Top 6 Swimming Spots Near BTV
One of the best parts about living in or visiting Burlington is: Lake Champlain. Though summer may not be Vermont’s longest season (*sigh*), Vermonters sure know how to take advantage of every second of warm weather and get outdoors. In addition to the tons of great swimming holes all over Vermont, we’ve rounded up some of the best (and most accessible) spots to dip your toes in within walking/biking/skateboarding/rollerblading distance of downtown Burly.
Of course, it goes without saying – be safe, follow the rules, and make good choices when enjoying the H20 in our own backyard; and clean up after yourself if you bring things in. While it’s a bummer to think of the lake being unsanitary – it can be; especially during super hot summer days. Be sure to check to see if the beach is open as they are occasionally shut down due to blue/green Algae blooms and e coli caused by water run-off.
1. North Beach
Between the warm sand, clear water, and the super accessible creemee stand, it’s hard to go wrong with a trip to North Beach. This is one of Burly’s most classic swim locations, and a hubbub for UVM students. It’s only a 5 minute drive from campus, or a half-hour walk (even faster to bike along the bike path), and it’s pretty easy to catch a bus from the Cherry Street location downtown (find the schedule for the Red Line, hop off at the High School). If you want to drive you’ll have to pay for parking (so don’t forget some cash).
They also have quite a few grills set up along the beach, so why not bring some friends and some hamburgers and make it an occasion for a picnic. There’s plenty of space to spread out on a good day – and if you don’t want to cart in your own food, there’s a snack shack as a life hack.
Pro Tip – A smidge south of North Beach (along the shoreline) is Texaco Beach (known to locals as “Dog Beach”). A great place for your canine companions to romp in the water – just be sure to double check for toxic blue/green algae blooms before they jump in.
2. Leddy Beach
Farther down North Avenue than North Beach, in-the-know folks also love Leddy Park, the slightly quieter alternative to North Beach. Although it isn’t quite as built-up as North Beach (there’s no snack shack), Leddy has easy (free!) parking, sandy beaches, and quick access to the Lake with far fewer crowds. There are a couple grills over there as well, if you’re in the mood for a cookout! This beach tends to be more of a ‘family’ beach due to its proximity to houses in the New North End – so don’t forget to be respectful if you roll in with a pod of your friends.
A cool feature about Leddy is that it’s an incredibly shallow part of Lake Champlain – you can walk a ways out and still only be in up to your ankles. Prime spot for those who just want to dip their toes in without a full-bodied swim.
3. Blanchard Beach & Oakledge Cove
This park and beach in the South End is another quieter and more family-friendly alternative to the popularity of North Beach and the solitude of Leddy. It’s got a little bit of everything – large grassy areas to throw a frisbee or play some pickup soccer, a nice sandy swimming area, and some great sunbathing rocks that line the shore with epic views of the mountains across the lake. Oakledge is actually made up of two beaches – Blanchard Beach (your typical sandy beach) and Oakledge Cove (rocky-sunbathing outlet).
The park itself has tons of grills, a tennis court, a reservable gazebo, a giant earth clock (think stonehenge) and even the world’s first public Universally Accessible Community Treehouse. During the summer, you can also rent stand-up paddle boards here (or take lessons) from Paddlesurf Champlain.
You can easily reach it by heading south from downtown on the Burlington bike path, or take the Green Line down Pine Street and a quick walk down Flynn Ave will get you there. There is also lots of parking – but depending on the day it can fill up and can wind up being a smidge pricey.
Pro Tip: Stop at the South End City Market to snag all your beach picnic noms – it’s right on the way!
4. Blodgett Access
🧭 See it on a Map
ℹ️ Parking? No • Restrooms? No • Lifeguards? No
This spot is great for a quick sit and a quiet read – but less so for an epic-beach day hangout. A small hidden gem known mostly affectionately to locals (though perhaps not appropriately) as “Bum Beach” – this ‘beach’ is a sandy strip with Lake access right along the bike path between downtown Burlington and Oakledge. Right next door is the Burlington Surf Club, so if you’re looking to learn some water skills you should pop over and check it out. It’s a personal favorite both for its proximity to downtown as well as its quality of swimming, sunbathing, and hammocking. If you’re up for a little adventure, take a walk on a sunny day and see if you can find it.
Fun Fact: In 2017 an anonymous individual (Burlington Banksy?!) constructed a swing-set off the coast of this beach under the cover of darkness. It stood for less than 48 hours before being removed – but it’s a fun reminder of the spontaneity of Burlington life.
Photo Credit: Patrick Wilingham
5. Red Rocks
Even further south lies Red Rocks – a prime, 100-acre space for nature-lovers and just-out-of-the-city ‘hikes’. This forest park located in South Burlington, adjacent to Burton’s flagship headquarters (and potential future site of Higher Ground). Red Rocks is known mostly for its quiet walking trails – great for a shaded stroll on a hot day; but it’s access to the lake and sweeping vistas make it a chill destination for an epic ‘beach day’.
This space has a nice (albeit small) sandy beach for your typical swim; and a bunch of epic spots off the beaten trail where you can find some solitude to cool off in a more secluded and natural location than a beach would allow. The cliff-faces here call for jumping – but we don’t recommend it. This spot can be deceptively shallow with a number of underwater rocks – and rescue access here is difficult in the event you were to get hurt. Instead, bask in the sun and enjoy the vistas from these high-up perches – then hike down the the water to cool off.
6. Lone Rock Point
Farther North than North Beach (but not as far as Leddy) is a beach at the base of the geologic structure at Lone Rock Point. If you took Geology 001, you probably took a field trip out here in colder weather, but this is actually a sweet spot for swimmers and rock enthusiasts alike during the summer months. Check out the map here if you’re up for a little hike and an off-the-beaten-path swimming adventure.
Find your own way…
The beauty of Vermont is that there are always more beautiful spots that you can find, so if you’ve got the time and the energy, just try following the edge of the lake or the edge of a river until you come across the perfect spot to dive in! There is no shortage of swimming holes or nature explorations.
Also, check out this video on swimming holes in VT from our friends over at Seven Days for even MORE inspiration…Happy Swimming! XOXO!