For summertime city dwellers, the best way to beat the heat and humidity on a sweltering August day is to jump in a pool. Fortunately, Philly has 71 of them.
The Parks and Recreation department runs and maintains public pools throughout the city. They serve as not only a way to cool off, but also as gathering places for neighbors (and neighborhood kids — lots and lots of kids). The best part is they’re all free to use, and many even offer free swimming lessons.
Parks and Rec’s website lists out where the pools are located, along with their hours, which vary pool to pool so make sure to take a look.
Here are three worth checking out.
1. Pop-up pooltime
The Francisville Recreation Center near 19th and Fairmount just got spruced up last month, thanks to a Cities Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation. The pool area got new seats, greenery and games as a part of the Pop-Up Pool Project.
Lisa Whittle, Parks and Rec program coordinator for Aquatics and Ice Rinks, says they’re expecting the grant to expand next year, with the funds going towards fixing up more pools.
“Now there’s greenery [at the Francisville pool] and chairs and tables and games,” Whittle says. “So it makes it a lot more appealing because the site looks more fantastic than a regular pool. People take ownership of it, and see it as the gem of their neighborhood.”
2. In the park
The John B. Kelly Pool, surrounded by the greenery of West Fairmount Park, is the city’s biggest pool. Its size and location attracts people from several different neighborhoods.
“Kelly draws people from all over the city because it’s an Olympic-sized pool,” Whittle says. “It’s one of the more unique pools because it draws people from different places.”
3. Neighborhood favorite
Visit Philly’s Uwishunu blog once named the O’Connor pool at 25th and South streets “Center City’s best-kept summertime secret.” It’s also the only one Parks and Rec lists as being in Center City. Go ahead and debate whether that’s within the boundaries — we’ll be chilling in the deep end.
“For being one of the oldest facilities, it really does look great,” says Jennifer Leupold of South of South Neighbors Association. “The deck is in really great shape; not crumbling or cracked, and they have fantastic wooden benches.”