Water Spots in the DMV

Cheryl MASTER May Graphics (3).png

Washington DC does not scream BEACH, but we have no shortage of water parks and pools for folks to cool off, party and have family fun. Check out some of the best places to go and plan now to get away. Once you visit, please share your favorites in my DC Living Facebook Group so others can share your experience,

Water Parks

Ocean Dunes Waterpark, Arlington, VA

This nearby water park in Upton Hill Regional Park includes a 500-gallon dumping bucket, various water slides, waterfalls and squirters. On your way out (or if your little ones need a break during the day), hit up the 18 hole mini-golf course and six batting cages next to the park.

Cost: Admission $5.25-$8.75, children under 2 free; all-access pass (water park, mini golf, batting cages) $12.

Great Waves Waterpark, Alexandria, VA

You'll find some of the best water features in Northern Virginia here. Zip down the slides, shoot through the tubes and even body surf in the wave pool. The Kids Zone has a rock slide, waterfalls and a giant splash pad with buckets and sprays. Paradise Play (for kids ages three to 12) includes spiral climbs, pogo bounces, a rock wall and mazes. Try your luck at the batting cages and mini golf before you leave.

Cost: $8.25-$16.50, children under 2 free; all-access pass (water park, mini golf, batting cages and play feature) $18.50.

Water Park at Bohrer Park, Gaithersburg, MD

Get to the water park at Bohrer Park early, plop a towel down in a chair and head to the slides. They have a double slide for the older kids and a children’s splash pool with kid-sized slides that pay homage to the state of Maryland. Besides the waterslides, the pool has floatable animals and buckets that dump water for children to enjoy. The main pool has a zero-depth entry, so it's easy access for everyone, no matter what your age. They also have a playground, picnic tables and a snack bar you can enjoy.

Cost: $5 (for city residents)-$21, children under 3 free. 

The Liaison Capitol Hill

Here’s a secret about the Liaison Hotel’s rooftop pool: If you show up after 5 p.m. on a weekday, it’s free to get in for happy hour. After a long day of work, what could be better than a fruity drink next to a pool? Bring your swimsuit to the office and change in the hotel’s bathroom; towels are provided. During the week, there are copious lounge chairs, and the cabanas, if not reserved ($150-$250), are free for the taking. The bar has happy-hour deals, including $10 sangria, and the snacks (think pimento cheese and crackers or hummus and olives) are light enough for lounging. On weekends, day passes cost $35, and Sundays bring “Sip and Dip,” a raucous party with DJs. But on a recent Monday evening, the pool was quiet, tranquil and felt just like a three-hour staycation. — Maura Judkis

Day pass: $35, reserve online.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
415 New Jersey Ave. NW.

Hotel Pools

Capitol Skyline

For eight years, the Capitol Skyline Hotel was the epicenter of the District’s weekend pool-party scene with DJs and floatie-related high jinks. That changed this year, as hotel management decided to dial back the party vibes, restricting them to major holiday weekends. The result, surprisingly, is a much more pleasant and laid-back experience. The enormous pool is surrounded by an 18,000-square-foot deck, most of which is covered with sun loungers, all-weather couches and cabanas with daybeds draped with gauzy fabric. The crowd is a mix of hotel guests — expect to see a lot of fans of whoever’s playing at Nationals Park that week — and 20- and 30-somethings treating the hotel like their local swim club, lying out on their own towels and celebrating birthdays. Drinks at the small bar indoors don’t go far beyond vodka cocktails and cans of Corona and Bud Light; servers occasionally come around. If you want a drink, your best bet is to get it yourself. — Fritz Hahn

Day pass: $30 per person, towels included.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
10 I St. SW.

Courtyard by Marriott

If lazing by the pool is more your style than actually swimming, head over to the Courtyard by Marriott in Dupont Circle, which offers the most affordable standard day pass of the bunch. The highlight here is the gorgeous and ample seating area, with bronze-colored chaise longue chairs and views of the Brutalist-style Washington Hilton across the street. Although the pool is well kept and exceptionally clean, it can seem like a puddle compared with the vast one at Washington Plaza. But it’s often uncrowded and quiet; on a recent Sunday, only two guests used the pool the entire day.

The surrounding high-rises can block the sun, making it hard to get a tan. For more sunlight, you can move over to the adjoining terrace, featuring plush sofa sectionals and patio umbrellas. You can bring your own food and drinks — only single servings, no beer packs or full bottles — or order a Corona or cocktail from the hotel bar or lobby market. The Courtyard’s Bistro bar also serves happy-hour specials and free tastings. — Winyan Soo Hoo

Day pass: $20 per person, towels included.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
1900 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Summer Sundays at the Donovan House Hotel

The Kimpton hotel group has some beautiful pools and pool bars, but taking a dip almost always requires being a guest. The exception is the new Summer Sundays at DNV, the Donovan’s rooftop bar. Pay a $10 cover and get access to the small pool from noon to 5 p.m., or just sit on the side and dip your feet in while sipping $5 Orange Crushes and listening to DJ Sean J. Bonus: Brunch is served until 4 p.m. Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. 1155 14th St. NW. donovan hoteldc.com. $10.

Outdoor Community Pools

Bethesda Outdoor Pool

With four pools, the Bethesda Outdoor Pool proves that bigger is better. You’ll never feel overwhelmed by crowds. But it’ll cost you: Unlike other public pools, this one has entry fees even for residents. Make your way to the diving board for a cannonball and climb out again for back-to-back rides down the drop slide. The sizable Z-shaped main pool is 50 meters long with six lap lanes and an open wading area. There’s also a tot pool, a shallow teaching pool and an additional lap pool, where serious swimmers can finish a workout without bumping into others. Towering canopy tents shield loungers from the sun in a grassy knoll, where you can replenish with food and drinks. Little Falls Parkway and Hillandale Road, Bethesda. 301-652-1598. Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. $5-$7. Twilight fees (after 5:30 p.m.) for residents, $4.50-$6.50; for nonresidents, $8-$10. — W.S.

Francis Pool

Located in the West End, Francis can seem like the District’s busiest pool. On a hot Sunday afternoon, 20-somethings and families with children alike vied for the shadiest spots at this site near Rock Creek. Kids will appreciate the pool’s large shallow section, while grown-ups may enjoy its 25-yard lap lanes and comfortable lounge chairs. Cries of “Marco!” and “Polo!” will provide a soundtrack as you sunbathe — that is, until children are ushered out of the pool for adult swim. If your little ones get tired of swimming, nearby Francis Playground is a convenient diversion. Adults can stroll over to Dupont Circle for a post-pool smoothie or snack. 2435 N St. NW. 202-727-3285. Monday and Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Closed Tuesday. — Maia Silber

Banneker Recreation Center

One of the larger and better-known pools in the District, Banneker benefits from a wide pool deck and a concession area. Its popularity can be a downer, though, with lines forming once the pool hits capacity on weekends, and people just throwing their towels on the concrete deck once all the chairs are gone. Still, the diving boards, separate kiddie pool and pop music playing through speakers make it worth trying on a steamy day.
Note for adult swimmers: With the East Potomac Pool closed through 2018 for renovations, Banneker has taken an increased number of swim teams, but multiple lanes are reserved for lap swimmers on weekday mornings. 2500 Georgia Ave. NW. 202-673-2121. Monday through Wednesday and Friday, 8 to 10 a.m. (lap swimming only) and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Closed Thursday. — F.H.

Upshur Pool

An oasis in Petworth, this pool — actually on Arkansas Avenue — draws people of all ages: senior citizens, 20-something hipsters and young families. It’s smaller and less crowded than other city pools, such as Banneker and Francis, and most days, it’s not too hard to snag a lounge chair, although shady spots remain a hot commodity. Tree-lined and on a quiet street, it’s pretty tranquil for a city pool, even with the happy shrieks of children. Upshur Pool is surrounded by park facilities, so you can sweat it out on the adjacent basketball courts or recently resurfaced tennis courts before cooling off with a dip. The pool is shallow and has only one lane, so it’s not very conducive to lap swimming. 4300 Arkansas Ave. NW. 202-576-8661. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Closed Monday. — Maura Judkis

Old Town Pool

Don’t expect anything luxurious at the Old Town Pool; this neighborhood spot is akin to an outdoor YMCA — reliable and sans frills. The unkempt changing and bathroom areas are nothing to write about. But this destination features a 25-yard main pool with lap lanes, a separate kid-training pool, a diving well and a poolside basketball hoop. The pool is kid-friendly, as seen from the dozens of tots and teens playing around. The watchful lifeguard staff makes sure the scene never gets overly chaotic — at least beyond the boisterous laughter from young dog-paddlers kicking by. For the lap-lane area, it helps to be courteous to fellow swimmers and go at a swift pace — lanes can get full quickly. There’s no eating or drinking allowed in the pool area, but there’s a quaint brick courtyard in front that’s used as a picnic area and space to hang out. 1609 Cameron St., Alexandria. 703-746-6999. Monday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 7 p.m. Residents, $2-$3. Nonresidents, $5. — W.S.

Have a fabulous summer!

Cheryl Shaw