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Summer Bucket List: 10 Bodies of Water You’ll Want to Swim in this Summer


As the classic song goes, “summertime and the living is easy” can spark your imagination to start giving some thought about places where the atmosphere is relaxed and there’s plenty of water for a refreshing swim. There is nothing quite like jumping in a cool body of water after a long day of van travel or hiking.

We looked far and wide for the best places to take a dip this summer. If you’re looking for epic spots to dive into consider our list of some of the coolest places to relax this summer. Details below.

Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park

Where: Florida Panhandle
Address: 465 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs, FL 32327
Where to Stay: Newport Campground

Details: A visit to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park is a visit with history as the 6,000-acre park is on the National Register of Historic Places, and has also been named as a National Natural Landmark. It is no wonder, then, that this freshwater spring is large and deep and provides a refreshing dip in crystal blue waters. Visitors from all around come to the park for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, tubing, and boating.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

Where: California
Address: 47000 Highway 1 Big Sur, CA 93920
Where to Stay: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park Camping

Details: Once you’ve settled into your campsite, begin your summertime fun at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Take the Gorge Trail, which provides access to the park’s many gorges and rock formations where cozy beaches with cool pools of water await in hidden alcoves along the rock-lined coastline.

Havasu Falls – Grand Canyon National Park

Where: Arizona
Address: P. O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Where to Stay: Havasupai Campground

Details:  Make your way to Havasu Falls and watch as the water tumbles into Havasu Creek, creating an inviting swimming hole. This swimming hole is one of the most beautiful in our country. You’ll feel like you’re in another world with the large rock formation standing sentinel while the falls come tumbling down. The turquoise-blue waters of the pool at the bottom of the falls is about five feet deep, and ideal for swimming and tubing. An added bonus to swimming in the pool is the option to swim behind the falls. The best time to experience the waterfall when the temperatures are near perfect for swimming is between April and October. Be mindful, reservations are VERY hard to get and are often years out, so be sure to set your alarm for when reservations open in 2024.

Mustang Island State Park

Where: Texas
Address: 9394 State Highway 361, Corpus Christi, TX 78481
Where to Stay: Mustang Island State Park Camping

Details: There’s “much to do about” something fun at Mustang Island State Park, situated along the scenic shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Named after the wild horses brought to the continent by the Spaniards centuries ago, the feisty ponies had the sand and sea to themselves for hundreds of years. Today, it is a destination worth traveling to for relaxing and enjoying the five miles that stretch along the coast. There’s plenty of room for swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and taking a break and building a sandcastle or having a picnic.

Galveston Island State Park

Where: Texas
Address: 14901 FM 3005 Galveston, TX 77554
Where to Stay: Galveston Island State Park Campsites

Details: The Gulf of Mexico is a popular body of water with multiple states sharing the blue/green waters. The park has both a bay area and a beach area. For those who want to fish, birdwatch, kayak or canoe, the bay is ideal. For the swimmers, the beach offers a cool respite from the warm temperatures. Bring your beach towel, suntan lotion, sunblock, and a pair of shades and enjoy the views, the gentle breezes, and the inviting waters of the Gulf. If you have time, take a stroll through the park, bring a canoe and paddle one of the scenic rails, or take a hike to the observation platform.

Devil’s Fork State Park

Where: South Carolina
Address: 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem, SC 29676
Where to Stay: Devil’s Fork State Park Campgrounds

Details: Within Devil’s Fork State Park, located on the edge of the Sumter National Forest, head to Lake Jocassee for a truly scenic swimming experience. Step into the crystal clear waters bordered on one side by the lush landscape of the park and the thick greenery of the islands on the opposite shore. The lake’s water is clear and clean for swimmers, and for those who want an adventurous scuba experience, the lake has its own underwater secrets, such as a sunken Chinese boat. You will also have access to Wright Creek Falls for more swimming and exploring beneath the falls.

Crater Lake National Park

Where: Oregon
Address: P. O. Box 7 Crater Lake, OR
Where to Stay: Crater Lake RV Park

Details: A visit to Crater Lake National Park gives you access to Crater Lake, which has the distinction of being the deepest lake in America and ranks in seventh place as one of the world’s deepest lakes. It is also noted by scientists as having the purest water worldwide. With the Cascade Mountains as companions, the unusual blue color of the water is mysterious as well as refreshing. Although the lake is in Oregon where it snows and temperatures can drop during the winter, in the summer, the water temperature hovers around 60 degrees. The lake is a draw for swimmers during the summer and especially for hikers who have been traversing the one-mile trail.

Deep Creek Lake State Park

Where: Maryland
Address: 898 State Park Road, Swanton, MD 21561
Where to Stay: Deep State Lake State Park Campgrounds

Details: The 1,800 acres of the park are not only home to a variety of wildlife and hiking trails, you will also have access to the 3,900 acres of man-made Deep Creek Lake. Within the park, there are miles of hiking and biking trails, plus a 6,000-square-foot Discovery Center with a rehab center for injured birds. For the swimmers, there are two beaches situated along a one-mile shoreline. If you’re bringing a boat, explore the shoreline and coves, then drop the anchor, and go for a swim. You can camp at sites within the park, or choose a nearby location, such as the Double G RV Park in McHenry, less than eight miles from the state park.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Where: North Carolina
Address: 1373 Thunder Bird Road, Robbinsville, NC 28771
Where to Stay: Cheoah Point Campground

Details:   Step into the unbridled beauty of the old-forest growth that abounds in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, situated just outside of Robbinsville. The forest is part of the Nantahala National Forest. You will be making your way to Lake Santeetlah, which is known for being an exceptional lake for swimming. The lake was designated as a memorial to poet Joyce Kilmer in 1936. Visitors who plan to spend a good portion of their time in the cool recesses of the lake can also enjoy tubing, jet skiing, and water skiing, as well as go swimming at this fully recreational destination.

Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area

Where: Baldwin Park
Address: 15501 E. Arrow Highway, Baldwin Park, CA 91706
Where to Stay: Bonelli Bluffs RV Resort and Campground

Details: The recreational swimming lakes are open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., June 20th to September 5th. This allows plenty of time for visitors to plan their itinerary, take to the road, and set up camp. Once you’ve arrived, put on your swimsuit, and enjoy the pristine beach and inviting waters of the Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area. The beach area offers plenty of sun and sand to enjoy, whether you choose to play in the water or lounge on the beach.

Summer Swimming Across the U.S.

No matter where the road may lead this summer, you are sure to find more than a few refreshing respites and a cool oasis, or two, for swimming time. Be safe in and around the water, bring your sunblock, and let the good times roll!