The Best Free Swimming Pools in Philly for Families
Among the many welcome reopenings of summer 2021 are the Department of Parks and Recreation’s outdoor pools. With 47 pools around Philadelphia offering some combination of open swim, family swim, lessons and activities, there’s bound to be a wet and wild adventure not too far from home. So pack the towels and sunscreen in a bag, and head out for a dip.
Philly pools are surrounded by recreation centers, parks, playgrounds, and even museums, so you can keep the fun going long after you get out of the water. Most of the city’s pools are poised for a comeback in July, though some will remain shuttered due to a reported nationwide lifeguard shortage. As long as the weather permits, hours tend to be either 11am to 7pm or noon to 5pm depending on the day, but it’s a good idea to call ahead for verification before you leave.
We’ve rounded up the best options for your whole crew to take the plunge and beat the sweltering summer heat. Read on for our top picks, and check out more amazing summer activities for Philly families in our guide.
Best Free Swimming Pools in West Philly
1. Kelly Pool –– West Fairmount Park
42nd Street and Parkside Avenue
Flanked by shade-giving trees and filled with 800,000 gallons of H2O, your family will love splashing around in all eight lanes of Fairmount Park’s Kelly Pool. The surrounding green space is great, and an added bonus is that the Please Touch Museum is steps away, offering the perfect answer to “what’s next” on a hot summer day. Kelly’s Olympic-sized pool features a deep end for experienced swimmers, something not seen everywhere. Fun Fact: Kelly is named after Grace Kelly’s dad, who lobbied to have it built.
2. Cobbs Creek Park Pool –– Cobbs Creek Park
280 Cobbs Creek Parkway
Enjoy all the outdoor adventure Cobbs Creek Park has to offer, including its outdoor pool. The pool lies next to the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center, which has lots of family programming kids enjoy, in addition to meadows, a forest area, two creeks, and a wetland. A walking trail also is located nearby for a brisk hike or leisurely stroll.
The James Finnegan Playground Pool is a popular South Philly summer destination.
Best Free Swimming Pools in South Philly
3. James Finnegan Playground Pool –– Paschall
6801 Grovers Avenue
South Philadelphians love swimming at this large community pool right across from the playground. A sprinkler provides additional water play. If you can’t find enough to do on James Finnegan’s 17.7-acre grounds, make a day of it by stopping by Bartram’s Garden or FDR Park.
4. Kingsessing Recreation Center Pool –– Kingessing
4901 Kingsessing Avenue
The Kingsessing Rec Center pool is one of the larger ones in the city, and locals report a real family feel among those who frequent these waters. Kingsessing Pool has lounge chairs, umbrellas, and privacy screening from the street, and is part of the city’s Swim Philly program, which sponsors kid-friendly activities. The center itself is on an 8.4-acre park that's home to ball fields, handball, tennis and basketball courts.
5. Barry Playground Pool –– Girard Estates
1800 Johnston Street
Adjacent to Barry Playground, Barry Pool offers open swim and family swim for at least one session a day, and free lessons every weekday. This four-acre site also has basketball, tennis, hockey, and volleyball courts, in addition to sports fields.
6. Marian Anderson Recreation Center Pool –– Point Breeze
740 S.17th Street
Regulars appreciate that this pool has designated areas for swimmers based on age and ability, which helps keep everyone safe while allowing older and stronger swimmers to enjoy some time away from the noise and splashing of little ones. Marian Anderson has life jackets on site; a big plus. There’s a small but cute grassy area to lay out, umbrellas for shade, and chairs for perfecting your tan.
The Athletic Rec Center Pool features—are you ready?—water slides. Photo courtesy of Mica Root for phillypublicpools.com
Best Free Swimming Pools in North Philly
7. Northern Liberties Recreation Center Pool –– Northern Liberties
321 Fairmount Avenue
There’s time allotted for free swim and family swim at this beloved community pool, in addition to lessons and activities. It’s pretty cozy here, with five lanes for your family to submerge themselves, but that makes it a welcoming environment for younger swimmers. Kids can enjoy a spray ground here, too. The high brick walls offer privacy from the street, and the adjacent recreation center has a full slate of kids activities.
8. Samuel Playground Pool –– Port Richmond
3539 Gaul Street
Residents describe Samuel’s as the main hub for neighborhood youth. Chillier days are no problem here, thanks to the pool’s heating system. It offers free swim every day in summer 2021, family swim three times a week, and lessons through registration. Samuel is another pool with a deep end for older swimmers.
9. Athletic Recreation Center Pool –– Brewerytown
1401-55 N. 26th Street
The Athletic Rec Center Pool can be summed up in one word: slides! It’s the only free city pool where you can sail down playground structures into the water, making it a popular family pick. A spray ground adds to the fun, and the center also hosts a basketball court and sports fields.
10. Hancock Playground Pool –– Fishtown
147 Master Street
Hancock is a great place to cool off after sweating it out on the playground, which just received a $1 million renovation in November 2020. The pool is on the smaller side; ideal for families and kids building confidence in their water skills.
11. Cione Playground Pool –– Kensington
2600 East Aramingo Avenue
Daily free swim is available at Cione, where you can also sign up for lessons or the swim team. The adjacent playground got a makeover in 2016, and the recreation center includes a ball field, hockey rink, sports field, and three basketball courts.
RELATED: Inexpensive Swim Lessons Near Philly
Vogt Playground Pool offers lifeguarded programs for all swim abilities. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation
Best Free Swimming Pools in Northeast Philly
12. Bridesburg Recreation Center Pool –– Bridesburg
4625 Richmond Street
The Bridesburg Rec Center Pool was always a hot destination for families, but it’s gained in popularity after undergoing a $3.7 million renovation in 2019. This pool welcomes hundreds of kids for lessons, camps, and teams, and it has an ADA-compliant ramp. This is another one of a handful in the city with a deep end extending past five feet.
13. Vogt Playground Pool –– Tacony
4131 Unruh Avenue
If you’re in the Northeast section of the city, take a family float at Vogt. This large T-shaped pool has something for everyone, including lessons, family swim, open swim, and tot swim programs. An adjacent spray ground keeps the party going when the kiddos emerge from the water. And if you’re looking for charm, Vogt has it –– there’s a hole in the rec center wall that staff climb through to access the pool.
14. Lackman Playground Pool –– Bustleton
1101 Bartlett Street
Lackman Playground Pool is another city favorite, complemented by well-kept grounds, a nice playground, and a spray ground for more water play. It might not be the beach, but there is a sandbox, making this pool one of the only ones in the city where you can replicate the shore experience. A peaceful stretch of grass outside the pool fence is wonderful for catching a few rays.
15. American Legion Playground Pool –– Tacony
6201 Torresdale Avenue
The American Legion pool sits on a 15.8-acre property in the Northeast section with modern playground equipment, fields, and sports facilities. The center hosts a variety of kids programs if you’re looking for something outside of the pool.
16. Fox Chase Recreation Center Pool –– Fox Chase
7901 Ridgeway Street
In addition to an updated playground and sprinklers featuring a kid-friendly dragon, the Fox Chase Recreation Center pool serves the community with dedicated times for open swim, family swim, parent and tot swim, and lessons.
Enjoy swimming at Awbury Pool, adjacent to the Awbury Arboretum. Photo courtesy of Mica Root for phillypublicpools.com
Best Free Swimming Pools in Northwest Philly
17. Awbury Recreation Center Pool –– Germantown
6101 Ardleigh Street
The pool at the Awbury recreation center is located next to the Awbury arboretum and playground, so drying off only means there’s more to explore. A spray ground complements the landscape here as well. Philly families love heading uptown to this pool, where the abundant greenery seems to lower the temperature by a few degrees.
18. Kendrick Recreation Center Pool –– Roxborough
5822-24 Ridge Avenue
Roxborough residents give high marks to the public swim program at the Kendrick Recreation Center pool, which some affectionately refer to as the “bathie.” The pool offers open swim, family swim, lessons, teams, and it has a deep end. The center offers neighborhood kids plenty to do with classes and activities, a playground, and sports facilities.
19. Pleasant Playground Pool –– Mt. Airy
6757 Chew Avenue
Lounge on a chair underneath an umbrella, or frolic through the sprinklers next to this Mt. Airy pool on 4.7 acres of city-owned land. As part of Philadelphia’s Swim Philly program, Pleasant pool often hosts fun kid-friendly events. Families also love this rec center’s playground.