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The best public swimming pools in NYC

We break down NYC’s top public swimming pools where you can escape this season's unbearable heat with a refreshing dip

Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks
Floating Pool at Barretto Point Park

It's hot outside—good thing the water at NYC's pools is fine. There are more than 60 public swimming pools scattered around the five boroughs (not counting the swanky rooftop and hotel ones), and opening day is June 27, 2015. And since we don't recommend trying to sneak your flask past the locker room (you're only allowed to bring water, a towel and bound summer reading material with you), we've suggested some postbathing spots to rehydrate with a summer drink or refuel with a yummy snack.

RECOMMENDED: See more things to do in NYC this summer

Best public swimming pools

Astoria Pool

The Olympic-size lanes, ample waterside lounging and WPA-era Art Deco interior have made it a city favorite for decades. But before you dive in, be sure to check out the sights: The summer oasis, located between the Robert F. Kennedy and Hell Gate Bridges, offers a spectacular view of the Upper East Side—quite the setting for laps anytime. Afterward, grab a stein at the nearby Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden on your way back to the N.

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Douglass and DeGraw Pool

This small spot attracts a rotation of neighborhood kids, but it stays quiet, especially during midday hours. Benches and a concrete canopy by the wading pool, as well as ample deck space around the perimeter, make it a perfect spot to perch with a good book. But be sure to leave your Kindle and The New York Times at home—electronics and newspapers are prohibited at all city pools. When you’ve finished your chapter, pick up a slice of pie from bakeshop Four & Twenty Blackbirds.

The Floating Pool

This seven-lane pool, which sits atop a movable barge, has found a long-term home in the Bronx. The Floating Pool features all the amenities of any land-based body, including locker rooms, with the added benefit of a waterfront view. Neighborhood kids make up the bulk of swimmers, as the closest subway stop is more than a mile's walk from the park. On your long trek back to the train, grab a picnic table at MOgridder's BBQ for some juicy charred meat fresh off the fire.

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The Bronx

Hamilton Fish Pool

This Olympic-size pool is one of the biggest in the city, attracting neighborhood residents and kids, as well as swimmers from all over lower Manhattan. Though there’s no deck furniture, a wide band of concrete surrounds the pool, so there’s ample space to roll out a towel, stretch out and watch the ebb and flow of the masses. Postpool, grab a chicken souvlaki ($6) and some feta-topped Greek-style french fries ($7) a few blocks west at Souvlaki GR.

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Lower East Side

John Jay Pool

This Yorkville swimming hole is right at the edge of the East River, and visitors can spy Roosevelt Island from a pedestrian bridge linking John Jay Park with the East River Esplanade across the FDR. The 145-foot-long pool itself is lined with leafy trees, setting a bucolic scene for a dip or poolside lounge. After you dry off, say cheers to summer with a signature cocktail at Seamstress.

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Upper East Side

Lasker Pool

Sitting at the northern tip of Central Park and overlooking the Harlem Meer, Lasker doubles as an ice-skating rink in the winter. During the summer, this super clean oval lagoon offers plenty of space for adults, tourists and neighborhood children to soak. Despite the prime park location, there isn’t a lot of shade, so load up on SPF beforehand. After, head west to Le Baobab for a Senegalese specialty like the tomato-based thiebu djen fish stew.

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Central Park

McCarren Park Pool

This chlorinated mecca sits at the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, making it a beacon for North Brooklyn dwellers. With a 37,571-square-foot swim area, in addition to plenty of poolside space for beach-chair and towel lounging, you can scope out hundreds of stylish hipsters, neighborhood families and curious tourists looking to stay cool. Just be prepared for a wait: The pool, which was renovated and reopened in 2012, draws major crowds. Postdip, swing by Bar Matchless for one of 16 beers on tap.

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Pop-up pool at Brooklyn Bridge Park

This temporary lagoon returns after a 2012 debut with eye-catching glimpses of the Manhattan skyline. It's 3.5 feet deep and can fit 60 swimmers at a time. To ensure there isn't overcrowding, patrons are let in during timed 45-minute sessions. (You have to queue up for a wristband, so be prepared, as lines have been long.) To make your wait more bearable, sip a glass of vino at Pier 1's Brooklyn Bridge Garden Bar. For more information, visit Brooklyn Bridge Park's website.

Lyons Pool

Staten Island's largest public pool is also one of NYC's oldest—it was one of 11 pools built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, to provide employment during the Great Depression. The main pool can accommodate up to 2,800 swimmers at a time. There's also a separate diving pool and a collection of spray showers for kids to run through on hot summer days. After all that splashing around treat yourself to some sangria and Spanish tapas at Beso before boarding the ferry.

Red Hook Recreation Area

One of the city’s massive WPA-era projects, the Red Hook Pool offers lap hours on weekdays (7 to 8:30am, 7pm to dusk). You’re required to register online or poolside prior to your session, but participation is gratis, and on-site aquatic specialists are available to record your lengths. Best of all, lap swims are for ages 18 and up, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to squeeze in a workout without a crowd of tots. If you go on the later side, reward yourself with a PBR at neighborhood staple Sunny’s Bar.

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Red Hook

Tony Dapolito Recreation Center

While swimming spots like the Astoria Pool got rid of their springboards eons ago, you can still practice your swan dives into the deep end in the West Village. Though its 100-by-50-foot imprint doesn’t offer the expansive space of its Olympic-size counterparts, there are still lanes for laps, and the Keith Haring mural painted on the back wall helps make for an artier aquatic experience overall. Once your legs are tired from bouncing on the board, indulge in a chorizo-and-cheddar-filled Blue Ruben ($17.25) at nearby Blue Ribbon Bakery.

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West Village


John M
John M

Being able to have great places to take your kids during the summer for swimming seems like something that can be  very beneficial. I personally think that there are a lot of different things that can ultimately change the feel of the day with a little cool water splashed on your face. I personally think that several of your suggestions will really make for a fun trip as well. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. 


Ava L
Ava L BannedSpammer

Its very interesting how in New York City especially there are business for pools. I also notice that they all are really big. The closest one in my area is half the size of the New York pools. 

James S
James S

Wow, New York city has public pools in all five boroughs? If that first paragraph is to be believed, I'm in for a nice summer vacation! I have a friend who's letting me stay with him in the Big Apple and I'm an avid swimmer, so this is good news. I wonder how difficult it would be to get my own pool set up here at home afterward. Maybe I'll use some of these places as inspiration.


hey guys i have VIP memberships for the pool at one of the hottest hotels in the LES , includes you can bring one guest and you get to stay to all the parties and events held at the pool and terrace. this is %100 legit ive heard they go up to $700 but im giving them away for $200. dont miss out. contact me at tylerdirdint@gmail.com


more pool etiquette: leave your freaking misanthropic, aggressive, domineering tendencies with your roommate. if you can't be gentleman, stay the f---k home, K?