When the kids are wired but outdoor swimming is out of the question—nearly 10 months of the year in these parts—a dip in an indoor pool can be just the thing to set the day right. Swim lessons are important for setting a foundation for pool safety, but simply splashing around in the off-season can also help transform doggy paddlers into capable swimmers more quickly, making summer a little safer—and less stressful—for all. The trick is, many indoor pools require pricey memberships, and not all welcome kids. We've rounded up some pools that offer drop-in swim times for families. A note: Before digging out the swimsuits and announcing the idea to the kids, be sure to call ahead, as schedules and rates can fluctuate.
Boston Athletic Club—Boston
Located in Southie near the Seaport, the BAC offers family swim times on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, and charge $8 per swimmer. Ample parking, free daily lockers, and towel service are all big bonuses when you have kids in tow.
Kroc Salvation Army Center—Dorchester
With a two-story water slide, a heated lazy river, a "bubble bench," and 7 spray features, the Kroc is, legimately, an all-seasons water park inside the city. Though small, it's a blast for kids, and with rates of just $7 for children and $13 for adults, it's a steal compared to other indoor water parks beyond the city. Family locker rooms make this fun outing smoother than most, too.
Kroc Salvation Army Center
MIT Zesiger Center or Alumni Pool—Cambridge
With two pools at each facility, there are plenty of rec swim times where families can splash around together. And with a clientele who often comes in and out of town for academic purposes, MIT recreational facilities are very open to drop-in visitors. Day passes are $15 per person.
MIT Zeisger Center
Evelyn Kirrane Aquatic Center—Brookline
For the price of a muffin and coffee in town—$5 for residents and $7 for non-residents (kids are $5 and $3, respectively, and babies and toddlers are free)—you can swim the day away with the family at this pool near Brookline High. There's a lap pool and a lesson pool; rec swim sessions are held in the lesson pool, where there are aquatic toys available to play with.
Evelyn Kirrane Aquatic Center
Boys and Girls Club—Watertown
Family swim time on Saturday afternoons are hugely popular at Watertown's Boys and Girls Club pool, which got a new roof and tiling in 2010. Families pay $15 for the whole group, or if at least one of the children is a Boys and Girls club member, just $5 covers everyone.
BCYF Pools—multiple locations
The Boston Centers for Youth and Families boast 16 indoor pools throughout the city, and many allow kids (with a grown-up, of course) to drop in for a swim. The Curtis Hall pool in Jamaica Plain allows families to swim for free during family swim periods, currently on Monday and Friday evenings. At Chinatown's Quincy branch, drop-in rates are $3 for kids and $5 for adults.
There are 12 pools in the Greater Boston YMCA network, and you can print out a free day pass here to try one (up to 3 times per year). Outside of city limits, many Ys allow families to purchase day passes. The Y in Somerville offers a particularly good deal, charging just $2 per adult and $1 per child for their family & youth recreational swim sessions after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. At the Metrowest Y in Framingham, which offers open swim space in their lap pool during certain hours, a day pass is $5 for children and $12 for adults.
Photos courtesy of the Kroc Center, MIT, and the Evelyn Kirrane Aquatic Center.