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Sure, some public pools deserve their reputation as chemical-laden rectangles full of screaming kids that are watched over by teenage lifeguards with thousand-yard stares. Even so, there are still a bunch of great places to get your swim on in San Antonio without feeling like you’re an extra in that scene in The Sandlot when Squints pretends to drown.
Historic San Pedro Springs Park is a luxurious place to soak. Fed by spring water, the large pool is shaded by Cypress trees and surrounded by a limestone walkway — a suitably picturesque alternative to the blinding white concrete of the stereotypical neighborhood swimming pool. Originally built in 1922, the facility was refurbished in the late ’90s to bring it back to its former glory. It’s been a local favorite since reopening in 2000. Free, 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through August 11, 2200 N. Flores.
Roosevelt Park’s pool is a light blue ellipsis surrounded by a winding set of stairs that double as a stadium-seating-esque spot to lounge and catch some sun while you watch the kids, or just take a break to reapply sunscreen. Free, 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through August 11, 330 Roosevelt Ave.
You may not be allowed to swim in the lake, but Woodlawn Lake Park more than makes up for that with its massive pool, which features shaded pavilions along its extended length, so you don’t find yourself baking in the sun when sitting poolside. Free, 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through August 11, 330 Roosevelt.
Like Woodlawn, Lady Bird Johnson Park’s pool is simply huge, meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone to get in on the aquatic fun. The typical rectangular shape is broken up with a curving design with two sloping, shoreline-esque pool entryways, making it a more interesting destination than many of its “square” counterparts. Free, 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through August 18, 10700 Nacogdoches Rd.
This year, Elmendorf Lake Park finally got its long-planned pool. Although originally nixed due to funding issues when the park restoration began, the swimming facilities were added back into the budget when voters approved the 2017 city bond. The park is also introducing new features including a splash pad, playground and public art. Free, 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays through August 11, 235 Shore Dr.
Open year-round, the San Antonio Natatorium provides public access to a competition-grade swimming facility that can be used for fitness as well as free swim. If you want to don your swimsuit but have had it up to here with the rising temperatures outside, the natatorium lets you enjoy the best of both worlds. There is a catch, though — while the city’s outdoor pools grant free admission, there’s a small entry fee here. $2-$4 (extended passes available for $50-$70), 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, 1430 W. César E. Chávez Blvd.
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly way to keep cool but don’t want or need full immersion, there’s no need to resort to turning on the sprinklers (which may go against water restrictions, anyway). In addition to Elmendorf’s new splash pad, kids can enjoy similar pads at Yanaguana Garden in Hemisfair (Free, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, 434 S. Alamo) and Pearsall Park (Free, 9-11:30 a.m., 12:30-2:30 p.m., 3:30-5:30 p.m. and 6:30-9 p.m. daily, 4838 Old Pearsall Rd.). Or, you can keep them occupied while you brunch at the Bottling Dept. with the water spouts of Gustav’s Geysers in Pearl Park (Free, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, 312 Pearl Parkway).
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