clock menu more-arrow no yes
A body of water surrounded by trees and hills. Shutterstock

Best swimming holes near NYC you can get to by public transportation

Get out of the city and into a refreshing swimming hole this summer

View as Map

The pools and beaches of New York City offer a welcome respite from the summer heat, but let's face it: the trash-strewn beaches and packed-like-sardines public pools are less than idyllic. The thought of dealing with a sweaty crush of humanity just to dip your toes into a questionable body of water can be enough to keep you inside, cranking up the AC.

The solution? Hop on a train or bus and leave this steaming concrete jungle for wide open spaces and actually refreshing swimming spots. Miles of pristine shoreline, dozens of tucked-away lakes, and a few riverside watering holes exist just outside the five boroughs, and many are available by public transit, so slather on some sunscreen and grab your bathing suit.

Read More

1. Lake Hopatcong

Copy Link
Lake Hopatcong
Lake Hopatcong, NJ

One of New Jersey’s largest bodies of water is also one of its most popular swimming spots come summertime. There are two public areas for swimmers: in Hopatcong State Park, at its southwestern tip, and Lee’s County Park on the lake’s other side. The Lakeland Bus Service has buses that travel between the body of water and Port Authority.

A lake with a dock. Next to the dock are boats. There are trees surrounding the lake. There is a sunset in the sky. Shutterstock

2. Highlands Natural Swimming Pool

Copy Link
180 Snake Den Rd
Ringwood, NJ 07456

This swimming hole is tucked in New Jersey's Norvin Green State Forest. The pool was carved out of the rocky hillside by hand in 1935, and today, it's adjacent to a large recreation area and dozens of hiking options. NJ Transit Bus #197 takes you from Port Authority to Ringwood, NJ (take it to the Ringwood Diner stop and then grab a cab to the pool, per its official website), and from there, it's a three-mile taxi ride to the pool. Cost is $10 per adult on weekdays, and $13 on weekends; prices vary for children.

3. Pine Meadow Lake

Copy Link
Harriman Park
Stony Point, NY
(845) 786-2701
Visit Website

Harriman State Park has thousands of miles of trails and 31 different lakes and reservoirs, making it the perfect location for hikers who want to swim (or swimmers who want to hike). The Pine Meadow path leads you along a few cascading brooks, up the mountain ledge, and rewards you by ending on the lake. The water is clear and beautiful, and you'll likely see some daredevil cliff-jumpers. The trailhead is a 1.8-mile walk from the Sloatsburg station on the NJ Transit/Metro-North Port Jervis Line; helpfully, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference provides detailed directions.

4. Sandy Hook Beach

Copy Link

Not only are the beaches of Sandy Hook, NJ some of the nicest you can get to from New York City, but they are also the easiest to get to. The Seastreak ferry runs several times per day between Sandy Hook and Manhattan, leaving from both Wall Street and 35th Street. There's a cash bar on board, and Seastreak runs a shuttle service to the various beaches across the peninsula——North Beach is less crowded, South Beach is family-friendly, and Gunnison Beach is clothing-optional—or you can rent a bike and visit them all.

A sandy beach. There is a man and a woman in swimming attire walking along the beach. Shutterstock

5. River Pool at Beacon

Copy Link
Waterfront Park
Beacon, NY

The +Pool team may be trying to bring a floating pool to the East River, but this already exists on the Hudson. The River Pool may not filter the water, but it's still a unique swimming experience. The sides of the pool float, while the floor and walls are made of a permeable material that lets the river flow through. The pool is located in Riverfront Park, just minutes from the Beacon stop on MetroNorth. As far as pools go, it's pretty small, but make a day of it with a walk along the waterfront or rent a kayak at Long Dock Park.

6. Croton Point Park

Copy Link
Croton Point Ave
Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520

One of the most accessible swimming spots is the beach at Croton Point Park on the Hudson River, just a 90-minute ride on MetroNorth from Grand Central. The park is just a short walk from the train station, situated on a peninsula that juts out into the river. The sandy beach is on the north side. If you're concerned about swimming in the Hudson River, check Riverkeeper's website before heading out. The nonprofit keeps tabs on the enterococcus count (in layman's terms: how much poop) in the water. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and costs $10. The park also has a boat launch, hiking trails, grills, and plenty of grassy lawns, and Hudson River Recreation offers kayak rentals in the park and nearby on the Croton River.

A post shared by JLCL (@jealoucyl) on

7. Canopus Lake

Copy Link
1498 Route 301
Carmel, NY
(845) 225-7207

The crown jewel of the 14,086-acre Fahnestock State Park in Putnam and Dutchess counties is Canopus Lake. The 1.5-mile lake is open for fishing, boating, and swimming, and there's a large sandy beach surrounded by woods on its northern tip. Those looking for a more active nature adventure can hike through the park before taking a dip, or rent a row boat and explore the length of the lake. To get here, take MetroNorth to Cold Spring, and then take a cab into the park (the beach is about 9 miles from the station).

A lake surrounded by various trees. Shutterstock

8. Sherwood Island State Park

Copy Link
Sherwood Island Connector
Westport, CT

Situated on the Long Island Sound on the Connecticut coast, Sherwood Island Sate Park offers 235 acres of wetlands, beaches, and woods. The sandy shore has lots of space for your chairs and umbrella, and there's a bathhouse, so you don't need to wear your saltwater-soaked suit all the way home. To get here, take MetroNorth to Westport, then hop in a cab. The beach is free if you come in this way; if you drive, parking is a whopping $22.

In the foreground are rocks and a path. The rocks border a sandy beach which borders a body of water. There are trees in the distance. Shutterstock

9. Robert Moses State Park

Copy Link
Robert Moses State Pkwy
Bay Shore, NY 11706

Located on Long Island, Robert Moses State Park is a less-crowded alternative to shorelines like Jones Beach or Long Beach. It’s located at the western tip of Fire Island, and has spaces for swimming, surfing, fishing, and other beachfront activities. The NYC Beach Bus goes to Field 5 for $49 round-trip.

A sandy beach next to a body of water. There is a lighthouse in the distance. There are footprints in the sand. Shutterstock

10. Silver Sands State Park Beach

Copy Link
Silver Sands Park Rd
Milford, CT
(203) 735-4311

Despite what the name implies, the Connecticut shoreline of this beach is not silky sand; —it is completely covered with seashells, so best to bring a chair rather than a blanket. There are also no amenities on the beach, but that just helps to keep the crowds away. There's a long boardwalk over the marshland, and the beach is completely free. From Grand Central, take MetroNorth to Milford, then grab a cab or walk the two miles into the park. You can walk past the beloved Lobster Hut, so it's really not a bad option.

A seashell and sand-covered beach which borders a body of water. In the distance is an island with trees. Shutterstock

1. Lake Hopatcong

Lake Hopatcong, Lake Hopatcong, NJ
A lake with a dock. Next to the dock are boats. There are trees surrounding the lake. There is a sunset in the sky. Shutterstock

One of New Jersey’s largest bodies of water is also one of its most popular swimming spots come summertime. There are two public areas for swimmers: in Hopatcong State Park, at its southwestern tip, and Lee’s County Park on the lake’s other side. The Lakeland Bus Service has buses that travel between the body of water and Port Authority.

Lake Hopatcong
Lake Hopatcong, NJ

2. Highlands Natural Swimming Pool

180 Snake Den Rd, Ringwood, NJ 07456

This swimming hole is tucked in New Jersey's Norvin Green State Forest. The pool was carved out of the rocky hillside by hand in 1935, and today, it's adjacent to a large recreation area and dozens of hiking options. NJ Transit Bus #197 takes you from Port Authority to Ringwood, NJ (take it to the Ringwood Diner stop and then grab a cab to the pool, per its official website), and from there, it's a three-mile taxi ride to the pool. Cost is $10 per adult on weekdays, and $13 on weekends; prices vary for children.

180 Snake Den Rd
Ringwood, NJ 07456

3. Pine Meadow Lake

Harriman Park, Stony Point, NY

Harriman State Park has thousands of miles of trails and 31 different lakes and reservoirs, making it the perfect location for hikers who want to swim (or swimmers who want to hike). The Pine Meadow path leads you along a few cascading brooks, up the mountain ledge, and rewards you by ending on the lake. The water is clear and beautiful, and you'll likely see some daredevil cliff-jumpers. The trailhead is a 1.8-mile walk from the Sloatsburg station on the NJ Transit/Metro-North Port Jervis Line; helpfully, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference provides detailed directions.

Harriman Park
Stony Point, NY

4. Sandy Hook Beach

Highlands, NJ
A sandy beach. There is a man and a woman in swimming attire walking along the beach. Shutterstock

Not only are the beaches of Sandy Hook, NJ some of the nicest you can get to from New York City, but they are also the easiest to get to. The Seastreak ferry runs several times per day between Sandy Hook and Manhattan, leaving from both Wall Street and 35th Street. There's a cash bar on board, and Seastreak runs a shuttle service to the various beaches across the peninsula——North Beach is less crowded, South Beach is family-friendly, and Gunnison Beach is clothing-optional—or you can rent a bike and visit them all.

5. River Pool at Beacon

Waterfront Park, Beacon, NY

The +Pool team may be trying to bring a floating pool to the East River, but this already exists on the Hudson. The River Pool may not filter the water, but it's still a unique swimming experience. The sides of the pool float, while the floor and walls are made of a permeable material that lets the river flow through. The pool is located in Riverfront Park, just minutes from the Beacon stop on MetroNorth. As far as pools go, it's pretty small, but make a day of it with a walk along the waterfront or rent a kayak at Long Dock Park.

Waterfront Park
Beacon, NY

6. Croton Point Park

Croton Point Ave, Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520

One of the most accessible swimming spots is the beach at Croton Point Park on the Hudson River, just a 90-minute ride on MetroNorth from Grand Central. The park is just a short walk from the train station, situated on a peninsula that juts out into the river. The sandy beach is on the north side. If you're concerned about swimming in the Hudson River, check Riverkeeper's website before heading out. The nonprofit keeps tabs on the enterococcus count (in layman's terms: how much poop) in the water. The beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and costs $10. The park also has a boat launch, hiking trails, grills, and plenty of grassy lawns, and Hudson River Recreation offers kayak rentals in the park and nearby on the Croton River.

Croton Point Ave
Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520

7. Canopus Lake

1498 Route 301, Carmel, NY
A lake surrounded by various trees. Shutterstock

The crown jewel of the 14,086-acre Fahnestock State Park in Putnam and Dutchess counties is Canopus Lake. The 1.5-mile lake is open for fishing, boating, and swimming, and there's a large sandy beach surrounded by woods on its northern tip. Those looking for a more active nature adventure can hike through the park before taking a dip, or rent a row boat and explore the length of the lake. To get here, take MetroNorth to Cold Spring, and then take a cab into the park (the beach is about 9 miles from the station).

1498 Route 301
Carmel, NY

8. Sherwood Island State Park

Sherwood Island Connector, Westport, CT
In the foreground are rocks and a path. The rocks border a sandy beach which borders a body of water. There are trees in the distance. Shutterstock

Situated on the Long Island Sound on the Connecticut coast, Sherwood Island Sate Park offers 235 acres of wetlands, beaches, and woods. The sandy shore has lots of space for your chairs and umbrella, and there's a bathhouse, so you don't need to wear your saltwater-soaked suit all the way home. To get here, take MetroNorth to Westport, then hop in a cab. The beach is free if you come in this way; if you drive, parking is a whopping $22.

Sherwood Island Connector
Westport, CT

9. Robert Moses State Park

Robert Moses State Pkwy, Bay Shore, NY 11706
A sandy beach next to a body of water. There is a lighthouse in the distance. There are footprints in the sand. Shutterstock

Located on Long Island, Robert Moses State Park is a less-crowded alternative to shorelines like Jones Beach or Long Beach. It’s located at the western tip of Fire Island, and has spaces for swimming, surfing, fishing, and other beachfront activities. The NYC Beach Bus goes to Field 5 for $49 round-trip.

Robert Moses State Pkwy
Bay Shore, NY 11706

10. Silver Sands State Park Beach

Silver Sands Park Rd, Milford, CT
A seashell and sand-covered beach which borders a body of water. In the distance is an island with trees. Shutterstock

Despite what the name implies, the Connecticut shoreline of this beach is not silky sand; —it is completely covered with seashells, so best to bring a chair rather than a blanket. There are also no amenities on the beach, but that just helps to keep the crowds away. There's a long boardwalk over the marshland, and the beach is completely free. From Grand Central, take MetroNorth to Milford, then grab a cab or walk the two miles into the park. You can walk past the beloved Lobster Hut, so it's really not a bad option.

Silver Sands Park Rd
Milford, CT