Best swimming pools to cool off this summer in New York City

We break down New York City’s top summer 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 New York City's public pools is fine. There are more than 60 public swimming holes scattered around the five boroughs (not counting the swanky rooftop and hotel pools); opening day is June 27, 2014. 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. For additional information on all oudoor city pools, call 311 or go to nyc.gov/parks.

RECOMMENDED: Summer in New York

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 (29-19 24th Ave between 29th and 31st Sts, Astoria, Queens; 718-274-4925, bohemianhall.com) on your way back to the N.

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Astoria Free

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 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 (439 Third Ave at 8th St, Gowanus, Brooklyn; 718-499-2917, birdsblack.com).

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 Lady 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.

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Hunts Point Free

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 ($5.50) and some feta-topped Greek-style french fries ($6) a few blocks west at Souvlaki GR (116 Stanton St between Essex and Ludlow Sts; 212-777-0116, souvlakigr.com).

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Lower East Side Free

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 at Jbird Cocktails (339 E 75th St between First and Second Aves; 212-288-8033, jbirdny.com).

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Upper East Side Free

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 superclean 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 (120 W 116th St between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd [Seventh Ave] and Malcolm X Blvd [Lenox Ave], 212-864-4700) for a Senegalese specialty like the tomato-based thiebu djen fish stew.

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Central Park

McCarren Park Pool

Critics' pick

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’ll be able to 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 (557 Manhattan Ave at Driggs Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; barmatchless.com) for one of 16 beers on tap.

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Greenpoint Free

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 that there isn't overcrowding, patrons are let in during timed 45-minute sessions. (You'll have to queue up for a wristband—be prepared, as lines have been long.) To make your wait more bearable, sip a glass of vino at Pier 1's Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar (brooklynbridgewinebar.com). 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.

Red Hook Recreation Area

One of the city’s massive WPA-era projects, the Red Hook Pool offers lap hours on weekdays (7–8:30am, 7pm–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 18 and over, 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 (253 Conover St between Beard and Reed Sts, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-625-8211, sunnysredhook.com).

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Red Hook Free

Comments

5 comments
Kent C
Kent C

I didn't realize that you had to pay to go to a few of these pools. That is a surprise to me. I thought that all of the pools were free. I guess it's a good thing that I have a pool in my backyard. http://www.pooldoctorfla.com/repair/ 

Mensa R
Mensa R

Stay away from the Lyons Pool in Staten Island. Management habitually discriminates against people who are NOT of color and want to use the pool. For example, I saw a white woman turned away because her small children had printed T shirts on, while a black woman who came in shortly after them was admitted with children in similar attire. I have seen people of color rough housing in the pool, etc. while white people are asked to leave for completely fabricated infractions, such as not holding a child who can already swim. Because they harass decent people while letting unruly minorities from the nearby NYCHA housing projects run wild, the pool attracts a crowd that is definitely not what the new North Shore of Staten Island deserves. Perhaps that is because the pool is run by minorities, none of whom apparently has adequate experience to manage a facility like this. The pool is sparkling, but the management needs to be cleaned out.

tyler
tyler

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

blah
blah

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?