When summer temps top out, and the sun starts to blister in the Bay, it’s time to seek some spots for swimming. Lake, lagoon, pool, or beach, there’s more than one way to beat the heat.
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Cool in the Pool
If the kids are clamoring for a day of fun and you’re ready to let them run a little bit wild, nothing will satisfy your pack more than a day at the water park. Pack up the snacks and sunscreen and get out to Hurricane Harbor in Concord. Whether floating on the lazy river or spinning in the mouth of the Tornado is your speed, Hurricane Harbor has plenty to keep your clan happy for hours on end. Make like you’re in Vegas for a day and book yourself a cabana where you and your friends can find some peace while the teens tear it up on the Typhoon.
Looking for something a little less intense? The Rankin Aquatic Center in Martinez is water park lite. With splash pools for the tots, slides for the elementary set, and a grassy space to lay out your towel, this municipal facility is the perfect place to spend a scorching afternoon. Purchase a punch pass, and you’ll be set for summer.
If you’re hoping to swim some laps while the minis take a lesson, stay local and hit the Soda Aquatic Center at Campolindo High in Moraga. The Soda is a busy place, host to many a meet and offering water aerobics, lifeguarding programs, and more, so be sure to check the schedule and make reservations for classes before heading out.
For an easy summer swim, the Clarke and Larkey Swim Centers in Walnut Creek are a sure bet. Summer hours, rec swim times, and drop-in fees are posted on the city’s website. Note: leave the inflatable flamingos at home; floaties are not allowed at either facility.
Water features abound at San Ramon’s Olympic Pool and Aquatic Park and unlike the soda center, life jackets and inner tubes are available for rec swim. Purchase passes in advance and pack a lunch. The kids will want to stay all day.
Take it Inside
Skip the sunburn and channel William Randolph Hearst at the Julia Morgan-designed Berkeley City Club. A visit to the hotel’s glorious indoor pool requires private membership or a night’s stay in one of the perfectly preserved rooms. Nicknamed “The Little Castle,” the historic building was constructed in 1929 as a women’s activity center, which today hosts private events and visitors from around the world. Perhaps you’ll meet someone interesting poolside.
For a completely different indoor pool experience, bring your tots to Splash Time at the Richmond Plunge, Richmond’s oldest swimming spot. Kids 6 and under can play in the tot-friendly shallow area, with depths starting at only 2 feet. Take in the murals and the vintage natatorium’s 170 windows on your way by.
Beaches by the Bay
When you need to put your toes in the sand, Point Pinole Regional Shoreline fits the bill. In addition to paved trails, a fishing pier, picnic areas, and volleyball, there are sandy beaches and even camping spots. Park at the Great Highway Staging area to access the Shoreline or at the Atlas Road Staging Area if you’re looking to join the anglers on the pier.
Also in Richmond, Keller Beach at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline is perfect for open-water swimmers. Sit on the sandy beach and watch your significant other sluice through the waves while taking in views of the Bay’s two bridges and a sip a summer libation. Access is free, and bathrooms and showers are available. Note: Leave Fido at home. No dogs are allowed.
Launch your kayak or paddleboard from the boat ramp at Encinal Beach in Alameda. Situated behind Encinal High School, this East Bay Regional Park has a portable restroom and free parking. Take a walk along the flat three-mile trail or park your lawn chair near the dunes and watch the boats go by.
With 2.5 miles of beach and changing rooms for swimmers, Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach makes it easy for sun-seekers. Shallow water is perfect for little waders, and during high tide, kayakers, and paddleboarders can launch straight from the sand. If the kids get bored of chasing the waves, change it up and take them to the nearby Crave Cove Visitor Center and Aquarium. Pups are welcome on the lawn and paths but not allowed on the beach.
Love a Lake
Most of the region’s reservoirs don’t allow swimming, but when the summer swelter sets in, the lagoons and lakes of the East Bay will keep you cool. After lunch in Livermore or a tour of one of the area’s wineries, cool off in Lake del Valle, where the two separate beaches and swimming areas offer ample opportunities for a dip. Check the East Bay Regional Parks website for water quality information before hitting the road.
Preregister for a spot at the Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area. With its award-winning design and sandy beaches, this popular lagoon fills up fast and sells out early on weekends. Swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty. If you want to ensure your group gets some time in the water, you can reserve one by calling 1-888-EBPARKS and pressing 2. Note: portable barbeques, glass, and alcohol are not allowed. Parking is free.
Despite its location off Broadway Terrace in Oakland, Lake Temescal’s tree-lined shores will make you feel like you’ve escaped the city. The picturesque Beach House, built by the WPA in 1936, houses showers and is available to rent for parties, weddings, and events. Note: no lifeguards on duty. No credit cards or large bills are accepted for the entry or parking fee. East Bay Regional Parks monitor water quality. Be sure to visit the website for up-to-date information.