Cool off at these DC-area pools, spray parks, and water destinations

The new rooftop pool bar, Deck 11, is open to the public. Photograph by Moe Thajib

Are you looking for a place to swim? This is where you will find pools, water parks and water parks around DC.

Public swimming pools

As long as you’re willing to brave a bunch of kids and the smell of chlorine, DC’s public pools are a great option, especially since they’re free to residents. If you’re looking for some sparkling new gear, Hearst Pool (3701 37th St., NW), the first-ever public outdoor pool in Ward 3, just opened last month. Rosedale Pool (1701 Gales Street, NE) has a children’s pool, waterslide and swimming lanes. Pool Banneker (2500 Georgia Ave. NW) is giant and has a diving board – just be sure to show up early if you want to grab a lounger.

Out of town, Rockville Swim and Fitness Center (355 Martins Ln., Rockville) features an outdoor pool with waterslide, in-water basketball, and a children’s pool with fountains. Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street, Alexandria) includes eight 25-meter lanes, a diving pit and a picnic area.

You can find a complete list of DC’s public pools here; Montgomery County is here; Prince George’s County is here; Fairfax County is here; and Arlington County is here.

Spray and Splatter Public Parks

Looking for a quick way to cool off? Find a public spray park. Georgetown Waterfront Park (3303 Water Street, NW) features a fountain that essentially acts as a giant lawn sprinkler. You can also run through the fountains at the Petworth Recreation Center water park (801 Taylor Street, NW) and Brookland’s Turkey Thicket (1100 Michigan Avenue, NE)where the wading pool includes a lighthouse, musical instruments and other fun equipment for children.

If you want to cool off in the suburbs, Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes St., Arlington) has spill buckets and other fun water features, including a 360-degree sprayer. Hamilton Water Park (3901 Hamilton Street, Hyattsville) in Hyattsville has a water climbing wall and the SplashPark at South Germantown Recreational Park (18056 Central Park Cir., Germantown) has a jet water maze and a grotto with a waterfall.

Find a complete list of DC’s public spray parks here; Arlington is here; and Fairfax County is here. And check out our list of the best kid-friendly water parks by age.

The Capitol Hill Yotel pool. Photograph by Moe Thajib.

Hotel swimming pools

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience or a view of the rooftops, hotel pools are the way to go. Many remain closed to non-hotel residents due to the pandemic, but there are still a few open to the public.

The rooftop pool at the Embassy Row Hotel (2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW) offers day passes ($100-$150) — prices have gone up this year — but there are spectacular views of the DC skyline, and under-18s are allowed as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. The 21+ swimming pool on the roof of the Zena hotel (1155 14th St., NW) in Logan Circle starts at $50 per day. Deck 11 at Yotel on Capitol Hill (415 New Jersey Avenue, NW) offers a bar next to its rooftop pool, and day passes also start at $50. Deck 11 allows children under 16 to use the pool if accompanied by an adult.

swimming holes

Swimming pools are a great way to cool off in a natural setting. Reaching the swimming holes at Overall Run in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park can be a bit of a hike, especially if you’re planning on doing the entire eight and a half mile loop, but if you’re willing to follow the overall run / The Beacher Ridge trail to the swimming hole, it’s worth it – and you’ll be treated to a view of Overall Run Falls, the 93-foot waterfall in the park. The Whiteoak Canyon Trail, also in Shenandoah National Park, has six waterfalls over nine miles. Find directions to the park here.

In Maryland there is the Cunningham Falls State Park Swimming Hole (14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont), which includes a 78-foot waterfall, as well as a beautiful swimming hole accessible by a half-mile hike. The swimming hole at Kilgore Falls in Rocks State Park (1026 Falling Branch Road, Pylesville) was used as a filming location for the Disney movie Eternal Tuck. An easier and more child-friendly option: the Beaver Dam Swimming Club (10820 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville)located just north of Baltimore, which has a quarry filled with fresh water and a swing.

River Canyon Run at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg. Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.

Water parks

If you plan to take the kids on a day-long adventure, there are a few water parks within driving distance.

Six Flags America’s Hurricane Harbor (13710 Central Ave., Bowie) in Prince George’s County is the largest water park in Maryland and features many rides and attractions, including an 800,000-gallon wave pool, a four-person tube slide with a waterfall, and an interactive children’s play area. children with more than 100 water games.

Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg (549 E. Rochambeau Drive, Williamsburg) has a four-story treehouse, lazy river, and adult-only hot tub. Soak City, the 8-hectare water park at Kings Dominion amusement park (16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, Virginia)features a 65-foot waterslide, tidal wave bay, and a chamber that plunges you into a near-vertical free fall.

Virginia’s Largest Water Park, Water Country USA (176 Water Country Pkwy, Williamsburg)spans 43 acres and features two new attractions this summer: an 864-foot twist tube with a special effects show and a children’s wading pool with fountains and spray cannons.

Grace Deng