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Six Unique Places to Swim in Vermont

As summer temperatures soar and the Green Mountains heat up, there’s nothing more refreshing at the end of a long hike or a day exploring Vermont than a brisk swim. Vermont is home to more than 800 lakes and countless waterfalls and swimming holes; your next water adventure is never too far away. We know how much fun it is to leap in, but before you do, exercise caution, especially with children, and obey trail signs as you explore. Many of Vermont’s swimming holes may not have trash facilities on site, so please carry any trash away with you when you leave. These six spots are some of the best places to cool down in Vermont this summer.

1. Bristol Falls, Bristol, VT
Historic downtown Bristol is home to Bristol Falls, also known as Bartlett Falls. There are two major areas to swim here; one has stronger current than the other, so be careful. Jump from as high as 20 feet, or take a turn on the rope swing to splash into the refreshing water. When you’re done swimming, check out the Bristol Trail Network or enjoy fine dining and shopping downtown.

Person jumping off rock at swimming hole

2. The Battenkill River, Arlington, VT
Southern Vermont’s rushing, roaring section of the Battenkill River makes for some incredible water recreation. Cool down by swimming, tubing, rafting or paddling sections of the river. Access the river in Manchester and nearby Arlington, and plan to camp nearby. If you don’t feel like pitching a tent, lodging of all stripes abounds in Manchester. While there, why not head downtown for some outlet shopping?

3. Lake Willoughby, Westmore, VT
Vermont’s deepest lake is one of the coldest and most refreshing swimming spots in the state. Encircled by a mountain range with a striking resemblance to dramatic ocean fjords, the lake, located in Vermont’s rural Northeast Kingdom, offers unparalleled natural beauty. The beach makes Willoughby the perfect destination for families, and nearby Mount Pisgah is an epic hike promising some incredible views. The lake is within a half-hour drive of both Burke and Glover; enjoy Kingdom Trails, the Museum of Everyday Life and some of the Kingdom’s most delicious dining.

Lake Willoughby in Westmore Vermont

4. Quechee Gorge, Quechee, VT
Affectionately called Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon,” the 165-foot-deep Quechee Gorge was born almost 13,000 years ago when a glacier slowly carved it into the earth. Today, the Gorge, offering incredible views in all four seasons from scenic vistas and some pretty impressive hiking, is also a great spot to dive into clear water and cool down. Camping and fishing join the itinerary at the Gorge. Nearby Quechee and Woodstock offer a glut of fun options to round out your trip, from meeting raptors and learning about conservation at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science to exploring charming downtown Woodstock.

Quechee Gorge Quechee VT

5. Harvey’s Lake, Barnet, VT
This picturesque spot is one of the best locations in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for families. A lifeguard on duty means parents can take it easy knowing their children are being supervised, and a playground offers plenty to do if they need a break from the water. Harvey’s Lake is also home to a slice of history; in 1920, it was home to famous diver Jacques Cousteau’s first dive. The beach offers pavilions and places to grill, making it easy to spend a whole day at the beach. Nearby historic downtown St. Johnsbury is home to the state’s only public planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum, as well as a plethora of dining and lodging options.

6. Waterbury Reservoir, Waterbury, VT
A search for swimming in Vermont wouldn’t be complete without including Waterbury Reservoir State Park. Water stays shallow until far out into the reservoir, and it warms up quickly, making it a comfortable swim for all ages and ability levels. A vast beach means lots of room to spread out. The state park itself rents boats, and stand-up paddleboards can often be rented on-site as well. Nearby, enjoy access to both Waterbury and Stowe