Despite being a land-locked state, Vermont has a surprising number of beautiful sandy beaches at its over 800 lakes.

Many are located along the edges of the state's largest body of water – Lake Champlain – while others are found within the state parks offering hiking, camping and fishing opportunities. 

Here’s our list of the best beaches in Vermont to visit this fall. 

Paddle boats and kayak rentals on Lake Elmore
Pedal boats, kayaks and canoes are available for rent at the Lake Elmore beach house © Jay Yuan / Shutterstock

Elmore State Park

With a large sandy beach and a designated spot for swimming, families love Elmore State Park. Lake Elmore (219 acres) is just 20 minutes from Stowe with pedal boats, kayaks and canoes available for rent at the beach house. 

More than just a beach destination, this 700-acre state park has two hiking trails leading to Elmore Mountain's summit. First, hike the Fire Tower Trail (1.75 miles) and then climb to the top of the fire tower for 360-degree views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Presidential mountain range of New Hampshire.

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Red Rocks Park

Located approximately three miles from downtown Burlington on Lake Champlain, Red Rocks Park is open to the public year-round. Once a popular destination for cliff jumpers, the beach is now the main attraction. The park has banned cliff jumping and there’s a $600 fine if you’re caught. 

The 700ft sandy beachfront and its calm waters make it perfect for swimming. There are resting and changing facilities. For those looking for a little more than a day at the beach, there’s a shady, woody 2.5-mile trail loop that offers excellent views of the lake. During the summer months, the gate to the park closes at 7pm. If you’re planning to stay later, park your vehicle outside the entrance to ensure you don’t get locked in. 

Autumn forest and mountains reflected in the Waterbury Reservoir near Stowe, Vermont
Waterbury Reservoir's calm, shallow waters make it a great place to swim © Caleb Foster / Shutterstock

Waterbury Center State Park

Located a quarter-mile off of VT Route 100, the "Reservoir," as locals know it, is the ninth-largest body of water in Vermont. The Waterbury Reservoir is an excellent place to swim, paddleboard, canoe and kayak in calm shallow waters. 

Umiak Outdoor Outfitters has an outpost on-site and offers rental equipment. There’s also a boat launch and motorboats are allowed. There are restrooms and changing areas on-site. There are also 27 remote campsites along the shoreline that are only accessible by boat. Reservations are required and need to be made in advance with Vermont State Parks. 

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Lake Willoughby in Autumn, Vermont
Lake Willoughby's waters are crystal clear © DEA / M. BORCHI / Getty

Lake Willoughby

Deep in the heart of the North East Kingdom of Vermont, close to the Canadian border is  Lake Willoughby – the second-deepest lake in the state (320ft). Resembling a Norwegian fjord, Lake Willoughby was carved by glacial rivers of ice over 12,000 years ago. The cliffs of Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor soar above the lake on either side.

At almost five miles long, there are two main natural beaches along the shoreline. The quarter-mile beach on the northern end is perfect for swimming. The pristine waters resemble the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean, though the temps are a bit cooler. The shallow entry makes it an excellent spot to launch a kayak or paddleboard. 

The beach to the south can be less busy, it’s clothing optional and may not be ideal for families looking to splash around. There are several cabin and cottage rentals available along the eastern side of the lake.

Lake Dunmore

Located within Branbury State Park, Lake Dunmore has 1000ft of sandy beach. The ample space to spread out and shallow entry point makes it a favorite for families. The large grassy area is an excellent place to set up a blanket and chairs for picnicking. The conveniently located snack shack, restrooms and changing rooms are a bonus as well.

If you want to get out on the lake, kayaks, canoes, pedal boats and a rowboat are available to rent. 

Apart from the camping facilities and one cabin at the park, several cottages are available for rent around the lake. When you are done swimming, grab a bite to eat at either The Kampersville General Store, a deli and ice cream stand, or on the deck of Paddler's Pub.

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