Sunshine Not Required: The Bay’s Best Indoor Pools
Can’t cajole your little one out of the tub? Maybe it’s time to give them more space to splash around and take them to one of the Bay Area’s bevy of indoor pools. Open year-round, they are perfect for kids, offering shallow areas, warm water and toys. The places we have selected are affordable, don’t require memberships and often offer swim classes. So pack up the goggles and the swim diapers and let your little dolphins dive right in.
San Francisco Recreation and Parks Indoor Pools
There are eight indoor swimming pools around San Francisco. Admission to all the pools is just $6 for adults and $1 for kids. Most are detailed below, but check website for more details.
Giammona Westmoor High Swimming Pool
This gorgeous new pool opened in 2010, and has been raved about ever since. It’s clean and warm and has a water slide, spacious locker rooms, plenty of showers, and a handy spin dry for all those soggy swimsuits you’ll be taking home with you. Open swim times are Friday 5:30–7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12:30–2:30 p.m.
131 Westmoor Ave. Daly City, Ca 650-991-8022 Online: dalycity.org
Photo : Charlie Sava Pool
Charlie Sava Swimming Pool
Sava indoor pool is now one of the go-to places to swim. It’s clean, well maintained and has an outdoorsy feel thanks to its glass ceiling and large windows. Special noise-reduction equipment keeps the echoes down. The water is 4 feet deep at its shallowest. Family swim times are on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2:30–3:30 p.m., Saturday from 12:30–2 p.m. and Sunday from 1–2:30 p.m.
2699 19th Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Hamilton Swimming Pool
This recently revamped indoor recreation center has been voted one of the nicest and cleanest public pools in the city. Real estate is always at a premium in San Francisco, which makes the 75-foot long pool at Hamilton Recreation Center all the more welcome. There’s even space for two enormous corkscrew water slides, one that deposits you into the kiddie pool and a second that drops stronger swimmers 7 feet above the water at lightning speed, into the big pool’s deep end. Please note that children have to be at least 48 inches tall to ride the water slide. Enjoy family/open swim Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 2:30 p.m.–3:30 p.m., and Saturdays 1–3 p.m;
1900 Geary Blvd.
San Francisco, Ca
Photo: North Beach Pool
North Beach Swimming Pool North Beach pool actually has two pools: one cool, for lap swimming, the other warm. The warm pool is the one families love— it’s set at 85 degrees—and at just 3 feet at its shallowest, it’s perfect for even the littlest swimmer. There’s plenty of natural light from the many windows around the pool and skylights on the high ceiling. You can change in one of the private curtained stalls if you prefer, and dry the swim gear in the spinner. The lockers are a decent size, but remember to bring your own lock, and also bring exact change for admission. Family swim times are Tuesday and Thursday 3:15–4:30 p.m., Wednesday 2:30-3:30 p.m., and Friday 3:30-4:30 p.m. or 5:45–7 p.m., and Saturday 1–2:15 p.m.
651 Lombard St. San Francisco, Ca 415-391-0407 Online: sfrecpark.org
This pool is not part of SF Park and Recreation Centers, and thus is slightly more expensive than the ones mentioned above but is totally worth it, as the facility was designed with kids in mind. The 25-yard-long indoor pool is particularly shallow. The deepest part is 4.5 feet deep, and the shallowest is 2.5 feet deep. Family times are very frequent. Monday and Wednesday 5:10-6 p.m, Tuesday and Thursday 4-5:30 p.m., or Friday 2-5 p.m. There is an additional evening time on Friday at 7-9:30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday you’ll be able to bring the kiddos between 11:45-2:30 p.m. and 4-7:30 p.m. Toddlers even get their own time at the pool, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. Entrance fee is $20 per adult, $10 for kids above 3 and free under 3 year old. For that price, you’ll get a towel, soap, shampoo and conditioner. Ask for the family locker room where you’ll find two private showers, a changing table, and an open locker area. Locks are available for rent at 50 cents, or you can bring your own.
1675 Owens St
San Francisco, Ca
Online: campuslifeservices.ucsf.edu Photo: The Richmond Plunge by Arin Hailey Reese
“The Plunge” as it’s affectionately called, was built back in 1926 and locals still remember swimming there as kids. It was closed for ten years, then underwent a complete remodel and reopened in 2010 to rave reviews. Thanks to solar heating and non-chlorinated saline water, it’s proud to be able to call itself the most eco-friendly pool in the U.S. It’s huge, and has a large shallow area perfect for youngsters, just 2 feet, 3 inches deep. Family swim times are Saturday and Sunday 1:30-4pm, $5 for adults and $3 for kids. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the pool reserves the large shallowest area of the pool for kids under five, that way you don’t have to worry about an active ten year old splashing your baby! Entrance fee for these days is $2 per person. Lockers are free, and there’s even soap in the showers, so no need to bring your own.
1 East Richmond Ave.
Point Richmond, Ca
Photo: Mill Valley Pool
Everyone loves this sparkling-clean indoor/outdoor pool with its big windows and removable roof for warm summer days. Little ones feel right at home splashing and playing in the shallow “cove” area (wide steps descend gradually into the water), and for kids 48 inches tall, the water slide is always a big hit. The pool also offers sinker toys. The shallow area of the pool is reserved for kids from Monday through Friday 10-12 p.m., and 2-4 p.m. Recreational swim on Saturday and Sunday is 12:30-4:55 p.m. Note that this schedule changes during vacation time.
180 Camino Alto
Mill Valley, Ca
Photo: Jean E Brink Pool
Jean is an avid swimmer who has been coming to the pool since its opening in 1978. And we understand why! It is extremely spacious: ten lanes 25 yard long each. It has been recently remodeled and it is one of the very few indoor pools in the Peninsula. Older kids will love trying their best splash from the diving boards. The shallowest part is 3 feet deep, and will be perfect for family swim Monday or Friday 7-9 p.m or Saturday and Sunday 1-3 p.m. Adult $5 and kids $4, don’t forget to bring your own lock and towel.
401 Paloma, Pacifica, Ca 650-738-7460 Online: cityofpacifica.org
How nice would it be to play in the pool with your little ones while looking at some gorgeous nature? Well at Orange Memorial Pool it is possible! The huge bay windows almost make you forget that you are in an indoor pool. There is also plenty of natural light coming from the ceiling. Spectator seatings are available, this way you can also enjoy the view of the trees when you need a break from the pool. Definitely very relaxing. Open recreation times are Friday 7-8:30 p.m. or Saturday 1:30-3 p.m. Entrance $4.25 for children and $5.25 for Adults. Family nights are $5.25 per family.
781 Tennis Dr. South San Francisco, Ca. 650-829-3800 Online: ssf.net
Photo: Waterworks Aquatics
A swimming pool ideal for kids as well as the harried parents who have to pack their bags. Just inside the front door, next to the front desk, a shop carries anything you may have forgotten or didn’t know you needed: snacks, swimsuits, swim diapers, goggles, kick boards, inflatables, sinker toys and more. The water is a toasty 93 degrees and there is a 2.3-foot pool just for little ones to play in. The place is clean and well equipped, offering private showers and changing rooms, plus several changing stations and a swimsuit drier.
One Saturday per month, Water Works Aquatics organizes Family Swim nights. They play music over their pool deck sound system, offer complimentary snacks and juice, and lend their inflatable pool toys. Call ahead to make sure the event is happening, as this program is subject to cancellation due to low enrollment. Recreation swim times are Friday 6–7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2-3:30 p.m. Entrance fee $5 per person.
1120 S.Bascom Ave.
San Jose, Ca.
—Charlotte Burgoyne and Erin Lem
What is your favorite Bay Area indoor pool is and why? Let us know in the comment section below!