Best Spots to Beat the Summer Heat

No proper Californian summer is complete without a fun day in the water. When summer temperatures get too hot for comfort, cool off at one of the Bay Area’s many venues to splash, swim and lounge water-side. Note: prices subject to change. Also, before setting out, be sure to check any COVID-19 restrictions.

Coolest of the Cool

Our top picks are worth a trip to make a splash, from beaches and lakes to the Bay Area’s biggest water park.

Aquatic Park Cove. A short walk from Fisherman’s Wharf and next to Ghirardelli Square, this small beach within a historical maritime district park is great spot to enjoy beautiful views while kids splash around in calm waters and serious swimmers do some laps. Open at sunrise. FREE. 499 Jefferson St., San Francisco. 

Cull Canyon. This lagoon is popular with families because its shallow waters are great for little ones who are just getting used to the water. Toddler floatie vests are available to borrow. Find plenty of picnic tables for outside the gates. East Bay Regional Park District lifeguards are on hand to administer swim tests for kids who want to venture into deep waters. Weekends and holidays Memorial Day weekend through mid-September. Plus Thu.-Fri mid-June through mid-August. $2.50-3.50, under 1 FREE. 18870 Cull Canyon Road, Castro Valley. 

Raging Waters. Northern California’s largest water park, serving the area for more than 30 years, with more than a dozen slides, a river ride, a wave pool, a playground for tots and other attractions. Open May-September. 2333 S. White Road, San Jose. 

The Rest of the Best

Warm summer days are for water play. These Bay Area water venues will complete your summer experience.

East Bay.

Aqua Adventure Waterpark. Water slides, a 200-yard lazy river, a 25-meter lap pool and other attractions. Open Memorial Day weekend through September. $19.99-20.99, $10 on Fri., 3 and under $3. 40500 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont. 

Brentwood Family Aquatic Complex. Features a lap pool, children’s pool and several slides. Swim classes available. Recreational swim open mid-June to mid-September. $3-9. 195 Griffith Lane. 

East Oakland Sports Center. This recreation center boasts daily swim hours, an indoor water park and reasonably priced swim lessons. Be sure to check the website for pool and water park hours before heading over. Open year-round with changing hours. $3-10. FREE on Fri. on a first-come, first-serve basis. 9161 Edes Ave., Oakland. 

Pleasant Hill Aquatic Park & Sprayground. Enjoy a sprayground, a 25-yard pool with two diving boards, a second wading pool and picnic areas. Find various play structures on the other side of the fence. Recreational swim Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. $4-5, 2 and under FREE. 147 Gregory Lane.

Quarry Lakes. A swim complex with a white, sandy beach and lifeguard service. Be sure to call or check the website before you visit: The lake is sometimes closed due to toxic algae blooms. FREE, but $5 parking fee. 6am-8pm. 2100 Isherwood Way, Fremont. 

Shadow Cliffs. The former gravel quarry turned 266-acre park features an 80-acre lake with a swimming beach and fishing opportunities. 2500 Stanley Blvd., Pleasanton. May-Labor Day hours, 6am-9pm. $6 vehicle fee. For more swimming opportunities at East Bay Regional Park District pools, lakes, shorelines and lagoons, visit ebparks.org/activities/swimming/facilities.htm.

Silliman Family Aquatic Center. This indoor pool and water park features water slides, spouts, a lazy river and a lap pool. Check website for summer hours. Waitlist sometimes required on peak days. $9 ages 3 and up, $3 ages 0-2. 6800 Mowry Ave., Newark. 

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. The site formerly known as Waterworld California was reopened in 2018 as a Six Flags destination offering world-class rides, slides and attractions for all ages. New to the park: Splashwater Island, a multi-faceted, interactive water play structure. May 4-Oct. 6. $29.99-$34.99, under 2 FREE. 1950 Waterworld Parkway, Concord. 

The Wave in Dublin. A 31,000-square foot indoor/outdoor facility with an indoor pool, outdoor sports pool, waterslide tower and splash zone with water-play features. Certain water slides that were closed for safety concerns were reopened in 2018. Opens Memorial Day weekend. $11-17, $3-4 ages 2 and under. 4201 Central Parkway, Dublin. 

San Francisco

Ocean Beach. When the weather is really warm, head to Pacific Ocean beach – but know the water will still be frigid. Point Lobos Avenue and Great Highway. Opens at sunrise. 

Peninsula

Half Moon Bay State Beach. A four-mile stretch of beach popular for surfing, swimming and sandy play. Find camping facilities, trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding. FREE. 

Joinville Swim Center. One of two San Mateo city swim centers offering summer swim lessons, Joinville has two large pools and a kiddie pool. The outdoor facility is open year-round for recreational swim at 1pm. $4.50, $3 under 16. 2111 Kehoe Ave., San Mateo. 

Menlo Swim & Sport. Two year-round pools with youth, adult and community programs, including drop-in open swim hours. Check website for hours. Baby pools open in May. $7. Burgess Pool: 501 Laurel St. Belle Haven Pool: 100 Terminal Ave. 

Parkside Aquatic Park. Bordering the Marina Lagoon in San Mateo, this park has a sandy beach with roped-off swimming area, a boat launch ramp, a picnic area, playground, sand volleyball pit and restrooms. Sunrise to sunset. FREE. 1595 Seal St., San Mateo. 

Silicon Valley

Great America’s Boomerang Bay. A water park within a vast amusement park offering waterslides, a lazy river, wave pool and other attractions for kids big and little. $39, 2 and under FREE; parking $20. Open seasonally. 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. 

Morgan Hill Aquatics Center. This city pool also boasts a slide, fountains, geysers, music by the pool and more. Open year-round for lessons; recreational swimming offered Memorial Day weekend through Sept. 15. $7-16, 2 and under FREE. 16200 Condit Road. 

Water Oasis at Gilroy Gardens. Learn to conserve water by playing in it in this half-acre water play area. A splash pad, wading pool, kiddie slides and more. The 2019 season boasts new, bigger slides and cabana rentals. Complimentary life jackets available. May through early October. $58, 2 and under FREE. 3050 Hecker Pass Highway. 

Malaika Fraley is a freelance writer and a former calendar editor of Bay Area Parent.