The Best Swimming Spots in Pennsylvania: Lakes, Rivers, and More

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: August 27, 2023
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From marine estuaries to mountainous plateaus, Pennsylvania has a diverse landscape. This picturesque state features rolling forested hills, over 2,500 lakes, 38 rivers, and 112 miles of coastline along the Delaware estuary. It also boasts streams, wetlands, and springs due to its humid climate. But does the state get warm enough for swimming outside in natural pools?

Well, Pennsylvania has a humid continental climate with distinct seasonal changes and winds from the west. The weather can fluctuate drastically depending on where you are in the state. In general, Pennsylvania has intense, continuously cold winters with snow.

And summers are typically mild and pleasant, with the southeast portion of the state being hotter on average due to its proximity to the ocean. Summers across the state vary between 68℉ and 86℉. And the warm season lasts just over three months, from the end of May to mid-September.

If you’re looking to swim outside, remember that July is the hottest month. Discover the best swimming spots in Pennsylvania, including swimming holes, lakes, rivers, beaches, and water parks. 

Pennsylvania Swimming Holes

Jackson Falls

Locals say time spent swimming in this little gem known as Jackson Falls was magical!

©R/PAWilds – License

Due to Pennsylvania’s natural landscape, there are many swimming holes within its borders. Along with being popular pools for summertime fun, Pennsylvania swimming holes have beautiful settings, such as secluded woodlands and rushing waterfalls.

Jackson Falls is one of the most famous swimming holes in Pennsylvania. It features three scenic waterfalls and small pools in Apollo. Despite its popularity, this swimming spot is rarely crowded and features a serene atmosphere and wildlife. You have to hike a moderately challenging route to get to the falls, and it can be difficult to find. But the payoff is well worth it. Also, check out Rocks Run, Salt Springs State Park, Meadow Run Natural Waterslide, and Kennedy’s Mill.

Pennsylvania Swimming Lakes

Lake Erie is one of the best swimming spots in Pennsylvania.

©zrfphoto/Shutterstock.com

Pennsylvania has 124 state parks that boast 56 major recreational lakes and 61 lake beaches, some of which are the best swimming areas in the state. And lake recreation offers more than just swimming. You can make it a weekend and stay at a campground, bring your boat and go fishing, or just take in all of the natural scenery.

You could check out Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes and easily one of the best swimming spots in Pennsylvania. Or try your hand at Lake Wallenpaupack, a large reservoir with a sandy swimming beach. Raystone Lake is another favorite for swimming and other activities. The lake’s water is clean and clear, and it warms up close to 70 degrees during the summer. It’s also surrounded by lush forests, where many people enjoy camping and hiking.

Pennsylvania Rivers for Swimming and Floating

Callicon Creek with green trees on both banks

Callicon Creek is a major tributary of the Delaware River.

©Alizada Studios/Shutterstock.com

Pennsylvania has 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, and quite a few of them are lazy enough for tubing, swimming, and general relaxation. While river water can be quite cold, they are welcome and refreshing after a long hot day. Bring your inner tube and a floating cooler and check out these picks.

The Delaware River features a scenic three-mile float past lush islands and forests. Your journey starts at the River Beach Campground in the Pocono Mountains of Milford and flows through the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. And you can stay at the campgrounds, where you can camp along the Delaware River and enjoy days of swimming and floating.  

Pennsylvania Beaches

Lake Erie boasts some beautiful sandy beaches.

©Elena Berd/Shutterstock.com

While no part of Pennsylvania touches the ocean, the state still boasts some of the best beaches in the country. With one of the largest lakes in the country, Pennsylvania still features sandy coastlines, lagoons, and islands. There are several swimming beaches along Lake Erie, just in Pennsylvania alone. Check out Presque Isle Beach, a breathtaking peninsula with a swimming area, sandy shores, hiking trails, a scenic lighthouse, and much more. Lake Erie is so large you may even forget you’re not at the ocean. For more ideas, visit Black Moshannon State Park, Bald Eagle State Park, Poe Valley State Park, and Mt. Gretna Lake.

Pennsylvania Water Parks

Along with plenty of natural swimming areas, Pennsylvania also has some great water parks. Check out some of these highly rated outdoor and indoor water fun areas in the state.

  • Camelbeach Outdoor Water Park
  • Kalahari Indoor Waterpark
  • Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark
  • Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom
  • Splash Lagoon
  • Great Wolf Lodge Water Park
  • Idlewild & SoakZone
  • Sandcastle Water Park

Summary of Best Swimming Spots in Pennsylvania

Swimming SpotType of Swimming Spot
1Jackson FallsSwimming Hole
2Rocks RunSwimming Hole
3Salt Springs State ParkSwimming Hole
4Meadow Run Natural WaterslideSwimming Hole
5Kennedy’s MillSwimming Hole
6Lake ErieLake
7Lake WallenpaupackLake
8Raystone LakeLake
9Delaware RiverRiver
10Lake Erie–Presque Isle BeachBeach
11Black Moshannon State ParkBeach
12Bald Eagle State ParkBeach
13Poe Valley State ParkBeach
14Mt. Gretna LakeBeach

The photo featured at the top of this post is © R/PAWilds – License / Original


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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