Didn’t get a summer pool membership? You’re not sunk. Many area jurisdictions have community pools. Some favorites, open to both non-residents and residents: Olympic-size East Potomac Pool in Southwest DC, a no-frills facility that can be quiet on weekdays—and is free to District residents; Martin Luther King Jr. Outdoor Pool in Silver Spring, with a 50-meter lap pool, a diving area, and a “lazy river”; Bethesda Outdoor Pool, with adult, junior, and kiddie pools; and Ocean Dunes Waterpark in Arlington, which, besides a 500-gallon dumping bucket and slides, has a six-lane lap pool—and a fun mini-golf course.
Up on the Roof
A number of area hotels offer day passes or memberships. The newest in-ground oasis is at the Embassy Row Hotel, which recently renovated its rooftop. The 450-square-foot pool now has cabanas, lounge seating, and a rooftop restaurant (open Wednesday through Sunday only) along with views of the Washington Monument and National Cathedral. A limited number of day passes are available for $25. The pool is free after 5 pm.
For more pool options, public and private, see our Summer Pools Guide.
Want to squish your toes into a sandy beach but don’t want to drive far? In an hour or so, you can be at Gunpowder Falls State Park Hammerman Area, a 1,500-foot-long beach on a wide section of the Gunpowder River. You’ll find changing rooms and showers, a concession stand, and a shady picnic area. (For less of a crowd, head to the north end.) The beach is also home to Ultimate Watersports.
Another close-by option is Hunting Creek Lake, a 44-acre manmade lake in Maryland’s Cunningham Falls State Park (14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd., Thurmont; 301-271-7574) where you’ll find paddleboat rentals and barbecue grills. Work up a sweat first by taking one of two short hikes—one is challenging, the other easier—to views of 78-foot-high Cunningham Falls spilling down enormous boulders.
Within an hour’s drive is perennial favorite Sandy Point State Park, which offers a beach on the bay, a grassy picnic area, playgrounds, boat rentals, and a view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.