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Photograph: Rick LewMH_HOUMQ_PoolAtNight

The best pools in the US

Make a splash on your Instagram feed with a selfie at one of the best pools in the US

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

Summer’s just around the corner and that enticing blue body of water is calling to you: the pool. If you want to make a splash this summer, seek out a pool that isn't merely kidney-shaped or rectangular, peruse this list for some of the best pools in the US. You'll find pools that let you swim with sharks or make you feel like you’re a Hollywood starlet lounging on the deck. It’s almost a shame to submerge in them rather than admiring them from the deck.

So if you’re traversing the US and looking for a good spot to spread out your towel, try these spectacular pools in the US that we think are worth a trip and a click. Make sure you have your sunscreen, goggles and a dry place to stow your phone, then go on and give us a cannonball. 

Best pools in the US

Hearst Castle | San Simeon, CA
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Hearst Castle | San Simeon, CA

Swim in a castle much? Yeah, we thought so. Let's change that. At Hearst Castle, two fabulous pools make you long to jump in. Built by pioneering architect Julia Morgan for William Randolph Hearst, the home was a party spot where Hollywood starlets frolicked and soiréed. After Hearst’s death, the home became a National and State Historic Landmark open for tours, but you can also rent either pool (for a steep price). The outdoor Neptune Pool with its Roman statuary, blue-and-black tile work, temple structure and colonnade make swimming an act of fierce, sunlit elegance. But some will prefer the quiet secrecy of the Roman Pool inside, styled after ancient Roman baths, with royal blue and golden glass tiles known as smalti covering the walls and ceiling beams.

Enchantment Resort | Sedona, AZ
Photograph: Courtesy Enchantment Resort

2. Enchantment Resort | Sedona, AZ

It's there in the name. At the Enchantment Resort pool in Sedona, you'll swim at the foot of the remarkable rock formations of Boynton Canyon. The layers of blue pool, green foliage, and red rock echo the layers of strata in the rock itself, and sunsets here are spectacular. Plus, Sedona’s known as one of the top stargazing locations in the world.


Marriott Marquis Houston | Houston, TX
Photograph: Rick Lew

3. Marriott Marquis Houston | Houston, TX

Is this the summer to tour the world’s largest (and only?) Texas-shaped lazy river? That's a rhetorical question. Quirky and about as Texas as it gets, this pool lets you drift along the circumference of the state border on a rooftop pool at the Marriott Marquis Houston (climb to a higher story to get that Instagrammable photo from above). Two footbridges allow sunbathers to cross the river and go 'deep in the heart of Texas,' while a rectangular pool nearby provides a more traditional swimming experience. If you arrive in winter, the Texas Winter Nights events offers thousands of lights, interactive displays, and selfie stations for that memorable photo (and the lazy river is constantly heated to 80 degrees).

Venetian Pool | Coral Gables, FL
Photograph: Shutterstock/Marco Borghini

4. Venetian Pool | Coral Gables, FL

The Venetian Pool is old-world elegance meets family fun. This spring water aquifer-fed pool is drained and filled afresh each day in the warm weather seasons. Built in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, it holds 820,000 gallons. Some of the coral rock is at the pool’s border, and there’s a lifeguard station atop a curved red Venetian bridge. With waterfalls, historic lookout towers, and cave-like grottoes you can swim into, this expansive pool is lined with lush palm trees for that awesome vacation shot.

The Tank at the Golden Nugget | Las Vegas, NV
Photograph: Courtesy Golden Nugget

5. The Tank at the Golden Nugget | Las Vegas, NV

Vegas is, of course, a hotbed of amazing pools because of its soaring summer temperatures and its love of spectacle. The thing that sets apart the pool at the Golden Nugget from its competitors is gray and sports a nice dorsal fin and multiple rows of teeth, and you can swim with it (sort of). At “The Tank,” a three-story aquarium holding six species of sharks and rays and a slew of other marine life, you can shoot through a see-through waterslide that travels through the tank (fully enclosed). You can also swim up against the glass of the tank.

Barton Springs | Austin, TX
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Barton Springs | Austin, TX

The Barton Springs Pool isn't just splash-worthy; it's got significant history, endangered species, and a placid aura. This long, narrow spring-fed pool has its origins as a place where the Tonkawa people once performed purification rituals. Today, sidewalks stretch along both shores with mature pecan trees. It’s a federally protected habitat and home to the endangered Barton Springs salamander, which resides nowhere else on earth. While daytime photos will already be unusual, it’s the monthly full moon swim that will make for the most haunting image.

Berkeley City Club | Berkeley, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Berkeley City Club

7. Berkeley City Club | Berkeley, CA

Our favorite 1800s woman architect, Julia Morgan, was gifted with pool design — this pool at the Berkeley City Club is a little more affordable than the ones at Hearst Castle. Everything here is arched (windows, the way the walls meet the ceiling) — and reflected in the water, the ceiling arches make a full circle. This serene aspect makes a cool photo if you let the water settle for the reflection while someone else takes it. City Club members and hotel guests can swim on a hybrid reservation/open swim basis.

The Yachtsman| Kennebunkport, ME
Photograph: Heidi Kirn

8. The Yachtsman| Kennebunkport, ME

At the Yachtsman Hotel & Marina, the pool is mobile; it’s a floating barge pool that gets pulled at the beginning of summer to its spot in the Kennebunk River. Called the SS Sundaze, it has bean bag seating poolside. And then you do a magical double drenching where you jump into a pool that's on a river. When you’re back on the mainland, Kennebunkport is about as charming as it gets; go to Federal Jack’s for a lobster roll and a beer flight. Your hotel room at the Yachtsman has a slider onto the lawn overlooking the marina and the pool area.

LEGOLAND California Resort | Carlsbad, CA
LEGOLAND California Resort

9. LEGOLAND California Resort | Carlsbad, CA

Drift in your self-made Lego raft and operate at one-million percent. Admittedly, LEGOLAND California Resort’s water offerings are not that different from your typical waterpark, but the chance to “build” your own raft with soft, oversize Lego bricks definitely upgrades the experience and results in colorful family photos. Once you’ve put it together (which really just involves adding bricks to an inflated tube), you can drift down an 850-foot river while passing LEGO figures and gardens.

Timberline Lodge | Mt. Hood, OR
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons/

10. Timberline Lodge | Mt. Hood, OR

The pool at the Timberline Lodge itself is pretty fun, a large one with ‘Timberline’ written with tiles in Art Deco font on the bottom. But what makes it extra Instagrammable is the fact that the rustic lodge that 'overlooks' the pool served as the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining.’ Depending on the season, snowbanks clump around the limits (the pool and hot tub are open year round). Around the corner is the window where Danny climbed out of the bathroom and slid down the snowbank. It’s the necessary cabin-fever-meets-writers-block photo.

SoJo Spa Club | Edgewater, NJ
Photograph: Courtesy Sojo Spa Club

11. SoJo Spa Club | Edgewater, NJ

This Korean spa facility has a beautiful rule: bare feet. That’s enough to get you relaxed the moment you walk in the door, but then there’s saunas and hot stone beds and massage. Best of all: the outdoor heated pools and therapeutic baths with sightlines across the Hudson at the intense Manhattan skyline. There are several different baths, including a Hinoki Bath made of white cedar wood which releases a fragrant, lemony oil in the water. The rooftop infinity pool, however, is the Instagram keystone, with a panoramic view from the George Washington Bridge to Battery Park City.

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