Hello Summer: A Guide to Great Public Pools in Metro Atlanta


The hot, sticky days of summer are rapidly approaching.

And while private swim clubs dot the metro Atlanta landscape, there are plenty of nice public pools offering something for everyone — from slides and splash pads for the little ones to swim lanes for serious swimmers.

The pale blue waters of a swimming pool can help us beat the heat and have fun at the same time. Many public pools hold special events throughout the summer, including poolside movies, Hawaiian-inspired parties and of course, splash contests.

And almost all public pools offer swim lessons throughout the season.

Bodies of water have a way of attracting a crowd, and the public pools tend to get very full, so try (whenever possible) to the avoid peak hours (such as the middle of the day on the weekends). Aim to go during the week or when the pool first opens.

With scorching Georgia heat heading our way, get ready to pack your towel, sunscreen and goggles and dive into some cool relief. Here’s a guide to some of metro Atlanta’s best public swimming pools.

Wills Park Pool

Experience an Olympic-size pool with three diving boards or kick back on the provided lounge chairs.

There is no longer a baby pool at this Alpharetta city pool, but the little ones will happily splash in a fun new aquatic play pad. Stretching 2,000 square feet, this “Splash Zone” area features a whale, pelicans and palm trees with spray nozzles that shoot water. A concession area sells snacks, but food and drinks can be brought in from outside, too.

Special events take place each summer, including a dive-in movie on July 17 (gates open at 7:30 p.m. and “Big Hero 6” will start at dusk). Free with admission.

For swim lessons, call 678-297-6100.

The 411: $3 per person; $1 for people 50 and older; free for ages 3 and younger. Pool passes also available: $150 for families ($225 for non-Alpharetta residents); $70 for individual ($105 for nonresident).

Open May 23-Sept. 7. Noon-5 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays; noon-5 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays; noon-8 p.m. Sundays. (1-6 p.m. Mondays for Alpharetta city residents and pool pass holders only.) (These hours are for when the kids are out of school; see website for reduced hours once school resumes.) 1815 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta. 678-297-6108, http://www.willspark.com/swimming.html.

Emory University’s Outdoor Pools

College kids and young families converge at Emory University’s Outdoor Pools, home to an Olympic-sized pool with 12 lap lanes, a shallow end (that fills up with little ones and their parents), two 1-meter diving boards and two 3-meter diving boards. There are also a teaching pool and a kiddie pool. You can buy a 14-visit guest pass that, along with the pools, also gives you access to eight tennis courts (including two clay), an outdoor sand volleyball pit, indoor and outdoor basketball, a fully equipped fitness center, locker rooms and a cafe. There are also two outdoor terraces, a grill, and plenty of seating and shade with sky blue umbrellas and chairs.

The pool hosts family-friendly festivities throughout the summer, including dive-in movie events (June 26 and July 31; $5 per family after paying entry fees) and a July Fourth party with music and splash competitions. For a complete listing, go to http://saac.emory.edu/documents/saac_broucher_2015.pdf.

For swim lessons, go to http://www.emorycommunityswimming.com.

The 411: $120 for a 14-visit guest pass that never expires. Kids 2 and under are free. Summer family memberships cost $620. (Emory faculty/staff and affiliates/alumni can get passes at a significant discount.)

Summer facility hours now through Aug. 21: 7 a.m-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Planning ahead: The visitor center parking is free on the weekends and during the week after 4 p.m.

Note: Now through June 24 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the diving well is closed from 4-8 p.m. to add more lap lanes for a children’s swim team. To check about lane closures, go to http://saac.emory.edu/aquatics/index.html.

Student Activity and Academic Center (SAAC), 1946 Starvine Way, Decatur. 404-712-2430, http://saac.emory.edu/.

Hang poolside on Peachtree at W Atlanta-Buckhead

For those seeking a little daycation for adults, the W Atlanta-Buckhead may be just the place. From May 17 through Sept. 6, every Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., the hotel’s outdoor pool is open to the public for a “Sundaze” event. Hang poolside on Peachtree, dip your feet in the infinity pool, enjoy music presented by rotating DJs, and cool off sipping a mojito, glass of chardonnay or peach-and-yogurt smoothie. Nosh on a chicken Caesar salad wrap or cheeseburger and fries. It costs $25 — which not only gives you access to the pool, but also gives you a $25 tab at the poolside bar, and complimentary valet parking. The pool is located on the fourth floor of W Atlanta-Buckhead. The heated pool is a tiny oasis — at 444 square feet and 4 feet deep. Note: Tickets must be purchased online in advance. $25. W Atlanta-Buckhead, 3377 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. For tickets, go to http://www.freshtix.com/events/sundaze.

Piedmont Pool

The Piedmont Park Aquatic Center was built in 2009 as part of a $41 million park expansion and renovation project and teems with all sorts of attractions. Overlooking Lake Clara Meer, the Piedmont Pool features a beach entry, four lap lanes, and a current channel. There are also concessions, a small splash pad for the little ones, locker rooms, showers and lounge chairs on a landscaped deck. With almost 50,000 people swimming in this intown pool from Memorial Day until Labor Day each season, expect a crowded spot for sunbathers and swimmers, especially on sunny weekend days.

A “Spin & Splash” fitness program, a two-hour class incorporating cycling, abdominal routines and high-intensity water aerobics, is offered throughout the summer on Saturdays, 8-10 a.m. from May 30 to Aug. 22. $24 for one class; $145 for six classes and $290 for 12 classes. Register online: https://apm.activecommunities.com/piedmontpark/Activity_Search.

For swim lessons, go to http://www.piedmontpark.org/do/2015_Swim_Lessons_Piedmont_Park.pdf.

The 411: $1, children 5 and under; $2, children 6-16; $4, adults (17-54); $2, seniors (55 and older). Season passes (with access to extended hours): individuals, $170; couples, $280; families, $375; and seniors, $125. Pool is open May 24-Sept. 7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; noon-5 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. Piedmont Pool, 400 Park Drive, Atlanta. 404-875-7275, ext. 324, http://www.piedmontpark.org/do/swimming.html.

Recommended parking is in the SAGE parking facility in the park.

Mountain Park Aquatic Center

This facility sports an indoor lap pool that’s open all year. But it’s the outdoor leisure pool (more like a mini water park) that sees the most action during the summer. Its beach-style, zero-depth entry allows swimmers to gradually enter the water. There’s a play area for kids to splash around, as well as the Lazy River, a sectioned-off portion of the pool shaped like a figure-eight with a slow and easy current. A pair of giant water slides shoot thrill-seeking guests into the pool below. There are special events planned throughout the summer. Family night Dip N’ Dives — 6:30-8:30 p.m. June 16 and July 14 (free with admission) — include an evening of swimming and families can purchase Chick-fil-A dinners. There’s also a Hawaiian Luau, noon-3 p.m. June 20, complete with Hula Hoop contests and Hawaiian leis along with Chick-fil-A sandwiches and Kona Ice ($9 per person).

For swim lessons, call 678-277-0870.

The 411: $3.25 for Gwinnett residents and $6.25 for non-Gwinnett residents for 3 and under and 50 and up; $4.25 for Gwinnett residents and $8.25 for non-Gwinnett residents for ages 4-10; $5.50 for Gwinnett residents and $10.50 for non-Gwinnett residents for ages 11-49. The leisure pool opens on May 23 and remains open through Labor Day.

Hours from May 23 to Aug. 9 for outdoor leisure play pool: noon-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 1-6 p.m. Sundays. (For complete hours on indoor lap pool and for reduced hours at leisure pool from Aug. 10 through Sept. 7, go to http://www.gwinnettparks.com.) 1063 Rockbridge Road, Stone Mountain. 678-277-0870, http://www.gwinnettparks.com.

Murphey Candler Park Pool

Murphey Candler Park Pool is a lovely community pool in the midst of a gem of a park in DeKalb County that also includes a lake, trails, picnic areas and ballfields. It’s located just off Ashford Dunwoody Road barely inside the Perimeter, but you will feel as though you are stepping away from a metropolis and into a peaceful wooded getaway. The pool recently underwent major renovations, which include new bath houses and diving board. Shaded by tall pine trees, the pool opens May 23 and stays open through Labor Day. It will host events throughout the summer including “Doggy Diving Day” and “Back to School Splash” parties. “Water Safety Day” will be on June 6 and will feature music, food and fun in the sun with a focus on water safety (free with admission). The “Back to School Splash Party” will take place on Aug. 1 with live music, food and games. The “Doggy Diving Day” will be held noon-4 p.m. Sept. 6. (Cost per dog is $10 with free entry into “Biggest Splash” contest, which will be at 3 p.m. Dog owners are not permitted to swim during event. All dogs must be up-to-date on vaccinations.) Also worth noting is the affordable recreational swim team — just $52 for the season. For more information and to register, go to http://www.mcmarlins.com.

For swim lessons, call 770-993-7492.

The 411: $3, child; $5, adult; and $1, senior. Summer passes are available and cost $60 for an individual senior, $120 for an individual adult and $250 for a family of four.

Noon-6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays; noon-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; 1-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (These hours are for when the kids are out of school; see website for reduced hours once school resumes.) 1551 W. Nancy Creek Drive N.E., Atlanta. (The pool is actually located on Candler Lake West.) 770-936-5468, http://www.brookhavenga.gov/city-departments/parks-recreation/aquatics.

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