boy splashing in a swimming pond or lake (swimming holes boston massachusetts)
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Although there are plenty of beaches near Boston for families to spend the day swimming, the ocean is often cold and rough, which can cause more stress than relaxation! If you prefer swimming in warmer, calmer water, you’re in luck — there are a variety of lakes and ponds nearby for a day of splashing in freshwater. Here are 10 of our favorite swimming holes in the Boston area!

Walden Pond :: Concord

Walden Pond is the famous setting of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden.” Enjoy swimming in Walden’s clean, warm water, or stroll along the trails through Walden Woods. Available amenities include restrooms, a boat ramp, picnic areas, and a visitor center. Daily parking fees are $8 for Massachusetts vehicles — we recommend you check the Walden Pond State Reservation X account before you go to ensure the parking lots have not reached capacity. Note that water levels are very high this year, so beach space is limited!

Mystic Lakes :: Medford

Medford’s Mystic Lakes are a true hidden gem when it comes to swimming holes a stone’s throw from Boston! Shannon Beach has a lifeguard on duty and wooded trails to explore, plus a brand new building for restrooms and showers. You can bring your non-motorized boat (power boats with no wake are allowed on Lower Mystic Lake), paddleboards, and other water toys to play here. There are also picnic areas with grills. Free parking is available on site.

Lake Cochituate :: Natick

Three connected lakes make up Cochituate State Park. All three lakes are accessible by boat, plus waterskiing and tubing are allowed on South Lake. On Lake Cochituate, you can enjoy swimming, non-motorized boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking in the surrounding trails. There are boat ramps, picnic areas with grills, and restrooms. Parking is $8 for Massachusetts residents.

Houghton’s Pond :: Milton

Located in Blue Hills Reservation, Houghton’s Pond is a popular swimming spot. This 24-acre pond and recreation area is perfect for swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. With a first-aid station and lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day until Labor Day, it’s one of the safer swimming holes. There’s plenty to keep busy families occupied, including picnic areas, ball fields, a boardwalk, a concession stand, and a playground. There are also restrooms and showers. Free parking is available on site.

Pearce Lake at Breakheart Reservation :: Saugus/Wakefield

Breakheart includes two lakes and a forest. Pearce Lake is supervised by a lifeguard and is closer to the Wakefield entrance. Besides swimming, there’s hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, educational programs, picnic areas with grills, a first-aid station, restrooms, and a playground. It’s also conveniently located right next to a Target, so you can stop in on the way if you forget your sunscreen. Free parking is available on site.

Crystal Lake :: Newton

Crystal Lake and its public beach is a popular spot for visitors to swim, fish, bird watch, hike, and boat. It is surrounded mainly by private homes, so taking the T is your best option to avoid searching for street parking (it’s on the Green Line). Crystal Lake offers a long dock to jump off and a floating dock to swim out to. No outside chairs or umbrellas are allowed on the dock or beach, so bring your towel and sand toys and leave the rest at home. Picnic tables and restrooms are available. Daily passes are $8 for residents and $15 for non-residents.

Arlington Reservoir :: Arlington

The manmade Reservoir Beach was built in 1870 and has long been a popular swimming hole that includes a filtered/chlorinated swimming area. It was renovated recently with a new bathhouse, snack bar, picnic pavilion (no grilling allowed), water play area, playground, sport court, lawn, walking path, and parking lot. You can even book the picnic pavilion for parties. Lifeguards supervise the beach, and some non-inflatable water toys are allowed. Daily passes are $10 for adults and $5 for children/seniors.

Morses Pond :: Wellesley

Morses Pond covers about 100 acres of land where visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, hiking, and fishing. It includes a playground, picnic area, and restrooms. Lifeguards monitor a roped-off swimming area, and an ice-cream truck visits regularly. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Non-residents can purchase season passes for $190 for adults and $90 for children. Daily passes are $5 and are only available to residents. 

Hopkinton Reservoir :: Hopkinton

Although Hopkinton is best known as the starting point of the Boston Marathon, it’s also the location of beautiful Hopkinton State Park. The park consists of two seasonal swimming beaches that are monitored by lifeguards, and there are restrooms on site. This state park also has spots for fishing, paddling (rentals available), picnicking, and hiking. Parking is $8 for Massachusetts residents.

College Pond at Myles Standish State Forest :: Plymouth

If you’re willing to drive a bit, College Pond in Myles Standish State Forest is one of our favorite swimming holes farther out from Boston. It features a sandy beach, hiking trails, biking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and even camping if you’re feeling adventurous. The facilities include a boat ramp, picnic areas with grills, restrooms, and showers. You could make a day of it or spend the night to explore Plymouth the next day — try the Plimoth Patuxet Museums and the local shops and restaurants. Parking is $8 per day for Massachusetts residents.


Ranessa Doucet
Ranessa is a Boston native who grew up in Charlestown and never gets tired of exploring the city. She now lives north of Boston with her husband, two kids, and two mischievous pugs. Ranessa earned her master’s degree in elementary education and licensure in early childhood education. She currently works as an Academic Interventionist and Freelance Writer. Ranessa loves writing about parenting tweens, exploring New England, health, and self-care. When not writing or reading, you can find her watching reality TV, eating chocolate, attending her kids’ sporting events, and dreaming about the beach.


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