I don’t know about you, but this record hot hot heat has made me seek out even more lakes this summer than ever before! I am definitely more of a pool person because I’m skittish about strange things bumping up against me ha ha, this is probably one of the reasons I love snow and winter, no insects or creatures to come out and startle you right?! But this year I have been braver, and I’ve also had a lot of questions on my instagram about great lakes in Vermont to cool off and refresh!
So I put together a short list of some of my favorites in case you’re sweltering just like me!
Basin Harbor isn’t a day lake or public park, you actually have to stay at the resort to be able to swim in their lake. We had a fantastic trip a couple of summers ago, it is one of my favorite places in Vermont. Located in Vergennes, it is absolutely beautiful in the countryside of the Champlain Valley, but you really don’t ever even have to leave the resort, there is boating, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, all kinds of fun options for guests. I also love their sweet cabin setup, it’s so charming and retro, I literally felt like I was in Dirty Dancing, it just has that vibe. So if you’re looking for a couple of days getaway where you can actually stay, I can’t say enough about Basin Harbor.
About halfway between Basin Harbor and my house is Emerald Lake in East Dorset, Vermont. Emerald Lake is a Vermont State Park, it’s fairly small in size, you can definitely camp there and people seem to like that though it’s not my jam, but it is super pretty there and has a great beach for wading and swimming. It’s definitely a Vermont classic and because of its manageable size it’s great for a day trip.
I actually haven’t been to Camp Plymouth State Park in Ludlow, I’ve only driven by it, but people seem to love it and it’s close to one of my favorite towns which is Ludlow, home of Okemo Ski Resort and a super charming and fun little town that is one of my favorite winter stops. It’s a little more in the central/western part of the state, so if you’re in Woodstock for example, this would be a driveable spot for a lake day trip.
Woodford State Park is closer to me, and it is a fantastic and manageable park to visit for a day or overnight. It has a great little beach and a nice grassy bluff with picnic tables you can enjoy. There is also hiking there as well, an easy forest trail around the lake, through a small waterfall and some wetlands that is manageable even for kids. It’s basically a loop so you can walk around the lake. ‘
The elevation is extremely high for Southern Vermont (in fact my ski area, Prospect Mountain, is in Woodford and it gets way more snow than the lowlands do even though it’s not far from Bennington and Brattleboro, respectively. So it is way cooler in the summer months, and the forest trail is probably a good 10 degrees cooler than the sunny spots so it’s very refreshing. Spend a morning at the park and then have a nice lunch in quaint and charming Wilmington, it’s a wonderful way to spend a day! You can also pop in and stop at Hogback Mountain lookout for sweeping mountain vistas!
And lastly, right in my own backyard is Lake Paran. Lake Paran is a great small lake right outside of Bennington, quick and easy for a fast dip and a break in your day. The beach is small and easy for children, and I hear the snack bar is to die for!
I love to spend a morning at one of Vermont’s beautiful lakes and then head out to a nearby town for lunch, or vice versa. Who needs pools and beaches when you have the fresh, gorgeous and cooling lakes of wonderful Vermont?!