Things to Do

Swim and Splash at These DC Area Pools, Spray Parks, and Water Destinations

Kid-friendly day trips, luxe hotel pools, and more.

New rooftop pool bar Deck 11 is open to the public. Photograph by Moe Thajib 

Looking for a place to take a dip? Here’s where you’ll find pools, splash parks, and water parks around DC.

Public Pools

As long as you’re willing to brave a bunch of kids and the smell of chlorine, DC’s public pools are a great option, especially since they’re free for residents. If you’re looking for sparkling new amenities, Hearst Pool (3701 37th St., NW), the very first public outdoor pool in Ward 3, just opened last month. Rosedale Pool (1701 Gales St., NE) has a kiddie pool, a slide, and lap lanes. Banneker Pool (2500 Georgia Ave., NW)  is giant and boasts a diving board—just make sure you show up early if you want to grab a lounge chair.

Outside of the city, Rockville Swim and Fitness Center (355 Martins Ln., Rockville) offers an outdoor pool with a slide, in-water basketball, and a kiddie pool with fountains. Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St., Alexandria) features eight 25-yard lap lanes, a diving well, and a picnic area.

You’ll find a full list of DC’s public pools here; Montgomery County’s here; Prince George’s County’s here; Fairfax County’s here; and Arlington County’s here.

Public Spray and Splash Parks

Looking for a fast way to cool off? Find a public spray park. Georgetown Waterfront Park (3303 Water St., NW) features a fountain that basically acts as a giant lawn sprinkler. You can also run through the fountains at Petworth Recreation Center’s splash park (801 Taylor St., NW) and at Brookland’s Turkey Thicket (1100 Michigan Avenue, NE), where the splash pad includes a lighthouse, musical instruments, and other fun equipment for kids.

If you want to cool off in the suburbs, Virginia Highlands Park (1600 S. Hayes St., Arlington) has dumping buckets and other fun water features, including a 360 degree sprayer. Hamilton Splash Park (3901 Hamilton St., Hyattsville) in Hyattsville has an aqua climbing wall, and the SplashPark at South Germantown Recreational Park (18056 Central Park Cir., Germantown) has a jet water maze and a cave with a waterfall.

Find a full list of DC’s public spray parks here; Arlington’s here; and Fairfax County’s here. And check out our breakdown of the best kid-friendly water parks by age.

The pool at Capitol Hill’s Yotel. Photograph by Moe Thajib.

Hotel Pools

If you’re seeking a more luxurious experience—or rooftop views—hotel pools are the way to go. Many remain closed to non-hotel residents due to the pandemic, but there are still some open to the public.

The rooftop pool at The Ven at Embassy Row* (2015 Massachusetts Ave., NW) offers day passes ($100 to $150)—prices have gone up this year—but there are spectacular views of the DC skyline, and those under 18 are allowed as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. The 21+ rooftop pool at Hotel Zena (1155 14th St., NW) in Logan Circle starts at $50 a day. Deck 11 at Capitol Hill’s Yotel (415 New Jersey Ave., NW) offers a bar alongside its rooftop pool, and day passes also start at $50 on weekdays, but jump to $100 on weekends. Deck 11 allows those under 16 to use the pool if accompanied by an adult.  

Swimming Holes

Swimming holes are a great way to cool down in a natural setting. Reaching the swimming holes at Overall Run in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park can be a bit of a hike, especially if you plan to do the whole eight-and-a-half mile loop, but if you’re willing to follow the Overall Run/Beacher Ridge trail to the swimming hole, it’s worth it—and you’ll be treated to a view of Overall Run Falls, the 93-foot waterfall in the park. The Whiteoak Canyon trail, also in Shenandoah National Park, has six waterfalls across nine miles.  Find directions to the park here.

In Maryland, there’s the swimming hole at Cunningham Falls State Park (14039 Catoctin Hollow Rd., Thurmont), which features a 78-foot waterfall, plus  a gorgeous swimming hole reachable by a half-mile hike. The swimming hole at Kilgore Falls in Rocks State Park (1026 Falling Branch Rd., Pylesville) was used as a filming location for Disney movie Tuck Everlasting. An easier to access and more kid-friendly option: the Beaver Dam Swimming Club (10820 Beaver Dam Rd., Cockeysville), located just north of Baltimore, which has a freshwater-filled quarry and rope swing.

River Canyon Run at Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg. Photo courtesy of Great Wolf Lodge.

Water Parks

If you’re planning to take kids on a day-long adventure, there are a few water parks within driving distance.

Six Flags America’s Hurricane Harbor (13710 Central Ave., Bowie) in Prince George’s County is the largest water park in Maryland and offers many rides and attractions, including an 800,000-gallon wave pool, a four-person tube slide with a waterfall, and an interactive play area for kids with more than 100 water features.  

Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg (549 E. Rochambeau Dr., Williamsburg) has a four-story water fort treehouse, a lazy river, and an adults-only hot tub. Soak City, the 20-acre water park at amusement park Kings Dominion (16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA), features a 65-foot water slide, a tidal wave bay, and a chamber that drops you into an almost vertical free fall.

Virginia’s largest water park, Water Country USA (176 Water Country Pkwy, Williamsburg), is 43 acres and offers  two new attractions this summer: an 864-foot twisting tube complete with a special-effects show and a splash pad for kids featuring fountains and spray cannons.

*A previous version of this story referred to The Ven at Embassy Row as “The Embassy Row Hotel.” The hotel rebranded last year from “The Embassy Row Hotel” to “The Ven at Embassy Row.” 

Grace Deng
Editorial Fellow