lakes in New Jersey
istockphoto.com / martinedoucet

We love a visit to the lake. It’s a cool and refreshing alternative to the beach, and New Jersey has some great lakes. There are restrictions in place due to COVID-19, but you can still have a fun day. Most of these spots have reduced capacity, so plan ahead and head out early so you get a spot.

Visitors at any of these lakes in New Jersey are asked to maintain a six foot distance between them and members not within their party. Masks are required when social distancing is not possible and must also be worn when in the lakes’ restrooms, gatehouses and buildings. Exceptions include individuals under two years of age, or others when eating/drinking and exercising/swimming.

Hooks Creek Lake at Cheesequake State Park
300 Gordon Rd., Matawan
On your next family day trip, take in this New Jersey gem where two ecosystems come together. Within this combined freshwater-saltwater compound lies Hooks Creek Lake, open for swimming when lifeguards are on duty from 10 am-6 pm. Here, visitors will also find a beach complex with a changing area, restrooms, a first-aid station and a concession stand offering refreshments, novelties and beach supplies. For families that want to pack their own lunch, picnic areas are available throughout the park. Opportunities for freshwater fishing and crabbing are also available. Entrance per vehicle for NJ residents is $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Lake Hopatcong 
89 Brady Rd., Lake Hopatcong
After being plagued by a harmful algae bloom last summer, Lake Hopatcong is back open for safe swimming this season. Lifeguards are on duty daily through Labor Day Weekend, from 10 am-6 pm. A bathhouse is also available with restrooms, showers, changing areas, a first-aid room and a concession stand where food and beach supplies are available for purchase. Picnic areas are scattered atop the hill with each space being equipped with a grill. Aside from swimming, kids can run free on either of the two playgrounds or in the large playing field, perfect for games of frisbee or soccer. Families can also take their boats out on the lake, enjoying a day on the water and fresh-water fishing opportunities. Entrance fees per vehicle for NJ residents are $6 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Lake Marcia at High Point State Park
1480 Rt. 23, Sussex
With Appalachian views sure to take your breath away, Lake Marcia offers 20-acres of cool and refreshing spring-fed waters, open daily for swimming from 11 am-5:30 pm. Adjacent to the beach is a bathhouse and food stand. Families can also take advantage of the boat launches at Sawmill Lake and Steenykill Lake, both located within the state park. Looking to take in the surrounding nature? Hike up to the High Point Monument, which stands at 1,803 ft. above sea level and provides a panorama of the lush farmland and forests in surrounding areas. Entrance per vehicle for NJ residents is $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.

Round Valley Recreation Area
1220 Lebanon-Stanton Road, Lebanon
While the boat launch remains closed through July 27, families can cool off at the reservoir’s beach complex complete with changing areas, restrooms, showers, a first-aid station and a concession building where food and beach supplies are available for purchase. If you’re channeling your competitive side, get a game of volleyball going on the beachfront nets. There are also three different picnic areas throughout the beach area; two under the tree shade if you’re looking to get out of the sun for a little and the third on a hill overlooking the park and reservoir. At each area, families will find tables, grills, restrooms and playgrounds for the kids. NJ residents pay an entrance fee of $5 per carload on weekdays or $10 on weekends.

Wawayanda State Park
885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt
This quiet lake surrounded by forests and Appalachian trails will charm swimmers, boaters and all nature lovers. Swimming is permitted daily, with lifeguards on duty from 10 am-6 pm. Adjacent to the beach are facilities with changing areas, restrooms, a first-aid stand and a concession stand where food and beach supplies can be purchased. Near the beach and picnic areas, families can rent canoes, rowboats (with or without electric motors) and paddle boats. Privately owned watercraft may also be launched from this area, including sailboats and sailboards, although those are not available for rental. Gasoline motors are not permitted. The lake is also stocked with trout and landlocked Salmon, among other types of fish, for your fishing adventures. Visitors should be aware of the park’s limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions and understand that when capacity is reached, vehicles will be turned away even if members of their party are already in the park. Entrance per vehicle for NJ residents is $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.