best lakes in maryland for vacation, lake needwood

28 Best Lakes In Maryland For Vacation (Updated for 2023)

Maryland is a great state for families looking to enjoy a day at the lake. From scenic views and sandy beaches, Maryland has something for everyone when it comes to swimming and spending time with loved ones.

Whether you’re looking for someplace close to home or an adventure further away, these are the best lakes in Maryland for vacation and some of them offer perfect swimming spots for your family. Enjoy stunning sunsets while splashing around in crystal clear waters and make lifelong memories with your nearest and dearest!

9 Amazing Lakes In Maryland For Swimming

Although there are a lot of lakes in Maryland, not all of them allow swimming for a variety of reasons such as presence of blue green algae, use of the lake for drinking and more. 

Here are some Maryland lakes that do permit swimming. With miles upon miles of shoreline providing stunning views and ample opportunities for swimming, boating, kayaking, camping and more; these swimming holes are sure to provide a memorable experience during your visit to Maryland. 

If you love fishing, check out some of the best fishing trips in Maryland!

1. Greenbrier State Park

Greenbrier State Park is an outdoor paradise with a beautiful crystal clear lake surrounded by the rolling hills of western Maryland. Swimming in Greenbrier State Park, Maryland is a great way to cool off and have fun during the hot summer months.

Located in Washington County, Greenbrier State Park is a 42-acre man-made freshwater lake and white sandy beach. This picturesque lake is perfect for swimming, fishing, and boating and features several picnic areas with tables and grills. The park also offers plenty of other activities such as hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, and more.

You can also explore the many nearby nature trails and observe the abundant wildlife. Whether you’re looking for a serene spot to relax or an adventure-filled day, Greenbrier State Park has something for everyone and is definitely one of the cleanest Lakes In Maryland For Vacation.

It does get a bit crowded on weekends so it might be better to plan visits for weekdays when its less people and with more quiet time enjoying the park if you want to be alone. If  you plan to go on a Saturday, get there as early as possible to avoid having to wait for people to leave due to their capacity. It also has a good parking lot nearby and public restrooms.

The Campgrounds here are well maintained and all the sites have nice fire pits with grates on top for cooking with adjustable height for temperature control.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, greenbrier lake

2. New Germany State Park

New Germany State Park is one of the most beautiful and tranquil places to visit in Maryland. Located in Garrett County, near the town of Oakland, it’s a great destination for swimming, fishing, camping and more.

It is also known as Maryland’s best kept secret and for great reasons too. The lake at New Germany State Park is a stunning destination for families looking to enjoy some fun times out in nature. It’s home to a diverse aquatic life that includes largemouth bass, bluegills, catfish and trout, making it an ideal spot for fishing as well.

One drawback with this state park is that there is no cell phone reception after you get on New Germany Road from Chestnut Ridge Road. Although they have a phone booth near the entrance that can be used.

You can camp out with family here and spend your days hiking and exploring the Hemlock forest areas, the beautiful lake, and Park grounds. You can also relax on the cabin’s porch. 

3. Herrington Manor State Park

Located a few miles from Swallow falls state park, Herrington Manor is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and camping that also features a beautiful lake surrounded by the forested hills of Maryland’s western side. It is a very family friendly spot with lots of things to offer.

This picturesque lake offers views and plenty of aquatic life to explore. The park boasts several picnic pavilions with tables, grills, and benches as well as an on-site snack bar. The lake is well-stocked with fish species such as largemouth bass, bluegill, catfish, and trout making it an ideal spot for fishing. With its lush greenery and crystal clear waters, Herrington Manor State Park is the perfect place to relax and get away from it all. Visitors can rent kayaks and canoes.

The park has about 6.4miles of trails with each trail being a loop that takes you back to the parking area. The trails are very wide and developed because their primary purpose is for cross-country skiing. Since its so close to Swallow falls state park, visitors can hike from Herrington to Swallow State Park via the connecting trail.

The park also has  two playgrounds, a boat launch, tennis, corn hole, soccer, basketball, kayaking, bikes for rent, cross country skiing, a beach and swimming. 

Don’t forget to check out these amazing places to go kayaking with your kids.

4. Rocky Gap State Park

Rocky Gap is a great destination for families looking to get away and enjoy the outdoors. With gorgeous views of Lake Habeeb, this lake is perfect for swimming, fishing, and boating. The lake has a maximum depth of 74 ft and is approximately 243 acres in size and about 9.4 miles of shoreline.

There’s a lakeside loop trail visitors can hike on. There are also plenty of picnic areas with grills and tables for visitors to use. The lake is stocked with a variety of species such as trout, bass, catfish, sunfish, and perch. Electric boats and paddleboats are allowed on the lake making it perfect for a peaceful afternoon out on the water. Whether you’re looking for a serene spot to relax or an adventure-filled day, Rocky Gap has something for everyone.

5. Cunningham Falls State Park

If you’re looking for a place to spend some quality time with your family, then look no further than Hunting Creek Lake in Maryland. This stunning lake located within the beautiful Catoctin Mountains and Cunningham Falls State Park is the perfect spot for swimming and making lifelong memories.

With crystal clear waters, breathtaking views, and plenty of aquatic life to explore, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience! The state park is popularly known for its cascading waterfalls which is the highest cascading waterfall in Maryland. It is also known as the William Houck Lake.

If you love fishing, you might be able to catch some lots of Blue Gill and minnows swimming around .It is also stocked twice a year with trout.

Cunningham falls state park is one of the best places to see fall foliage in Maryland so if you time your visit, you just might get a great view of foliage

Don’t miss some of the best places to stay in Frederick, Maryland.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, cunningham falls state park

6. Elk Neck State Park (North East)

Elk Neck State Park is an amazing natural escape located in Cecil County, Maryland. This park is known for its stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay and its picturesque hiking trails. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities such as swimming, kayaking, fishing, canoeing, biking, and more.

The park also offers plenty of picnic areas with tables and grills for visitors to use. Elk Neck State Park is also home to many species of wildlife, including ospreys and bald eagles, making it an ideal spot for bird watching as well.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, elk neck state park

7. Beaver Dam Swimming Club

Beaver Dam Swimming Club is a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts in the Maryland area. Located in Cockeysville, MD, this unique swimming facility offers visitors a range of activities such as swimming, diving, kayaking and fishing. The lake at Beaver Dam covers about 30 acres and is best known for its fresh water quarry.

It is one of the best swimming holes in Maryland and visitors can enjoy swinging on the rope swing and jumping off the wooden platforms. The water is quite deep so make sure you can swim or watch your kids, although there are also lots of lifeguards available. This beaver dam has 2 pools, picnic tables, grills, a snack shack, zip line, diving board and small cliffs and is a ton of fun.

8. Jennings Randolph Lake, Garrett county

Jennings Randolph Lake is a beautiful lake situated in Garrett County, Maryland and offers an abundance of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. It is tucked away nicely between Garrett County, Maryland, and Mineral County, West Virginia.

The lake is about 6 miles long and covers about 952 acres, making it perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking and more. It is also home to a variety of species such as smallmouth, largemouth, trout, panfish, bass, catfish, walleye, and sunfish and even offers a few hiking trails for those looking to explore the area.

There is not much nearby to do other than hike and go to the lake which might be a good thing because it doesn’t attract too many people.

9. Deep Creek Lake State Park, Garrett county

Deep Creek Lake State Park is a stunning lake located in Garrett County, Maryland that offers visitors a tranquil and peaceful getaway. Set within the Appalachian Mountains, this lake is one of the most beautiful spots in the entire state. With crystal clear waters and breathtaking views, it’s easy to see why Deep Creek Lake State Park is so popular.  

Families and groups of friends can enjoy a variety of activities such as swimming, fishing, kayaking, boat cruises, and more. There is the Discovery center where both young and older kids can truly experience hands-on exhibits.

The lake is also home to many species of wildlife including bald eagles and ospreys. There are plenty of picnic areas with tables and grills for visitors to use. This is one of the best lakes in Maryland for swimming. If you enjoy water sports then there are many activities here for you. Boats and jet skis are also available to rent and there are also guided tours of the lake. If you get hungry while here there are many restaurants and shops to choose from.

Check out these posts on Deep creek lake area!

14 Hikes in Deep Creek Maryland

19 Amazing Things To Do in Deep Creek MD in Winter

best lakes in maryland for vacation, deep creek lake

Other Lakes In Maryland For Vacation that may not offer Swimming

As seen above, Maryland is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the United States. From Deep Creek Lake, to Greenbrier state park and more. Maryland has something for everyone who loves water activities and stunning views. However, not all of these gorgeous bodies of water are safe for swimming – but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth visiting!

Whether you want to fish, boat or just take a stroll along the shoreline, there are plenty of lakes in Maryland that may or may not allow swimming but still offer a great experience. Here are some more lakes in Maryland. Some of these might actually allow swimming at various times of the year. 

10. Centennial Lake, Ellicott city

Centennial Lake is a 54- acre man-made lake and 337 acre park. This picturesque lake located in Howard County, Maryland is nestled in the woods and surrounded by rolling hills. Centennial Lake is the perfect spot for nature lovers looking to get away from it all.

The lake  is also a great place to launch your own fishing boat or rent one from the nearby marina. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, kayaking, canoeing and even stand-up paddle boarding. With its stunning views and ample activities, Centennial Park Lake is sure to provide an unforgettable experience for all its visitors. Wildlife like ducks, geese, turtles, heron can be found here.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, centennial lake

11. Little Seneca Lake

Little Seneca Lake is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Located in Black Hills Regional park, Montgomery County, Maryland, this 505-acre lake is surrounded by more than 4,000 acres of conservation land.

Little Seneca Lake offers plenty of recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking. For those who love hiking, the Little Seneca Lake area has both paved and unpaved trails that are open to hikers and more. Over the summer, visitors can rent canoe and kayaks.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, little seneca lake

12. Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park is an amazing natural escape located in Ellicott City, Maryland. With more than 16,000 acres of woodlands and meadows, this park is home to a variety of plants and animals that are sure to delight nature lovers. The park extends along 32 ​miles of the Patapsco River.

Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking and canoeing and even take part in organized recreational activities. Patapsco Valley State Park is a perfect destination for those looking to explore and appreciate the beauty of nature in Maryland.

Fortunately, guests can swim along the rivers unless told otherwise, but like most lakes, there are no lifeguards. A nice tip, if you stay still long enough in the water, fishes may come up and nibble on your toes.

best lakes in maryland for vacation patapsco state park

13. Gunpowder Falls State Park

Gunpowder Falls State Park is one of Maryland’s largest state parks and is another great destination for outdoor lovers in Maryland. Spanning over 16,000 acres, this state park is located in northern Baltimore County and offers plenty of recreational activities such as hiking trails, fishing spots, swimming holes and even archery areas.

With its lush forests, rocky gorges and picturesque riverside views, Gunpowder Falls State Park is sure to provide a unique experience for all its visitors. There is a wonderful swimming area and beach with lifeguards on most season days. The park  also has an area to rent kayaks, jet skis, etc. 

best lakes in maryland for vacation, gunpowder state park

14. Clopper Lake, Montgomery county

Located within Seneca Creek State Park, Clopper Lake is a great place to relax and take in the fresh air. The park is about 6,300 acres and extends along 14 scenic miles of Seneca Creek. This beautiful lake covers 90 acres and has an average of 18 feet of depth.

It offers plenty of activities for visitors such as hiking trails, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming and more. Fishing is a major activity here , as the lake is home to largemouth bass, catfish, carp, tiger muskie, bluegill and more. There is a good playground for kids and lots of places to grill.

15. Lake Needwood, Montgomery county

Lake Needwood located in Rock creek regional park, Montgomery county is a beautiful 75-acre. With over 25 miles of shoreline and three distinct areas, the lake offers something for everyone. You can explore the lake in a canoe or kayak, hike, take a leisurely stroll along its walking paths, or simply soak up some sun on one of the many sandy beaches scattered around the lake.

Park visitors are able to rent canoes, rowboats, and pedal boats or tour the lake especially since swimming is not allowed. Guests can also go picnicking, fishing, or boating.  There is a boat launch facility available for park visitors.

The lake’s fishing opportunities include largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, trout, and sunfish. Anglers must obtain a Maryland State Fishing License before beginning their adventure! Lake Needwood also offers great wildlife viewing potential with over 100 species of birds observed throughout the year. The lake’s surrounding areas are rich with wildlife habitats and a great opportunity to observe nature at its best.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, lake needwood

16. Triadelphia Reservoir

Triadelphia Reservoir, an 800-acre lake located in the western part of Maryland, is a great spot for fishing, boating and hiking. It was created in 1943 by the construction of the Brighton Dam on the Patuxent. It also has a 5 acre woodland garden with lots of azaleas. The reservoir has five public access points perfect for launching a boat or casting your line.

With an abundance of bass, catfish, yellow perch and sunfish there’s plenty of opportunity to haul in some serious catches. Although boating and fishing are allowed, shore access is minimal and a license is required to bring boats on the lake, although they do allow self-powered vessels.

17. Blairs Valley Lake, Washington County

Blairs Valley Lake, Washington County, Maryland, is a great spot to get away from it all. The Lake is 32-acres at normal pool, 22-acres at winter pool. The lake is mainly a warmwater fishery and anglers can find a variety of fish including largemouth bass, tiger muskie, and bluegill.

Boaters can launch their boats from the public access boat ramp, however gas motors are not allowed and there are no boat rentals available .

18. Rocks State Park (Kilgore Falls)

Kilgore Falls in Rocks State Park is a hidden gem in Maryland. Located in Pylesville, this secluded spot offers an incredible swimming and fishing experience that you won’t find anywhere else. It is Maryland’s second highest vertical drop waterfall. From peaceful wading pools to rushing rapids, Kilgore Falls has something for everyone.

One of the best ways to experience Kilgore Falls is to take a refreshing dip in the swimming hole at the bottom of falls. The crystal clear waters at Kilgore provide a perfect swimming environment. If you’re feeling active, there is a single-track 1/2-mile trail that leads from the parking lot to the falls. 

19. Liberty Reservoir

Liberty Reservoir is a stunning natural gem located in Baltimore County, Maryland. The reservoir is a popular spot for fishing and recreational activities such as biking, hiking, and birdwatching. Swimming and camping are unfortunately not allowed here.

It is managed for warm, cool, and cold-water fish species and some popular fish you can find here are Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, along with bluegill, crappie, and white perch.

20. Tuckahoe State Park

Tuckahoe State Park is a remarkable destination located in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. The park has about 20 miles of scenic hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Visitors can also enjoy some water canoeing, hunting, picnicking, plus a nice recycled tire playground for young kids.

Tuckahoe creek is the nice stream here and is a 60-acre lake that offers boating and fishing. It spans over several acres and offers visitors the chance to explore its picturesque forests, meadows, and wetlands. It is home to a variety of wildlife and birds, making it an exceptional spot for birdwatching or even spot some bald eagles flying around. Anglers can enjoy fishing bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, bluegill, chain pickerel, white and black crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, yellow perch, brown bullhead, and carp.

Some other activities you can enjoy here are Boating, canoeing, kayaking, nature gazing, hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, and camping.

21. Wheatley lake

Wheatley Lake is a stunning natural gem located in Charles County, Maryland and is also known as Gilbert Run. Anglers can enjoy catching fish species like largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie, channel catfish and seasonally stocked rainbow trout. Although, note that bass fishing is catch and release at this lake.

In addition to the excellent fishing opportunities available here visitors can also take part in pedal boating, row boating and canoeing or kayaking on the lake’s calm waters while enjoying its picturesque forests meadows and wetlands which are home to a variety of wildlife including bald eagles!

22. Loch Raven Reservoir, Baltimore county

Loch Raven Reservoir is a gorgeous natural oasis located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the largest body of water located entirely within Baltimore County. This reservoir offers some truly spectacular outdoor recreation opportunities, including fishing, boating, and birdwatching.

The reservoir spans over 2,400 acres, and is full of nature’s beauty. Anglers can look forward to catching some largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie, channel catfish and seasonally stocked rainbow trout.

For bird lovers, the reservoir is a paradise with its variety of species, such as bald eagles, cardinals, ospreys, hawks and woodpeckers. Swimming and use of gas motors is not allowed in the reservoir as it is used primarily for drinking purposes.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, loch raven reservoir

23. Lake Elkhorn, Columbia

Lake Elkhorn is a beautiful lake located in the city of Columbia, Maryland and is the 3rd largest lake in Columbia. It is part of the larger Middle Patuxent River watershed and covers an area of roughly 1,000 acres.

The lake is about 37-acres and is surrounded by lush trees, grassy hillsides, and wildflower meadows that provide habitat for species such as muskrats, great blue herons, ospreys, and beavers. The lake depth is about 8 feet and is 15 feet at its deepest point.

There is also a small 2mile path for visitors to hike on and explore the scenic views of the shoreline. During the summer months, the lake is often filled with local anglers who come to fish for species like bass, catfish, and crappie. During the spring, the lake is usually stocked with trout.

24. Lake Artemesia, Prince George’s county

Lake Artemesia is a beautiful man-made 37 acre lake located near the city of College Park, Maryland. It covers an area of approximately 200 acres and is part of the larger Anacostia River watershed. The lake has an average depth of around 10 feet and reaches depths of up to 20 feet in some areas.

Its shoreline is lined with trees, grassy hillsides, and wildflowers that provide habitat for species such as ducks, geese, swans, great blue herons, ospreys and beavers. Visitors can enjoy walking along the 2-mile path that circles the lake or fishing from one of its many docks for bass, catfish or crappie during summer months when it is stocked with trout every spring.

Lake Artemesia also provides a variety of recreational activities including kayaking and canoeing on its calm waters as well as bird watching. If birdwatching is your area, hike or bike at the Luther Goldman Birding Trail to catch a glimpse of rare species like bald eagles which have been spotted at the lake, ibis, orioles, and finches.

25. Allen Pond Park

Allen Pond Park is a beautiful outdoor retreat located in Bowie, Maryland. The park features a variety of amenities such as walking trails, picnic tables, playgrounds, and an amphitheater. There’s also a lake that provides fishing opportunities and is home to many species of wildlife.

The park’s many attractions make it an ideal spot for family outings, special events. The park also hosts various festivals throughout the year, so be sure to check out what’s happening before you visit!

26. Lake Bernard Frank, Derwood 

Lake Bernard Frank is a 55-acre lake located just a short distance from Lake Needwood and is the perfect place for anyone that loves to fish. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, trout, panfish, and perch.

Visitors can also go swimming or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the walking trail surrounding the lake.  For those looking to stay overnight, the park offers camp sites, cabins and platforms for visitors to rent.

27. Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia

Lake Kittamaqundi located in Columbia Town Center, is a 27-acre man-made lake. It is a stunning sight to behold, with its crystal clear waters that mirror the sky above. It has a maximum depth of about seven feet, and features a boathouse with a wooden fishing pier and launching ramp. 

If you make your way down here, you can also check out Nomanizan Island which can be reached via boat and is a very popular gathering spot for many summer festivals including the Fourth of July fireworks.

best lakes in maryland for vacation, Lake Kittamaqundi, Columbia

28. Piney Run Park

Piney Run Park, located in Sykesville, Maryland, is a sprawling outdoor park that offers something for everyone. With over 550 acres of land to explore and over 5 miles of hiking trails, visitors can enjoy hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, rock climbing, fishing spots, picnic tables and grills, playgrounds and sports courts.

The park also features a 300 acre lake  and allows activities such as fishing, as well as a marina for those looking to rent boats or kayaks.

Planning your trip to Maryland? Use our favorite resources below!

Accommodations I recommend Expedia

Flights I recommend Expedia

Tours/experiences I recommend Viator

Car rental I recommend DiscoverCars

Short on time? Book the best Hotels in Maryland here:

Best budget option: Turf Valley Resort

Best luxury option: Four Seasons Baltimore

FAQs on Best Lakes In Maryland For Vacation

What lakes can you swim in Maryland?

In Maryland, you can swim in several lakes as listed above, a few of them include: Deep Creek Lake, the largest lake in the state; Lake Habeeb (Rocky Gap State Park); Greenbrier state park, Cunningham falls state park, kilgore falls, Sandy falls state park, New Germany State Park, Herrington Manor State Park, Rocky Gap State Park, Elk Neck State Park (North East), Beaver Dam Swimming Club, and Jennings Randolph Lake,

Swimming is also allowed at a number of smaller ponds such as Marshy Point Nature Center and Clearview Pond. There are also numerous beaches along Maryland’s coastline that offer swimming opportunities.

Can you swim in Deep Creek Lake?

Yes, you can swim in Deep Creek Lake Maryland however, Swimming is permitted at your own risk when lifeguards are not on duty. 

What is the cleanest lake in Maryland?

The cleanest or clearest lake in Maryland is Greenbrier state park! It has a 42-acre freshwater lake with a white sandy beach and the waters are clear enough to see the sandy bottom.

Does MD have any natural lakes?

No, Maryland does not have any natural lakes and it is in fact the only state in the US with no natural lakes. All of Maryland’s lakes are manmade by damming rivers.

Final thoughts on 28 Best lakes in Maryland for swimming

Maryland has a number of great lakes for swimming that offer something for everyone! Whether you’re looking to take the family on an outdoor retreat, catch some rare species of birds or just relax by the beach, Maryland’s many beautiful and clean lakes provide plenty of opportunities.

From Deep Creek Lake – the largest lake in the state – to Greenbrier State Park with its 42-acre freshwater lake, families have lots of choices when it comes to finding their perfect spot.

For those who want more adventure while they’re at it, Piney Run Park is ideal as it features over 550 acres of land and 5 miles of trails. So go ahead and explore all that Maryland has to offer – there are so many amazing spots waiting to be discovered!

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