Swimming Near Columbus: All The Best Spots

Written by Kaleigh Moore
Updated: June 18, 2023
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Summers in Columbus can be unforgiving, with the city experiencing a heat index of 90 for several weeks. The season has Central Ohioans spending part of their time outdoors, bird watching, hiking,  biking, mountain climbing, and wildlife viewing. Swimming is also an incredibly popular pursuit at this time of the year. Thankfully, the city sits near many fantastic locations for them to plunge into the water and cool off. 

This article covers some of the top-rated swimming holes near Columbus. We’ll also give you some valid reasons you shouldn’t think twice about exploring these amazing destinations as a novice or expert swimmer. Let’s begin! 

Shale Hollow Park  

Located less than 30 minutes from Columbus, the scenic Shale Hollow Park is a premier swimming destination in Lewis Center. It has a small stream where you can take a dip before exploring the many trails on site. 

The park’s eastern half is ideal for plant lovers as it hosts many species, including trees like white oak, maple, and hickory. You’ll also spot beautiful wildflowers such as blue cohosh, yellow-trout lily, and large white trillium. 

If you’re an animal enthusiast, expect to see some of these species at Shale Hollow Park: 

  • Coyotes
  • Raccoons
  • White-tail deer
  • Two-lined salamander 
  • Acadian flycatcher 
  • Barred owls 
  • Pileated woodpeckers 
  • Barred owls
Shale Hollow Park, Lewis Center, Ohio

Shale Hollow Park has a small stream where you can take a dip before exploring the many trails on site.

©Kathy Simcox/Shutterstock.com

Buckeye Lake

Sitting in Licking, Fairfield, and Perry counties, Buckeye Lake is about 33 minutes from Ohio’s capital. It prides itself on being home to the state’s oldest park, Buckeye Lake State Park, known for its diverse swimming, boating, hiking, picnicking, and waterfowl hunting spots. 

If you’re a fishing enthusiast, here’s some good news — Buckeye Lake hosts countless species for you to catch, such as bullhead catfish, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, and perch. Remember that anglers exploring this body of water must be at least 16 with a valid Ohio fishing license.

Again, Buckeye Lake welcomes visitors in the winter. However, most aren’t particularly interested in swimming thanks to the season’s low temperatures. Instead, they have a ball ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating. Supposing you plan to indulge in any of these fun activities, learn the basics to relish them and avoid accidents that could injure or claim your life. 

Buckeye Lake, Ohio

If you’re a fishing enthusiast, here’s some good news — Buckeye Lake hosts countless species for you to catch!

©Tara Ballard/Shutterstock.com

Delaware Lake

Nestled in Central Ohio, Delaware Lake is another fantastic swimming locale awaiting your discovery if you’re near Columbus. It has an 800-foot beach with designated swim areas for all visitors, regardless of age. Unfortunately, pets aren’t allowed near them, meaning you must hire a sitter to care for your furry pal before coming here.

After you’ve had enough of swimming in Delaware Lake, consider other riveting activities around it. For example, if you’re a golfing enthusiast, there’s a 27-hole course near the Sweet Gum picnic area and a 9-hole course at the campground. Even more ideal, equipment is available, and you’re not required to pay a dime to play!

The Delaware State Park Campground around the lake welcomes campers and their furry pals, making it the perfect place to pitch your tent and relax. Hunting, hiking, and bird watching are more exciting things to indulge in around this great swimming hole. The park’s staff also offers environmental education for those interested in learning more about the plant and animal life around the body of water. 

Small Waterfall with a tree in front in a Delaware County Park in Ohio

Hunting, hiking, and bird watching are more exciting things to indulge in around this great swimming hole.

©Mark J Calvert/Shutterstock.com

Clarence J. Brown Reservoir 

Situated near Springfield, the Clarence J. Brown Reservoir has a swimming beach managed by Buck Creek State Park. Because it’s less than an hour from Columbus, it’s a favorite for many Ohioans looking to beat the summer heat while enjoying nature’s beauty. Fortunately, this lake also offers opportunities to camp, picnic, and boat, meaning boredom will be the least of your worries.

On top of that, the Clarence J. Brown Reservoir is a premier walleye fishing destination. In addition, you’re likely to hook other types of fish, including, but not limited to: 

Clarence J. Brown Dam and Reservoir

Dive into tranquility at Clarence J. Brown Reservoir, where sparkling waters and serene surroundings create the perfect swimmer’s paradise.

©Dave Picolo/Shutterstock.com

Lake Logan State Park

Like the Clarence J. Brown Reservoir, Lake Logan State Park in Hocking County is less than an hour away from the bustling Columbus. It has several swimming areas at the 547-foot public swimming beach where you can have a good time with your loved ones. But regrettably, they’re only open during the day. 

Even so, much more entertainment awaits you if you’re into other watersports. For example, sailing is an option since nearby the Lake Logan Marina provides quality boating equipment such as:

  • Pontoon boats
  • Paddle boats
  • Kayaks
  • Canoes
  • Swimming rafts
  • Anchors
  • Buoys

Plants and Animals in Lake Logan

The forest surrounding Lake Logan is dominated by oak and hickory. Plants like wintergreen, fire pink, spring beauty, and bluet grace its floor, which also hosts ferns, fungi, and greenbrier. The region has many animals, ranging from red-tailed hawks and woodpeckers to gray squirrels, skunks, and white-tail deer. 

A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched on a pole

Red-tailed hawks are among the animals found in the area around Lake Logan.

©Richard G Smith/Shutterstock.com

Deer Creek Lake

Offering a 1,700-foot swimming beach, the lovely Deer Creek Lake has earned the favor of many swimming enthusiasts in Columbus. You can only partake in this exciting venture during the day and without your pet. But on the upside, the area has grills and picnic tables, enabling you to prepare or enjoy snacks and spend more time in nature.

In addition, Deer Creek Lake has waterfowl hunting zones, though you’re prohibited from harvesting pheasants, deer, and rabbits. However, if you want to pursue these species, visit the nearby Deer Creek Wildlife Area, which also has a timber stand with:

The beautiful lake at Deer Creek State Park in Ohio on a bright sunny day.

Offering a 1,700-foot swimming beach, the lovely Deer Creek Lake has earned the favor of many swimming enthusiasts in Columbus.


Prairie Oaks Dog Beach

Hilliard’s Prairie Oaks Dog Beach is a well-liked swimming area for domesticated dogs and cats. While you can’t swim here, your furry pal will undoubtedly have an amazing time in the water with other animals. Thankfully, they’re allowed on every part of this location, including parking lots, roadways, and picnic areas. But there’s a catch — your buddy must be on a leash at most 6 feet long.

You’ll undoubtedly like Prairie Oaks Dog Beach’s breathtaking scenery. The up to 500 acres of lush prairies and grasslands let you enjoy strolls with your dog before heading to the park on-site to boat or fish. 

prairie oak lake, west Jefferson ohio

Unleash the fun at Prairie Oaks Dog Beach! Your furry friend will love frolicking in the waves and making new paw-some pals.


Why Swimming Near Columbus is a Great Idea

Here are seven compelling reasons you should take advantage of Columbus’ best swimming spots:

It’s Relaxing

If you’re looking for a way to blow off steam, plunging into the natural waters of Ohio’s capital is perfect. This activity alleviates stress by triggering the release of endorphins, which make us happier and more relaxed.

Because swimming workouts are soothing, psychologists recommend them for patients battling mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. In some cases, this exercise is more effective than antidepressants like Prozac.

It Improves Your Flexibility and Overall Physical Fitness

According to statistics, over 50% of the world’s adult population is trying to lose weight. To achieve that feat, most people diet, cut out carbs, and even undergo bariatric surgeries like sleeve gastrostomy and gastric banding. Sadly, many don’t get the desired or ‘perfect results’ despite exposing themselves to the dangers of some of these habits and procedures.

So, why not give swimming a chance? Experts say about 30 minutes of breaststroke burns about 200 calories. Another technique, like the butterfly, enables you to burn up to 450 calories, building upper body strength and toning other body parts, including your butt, stomach, and arms. With consistency, you can quickly shed off the pounds you want within a few weeks or months, eventually enjoying these benefits of physical fitness:

  • Better mental health
  • Improved confidence
  • Improved cognitive thinking or brain activity
  • Better weight management
  • Lower risk of developing stomach, endometrium, breast, colon, kidney, and lung cancer
  • Reduced risk of getting type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases

Again, swimming increases your flexibility, decreasing your risk of injury whenever you indulge in the activity and other physical exercises. It also prevents your muscles from becoming sore after working out and improves your body posture. 

Senior man swimming in the Sea/Ocean - enjoying active retirement, having fun, taking care of himself, staying fit

A technique like the butterfly enables you to burn up to 450 calories, building upper body strength and toning other body parts, including your butt, stomach, and arms.

©l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock.com

It Betters Your Sex Life

Are you experiencing trouble in the bedroom? Well, try swimming your way to more satisfying sex!

Apart from toning your body, taking a dip boosts your libido and enhances your cardiac function, significantly taking your sexual performance to the next level. Furthermore, it makes you happier, and sometimes, a good mood is all you need to spice things up with your lover. 

On top of that, regular swimming workouts increase circulation, allowing more blood to flow to your genitals to enhance your sexual function. Plus, you don’t have to worry about low self-esteem or confidence since being physically fit means you look incredible. Ultimately, you’ll enjoy a more fulfilling life, inside and outside your bedroom. 

It Boosts Your Health

If you want to keep infections at bay, grab every opportunity to plunge into the swimming holes near Columbus. Cold water improves blood circulation, ensuring all body cells get sufficient nutrients and oxygen and facilitating quick waste removal; this prevents inflammation and other diseases.

The fact that swimming boosts your mental well-being also helps to keep you healthy. While stress can increase sharpness and prompt you to better yourself, it tends to build up, leading to undesirable long-term implications like depression. Even worse is that chronic stress causes systemic inflammation, deterring your body’s natural defense mechanism from working and making you more susceptible to fatal illnesses like diabetes and cancer.

Moreover, swimming strengthens your immune system by upping your vitamin D intake since you’ll be soaking in the sun while at it. The fat-soluble vitamin presents these amazing health benefits:

  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Prevents skin cancer
  • Reduces your risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Minimizes your risk of heart disease
  • Improves your mood

It Provides Quality Play Time for Kids 

Supposing your little one has been down lately, taking them to a nearby swimming spot for a few hours of water play could lift their spirits. To begin, they’ll spend quality time with their friends, competing and bonding. The exercise also improves children’s self-esteem — nothing beats the pride they feel when you applaud their performance, or they win a contest. 

In addition, we recommend swimming for young kids because it nurtures and equips them with handy skills to face the world as adults. These include independence, communication, water safety, body coordination, and confidence. 

Did you also know the minds of kids who swim develop faster than those who don’t? Studies indicate that young swimmers are more intelligent. They boast better cognitive ability, translating into improved language and mathematics skills. 

Cute kids having fun on the sandy beach in summer. High quality photo.

Discover the boundless benefits of children swimming and playing on the beach! From developing physical strength to fostering creativity and social skills, endless joys await in the sand and sea.

©Nina Buday/Shutterstock.com

It Helps Improve Various Physical Conditions

Swimming is recommended if you have recently suffered an incident that left you with a physical injury or disability. The American College of Sports Medicine deems this exercise suitable for patients undergoing rehabilitation due to injured muscles or ligaments. 

We also encourage aqua therapy for those with the following: 

  • Swelling and bruising
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Spinal injuries 
  • Back pain
  • Musculoskeletal issues like dislocated shoulders and ankle sprains
  • Neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis 
  • Stroke 
  • Head injuries

Note that swimming as aqua therapy is different from doing it for fun. Ensure you only plunge into the water with a qualified coach or professional beside you for safety.

It Enhances Your Furry Pal’s Wellbeing

Some of the swimming spots in Columbus allow dogs to swim. Like humans, these adorable creatures greatly benefit from exercise. For example, it lets them cool off during the hot summers, relieves pain, strengthens their muscles, and minimizes stress. 

If your furry buddy is obese, swimming enables it to burn calories and boosts its metabolic rate, facilitating much-needed weight loss.

Besides, swimming has proved incredibly helpful for dogs with hip dysplasia, a condition that can occur at any stage of the animals’ growth. It results in a loosened hip joint, causing the species unimaginable pain and hindering it from functioning correctly. Therefore, taking a dip acts as hydrotherapy, alleviating their pain and soothing their joints.

What If Your Dog Dislikes Swimming?

As you contemplate exploring swimming holes with your pup, remember that some animals are not natural-born swimmers. You can easily tell if you place them in the water, and they can’t paddle or splash around.

In that case, treat your furry pal like a child. Give it time to acclimate to the exercise at its own pace and be patient with it. Offering rewards like treats or a massage can also motivate the pet to spend more time in the water, ensuring they don’t miss out on the amazing benefits of the watersport. 

Columbus: The Perfect Destination for Swimmers

Given its many swimming holes, Columbus is a must-visit for Ohioans and tourists looking to cool off and have the time of their lives. One of the most alluring aspects of all these spots is they also avail opportunities for other equally thrilling activities. Take Delaware Lake, for instance — it promises quality fishing adventures, allowing anglers to catch multiple species, including muskie, crappie, and largemouth bass. 

Of course, you must arm yourself with the necessary skills before partaking in any activity at Columbus’ best swimming locations — for example, master how to safely enter and come out of the water before taking a dip. Your capability to breathe underwater, coordinate your limbs, float and kick also needs to be topnotch, lest you have an unpleasant experience. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kenneth Sponsler/Shutterstock.com

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