Pool Hunting: The Best of Bay Area Swimming


Summertime, and the living’s foggy. Don’t let it stop you from taking a dunk at these local watering holes.

Public Pools ($15 a day or less)

Mission Pool
Get a little overheated at your Dolores Park picnic? Head over to the Mission Park outdoor pool, a quaint two-laner flanked by the iconic “New World Tree of Life” mural, for some hydrotherapy. $5 for a day pass, 19th Street between Valencia and Guerrero, 415-641-2841.

North Beach Pool
We’re well aware of the public pool hesitations: grimy lockers, shared-lane gridlock, shrieking children (read: questionable water cleanliness). Fortunately, the North Beach Pool’s got none of that. The locker rooms are spic-and-span, there’s a sauna to stretch out in, and there are two pools (warm and cool) where you can perfect your stroke amid relative peace and quiet. $5 for a day pass. 661 Lombard St., 415-391-0407, parks.sfgov.org

Hamilton Pool
Two words: water slides. Hamilton Pool in Lower Pac Heights, which had its grand reopening in March and boasts a brand new indoor pool, has two of them. $5 for a day pass. 1900 Geary Blvd., 415-292-2008

UCSF Bakar Fitness and Recreation Center
This outdoor rooftop pool and deck in Mission Bay is one of the most picturesque in the city, featuring sweeping views of the skyline. For a few measly dollars, you can sunbathe to your heart’s content. $15 for a day pass ($7 if accompanied by a student). 1675 Owens St., 415-514-4545.

Fancy Pools ($20 a day or more)

The Sports Club/LA’s Salt Water Pool
If the Blue Lagoon in Capri is not in the cards, let us instead suggest The Sports Club LA’s seven-lane, indoor heated saltwater pool, drenched in natural light. Befriend a member for a $35 unlimited day pass to the club’s facilities (like a eucalyptus steam room). 747 Market St., 415-633-3900.

Club One at Yerba Buena
This sun-soaked outdoor pool is an 80-degree oasis smack in the middle of concrete-slabbed SoMa. Reserve a lane for yourself and swim your heart out after a long day at work. $20 ($15 if accompanied by a member) for a day pass. 350 Third St., 415-512-1010.

Claremont Resort & Spa
Berkeley’s iconic Claremont Hotel is sort of the Disneyland of Bay Area pools, boasting three capacious ones ringed by lounge chairs. Only overnight guests and those receiving spa treatments can use the pools, so book your massage now. Day pass is $30 plus the cost of spa treatment. 41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley, 510-843-3000.

Open Water

The Bay
If the old guys who swim at Aquatic Park every morning can do it, you can too. Get ready with SwimArt, which offers clinics, group swims and, if you’re really going big-time, expedition swims under the Golden Gate Bridge. Classes start at $45.

Swimming Holes
If you’re Point Reyes–bound on a hot day, make a pit stop at the Lagunitas Creek Inkwells for a few jumps into the shadowy waters of these deep natural pools. Dry off on sun-dappled rocks before continuing your journey to the coast. Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at Shafter Bridge, Lagunitas

Bass Lake, a favorite of natives and adventurous hipsters, is only accessible via a 2.7-mile hike from a trailhead in Bolinas (ask a local for specific directions). Bring beers and barbecue fixings, and prepare to swan dive off rope swings. Dogs aren’t welcome, but nudists definitely are.


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