I am always looking for ways to beat the NYC heat. I go to as many suggested price museums as I can, watch the $2 Movies, free bowling, and have been known to go to the grocery store just to take advantage of the cranked-up AC. But there is another way to beat the heat. Visit one of the many free public pools found in every NYC borough.
The pools are open from June 28h to September 2nd. Check your local pool for hours. As you check the hours, also take note of the when they close the pool for cleaning (usually an hour in the middle of the day). When I first began going to the pool, I would forget about the break and show up right before it closed.
Be warned, food and glass bottles are not permitted. They do allow plastic water bottles. The Park security guards are some no-nonsense employees, so don’t think you can get something past them. I’ve seen many parents and kids thrown out of the line for having something in their bag that they are not permitted to bring in. You must also bring a lock with you – if you don’t have one, then you can’t swim. Also, you aren’t allowed in if you aren’t dressed for swimming. I’ve heard many parents complain that they weren’t planning on swimming and that only the kids were swimming, but again, the no-nonsense security guards don’t buy it. When I go to the pool, I’m already dressed and ready for the water. It makes it easier to get into the pool that way. I usually don’t bring anything that needs to be locked. I carry towels, sunscreen, and water bottles with me. Before my kids were potty trained, I also brought an extra swim diaper with me as well. I do this so I can walk right in without any hassle.
Here are some other key things to know:
- All babies need to wear swim diapers.
- Other than swim shirts, only shirts that are completely white are permitted to be worn in the pool area.
- There is stroller parking at the pools, but they are left unguarded and nobody is responsible for them.
- All men’s bathing suits need a lining inside. That means no board shorts.
- Kids 7 and up must go through the bathroom of their sex. That makes it difficult for people like me who have kids of different genders. My advice is to have them wait by the door until you come back around to meet them.
- Floaties are not permitted in the pool, unless they are attached to the swimsuit.
The pools also offer free swim classes and morning and evening lap swim for adults. My kids have taken classes at the pool for 3 years and my wife and I have both used the early morning lap swim hours to get in some early morning or evening exercise. Because of the lifeguard shortage, swim classes are canceled this summer.
Final tip? Don’t open your mouth while in the water. There are a lot of kids there, after all.