10 Best Lakes in Washington for a Swim

This post may contain affiliate links.

Ever wonder if there are beach lakes in Washington? Most of us know Washington for its picturesque coastline and endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. But if you’re looking for a place to take a dip and cool off, look no further than one of Washington’s many beach lakes.

Here are 10 of the best beach lakes in Washington for a swim!

10 of the Best Lakes in Washington State

It doesn’t matter the type of beach you’re looking for. If you are looking in Washington, you’ll find them all. Some beach lakes in Washington are urban, while others are remote. There are restaurants and bars beachside while others are au natural with nothing surrounding it but the forest.

Some are serene and quaint. Some are wild and expansive. While each one is unique in its own way, all offer boundless amounts of time spent playing in the water.

1. Lake Chelan, Chelan

About: Situated in North Central Washington, just three hours East of Seattle, Lake Chelan is one of the state’s most popular beach lakes. Created by glaciers, the lake is more than 50 miles long and features a stunning array of crystal-clear waters. It’s also the deepest lake in Washington, reaching depths of 1,486 ft.

Visitors can enjoy various activities on the lake, including swimming, fishing, boating, and hiking. There are many places to rent watercraft from. So, if you don’t have your own boat, paddleboard, or kayak, no worries. Those and plenty more are available at Lake Chelan.

Getting There: Take I-90 heading east out of Seattle to Highway 97, where you’ll head north to Highway 2. From there, head east on Highway 2 towards Alt 97, the Lake Chelan exit. It’s about three hours from Seattle.

Know Before You Go: Lake Chelan is a boater’s paradise, and the surrounding area includes many restaurants, shops, and vineyards. This is a popular place, so be prepared for others enjoying the same beauty you want to enjoy. However, at 50 miles long, there’s plenty of space to spread out.

2. Cranberry Lake, Whidbey Island

About: Cranberry Lake is part of Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. About 15,000 years ago, Cranberry Lake was an inlet from the ocean filled with saltwater. As the earth changed, sand dunes remained, creating a natural divide in the lake, leaving behind some saltwater still in its depths. 

Named because it was once used as a cranberry bog when the area was first settled, it’s now known as one of the best swim beaches in Washington. Here, you’ll find swimming beaches and boating docs, with picnic areas, fishing, and camping.

Getting There: Cranberry Lake is located about 45 minutes south of Bellingham, on the Whidbey Island side of Deception State Park. State Highway 20 will bring you to the main access point to this Washington swimming beach.

Know Before You Go: There are swimming beaches located along the western side of Cranberry Lake. And if you are into fishing and boating, the east side is the best option for those, allowing for electric or human-powered boats. Knowing this ahead of time will make your stay here much more enjoyable.

Also, when visiting this beach lake in Washington, depending on your type of visit, you may need to pay a fee, as this lake is within Deception Pass State Park.

Traveler’s Tip: It might not be a beach lake, but Lake Diablo is a hidden gem in Washington.

3. Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

About: Washington is home to some of the most beautiful beach lakes in the country, and Lake Crescent is no exception. Located in Olympic National Park, this gorgeous lake is in the middle of towering evergreens and snow-capped mountains. 

Lake Crescent is 12 miles long and is the second deepest lake in the state at just over 600 ft deep. Visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing in the clear blue waters or hiking and camping in the surrounding wilderness.

What makes Lake Crescent truly unique is its lack of algae due to having no nitrogen in the water. This creates a crystal clear mountain lake giving you a stunning experience when visiting here for a quick dip in the water.

Getting There: If you’re coming from Port Angeles, visiting this beach lake in Washington can be an easy day trip. Only 20 miles west of Port Angeles, U.S. Highway 101 will take you right along the lake.

Know Before You Go: One of the best spots for swimming at Lake Crescent is at Fairholme Beach. Nearby is a campground with boat rentals, a camp store, and even a cafe.

4. Lake Cushman, Mason County

About: Lake Cushman is a hidden gem located in the Olympic Mountains. It is around 10 miles in length with a depth of 115 ft. The lake was created by damming the South Fork of the Skokomish River and is surrounded by forests and mountains. 

Because of its secluded location, it’s a great place to enjoy nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The lake is popular for swimming, boating, fishing, and cliff-diving.

There are several campgrounds and RV parks nearby, so it’s easy to spend a few days exploring all that the area offers. If you’re looking for a beautiful and relaxing spot to enjoy the outdoors, Lake Cushman is definitely worth a visit.

Getting There: Lake Cushman is about a 50-minute drive from Olympia. You’ll start on I-5, following along U.S. Highway 101 to Hoodsport. From there, you’ll take Highway 119 north to Lake Cushman. If you are also interested in visiting Olympic National Park, the northern part of the lake is near the Staircase Entrance to the national park.

Know Before You Go: The best place for public access to this beach lake in Washington is at Skokomish Park on the east side of the lake. Here, you can play for the day or camp for the night. There are also several boat launches available at this site.

5. Lake Washington, King County

About: Second only to Lake Chelan, Lake Washington in Seattle is one of the largest lakes in the state, and has several of the best swim beaches, as well.

Being in Seattle, this is a great option for those who want to combine a beach vacation with some urban exploration. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, visitors can also enjoy boating, fishing, and picnicking.

There are even several restaurants and cafes located along the shore, making it easy to grab a bite without straying too far from the sand. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Lake Washington is a great spot to enjoy some time in the sun.

Getting There: You can access the swimming beaches or almost any part of Lake Washington on the north, the center, the south, or almost anywhere. Being in Seattle, you just have to make the decision to visit the water instead of the city.

Know Before You Go: Some of the best places to go for a swim in Washington are at Lake Washington. There are many options to choose from, so we will get you started with a few.

Matthews Beach and Magnuson Park are located along the north shore and offer beautiful beaches and picnicking options. Good central beach locations include Madison Park and Denny Blaine, but these are quite popular areas and can get quite crowded in the summer months.

Madrona, along the southern shore, is another beautiful beach, one where spending a day playing in the water and BBQ’ing all day is quite common.

6. Colchuck Lake, Chelan County

About: Access to this beach lake in Washington is via hiking the Stuart Lake Trail. While it’s 4 miles to the lake with over 2,000 feet in elevation, the beauty of this aquamarine mountain lake is worth every step. 

Backpacking is a popular activity here. But even if you’re only in for a day hike, fishing, or just a picnic lunch, this is a must-do hike. Located in the Central Cascades in central Washington, the views of the twin spires of Dragontail and Colchuck Peaks will take your breath away.

Plus, Colchuck Lake and Stuart Lake trailhead is considered the gateway to the Enchantments, a collection of alpine lakes that will make you want to keep hiking forever.

Getting There: Starting from western Leavenworth, head out on U.S. Highway 2 to Icicle Creek Road. From here, you will drive just under 8.5 miles to Forest Service Road 7601 and turn left.

Be prepared for a dirt road that’s not always in the greatest condition. In just under 4 miles, you’ll come upon the parking lot for the Stuart Lake trailhead. 

Know Before You Go: Parking is limited at the trailhead, and you will need a Northwest Forest Pass to park. In addition, if you plan on camping overnight at the lake, you will also need a backcountry or wilderness permit via an annual lottery.

7. Kachess Lake, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

About: Kachess Lake is one of three lakes along I-90 near the Yakima River. Located in the Cascade Mountain Range, Kachess Lake is a beautiful way to spend a weekend or just a day. With a swimming beach, a campground, a hiking trail around the lake, and more to explore, this mountain lake has something for everyone.

Kachess Lake is surrounded by the 1.7 million-acre Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, giving you a ton of recreational activities nearby. It has activities such as hiking, camping, biking, scenic drives, and so much more. There’s no shortage of fun to be had at Kachess Lake and in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Getting There: When traveling along I-90, just around 100 miles east of Seattle, take exit 62, which is Kachess Lake Road. Travel along that for 5.5 miles to the campground to access Kachess Lake.

Know Before You Go: Much of the swimming beach access is from the campground, which is on the northeast shore. However, day passes are available, so you can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing whether you’re camping here or not.

8. Upper Goose Lake, Othello

About: Situated at 865 ft above sea level, Upper Goose Lake provides 130 acres of water to those looking for a quick dip to cool off. With no trees nearby, there may be no shade; however, the views here are endless. 

Boating, fishing, picnicking, swimming, and hiking are popular activities here, but whatever you choose, bring everything in with you as there are limited amenities. What makes this lake unique is that it’s a part of the Sheep Lakes Habitat Management. Waterfowl viewing is another popular activity at this beach lake in Washington because of this.

Getting There: Once you’re north out of Othello, head north on McManamon Road for just over four miles to South Morgan Lake Road. Turn right and keep going for another 4 miles to the access road for Upper Goose Lake. Here, make a left-hand turn, and the lake is only a mile away.

Know Before You Go: As mentioned previously, there are limited amenities at Upper Goose Lake and no shade, so come prepared. Bring water and snacks for a picnic, but also remember an umbrella or a canopy if you need to get out of the sun.

9. Bear Lake, Chattaroy

About: Bear Lake is about 20 miles north of Spokane and offers a great place to swim and play for the day. This 35-acre lake has a 166-acre park surrounding it, including wetlands and forested regions.

There are several hiking trails, a playground, picnic tables, a volleyball court, and BBQ areas. It is a natural getaway for those in nearby Spokane and the surrounding communities.

Getting There: From Spokane, head north on U.S. Highway 2 for about 23 miles. Make a left when you come to the Bear Lake County Park sign.

Know Before You Go: This is a popular park and swim beach, so if you are planning on a big event at Bear Lake, you may want to reserve a picnic shelter ahead of time for your event.

There are two shelters; however, one is first come, first serve, and the other can be reserved. The reservable shelter is on the west side of the park, close to the playground and volleyball courts.

10. Lake Wenatchee, Leavenworth

About: Washington is home to many beautiful beach lakes, and Lake Wenatchee just outside of Leavenworth is one of the best. A crystal blue lake with mountain peaks surrounding it, this 5-mile long lake offers many outdoor activities. 

The lake is located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, making it a beautiful place to go for a swim on a hot day. Camping is available all year here, along with hiking, horseback riding, and more.

There are also boating and water sports options. Rent or bring your own. Leavenworth is nearby for shopping, dining, and stocking up on beach supplies. Lake Wenatchee is the perfect destination.

Getting There: Head out of Leavenworth and head west on U.S. Highway 2 for about 15 miles. Make a right-hand turn onto State Road 207. In 3.5 miles, turn left onto Cedar Brae Road, and you are there.

Know Before You Go: Lake Wenatchee and the Wenatchee River provide over 12,000 feet of waterfront, making this a natural wildlife area. When camping, swimming, hiking, or just relaxing, be aware of possible wildlife sightings such as bears.

Also, when visiting this beach lake in Washington, depending on your type of visit, you may need to pay a fee as this lake is within Lake Wenatchee State Park.

Go for a Dip in One of Washington’s Stunning Lakes

The next time you’re looking for a swimming lake, make sure to check out one of these 10 beach lakes in Washington. With crystal-clear water, gorgeous surroundings, and activities galore, you won’t be disappointed.

What are you waiting for? Grab your swimsuit and go for a dip in one (or all) of these stunning beach lakes in Washington today. 

Which one of these lakes will you visit next?

Previous Article
A woman hiking through the forest in the spring while her partner uses binoculars to bird watch behind her.

9 Best Hikes in Washington for Any Skill Level

Next Article
Looking down the crevice cut through the Earth at Devil's Churn as waves crash against rock.

The Terrifying Devils Churn in Oregon Is a Must-See