12 NYC-Area Pools You’re Probably Missing Out On
Instead of melting away at the park all day, opt for chilled out poolside hangs at spots across the five boroughs.
During summertime in the city when we’re not escaping to beaches, New Yorkers can be found leisurely spread out across blankets, towels, and folding chairs on roofs, sidewalks, parks, or just about anywhere they can grab some rays. But after a while, melting away in these conditions can get really old without a cooling respite (and let’s be real, that slowly sputtering eclectic hand fan just doesn’t cut it).
However, fret not because although we don’t live in a tropical oasis (sigh), there are plenty of spots for us to kick back waterside and splash around as we head into these next chilled-out months. While there are plenty of hotel pools to choose from, keep in mind that NYC public pools are still closed for the season, but starting on June 28, we can officially welcome back those beloved free-of-charge spots as well.
So when you can’t slip out of the city on a quick getaway and after you’ve run through our top suggestions for seasonal fun, check out our roundup of the best pools to take a dip in NYC this summer.
In our humble opinion, the easiest way to escape the concrete jungle without too much fuss is by heading over to Rockaway Beach. From Downtown Manhattan, calculate about an hour and a half of travel time (via train or ferry) until you reach the hip sanctuary that is the Rockaway Hotel + Spa. Here, the outdoor pool area is designed with boho-chic details complete with cabanas for rent, plenty of lounge chairs plus umbrellas, and waterside bites courtesy of The Pool House.
Cost: Day passes from $50; cabana rentals from $1000
Although summer is packed full of revelrous outings and we all have a serious case of FOMO, sometimes you just need to have a solo recharge of that depleted social battery. Take some of that much-needed “me time” over on Governors Island at the QC Spa in one of their two new infinity pools, where not only are there panoramic views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey, but also luxurious features like underwater hydro seats and loungers which massage the body. Afterwards, there’s more than 20 spa treatments and experiences to choose from including saunas, meditation rooms, steam baths, and infrared beds.
Cost: Weekday admission from $88; Weekend admission from $100
Lower East Side
In a neighborhood well known for its longtime classic restaurants, nightlife hotspots, and rich history, the Lower East Side is also home to one of the biggest public pools in Manhattan. Here, the vibes are laid back and pretension-free courtesy of no deck furniture, which isn’t meant to be a deterrent at all though, just pack a couple of those old beach towels from your closet and claim a spot on the wide band of concrete that surrounds the pool.
As part of the city’s Anchor Parks initiative, Betsy Head Park underwent some major renovations, mostly to the sports amenities and a new skating rink. But while this project is ongoing, the pool is still available for all your summer fun. The expansive Art Moderne-style pool was designed all the way back in 1935, bringing an art deco vibe to your afternoon. Kick back, relax, and pretend that you’re cooling off in August of 1937.
Beating those inevitable summer heatwaves is made possible courtesy of this beloved Olympic-sized oasis in the Bronx. Tucked on the side of Crotona Park—which is named after a famed Grecian athlete, Croton—this is the largest pool in the borough and an ideal spot to practice those Olympics-ready strokes. If it’s a little too toasty pool-side, gather your belongings and take a breezy stroll along the park’s 3.3-acre lake.
Built along the East River, New Yorkers can dip their toes into both an Olympic-sized lap and a wading pool. Showing up early here is the key, so you can score a coveted ticket to swim, with the first set of tickets going on sale at 10:30 am, the second at 2:30 pm. Come with your cash (all it takes to get in is two bucks!), your swimsuit, and all your friends.
After a crowded day at the People’s Beach at Jacob Riis Park, heading over to this private beach and pool is a chilled out respite. Easily accessible for all NYC residents, just hop in your car or take the bus to Riis Landing, where the Silver Gull trolly will be waiting to pick you up and drop you off at the club. If you’re not looking for the summer-long commitment of a membership, day passes are an easy go-to.
Cost: Day passes from $45; Cabanas from $100; Season pass from $650
After a little march up to the highest point in Sunset Park, guests are greeted by the joyous sight of an Olympic-sized pool and some of the city’s best views of the Statue of Liberty. Also, although you can’t bring food to any of NYC’s public pools, there’s plenty of stellar spots to grab bites at after, particularly if you’re into a taco tour, like Tacos El Bronco and Tacos Matamoros.
Located on the bottom end of Staten Island is a hidden gem of a pool. Post-revamp a few years ago, now the concrete-covered area features colorful murals, lounge chairs, and umbrellas. While there might be pools closer to your apartment, a trip across the river on the Staten Island Ferry can almost make it feel like you’re going on vacation. At 75’ by 60’—and only 3.5’ deep—Tottenville is an intermediate-sized pool, so be sure to get there early to score a spot.
Would you go all the way to JFK airport to take a swim? Well, we New Yorkers have definitely gone farther for less. The retro-styled TWA Hotel features a pool and bar with only-at-JFK views of planes flying low overhead. You’ll have to stay the night to get access to the pool, which is bookable in 1 hour and 45 minute slots from 11 am-11 pm. A table is included in the reservation, which gives you a place to put your cocktail while you soak in the rays of John F. Kennedy airport.
Cost: Pool reservations are $25 on weekdays; $50 on weekends
What’s most important to know about this spot, is that it’s one of the few hotels that offers pool access to non-guests (we love to see it). During the week, you can score one of the limited weekday passes, which gets you a reserved lounge chair on the terrace and access to the pool’s bar service. Added bonus, after you’ve built up an appetite, order up casual bites from the hotel’s restaurant pool menu like Waffle Fries and Crispy Shrimp Tacos.
Cost: Day passes starting at $75
Although you can’t bring your phone or any electronics to NYC public pool decks, disconnecting from the outside world and kicking back at a haven in Triboro Plaza sounds idyllic. Snag a novel from that “I swear I’ll get to eventually” book pile and enjoy an afternoon filled with absolutely nothing but relaxation.