12 Swimming Holes Near NYC You Never Knew Existed

We love Astoria Park Pool and McCarren Park Pool as much as the next New Yorker, but let’s be honest: Sometimes it’s nice to swim somewhere that isn’t surrounded by concrete. NYC is neighbored by breathtaking nature in every direction, so why not cool off in a scenic swimming hole, lake or waterfall and make the most of the summer heat? Trust us, you’re only a train ride or a quick drive from your nearest oasis. These 12 swimming holes near NYC are just a hop, skip and a cannonball jump away. Don’t forget your swimsuit.

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swimming holes near nyc enders falls
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1. Enders Falls In Granby, Ct

  • Distance from NYC:5 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via I-84 E or I-95 N and CT-8 N; train via Northeast Regional and the Amtrak Hartford Line, Valley Flyer or Vermonter; bus via Peter Pan and 912

This gorgeous swimming spot is hidden inside Enders State Forest in northern Connecticut. Follow an easy hiking trail with new stone steps and a wooden railing, and your natural pool awaits, surrounded by five different waterfalls, all within a half-mile of one another. Trust us, you’ve never seen so much glowing green moss in your life—plus, the hike’s relatively short and accessible, just a few steps from the parking lot. Basically, a nature enthusiast’s dream!

swimming holes near nyc highlands natural pool
Highlands Natural Pool/Facebook

2. Highlands Natural Pool In Ringwood, Nj

  • Distance from NYC: 1.5 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via NJ-208 or NJ-3 W; bus via the 197

Swimming laps at the gym is fine, but sometimes we want to cool down without that burny chlorine feeling in our eyes. That’s when we take a mini road trip to this totally natural swimming pond in North Jersey's Wyanokie Highlands. The Olympic-sized pool has its own designated children’s area, making it perfect for the whole family. The pool also has changing rooms, tables to sit at, a snack bar, a diving board and lots of frogs and newts who call it home, if that’s your thing.

swimming holes near nyc split rock falls
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3. Split Rock Falls In New Russia, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 4 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87N; train via Amtrak on the Adirondack Line

OK, this one is admittedly a bit of a schlep, but after you make the four-plus-hour drive (or short flight, if you feel so inclined) and brave the slippery rocks, you’ll understand. Swimming holes don’t get more gorgeous than this, people. Oh, and did we mention one of the two pools is mid-waterfall? But don’t just take our word for it—explore this breathtaking swimming hole on your way out of the Adirondacks and see for yourself. The deep pools are great for rock-jumping and deep-diving, so suit up and get out there.

swimming holes near nyc vernooy kills falls
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4. Vernooy Falls In Rochester, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 3 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via NY-17W and/or I-87 N; bus via the Line 400 to Kerhonkson

Feel free to bring your pups (on leash) along on this moderate 3.5-mile hike to an idyllic set of waterfalls, with a wooden bridge at the base for unbelievable photo ops—like, engagement shoot photo ops unbelievable. When your coworkers ask you what you’re doing this weekend, you can now say, “Oh, just swimming under a waterfall. NBD.” Just watch out for bears, slick rocks and a pretty gradual incline. Don’t worry, the trek is well worth the reward!

swimming holes near nyc lake tiorati1

5. Lake Tiorati In Southfields, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 1 hour
  • How to get there: Drive via Palisades Interstate Pkwy N and/or I-87 N; train via the NJ Transit/Metro-North Port Jervis line

Super easy day trip, anyone? Just hop on the Metro-North to get to Harriman State Park—there’s even a shuttle bus that’ll drive you right up to the lake from there. With lifeguards on-duty, vending machines, tables, grills, bathrooms and nearby parking, this actually happens to be the quieter of the two lakes within Harriman; just remember there’s a $10 car parking fee, which can be made with cash or credit. And don’t forget to check out the meadows and rolling, wooded hills in the park, as well as the yummy summer berries ripe for picking while you're there. Best weekend ever.

swimming holes near nyc canopus lake
Eric Reichbaum/Getty Images

6. Canopus Lake In Carmel, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87 N, Taconic State Pkwy, or Saw Mill River Pkwy N; train via the Metro-North Hudson Line to Garrison

Just a short drive due north of the city lies one of Hudson Valley’s most picturesque lakes, complete with a sandy swimming beach (and lifeguards). Located within Fahnestock State Park’s 14,000-plus acres, visitors can camp, rent a rowboat, go fishing or go on a nearby hike—just make sure you get in the car or on the train early, because this spot fills up quickly during the warmer months.

swimming holes near nyc peekamoose

7. Peekamoose Blue Hole In Sundown, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 2.5 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87 N, Palisades Interstate Pkwy N or NY-17 W

This ancient whirlpool is the reward of a short hike in the Catskills, which is beyond worth it, in our humble opinion. The stunning blue water will make you forget you’re still in the state! The water may be chilly, but it’s so breathtaking, you’ll hardly notice. FYI: You will need a $10 permit to visit any part of the Peekamoose Valley Riparian Corridor, and you’ll want to head out early before crowds arrive.

swimming holes near nyc boiling pot in canajoharie ny

8. Boiling Pot In Canajoharie, Ny

  • Distance from NYC:5 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87 N and/or Taconic State Pkwy; train on VIA Rail or the Maple Leaf or Empire Service Lines; bus via Albany

Don’t be put off by the name—what natural water have you been in in the Tri-State area that was actually boiling? Located just off of the Mohawk River in Wintergreen Park, the Boiling Pot is a (nearly) perfect circular swimming hole with extraordinary green water formed by a pothole formation that’s great for taking the family to cool off on a hot summer day. Surrounded by trees and a gentle cascading waterfall, visitors can jump into the pool or let the neighboring stream soothe their worries away. While you’re there, be sure to explore the rest of the park’s hikes, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, playground and more.

swimming holes near nyc pine meadow lake in ramapo ny

9. Pine Meadow Lake In Ramapo, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 1 hour
  • How to get there: Drive via Palisades Interstate Pkwy N, NK-17 N or I-87 N; train via NJ Transit Main/Bergen County Line or the Port Jervis Line

Located at the end of the 5.5-mile Pine Meadow Lake Trail in Harriman State Park, this expansive lake is luxurious, beautiful and great for relaxing. The hike is moderate with plenty of cool things to see along the way, like abandoned houses, an old cemetery and water wells, making it a pretty popular day hike for New Yorkers. Beware that this spot does get crowded in the summer due to the abundance of places to sit and the rocks that are just perfect for jumping off of; if you want to avoid the crowds, go early or explore the park’s several other hikes and swimming holes.

swimming holes near nyc millstream swimming hole in woodstock ny

10. Millstream Swimming Hole In Woodstock, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 2 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87 N and/or Palisades Interstate Pkwy N; bus via the 704, 752, 706 or 708

Take a quick trip up north to Woodstock (yes, that Woodstock), where just next to the downtown burg, you’ll find this gorgeous swimming hole. With tons of flat rocks to sunbathe or picnic on (as long as you’re careful of the slippery rocks), shady enclosures, a handful of pools to dive into and a few small waterfalls, this all-natural stream is hard to beat. You’ll find Millstream just over the bridge crossing the Sawmill River, where there are plenty of access points and paths along the bank.

swimming holes near nyc esopus creek in phoenicia ny
Sinisa Kukic/Getty Images

11. Esopus Creek In Phoenicia, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 2 hours
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87 N and/or Palisades Interstate Pkwy N; train via Amtrak or the VIA Rail to the C bus

You won’t want to miss this spectacular creek in the South-central Catskills that might even fulfill your wildest Dirty Dancing fantasies. Sourced at Winnisook Lake and leading down to the Hudson River, guests can tube, whitewater kayak or even trout fish at their leisure along the stream during certain times of year when there’s enough water. This area—“New York’s Adventure Route”—is also known for its scenic hiking and biking trails in addition to its historic railroad-riding, which you’ve got to look into if you’re a major thrill-seeker.

swimming holes near nyc croton point beach in croton on hudson ny

12. Croton Point Beach In Croton-on-hudson, Ny

  • Distance from NYC: 1 hour
  • How to get there: Drive via I-87 N, Saw Mill River Pkwy N or Sprain Brook Pkwy N; Metro-North train via the Hudson Line

This Westchester County park boasts over 500 acres with a lake, a miniature aircraft airport, cabins, tent and RV camping, a boat ramp and a playground on a peninsula on the eastern side of the Hudson River. The best part? It’s just about a stone’s throw from the Big Apple! Camp, hike and swim to your heart’s delight at this stunning jewel just up the Hudson River. FYI: It’s $10 to park for the day, and note that pets are welcome as long as they’re on-leash.

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor

Quinn Fish is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer covering all things New York City, from the tastiest espresso martinis to the best amusement parks to the perfect weekend getaways...