Try these cool, chlorine-free spots.

By Erica Sloan and Alexandra Churchill
June 22, 2021
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On a sweltering summer day, nothing is better than cooling off with a swim. If you don't have your own pool (or have a good friend with one in their backyard), you still have options: Many municipalities have public pools open to residents, but they're often associated with a fee. What's more, you can sometimes encounter unsanitary conditions due to too-low pH levels, harsh chemicals like chlorine that wreak havoc on hair and skin, and jockeying for your spot in the water with fellow swimmers. That's why it may be worth considering a new, perhaps more hidden locale: your local natural swimming pool. When managed properly, natural swimming pools have crystal-clear water and require no chemicals to maintain because they are self-cleaning mini-ecosystems. For a freshwater dip, visit one of these spring-or stream-fed public pools across the country.

Highlands Natural Pool

Bring the whole family to this gem in Ringwood, New Jersey, where a fenced-off shallow region is designated for little dog paddlers. Post-dip, hike through neighboring Norvin Green State Forest and catch the New York City skyline from 1,300 feet up.

Webber Natural Swimming Pool

Cannonball from the special jump platform at this Minneapolis attraction (the emerald water around it is nearly 12 feet deep) or fine-tune your crawl or frog kick in one of the four lap lanes.

airial view of barton springs pool and creek
Credit: RoschetzkyIstockPhoto / Getty Images

Barton Springs

Slip into this Austin oasis to escape the city's soaring temps: It's bigger than two football fields and fed by the Edwards Aquifer, so it remains a refreshing 68 to 70 degrees year-round. Then air-dry on the shaded, grassy knolls surrounding it.

Santa Rosa Blue Hole

The deep, clear blue waters of this attraction is well-known to road-trippers off Route 66 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Here at Blue Hole, you can explore underwater caves, jump in from the surrounding rocks or simply dip your toes in the water. Best of all, you can scuba dive in pristine waters; permits start at $8.

Queen's Bath

There's a reason this swimming hole was once reserved for royals. The pristine waters and remote location in Princeville, along Kauai's North Shore, offers an escape-it-all appeal. Formed by lava, the tidal pool features an ideal place for snorkeling and catching sight of turtles. Best of all, the natural oasis is free of charge. Just be forewarned, rogue waves are present, especially during the winter season, so check the current conditions before heading out and consider going elsewhere if you're traveling with kids in tow.

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