Part of Halifax's magic is that wild places like Williams Lake exist near urban spaces.

15 great lakes within 30 minutes of downtown Halifax

Dreamy spots to take a dip that are no more than a half-hour drive from the heart of the city.

This article was independently produced by our editorial team with financial support from Develop Nova Scotia, connecting our city to the water. Visit Halifax waterfront this summer for food, art, shopping and adventure. Find a list of things to do and see here.

It's officially summer, which means it's the perfect time to visit a local lake. Whether you want to take a quick plunge after a long day of work, spend a sunny Saturday paddling on the water or stroll through a lakeside trail, Halifax has many close by options. Here's our guide to some some of the best lakes you can drive to in under 30 minutes from downtown.

Long Lake, Spryfield
Located in Long Lake Provincial Park, there’s tons to do at this popular spot. Hike one of many wilderness trails, rent a paddleboard or kayak, or go for a swim. It’s a large lake with multiple entrance points, so there’s something for everyone.
Distance from downtown: 15 minutes
How to get there: Past the Armdale Rotary, there are entrances on Dunbrack Street, Old Sambro Road, and St. Margarets Bay Road.
Amenities: Washrooms, paddle launch, equipment rentals, bike racks

Tea Lake/Purcell’s Pond, Purcells Cove
Purcell’s Pond, also known as Tea Lake for its brown-ish colour and warmth, is a small lake perfect to steep in. You can also take a leisurely stroll around the pond, or explore the Purcells Cove Backlands area for more of a wilderness experience.
Distance from downtown: 20 minutes
How to get there: After the rotary, exit Herring Cove Road then turn on to Purcells Cove Road, follow until just before Battery Drive. The trail to the lake is on the right.
Amenities: None

Chocolate Lake, Armdale
This delicious-sounding lake is one of Halifax’s most popular swimming spots because it’s easy to get to and super warm. Chocolate Lake is perfect for an evening dip after a long day, when you’re more likely to beat the crowds. Just make sure to check if there’s an algae bloom warning first.
Distance from downtown: 10 minutes
How to get there: Take Herring Cove Road off the Rotary, and you’ll be there in seconds (the beach is on the right, just before Melwood Drive).
Amenities: Change rooms, showers, washrooms, lifeguards, tennis court, basketball court

William’s Lake, Spryfield
This tucked-away lake is clear, cool and great for swimming. There are trails to explore in the area too. A 15-minute walk will lead you to a popular cliff-jumping spot.
Distance from downtown: 15 minutes
How to get there: Turn up Herring Cove Road and then turn left onto Purcells Cove Road for about 4km. Watch for a clearing or parked cars on the right side. The lake is a five-minute walk away through the woods.
Amenities: None

Lake Banook, Dartmouth
A city swim in the heart of Dartmouth, Lake Banook is a busy spot right next to Sullivan’s pond. The lake is dotted with aquatic clubs, so you can watch a regatta or go kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding yourself. There are a few different beaches around the lake for you to try out, including Birch Cove Beach, Lions Beach and Brookdale Beach.
Distance from downtown: 10 minutes
How to get there: Cross the Macdonald Bridge, then turn right, then left up Thistle Street past Dartmouth High until Maple Street. Turn right, then left onto Ochterloney, which becomes Prince Albert Road. Turn left on Hawthorn, and then make a right onto Banook Avenue.
Amenities: Change rooms, washrooms, lifeguards, showers, canoe/kayak launches

Long Pond, Herring Cove
Legend has it that Long Pond is the birthplace of hockey, and a Heritage Classic game takes place on the frozen lake every year. In the summer, it’s a small swimming beach.
Distance from downtown: 20 minutes
How to get there: Take Herring Cove Road. The beach is on the right just before Herring Cove proper.
Amenities: Lifeguards

Papermill Lake, Bedford
This lake in Bedford has grassy areas to lay down a picnic blanket, and stairs leading into the water.
Distance from downtown: 20 minutes
How to get there: To get to Papermill Lake Beach Park, take Bedford Highway and then turn on to Hammonds Plains Road. Take a right at Lake Drive. For Saunders Beach, take a left off of Bedford Highway to Moirs Mills Road and then right onto Millrun Crescent.
Amenities: Lifeguards at Saunders Beach

Kearney Beach, Bedford
Kearney Beach is a popular swimming destination for families. You can also watch rowing or sailing practices at the aquatic clubs on the lake, or explore the Blue Mountain Birch Cove Wilderness Area.
Distance from downtown: 15 minutes
How to get there: To get to the main entry, turn left off of the 102 on to Hamshaw Drive and then turn right on to Saskatoon drive.
Amenities: Washrooms, playground, lifeguards

Sandy Lake Park Beach, Bedford
There’s plenty to do at this Bedford lake. Sandy Lake is a popular swimming destination, but you can also fish for bass and speckled trout, or take a walk on the hiking trail that loops around the water. And with a beach volleyball court and picnic benches thrown into the mix, this beach is a one-stop shop.
Distance from downtown: 25 minutes
How to get there: At the Hammonds Plains exit in Bedford, take Smiths Road. The lake is at the end of Smiths Road.
Amenities: Change rooms, washrooms, lifeguards, picnic area, beach volleyball court

Kidston Lake Beach, Spryfield
Kidston Lake Park is home to the famous Rocking Stone, which helped the area gain heritage status earlier this year. Head to this beach for a swim, and while you’re at it, see if you can make the stone rock.
Distance from downtown: 20 minutes
How to get there: Take Herring Cove Road, and turn right on to Old Sambro Road, which turns into the aptly named Rockingstone road. Turn right on Feldspar Crescent and then a quick left on to Fieldstone Street. You’ll reach a parking lot.
Amenities: Lifeguards, picnic tables

Penhorn Lake Beach, Dartmouth
Penhorn Lake in Dartmouth is a quaint alternative to Lake Banook, great for swimming or just lounging by the water.
Distance from downtown: 15 minutes
How to get there: Pass Lake Banook on Prince Albert Road, and turn down Curley Drive. Pass the Alderney School on Penhorn Drive, and the lake is a few minutes down the road on Penhorn Drive.
Amenities: Change rooms, washrooms, benches, lifeguards

Kinsmen First Lake Beach, Lower Sackville
Kinsmen Lake is a kid-friendly spot with a playground and a splash pad. There’s also a big gazebo overlooking the water.
Distance from downtown: 30 minutes
How to get there: Go to Bedford first, and then travel along Glendale Drive or First Lake Drive. The beach is located on First Lake Drive in the heart of Lower Sackville.
Amenities: Playground, splash pad

Campbell Point, Brookside
This is a sandy beach on Hatchet Lake with a shallow swimming area. Play volleyball using the nets on the beach, or take a walk on the surrounding trails. This beach also hosts an annual sand castle contest.
Distance from downtown: 25 minutes
How to get there: Head down Prospect Road, then turn on Club Road.
Amenities: Lifeguards, volleyball nets

Albro Lake Beach, Dartmouth
Nestled in a residential area of Dartmouth, Albro Lake has a small beach, but the lake itself is spacious to swim in.
Distance from downtown: 15 minutes
How to get there: Once you’re in Dartmouth, reach the entry point via Albro Lake Road, Ernest Avenue or Sea King Drive.
Amenities: Change rooms, washrooms, lifeguards

Shubie Beach, Dartmouth
There’s plenty to do at this inviting beach located on Charles Lake in Dartmouth. Camp in Shubie park, rent a Kayak, go for a swim or explore the 11km of trails around the park.
Distance from downtown: 20 minutes
How to get there: Once you're in Dartmouth, take Waverley Road.
Amenities: Lifeguards, equipment rentals, camp ground, baseball field

About The Author

Kaija Jussinoja

Kaija Jussinoja is a news reporter at The Coast, where she covers the stories that make Halifax the weird and wonderful place we call home. She is originally from North Vancouver, BC and graduated from the University of King’s College in 2022. Jussinoja joined The Coast in May 2022 after interning at The Chronicle...

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