of the beach can get their relaxation on starting as early as 8:00 a.m. and staying until sunset. The most popular times people visit are holiday weekends like the Fourth of July — and any other time when a special event happens.
Most visitors to Keystone State Park’s beach choose to swim, boat, or fish. Boating options include paddleboarding, rowing, canoes, and kayaks. During the open season, a concession stand offers both hot and cold food options. Toward the end of the summer and into the beach’s off-season, a Farmer’s Market overtakes the beach parking lot for a “make it, grow it, and bake it” vendor sale.
Because the beach remains largely unsupervised, it has several restrictions:
- No food.
- No beverages.
- No pets.
- No smoking.
The Beaches at Moraine State Park (Portersville)
Visitors to Moraine State Park have two options for swimming on the shores of Lake Arthur: Lakeview Beach and Pleasant Valley Beach.
The larger state park remains open year-round. However, both beaches open their sandy shores to visitors between the summer months of May and September. Like other beaches on the list, the most popular visiting times are holiday weekends. Other than that, the weather dictates how crowded the beach gets.
The best things to do at Moraine State Park’s beaches are relax on the sprawling sandy shore and swim (at your own risk). Because the beaches stretch much wider than the others in the state, there’s more room to lay out a beach towel, picnic, build sandcastles, and more. On the north side of the park, Lakeview Beach has a 656-foot sand beach. Lake Arthur’s south shore holds Pleasant Valley Beach, which features a 400-foot turf and sand beach. On the west side of Pleasant Valley’s beach, families will find a beach volleyball court and a playground.
To keep the park safe and clean for all visitors, the state park prohibits pets and smoking from both its beaches and swimming areas.
Beltzville State Park (Lehighton)
From 8:00 a.m. to sunset between May and September, visitors to Beltzville State Park will enjoy soaking in some rays surrounded by forest. The 525-foot sandy beach on the shores of Lake Beltzville boasts incredible swimming opportunities with a clear lake and a gently sloping bank that allows children and seniors to enjoy wading in the shallowest water. During the beach’s open season, a concession stand offers fresh food and sundries. The lake does not employ a lifeguard, so it’s a swim-at-your-own-risk shore. The most popular months to visit Beltzville are August and September.
Visitors often comment on the lake’s cleanliness. Common reviews for the lake center around how clean it is, the natural beauty of the beach juxtaposed with the mountains, and how empty the beach is in June.
Beltzville State Park’s beach remains smoke-free. For those who smoke and want to enjoy the beach, a designated smoking area lies just beyond the beach. Additionally, the beach does not allow recreational scuba diving.
Poe Valley State Park Beach (Coburn)
Though small, the banks of Poe Valley State Park’s beach at Poe’s Lake remain a tranquil spot to watch slow water meander through the surrounding rugged mountain valley.
Poe Valley State Park’s beach opens on Memorial Day and remains available to visitors and guests until Labor Day weekend. Depending on the weather, it opens for a few different weekends in the fall and spring for state park events.
Many visitors come to the quiet, small beach to simply relax on the shores of Poe Lake. Guests can wade and swim into the lake up to its maximum depth of five feet and choose to swim at their own risk. Adjacent to the beach are opportunities to paddle boat. During the open season, a concession stand sells hot and cold food, ice cream, beverages, and various water/boating rentals.
Poe Valley State Park’s beach is smoke-free.
Bald Eagle State Park (Howard)
Located in the very heart of Pennsylvania, Bald Eagle State Park combines a diverse set of biospheres into an incredible park — with a sandy beach to boot! Around the beach, visitors have the chance to camp, stay at the Nature Inn, or explore acres of forest to see wildlife up close and personal.
The swimming area, which remains ADA-compliant, is open during the regular summer season. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, guests can come to Bald Eagle State Park beach to swim from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
The 1,200-foot-long sand and turf beach at Bald Eagle State Park lends itself to many different activities. Most commonly, families come to swim, fish, and paddle boat around the lake. However, PA DCNR does warn visitors to stay healthy while swimming. They request that visitors attempt to avoid swallowing water while they swim, to stay out of the water if they feel ill, and for parents with non-potty trained children to check (and change) diapers often.
Bald Eagle State Park’s long stretch of beach is completely smoke-free. In addition, it does not permit pets.
Mauch Chunk Lake Park (Jim Thorpe)
For only $3 of a daily admission fee for county residents, Mauch Chunk Lake Park’s beautiful sandy beach is the perfect getaway for families in Carbon County. Even non-residents of the county only have a $10 fee during the week. Kids under three have free admission — and every admission price drops on weekends and holidays.
The small beach is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Mauch Chunk Beach’s swimming hours range between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Most visitors to Mauch Chunk Lake choose to enjoy their day sunbathing on the shores of the water, while others like to swim. The concession stand, open throughout the season, provides standard American fare like burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and cold beverages.
Guests can only swim in the lake while lifeguards are on duty. In addition, the lake prohibits pets, alcohol, or EZ-Up setups.
Sandy Shores Await in the Keystone State
With so many different beaches to choose from, Pennsylvanians can enjoy a sunny beach day close to home. Instead of driving several hours to the nearest beach on the Atlantic Coast, they can delight in the sandy shores of their home state’s best beaches on the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Keystone, and Lake Arthur. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/ehrlif
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