Looking to cool off this summer? We already introduced Europe's most beautiful public pools last year, but we thought we'd take a look at the aquatic offerings a bit closer to home. Whether you're looking for a basic soak, a serious workout, or theme park-style entertainment, here are five fantastic (and inexpensive) public pools where you can make a splash.
Southwesterners know that Arizona takes its pools very seriously. Mesquite Groves Aquatic Center, less than a 45-minute drive from Phoenix, is a veritable water park with a lazy river, vortex whirlpool, two water slides, water guns, and more. For just $2.25, enjoy all of that as well as a snack bar, lounge areas with plenty of shade, and faux-grass turf for taking a break. Yes, it quickly fills with other swimmers and splashers (many of whom are children), so get there very early or relatively late.
Pretend you're in a tropical lagoon at Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, FL. Entrance costs $11.50 for non-residents, but for the premium, you enjoy tumbling waterfalls and coral rock caves that you’d never expect in a public pool. The historic 1920s pool is fed with 820,000 gallons of spring water, all of which is drained daily in the spring and summer seasons so the water stays clean. Don't miss the the sandy sunning area, two observation towers, and a bridge that, yes, is reminiscent of those connecting Venice's canals.
For the serious swimmer, Angelenos love Culver City Plunge for its relaxed atmosphere and reasonable $4 entry. The Olympic-size pool boasts two diving boards and eight lanes with designated speeds of fast, medium, and slow, so you can better avoid traffic jams while trying to complete your laps. While lockers and showers are particularly fancy, they're well-maintained and cleaner than those at many other public pools.
Looking for a little extra R&R? Sink into Barton Springs Pool's three acres of 70-degree water in Austin, TX. Tranquil as it is, there’s plenty to keep you entertained, be it the turtles and fish or the colorful characters that frequent the grounds. You might see drum circles and topless sunbathers alongside off-the-clock legislators and local families. Entry is $3.
It's no surprise that a delightful urban aquatic adventure can be found in NYC, at the pop-up pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Fantastic views of the Lower Manhattan skyline aside, the pool's limited run each summer has only increased its popularity. Get there very early unless you can handle long lines and lots of competition a good spot; like some popular attractions, you have to get a specific timed slot for entry – but at least it's free.
Bonus: For a small step up without the crowds, the 4,800 square feet pool at King & Grove in Williamsburg is one of the city’s few saltwater oases. You'll have to shell out $25 on weekdays and $35 on weekends for the elevated views and posh surroundings, but that's actually a much lower price tag than other hotel pool fees in NYC.