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Hamilton Fish Pool
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Avila

The best public swimming pools in NYC

Combat the heat and cool off this summer by taking a dip in one of the best public pools NYC has to offer

By Shaye Weaver

Beat the heat this summer by taking a dip in the various public pools NYC offers for folks who love swimming and lounging poolside. You certainly have your pick of options as there are more than 60 public swimming pools scattered around New York’s five boroughs. Here's our comprehensive list to the squeaky clean—and totally free—swimming pools in NYC.

Since we don't condone sneaking a flask past the locker room, we've suggested some post-sunbathing spots to rehydrate with frozen cocktails while munching on some tasty bar food and snacks. Want to make a splash above ground level? Several of the best hotels in NYC have rooftop pools that allow non-hotel guests to enjoy the facilities (for a price, of course).

New York’s public, outdoor swimming pools open for the season on June 26.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC

Best swimming pools in NYC

1. Astoria Pool

Attractions Parks and gardens Astoria

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.

2. McCarren Park Pool

Attractions Parks and gardens Greenpoint

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 Sweet Chick for some chicken and waffles that'll replenish you.

Hamilton Fish Pool
Hamilton Fish Pool
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Avila

3. Hamilton Fish Pool

Sports and fitness Gyms and fitness centers Lower East Side

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 and some feta-topped Greek-style french fries a few blocks west at Souvlaki GR.

John Jay Pool
John Jay Pool
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. John Jay Pool

Sports and fitness Upper East Side

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 glass of rosé at Uva

Lyons Pool
Lyons Pool
Photograph: Courtesy of Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

5. Lyons Pool

Attractions Parks and gardens Staten Island

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.

Lasker Pool
Lasker Pool
Photograph: Sara Cedar Miller/Central Park Conservancy

6. Lasker Pool

Things to do Ice skating Central Park

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.


7. Red Hook Recreation Area

Sports and fitness Red Hook

One of the city’s massive WPA-era projects, the Red Hook Pool offers lap hours on weekdays (7 to 8:30am, 7pm to 8:30pm). 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.

Douglass and Degraw pool
Douglass and Degraw pool
Photograph: Courtesy Katie Rice

8. Douglass and Degraw pool

Attractions Parks and gardens Gowanus

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.


9. Crotona Park Pool

Attractions Parks and gardens The Bronx

Every summer, this slice of Bronx opens its huge swimming pool equipped with a water playground for tots who may be too tiny to splash with the big kids. Around the pool's perimeter, there is plenty of space to get a tan on the lounge chairs. Be warned: There aren't many, so you better pounce! Afterwards, head over to Arthur Avenue, which is just north of the park. Here, you'll find some of the best Italian food in NYC.

10. The Floating Pool

Sports and fitness The Bronx

This seven-lane pool, which sits atop a movable barge, has found a long-term home in the Bronx at Barretto Point Park. 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. If you want to make a full day of it, head over to Area 53 next door for some paintball.


11. Tony Dapolito Recreation Center

Sports and fitness Yoga & Pilates West Village

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. Afterward, you could head to Shake Shack a block south or you could head over to Jack's Wife Freda.

Grab a rooftop drink


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