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Our 10 Favorite Spots for a Summer Splash

These swimming destinations hidden in the heart of the Midwest will cool off even the hottest summer days.
Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Waite Park, Minnesota

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Waite Park, Minnesota

Even though it's sanctioned as a county park, this St. Cloud-area preserve delivers thrills equal to the best secret swimming holes. Daredevils climb onto designated spots on rock walls and plunge into a cold, spring-fed pool that's as deep as 112 feet. Swimmers bob across the surface on rafts and inner tubes and do laps between points where the walls aren't as steep. A floating dock (left) makes getting out of the water easy and provides a platform for less-challenging cannonballs. (320) 656-3600; co.stearns.mn.us

St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Quarry Park and Nature Preserve, Waite Park, Minnesota

Even though it's sanctioned as a county park, this St. Cloud-area preserve delivers thrills equal to the best secret swimming holes. Daredevils climb onto designated spots on rock walls and plunge into a cold, spring-fed pool that's as deep as 112 feet. Swimmers bob across the surface on rafts and inner tubes and do laps between points where the walls aren't as steep. A floating dock (left) makes getting out of the water easy and provides a platform for less-challenging cannonballs. (320) 656-3600; co.stearns.mn.us

St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Miners Beach, Munising, Michigan

On a warm summer afternoon, waves with just the right amount of chill wash against this protected swath of white sand. Along the Upper Peninsula's north shore, Miner's Beach (left) is 12 miles east of Munising. The cliffs of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore frame the beach, which is just a short walk from the parking lot. The best part: You'll likely have the beach to yourself even on the warmest summer days. (906) 387-3700; nps.gov

Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association

Amnicon Falls State Park, Superior, Wisconsin

Swimmers take turns beneath roaring cascades or slip into quiet, pine-shaded rock pools at this natural water park (left), a legacy of eons-ago earthquakes. This series of picture-perfect swimming spots 12 miles east of Duluth/Superior strings along the Amnicon River as it splits and flows around a small island. (715) 398-3000; dnr.wi.gov

Visit Duluth

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Eminence, Missouri

Bluff Hole hides at the end of a path through a tunnel of trees where south-central Missouri's Jacks Forks River widens and takes its time. Gray-green shadows mark this classic swimming spot's deeper water at the base of a rock shelf, and gravel glints beneath the gin-clear shallows near the bank. On a quickly warming summer morning, the hole (left) feels like a discovery, and it has been for generations of local swimmers and visitors to Ozark National Scenic Riverways, about 140 miles east of Springfield. (573) 323-4236; nps.gov

Eminence Chamber of Commerce

Punderson State Park, Newbury, Ohio

A small swimming beach edges a secluded natural lake (left) in this northeast Ohio park better known as a winter sports haven. Families picnic in woods beside the lake and spread out amid toys on the sand. But even on a hot Sunday afternoon, the number of swimmers totals only about 30, including little ones splashing in the shallows. (440) 564-2279; parks.ohiodnr.gov

Geauga County Tourism Council

Lake McConaughy, Nebraska

Beaches so white they recall the Caribbean rim this big blue reservoir (left) in far western Nebraska near Ogallala. Twenty miles long with more than 100 miles of shore when it's at capacity, the lake also draws boaters and anglers. (800) 658-4390; ilovelakemac.com

Lake Scott State Park, Kansas

This park appears like an oasis on western Kansas' plains (50 miles north of Garden City). Bluffs and wooded canyons surround a spring-fed lake (left) and swimming beach, with camping nearby. Canoe and paddleboat rentals are available. (620) 872-2061; kdwpt.state.ks.us

Platte River, Michigan

At the southern border of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (30 miles west of Traverse City), this clear and shallow stream twists through woods and undulating sand dunes before emptying into Lake Michigan (left). Floaters in inner tubes and canoes glide past as swimmers splash. (321) 326-4700; nps.gov

Lake Carlos State Park, Minnesota

The water can be as warm as a heated pool's at this western Minnesota lake (10 miles north of Alexandria). Families settle in at the nearby campground. (320) 850-7200; dnr.state.mn.us

Lake Red Rock, Iowa

Families appreciate the broad beach and roped-off swimming area at White Breast Recreation Area along Iowa's largest reservoir near Knoxville (55 miles southeast of Des Moines). Neighboring North Overlook Beach (left) is great for a boat ride at sunset. (641) 828-2257; redrockarea.com

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® July/August 2007.)

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