There’s no better place to start than the beautiful Hudson River, the waterway that defines the area with its outstanding scenery. You can actually swim in the Hudson at River Pool in Beacon.
Surrounded by a permeable barrier, the entire structure sits in the Hudson with water gently flowing through it. Sit for a while in one of the rainbow-colored floating fiberglass seats to admire spectacular views of the river and mountains. Further south, dip your toes into both salt and fresh water at Playland Amusement Park in Rye. Stroll the boardwalk along Long Island Sound to the sandy beach, or cool off in the clear waters of the swimming pool. This National Historic Landmark has Art Deco structures throughout the fun things to do and food stands, a perfect destination for a summer day.
Switzerland? No, it’s Arrow Park Lake in Monroe. Once you drive through the gates and pass the sculpture park, the cool waters of this mountain lake magically appear. The sandy beach of the private setting is surrounded by forest crisscrossed with trails giving you beautiful views of the glistening waters. The historic Arrow Park Inn overlooks the lake, a wonderful way to lengthen your stay for more swimming. The Hudson Valley is truly a land of lakes, cool oases for a sweltering day. Dozens of state parks offer ways to beat the heat and relax. A hidden gem is Thompson’s Lake perched high on the Helderberg Escarpment in East Berne near Albany. With breathtaking views and a beautiful sandy beach, you can camp at the park and watch the stars come out at night. A short drive away, wiggle your toes in the sand at Cherry Plain State Park. After a dip in the lake, there are miles of hiking trails to explore. Bring your tent and spend the night at the park’s campsite to enjoy a real getaway.
State parks are known not only for swimming, but for a wide variety of recreation. A good example is Lake Taghkanic in Ancram set amidst rolling hills and lush forests. There’s plenty to do at their two beaches along with picnic areas, boat launch sites, rowboat, paddleboat and kayak rentals, playgrounds, and sports playing fields. Not to mention all kinds of camping facilities. Across the river, North South Lake State Campground in Haines Falls has an interesting history. Originally two lakes, in 1929 the campground was first developed as part of the forest preserve The two lakes later became one when adjacent privately owned land was purchased by the state and a narrow isthmus between the two bodies of water was removed. Now there is swimming, kayaking, marked hiking trails, playground, and a much bigger lake!
The large sandy beach at Canopus Lake in Kent is the jewel of Clarence Fahnestock Memorial Park. Get a hot dog at the concession stand or cook your own on one of the grills in the picnic area. Come for the day, or camp for the night. In addition to swimming, campers and day trippers can fish or tour Canopus Lake by rowboats available for rental. Not far from Fahnestock, Harriman State Park has several lakes for swimming, and a great favorite is Lake Welch. A wide swath of sandy beach leads down to the refreshing waters rimmed by the forested parkland and 200 miles of hiking trails. Beautiful vistas and vantage points overlook the lakes, and the night sky is brilliant with stars at the nearby campsites. Just north, Lake Minnewaska in New Paltz is a mile-long crystalline mountaintop lake that is one of the most photographed spots in the Hudson Valley. Surrounded by white quartz cliffs and miles of hiking trails, it’s the ideal place to cool off. A lakefront beach provides easy access to the cold, clear water, and there are picnic tables nearby. You can spend the entire day in the picture perfect setting.