When I first moved to New York – I didn’t think I was going to get pools or beaches. In fact, I wasn’t even sure it would get hot enough to enjoy being in the water. And for most of the year, it’s not. But one of the things that makes New York bearable for me is the Summer. The three months of June, July, and August have never been sweeter, than when I experienced them living in New York City.
While my excitement of a hot New York Summer was at its peak, I visited as many beaches as I could find. There are surprisingly quite a few good beaches in the New York City area, and many of them are easily accessible by public transport.
But after spending most of my life on the stunning beaches around Australia, the beaches of New York quickly lost their appeal. Sure being by the ocean was good for my soul, but it was such an effort to get to there, and when I arrived I was regularly disappointed by the chilly water temps and the grey water color.
I started looking elsewhere for my summer water fix. Where were the pools in New York City? After some cyber-sleuthing, I discovered the Central Queens neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Rego Park have some fantastic outdoor private pools tucked away perfect for summer sun and a swim.
I made it my mission to try each of them for you and here are my favorite secret outdoor pools in Forest Hills, Queens. With a small investment (these aren’t public pools) you can enjoy some water fun and sun during the glorious New York Summer (before it disappears). And you can get to them easily on the subway!
In what seems like a hidden location between two tall apartment buildings, the pool at Birchwood Towers is the smallest but perhaps the cutest. An odd goldfish shaped pool and a smaller kiddy pool sit on the entry level and there is a separate sunbathing area on an upper deck. Similar to Park City Swim Club, Birchwood suffers from a lack of direct sun in the afternoon, so if sunbaking is a priority, then go early.
Birchwood Towers Pool, 102-10 66th Road, Forest Hills, NY 11375. Enter on 66th Road in what looks like a side gate for the building.
Phone: 718 896 4343 (no website)
Price for weekday visit $12 for children, $15 for adults, and increases on weekends to $15 for children and $20 for adults.
Open every day (10am-6pm) from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Fairview Swim Club
A huge pool, with equally huge deck area and plenty of sun lounges (though some are reserved for the Summer in advance) are what you can expect at Fairview Swim Club. Though this pool is temporarily closed for renovations during 2018, when it reopens this pool thumps, heaves, and grinds with many people seeking respite from the heat, but also to the beat of DJs who spin tunes and give this pool a real party vibe. There is also a concessions stand onsite, and outside food is not permitted. It’s a little further walk from the subway, but if you plan to get there early (before the line gets long and they start turning people away), it’s worth it.
Fairview Swim Club, 6120 Grand Central Parkway, Forest Hills
Phone: 718 592 0263
Temporarily closed for renovations – check back in 2019
Amenities: concessions and drinks available on site, cabana rentals available, chairs available pending reservations.
Park City Swim Club
Park City Swim Club has a great location right beside shopping at Rego Center Mall (featuring TJ Maxx, Century 21, Marshalls, and more) which could make a fun day out. There are two pools, an Olympic sized pool and a round kiddy pool, both of which are now heated as of Summer 2016. They also have a sweet deal where entry is discounted after 3pm. Unfortunately this is around the time that the setting sun dips behind surrounding buildings, so if you do take advantage of the afternoon discount, you will have to deal with limited direct sun, but it really is the best time to go for a dip as many of the families have left by this time. If you have kids, enquire about having a pool party here!
Park City Swim Club, 98-00 62nd Drive, Rego Park, NY 11374
Phone: 718 830 9634
Price starts from $13 for an adult, based on weekday, weekend/holiday, and discounts after 3pm. Park City also offers seasonal membership plans. Refer to the Park City Swim Club 2016 brochure.
Amenities: Rentals available for lounges ($7) and cabanas ($25).
Open 11:30AM – 7:00PM every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weekends and holidays open from 10:00AM – 6:00PM.
Westside Tennis Club
The pool at Westside Tennis Club is huge and gets full sun throughout the day, but it is part of the prestigious tennis club, and so entry to the pool requires club membership, currently sitting at over $2,000 for the year. If it’s in your price range, it’s certainly worth it to enjoy the junior Olympic pool and the smaller kiddy wading pool.
Westside Tennis Club Pool, One Tennis Place, Forest Hills NY, 11375
Phone: 718 268 2300
Access with annual membership, unfortunately no day passes.
Amenities: chairs, umbrellas, and shaded tents available, concessions/snack bar on site, children’s playground.
Open every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park Indoor Pool and Rink
If you are looking for a pool with a little less sun but lot’s of light, try the Olympic-sized pool at Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center. Located within the park known for hosting two World Fairs, and managed by NYC Parks department, the facility has lap and open swim sessions throughout the week, see the timetable here. It’s open late, until 10PM on Saturdays and 8PM on Sundays, and fully accessible for people with differing abilities. Splashing about here and looking out over the Unisphere is a special moment, and no sunburn!
Flushing Meadows Corona Park Indoor Pool and Rink, 131-04 Meridian Rd
Flushing, NY 11368
Phone: 718 271-7572
Access with a NYC Parks membership (which can be used at over 30 recreation centers throughout the city). Adult memberships are $75 for 6-mths, $150 for 12-mths. Youth under 18 years are free!
Amenities: Olympic-sized lap pool, diving pool, children’s swim lessons, ice hockey rink.
Open every day throughout the year (perks of being indoor!), but hours may change on national holidays so call ahead to get the deets.
Secret Pools – Mapped Out
Find them mapped out on Google Maps here, most have easy access from the E/F/M/R subway trains:
As my quest for summer swim and sun adventures continue, I would love to hear about the secret pools in your neighborhood.
Share them in the comments below.
This post was originally published on http://www.tarleyjordan.com, written by Tarley Jordan August 13, 2016, and updated July 25, 2018.