Best Free Swimming Pools in NYC for Families (2024)

Best Free Swimming Pools in Manhattan

1. John Jay Park & Pool – Upper East Side

John Jay is an oasis in the middle of Manhattan—and one of the most popular public pools in NYC. It's clean and safe, plus there's a snack bar and a river-themed playground with sprinklers and fountains. It's also one of the few free swimming pools in NYC that allows diving.

2. Hamilton Fish Recreation Center – Lower East Side

Considered by many to be the best public pool in the borough, Hamilton Fish has certain attributes that make it a standout. There are two pools: an Olympic-size one for adults and big kids (56 inches and taller) and a wading pool for younger children. These kiddie pools can be hard to find in the city. Plus, these watering holes are quite clean with cool water and attentive lifeguards. There's also a nice little park nearby with sprinklers, a play area, and places to picnic and relax in the shade.

3. Marcus Garvey Pool – Harlem

Situated on the north side of Marcus Garvey Park, this swimming pool is a great place to cool off when the concrete jungle heats up. Enjoy this expansive pool, and don't forget to protect your skin with the city-provided free sunscreen available at NYC swimming pools.

4. Asser Levy Recreation Center Pool and Playground – Murray Hill

In addition to a fairly large outdoor pool, plus a wading pool for tots, there's a playground, basketball courts, and a game room at Asser Levy. The indoor pool here is housed in a 1908 Roman Revival Bathhouse with a fountain and skylights.

5. Dry Dock Playground – East Village

This spot has the same vibe as Hamilton Fish but just one smaller swimming pool. Its lifeguards have a reputation for toughness, which means less roughhousing by teens in the water. Dry Dock received some new amenities, like lounge chairs and cabana-style structures, a few years ago as part of the Cool Pools program.

6. Highbridge Pool – Washington Heights

Pretend like you're In The Heights at this pool, which plays a starring role in the blockbuster from local resident Lin-Manuel Miranda. Its Hollywood turn is far from the only reason to visit. Highbridge boasts not one but two Olympic-sized pools on its premises. While older kids and teens roughhouse in the main, deeper pool, you and your younger kids can splash away in the Olympic-sized wading pool, with a maximum depth of 2 feet. I also appreciate the outdoor, co-ed lockers and showers, which means not having to send my too-old-for-the-ladies room son into the men's room alone. When you've had your fill of the water, take a stroll down to The High Bridge and enjoy the breathtaking views.

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Best Free Swimming Pools in NYC for Families (1)
Plan a visit to the lovely Sunset Park Pool.

Brooklyn's Best Free Swimming Pools

7. Sunset Park Pool – Sunset Park

Located in the picturesque park of the same name, this Olympic-sized pool is always popular. When you're done with your fun in the sun, head to nearby Industry City for yummy eats and plenty of family-friendly fun—plus industrial AC.

8. McCarren Park Pool – Williamsburg

This pool has a beautifully restored historic bathhouse building with an entry arch, plus a recreation center. We love the family changing rooms and a shallow wading end for the tots. When you're waterlogged, check off a few of these family-friendly things to do in the area.

9. Red Hook Pool – Red Hook

This Olympic-sized pool in Brooklyn is a neighborhood hot spot, near handball and basketball courts and a soccer field. It can get pretty busy in the summer, but there's also an enormous wading pool with sprinklers that's a bit calmer for younger kids.

10. Douglass & Degraw Pool – Gowanus

A great local spot, this neighborhood fave tends to be a little less busy than other city pools and also features a wading pool and a shaded sundeck for littles. There's a park and playground nearby with picnic tables and sprinklers.

RELATED: Indoor Swimming Pools in NYC Offering Day Passes

Best Free Swimming Pools in NYC for Families (2)
The Floating Pool is permanently docked at Barretto Point Park.

Swimming Pools in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island

11. The Floating Pool – Hunts Point, the Bronx

You'll need to take the Bx46 bus from the subway to get to this pool, or better yet, drive. However, once there, you'll find a beautifully landscaped riverside park with amazing views of Manhattan and various islands (including Rikers!), there's a pier to promenade, a cute playground, and rolling hills for picnicking. And then there's the pool, which is located on a barge that's docked right on the East River. As they say, only in New York. It's an intermediate-sized pool.

12. Fort Totten Pool – Bayside, Queens

Journey to this Queens pool with the whole family. There are three different pools available, so everyone is sure to have a blast. There's an intermediate pool, a diving pool, and a wading pool. On weekends, you can also enjoy the nature center at the Fort Totten Visitors Center. For those extra energetic days, there's also a playground at Fort Totten Park.

13. Astoria Park Pool – Astoria, Queens

Located right on the water and near the RFK Bridge, this park boasts the city's largest public swimming pool. Surrounded by concrete bleachers, it was constructed in 1936 and is fresh off a $19 million renovation that saw it closed last season. It's 330 feet long, about the length of a city block! The pool has distinct roped-off sections, including a wading area for little kids.

14. Faber Pool – North Shore, Staten Island

Out of the seven free swimming pools in Staten Island, this one in the 4-acre Faber Park is close to the parking lot (assuming you're lucky enough to find a spot). The green space has great views of the water and New Jersey beyond, plus a playground and basketball court. The larger Olympic-sized Lyons Pool is a runner-up, but it gets crowded thanks to its location near the Staten Island Railway, buses, and the Ferry terminal.

15. Haffen Park Pool – Baychester

Named for the first borough president of the Bronx, Louis Haffen, the park features several recreational facilities, including the pool complex, which recently got a little TLC and some fresh amenities. There's a 25-yard main pool, a wading pool, and shower facilities. Also, enjoy playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, and baseball at the nearby sports fields.

A version of this story was first published in 2017; it has been updated for 2024.

Unless noted, photos courtesy of the NYC Parks Department.

Best Free Swimming Pools in NYC for Families (2024)


Best Free Swimming Pools in NYC for Families? ›

Take a splash in one of our free outdoor pools, open each summer across the city.

Are NYC park pools free? ›

Take a splash in one of our free outdoor pools, open each summer across the city.

Do you have to pay NYC pools? ›

Public outdoor pools are open to everyone at no cost. Public indoor pools are in recreation centers.

What is the largest public pool in NYC? ›

Located in the sixty-acre Astoria Park in Queens, its setting commands spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and the Hell's Gate and Robert F. Kennedy Bridges. At 330 feet in length, it is the largest pool in New York City and one of the largest and most popular swimming facilities in the country.

What is a free form swimming pool? ›

Freeform pools are not any particular shape. In fact, the word “freeform” encompasses any pool that is flowing in design and does not fit into any other existing category. This pool shape typically has rounded edges and may even include large curved areas, making landscaping and features seemingly endless.

How many public pools are in New York City? ›

Public Pools in NYC

There are 91 pools distributed across 64 locations in NYC that are maintained by Parks – 79 outdoor and 12 indoor swimming pools dispersed throughout the five boroughs.

Why is Astoria pool closed? ›

The Olympic-sized pool, which is nearly 100 years old, was closed last summer as it underwent approximately $19 million in renovations.

Can you pay a hotel just to use the pool? ›

Some hotels do allow non-guests to use their pool for a daily fee. However, most hotels do not allow non-guests (unless they are a guest of someone staying at the hotel) to use their pool area.

Are NYC public pools clean? ›

Sam Biederman, an assistant commissioner for communication at NYC Parks, says that their pools are tested for contamination every hour. “Cooling off at an NYC Parks pool is part of a New York City summer — and that's why we are always working to keep our pools safe and clean,” Biederman tells The Post.

Are pools allowed in Garden City NY? ›

No outdoor pool, whether permanent or portable, exceeding two feet in depth or 120 square feet in area shall hereafter be erected, altered or installed unless a permit therefor has been issued in accordance with the following: A. Permits.

Where to swim in NYC in summer? ›

Brooklyn: Betsy Head Pool, Kosciuszko Pool, McCarren Park Pool, Red Hook Pool and Sunset Park Pool. The Bronx: Crotona Pool and Van Cortlandt Pool. Manhattan: Hamilton Fish Pool, Highbridge Pool, Jackie Robinson Pool and Thomas Jefferson Pool. Queens: Astoria Pool.

Which city has the most public swimming pools? ›

The city with the largest number of public swimming pools per 100,000 residents in the United States was Cleveland, OH in 2023.

How big is Astoria Pool? ›

Framed by the Triborough and Hell Gate bridges, Astoria Pool measures 330 by 165 feet and is the largest of the eleven WPA pools.

Are free form pools cheaper? ›

On the downside, free-form pools tend to cost more than rectangular pools due to their intricate designs and added features. They can also be harder to maintain since they often include water features such as fountains, slides, and waterfalls.

What is a promo pool? ›

Promo Only is a DJ focused record pool. (A music pool or DJ record pool is a regionalized and centralized method of music distribution that allows DJs (disc jockeys) to receive promotional music to play in nightclubs and other events such as weddings, festivals and on the radio.)

What is a pool waiver? ›

A swimming pool waiver release form is an instrument used for the purpose of informing the swimming pool users of their responsibility and the risk involved when using a swimming pool. In addition, this also serves as a release from any liability that the facility may be involved with.

Is Central Park NYC free? ›

Central Park is free, but has its own paid shares of attractions as well. With its vastness, you'll definitely need a guide to help you pinpoint exactly where to go, and what to do within it if you're pressed for time.

Who pays for NYC Parks? ›

These resources include our in-depth data and research, advocacy guides, and events. NYC Parks is the city government agency that manages the over 2,000 parks and nearly 30,000 acres of parkland in New York City. NYC Parks is funded entirely by public dollars, money the city receives through taxes and other sources.

Are in-ground pools legal in NYC? ›

You may need a permit to install a pool at a 1- or 2-family residential building. All pools must meet the following requirements: There must be a 4-foot high fence all the way around in-ground pools with a closed, child proof, self-closing gate.

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