Best Public Swimming Pools in NYC


WOW it's hot out there! And also down there, on the subway platforms! And right here in my home, because I'm trying to save the planet by not using air conditioning! Yes, high summer is upon us, a time when even the hardiest, least-complain-y of New Yorkers just full-on melt into a puddle of misery. But there is an antidote, even for those of us stuck in town, without a beach house or lake house or even cute-little-creek-out-back house to repair to on weekends or weekdays or at all, namely: the NYC public pool. If you've never tried one, fearing massive crowds and/or less-than-pristine conditions, don't believe the negative hype! There are a number of comfortable and cooling swimming pools all over town and, especially if go during off-times (weekdays rather than weekends; before lunch rather than late afternoon, etc), or special Early Bird and Night Owl Lap Swim times, you may even feel like you're at a suburban country club. Anyway, here's an incomplete look at some of the best public swimming pools in NYC.


Tony Dapolito Recreation Center

While not quite the undiscovered treasure it once was, this Hudson Square (or Greenwich Village, if you prefer) pool remains an often bafflingly peaceful place… and even when it's not, it's still a fun spot to spend an hour or so doing crazy jumps and flips in the separate diving pool. Added bonus: the iconic Keith Haring mural from 1987 that covers the entire back wall of the facility.Oh and register here to reserve a lane during the adults-only lap swim.


John Jay Pool

Semi-secluded over by the FDR, this Yorkville swimming hole has a bit of a backyard-pool feel to it, in that unless you live over near here, it's unlikely you'll walk from the subway all the way east to do your cooling off. That said, there are plenty of people who DO live right here (because it's really nice), and many of those people have young children, so it's definitely not ideal for a quiet day of reading and napping. But the kids? They love it. Plus there's a diving pool, for added shenanigans. Register here for early bird and night owl lap swim lanes.


Highbridge Pool

Feel like going on an adventure? Combine your day-at-the-pool with a breezy, breathtaking saunter across the beautiful, just-reopened High Bridge pedestrian span connecting Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River. Coming off a three-year, $63 million revitalization, the bridge, the oldest such structure in New York City, is glorious. And the Highbridge pool is quite the spectacle, too: Olympic size, 10.5 feet deep, recently renovated, very popular with folks on both sides of the river. There's also a nifty little sculpture garden tucked away between the pool and the entrance to the bridge.    


Brooklyn Bridge Park Pop-up Pool

Ok, so this is more of a novelty recreation spot than a regular quick-dip venue (unless you live right above it in Brooklyn Heights), but the tiny Brooklyn Bridge Park Pop-up Pool is a fun place to goof around and cool off for a bit… that's IF you can get one of the time-stamped wristbands required for entry (pool capacity is 60, so they go pretty fast). And if you can't get in, you can always go soak yourself at Jeppe Hein's crazy water sculpture, Appeared Rooms, located right at the northern entrance to the park at Pier 1.      


Day Passes at PRIVATE Pools

Finally, if you just don't feel like dealing with public pools, there are lots of options around the city for "sneaking" (aka paying) your way into a private, club pool for a swim. For example, both Asphalt Greens, on the Upper East Side and in Battery Park City, offer day-pass options. The Russian-accented Wall Street Bath and Spa will let you take a dip in their glittering pool (and use their other high-end facilities), but it'll set you back a considerable sum: $40, or $25 for kids. For a much cheaper option downtown, head on over to the Stuyvesant High Community Center, where $15 gets you access to their newly renovated, Olympic-size pool. Note: all of these are INDOOR pools, so maybe save them for a rainy day?            

All NYC Parks Department Public Pools are open daily from 11:00 to 7:00 p.m., with a break for cleaning between 3:00 and 4:00, through Labor Day weekend.  

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