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School’s out, summer’s arrived: Get yourself to these 11 amazing swimming spots

A sunny, lively outdoor pool scene with people swimming and relaxing on lounge chairs, surrounded by lush greenery and large trees, under a clear blue sky.
For the first time ever, Filoli’s aquamarine pool will be opened to the general public this summer. | Source: Courtesy Jeff Bartee/Filoli

We all know that (possibly apocryphal) Mark Twain quote about what summer is like in San Francisco—for three straight months the thermostat reads a winter-like 56 degrees, while a cryo-bank of fog rolls down the hills. Well, if you’re itching for some actual warmth, grab your bucket hat and your folding chair and put a bunch of chilly daylight between you and the socked-in 7×7. We’ve pulled together 11 of our favorite swimming spots outside of the city to inspire some SPF-coated adventure. 

Bass Lake, Point Reyes

After the nearly 3-mile hike to Bass Lake in Point Reyes National Seashore, you’ll be ready to cool off—and you’ll be rewarded for your sweaty efforts with a pristine place for a dip. Use the rope swing for a particularly thrilling entrance into the lake, which has no fee for entry.

Garden of Eden swimming hole, Santa Cruz Mountains

Find your own slice of heaven at this lush, clothing-optional swimming hole in the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. It’s worth the trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains to plunge into these aptly-named waters, where you’ll find deep swimming holes alongside a flowing waterfall and large boulders. When you’re ready to warm up again, there are hiking trails aplenty nearby in Big Basin Redwoods and the surrounding area. 

A river, surrounded by dense trees on both sides, has numerous swimmers spread out across it, with orange buoys and a person in a kayak visible among them.
Athletes swim in the Russian River. | Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Russian River ‘Secret Spot,’ Healdsburg 

One of the Russian River’s most picturesque swimming spots, you can float to your own personal island at this hidden beach spot near Healdsburg. Parking can be a challenge—and visitors have been ticketed—so make sure you find a legal spot along the road (there is a public entrance on the far east side of Redwood Drive).  

Sunset Beach River Park, Forestville

Parking is no problem at this other Russian River spot that’s further south in Forestville. You’ll have a backdrop of redwood forests and the Hacienda Bridge as you swim and paddle, and there’s also a dedicated picnic area. Dogs are welcome on leash. 

Uvas Canyon, Santa Cruz Mountains

Just outside of San Jose, Uvas Canyon County Park has waterfalls that flow year-round, offering the opportunity for a more organic way to cool off than an apartment complex or Bay Club pool. When you’re finished cooling off, there’s many short hikes weaving through the park to enjoy. 

Filoli Pool, Woodside

If you’re a fan of the nearly 700-acre estate of Filoli with its manicured gardens and historic home, you’ve likely looked longingly at the aquamarine pool anchoring its serene, elegant grounds. Yet its crystalline waters—the imaginary scene of Gatsby-esque parties and Aperol Spritz-filled cocktail glasses—have always been off-limits. But for the first time ever this summer, Filoli is opening up its pool on select Tuesdays throughout the summer. Swimmer tickets include pool access and poolside lawn space for $85; lounger tickets include two drinks, a grill item, table service, and a keepsake beach towel for $180. 

Two people sit by a pool, smiling and dipping their feet into the water. They are wearing summer clothes and hats, with drinks and belongings beside them.
Until this summer, Filoli's crystalline pool has been available to employees but not the general public. | Source: Courtesy Jeff Bartee/Filoli

Lake Anza, Berkeley

Enjoy a sandy beach and lakeside dip for mere peanuts at Berkeley’s Lake Anza—beloved by generations of UC grads and East Bay dwellers. Bordering Tilden Park, the sunny-yet-protected spot is staffed with lifeguards. Check the website before you go, since the lake occasionally closes due to high algae counts. 

Morgan Hill Aquatic Center 

For those with tikes in tow, the Morgan Hill Aquatic Center is a great—and affordable—option for swimming fun, with entry prices ranging from $2 to $15. Picnic areas, cabanas and party rooms are available for rent, or you can buy a day pass and enjoy the vast array of slides and water features without the frills. 

The Flamingo Resort & Spa, Santa Rosa 

With its vintage music lounge and midcentury vibes, the Flamingo Resort & Spa has long been a staycation destination of choice. Now you can buy $35 day passes to the Santa Rosa resort and enjoy its iconic pool without even spending the night, ordering poolside snacks from your smartphone on the deckside where Jayne Mansfield once lounged. 

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville 

If you’re down to splurge on a plunge head north to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, a destination famous for its healing waters. Two connecting pools edged with private, shower-equipped cabines await you on the winery’s manicured grounds. You can order food poolside, along with the requisite glasses of pinot and chardonnay, of course. Reservations are required for the cabines—which range in price from $245 to $315 for four people. Though spots fill up quickly, there are often last-minute cancellations.   

The image depicts a serene outdoor pool with fountains, surrounded by blue lounge chairs, parasols, and white beach-style cabins backed by a building with a shingled roof.
The pool at the Francis Ford Coppola winery includes private cabines with showers. | Source: Courtesy Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Morton’s Warm Springs Resort, Glen Ellen

For when you want to warm up instead of cooling off, these geothermal springs in the heart of Sonoma County blend the best of nature and convenience. With a wading pool for infants and toddlers, two geothermal swimming pools, an organic café and picnic areas, Morton’s has everything for a water-filled day of fun. Day passes are available for $15 to $25 to enjoy the array of amenities or, if you want to make it a habit, scoop up a season pass.