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Bay Explorers

My vision is to inspire families of all backgrounds to explore, be present, and have fun with their children in the Bay Area.

Best Summer Swimming

Summer is coming to an end but that doesn't mean that swimming has to! I have had the blessing of spending a lot of days in the outdoors with my children this summer and we have a comprehensive line up of the best places to swim around the Bay Area including first hand ratings from my 8 year old daughter. You can click the title of the pool to be connected to the page on my website with more information.

I had the heart breaking experience of losing all of my pictures stored in my phone recently and so unfortunately I do not have pictures to accompany all of the places that we have been but we will do our best to paint a picture with our imaginations for you...

So where is the number one spot that me and my daughter both agreed on as our number one favorite place to go swimming this summer...?

1) Cull Canyon! My daughter and I and her young uncle all agreed that Cull canyon was our hands down favorite place to cool down on a hot day. Cull Canyon is located in Castro Valley and is a man made lake of sorts. The water is filtered and chlorinated and is a marvelous glistening blue when the sun shines through the trees and hits the water just right. Cull Canyon has all the essence of swimming in a lake with out the mucky plant and animal life. The sand is fine and gives that nice beach experience. I love it because it gives you the feel of being in nature while you swim and sunbathe. Really affordable pricing $3 under 6 years old, $4 for older children, and $7 for adults. Plus it has been open until 5:50pm during summer hours so you can literally hang out all day.

2) Silliman Aquatic Center: Silliman Aquatic Center in Newark was my daughters second favorite place to swim (Not totally agreed but she is the kid so I'll let her dictate). This swimming center has it all! From a lazy river to water slides, it's no wonder kids love it. There is one big main pool for swimming, a lazy river complete with inner tubes, two giant water slides, a young children's splash zone with water play structure, and a shallow pool surrounding it. The lobby has cheap food to buy since they do not allow food in. They have life vests and free swim diapers for those in need of it. My daughter and her uncle loved this place because they had so many options of what to do. I had fun too but it gets crowded, I prefer to be outside in the sun light, and it gets a little crazy in there. Somewhere I had a lot of fun exploring for the day but it's more like a once in awhile adventure than a weekly swim spot.

3) Mills Pool: I'm partial on this one. I am a Mills student and I can get me and my kids in to swim here for free! So free swimming at a pool outdoors with a nice sized rec area in a clean facility is very appealing to me. But both my daughters seem to love this pool too. It tends to be less crowded than more well known pools and the area for the kids to swim in is a good sized area. There is a nice grassy area in the back to lay out and sun on or enjoy your food you can bring in. Also there is a hot tub if you start to get the chills. Bonus most public pools do not offer a hot tub. The lifeguards are pretty chill there (as opposed to some pools that I have been too, that will be on the lower part of this list lol). Also lots of lap lanes if that is what you are going for. I just appreciate being on campus for something other than class.

4) Strawberry Canyon: If Mills wasn't free for me Strawberry Canyon would probably rank third for me. I have loved this pool since I was younger and it still is a Berkeley staple for me. Strawberry Canyon pool is up above the new Cal Stadium below the botanical gardens. So it is sort of hidden among the trees which gives it that warm outdoor vibe. The pool water is usually warm and the rec area is really large which is nice because I can not stand small rec areas with a million families where you can not move an inch without bumping into another family. It costs a little more (including parking) than standard pools but the hours are also way longer than most other pools so if you make a day out of it the pay sort of evens out. I love when you float on your back you can look up and see the towering trees and the sunshine that makes for a peaceful adventure. There is a large grassy area to spread out on and warm up on after a swim as well.

5) San Leadro Aquatic Center: San Leandro Aquatic Center is a fun pool tucked away in the Manor district of San Leandro. For as many years as I have lived in San Leandro and the area it was only until this summer that I investigated this great family resource- and was very pleasantly surprised. The center has a pool with sections for swimmers and beginners, a tall water slide, and a children's splash zone with structure and wading pool. This place is popular so you must get there right when it opens, if not you will be wait listed. The aquatic center is also right next to the park so it makes for an easy transition to more activities before or after.

6) El Cerrito Swim Center: This pool has very slim hours so please pay attention to what they are and get there right when it opens because I have been wait listed at this pool more than once. This is not my favorite pool by far in the line up but I had a pretty good experience there the other day and it made me reconsider. The hours are short, the water slide is slow, it often fills to capacity before you can get in, you can not bring your own life vests or floaties, and the lifeguards are sticklers. That being said the water is warm! I was surprised at how warm the pool was the other day, I love warm pools. There is a small shallow area with a mushroom shower for little ones and there is a water slide (although not the most thrilling one).

7) Albany Aquatic Center: Really this pool and the one above are tied for placement on our list. Albany Aquatic Center offers two pools indoor and outdoor for your convenience. The outdoor pool is cold- just gonna say that. On a hot day it is bearable but even then we ended up at the inside one. The inside pool is warm but it gets really crowded which makes it hard to maneuver around with two kids. The swim test here is also more difficult than most others and my oldest (who has passed every other swim test) has not been able to conquer this one, which means we are confined to the shallow small rec area and she can not technically participate in the awesome floating obstacle course in the outdoor pool area. But the good thing is that this is one of the few pools that is open year round so swimming in Winter is a yes!

8) Roberts Redwood Pool: This pool is the last on my list. Set among the shady redwoods in the skyline neighborhood of Oakland I thought I would enjoy the nature like feel to this one more than I did. When I took my girls the pool was so crowded! We could barely swim an inch around in there. There were multiple day camps coming in and out and it just felt packed. The life guards are really on everything. We were whistled and yelled at many times for random stuff you wouldn't think was wrong to be doing. Also they have a really annoying swim break every hour so there is many in and out's of the pool. The positive points are they have long hours and it is really cheap. I paid like $8 for three kids and myself- what a deal!

That's our swim round up! Hope you can get a few more swims in before the season is over!

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