Summer is here. Well actually it’s still spring until June 21, but since our brilliant forefathers decided to build our nation’s capital in a swamp, it’s already a horrible muggy soup outside.  What many newly arrived denizens of D.C. don’t realize, however, is that the horribly high tax rate they pay to live here means that they can visit any of Washington D.C.’s public pools completely free of charge.  Virginians and Marylanders aren’t welcome.  What they also don’t realize is that unlike other areas, where public pools are caricatures of urban decay, D.C.’s pools are actually really nice.  In all, your D.C. driver’s license will get you into a whopping 19 outdoor public pools and a good number of indoor ones as well.  Here are some of the best:

Francis Pool (2500 N St, NW): Located on the edge of Rock Creek Park in the West End, it’s a pool with a wooded view.  Granted homeless people hang out in the wooded area just outside the fence sometimes, but when they’re not there, it’s lovely.  As you might expect, the place has a tendency to get pretty busy on warm weekends.  On a positive note, somebody on Yelp reported that ‘European women openly change their tops’ in public.

Volta Park (3400 Volta Place, NW): A smaller pool located right in the heart of Georgetown; this place can get packed quickly.  There also seems to be a massive shortage of lounge chairs, so be prepared to sun yourself on the ground— don’t worry, you won’t be the only one.  As an added bonus, the scenery around the pool is really pretty.

Upshur Pool (4300 Arkansas, NW): If you’re looking to avoid the crowds that flock to Georgetown, this might do the trick.  It’s not as ritzy as Volta or Francis, but the pool and the grounds are clean and there are plenty of lounge chairs. For some reason, this place doesn’t get overcrowded on hot days either.  On the downside, many people complain that the bathrooms look like something from the Third World and the lifeguards can be… coarse.

Banneker Pool (2500 Georgia Ave, NW): This pool is huge and pulls an eclectic crowd.  Locker rooms were recently renovated and the pool area is clean, though like Upshur Pool, there seems to be a chronic lack of lounge chairs.  Another big draw to this pool is the abundance of nearby bars—you can’t drink inside a D.C. pool, but you certainly can at the bar next door.

East Potomac Pool (972 Ohio Drive, SW): This one is awesome because it’s on Hains Point, which means you have to travel to get there and people don’t seem to know it exists.  It’s Olympic sized, not too crowded, and a super-clean pool.  The pool itself is located next to a golf course and parking is plentiful.  As with any public pool though, locker rooms can be a bit dicey, so just wear your suit home.

Have fun, be beautiful and please, don’t pee in the pool.

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