Make a Splash: Our Favorite Pools & Beaches

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School is out for summer and thankfully, for kids and parents alike, splash is now in session at the over 50 New York City public pools (most open June 28 through September 3, 2012, but call ahead or check pool websites to verify) and beaches. So when the hydrant or dinky water feature at your local park isn’t beating the heat, head for aquatic relief at one of the city’s many diverse swimming spots. We’ve scoped a few of our favorites (including an off-beat year-round destination), and here is a complete list to city pools and beaches.


Riverbank State Park
Based on a Japanese urban rooftop design Riverbank State Park, perched 69 feet above the Hudson River in West Harlem, is one of the cities most unique areas to chill out. The 28-acre park has a scenic promenade, roller skating in the summer, basketball courts, sports field, two playgrounds, a ca

rousel oh, and yes swimming too in an outdoor pool with water play area and spray ground. $1 for kids, $2 for adults.

Hamilton Fish Park
According the NYC Parks website, the Olympic-sized pool in Hamilton Fish Park was an actual training spot for athletes competing in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki. But, you don’t need to be an aspiring Michael Phelps to enjoy an afternoon in one of the two pools–– the Olympic pool for adults and big kids and wading pool for tots–– on the Lower East Side. Pack a picnic lunch to take to the shady nearby park. Free.

John Jay Park
New Yorkers have been cooling off in the 145-foot pool at John Jay Park since 1940. The updated facilities coupled with a playground and snack bar makes this Upper East Side destination ideal for families. Free.

photo credit: Brandon Daniel via flickr


Red Hook Pool
No matter how many people seek refuge here on steamy days, you’ll still have room to paddle around in the enormous Red Hook Pool. And, if the Olympic-sized pool is too overwhelming for the little ones, they can splash around in the cheery water park. On weekends, grab tacos or huaraches from one of the vendors trimming the Red Hook Ball Fields across the street. Free.

McCarren Park Pool
You might think McCarren Park Pool is just that rad venue where you saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Neko Case, but this year it will be reopened again for actual swimming. The 1936 Works Progressive Administration era facility will be hipster swim ready following a $50 million dollar makeover, and is on track to open in June with the rest of the city pools.  Free.

Coney Island Beach
Come for a dip at Coney Island Beach and stay for the Nathan’s cheese-fries and other carnie thrills. The boardwalk businesses aren’t as bustling as they once were (high rents forced many longtime institutions to close) but between the rides at Luna Park and the aquarium there are plenty of wacky diversions for this day at the beach. Free.


Spa Castle
Live the life aquatic any time of the year at Spa Castle. This Korean spa has stacked pools (indoor and outdoor); hot tubs; a hut village of saunas (including Japanese, Icelandic and mineral) and several restaurants between five floors. Don’t expect fluffy white spa robes (everyone is issued detention center style gym uniforms to wear over bathing suits), but do plan to leave relaxed. $45 on weekends, $35 on weekdays.

Rockaway Beach
As skateboarders roll by with surfboards tucked under their arms and killer fish tacos are sold at a beachy shack you’ll wonder: is this really New York? Absolutely. The string of beaches 87 to 91 at Far Rockaway draw surfers in with their consistent breaks year round, and everyone else in the warmer months. Bring the kiddos to this happening stretch this summer when tasty boardwalk vendors (like Rockaway Taco and Caracas Arepa Bar) are open and the warm surf is up.

When the weather gets warmer, where do you take your little ones for a dip? Leave us a comment below.

— Laura House