Somehow a game of Marco Polo or just dipping your toes in a pool makes the heat a little bit more bearable. Pools don’t exactly abound on Capitol Hill, but we do have a number of options. So, consider this your annual summer guide to Capitol Hill pools.
The District’s Department Parks and Recreation has a handy online tool to help you locate the options closest to you. Your options are a bit limited. But there’s the Watkins children’s pool, tucked behind the baseball field at 13th & E Street, SE. It gets a lot of sun, but it’s open early at 10:30 a.m. (most DC pools open at noon). Randall Pool, located at 25 I Street, SW, is described as quaint. Indeed it is. But, there is a great playground for the kids.
Rosedale Pool at 1701 Gales Street, NE, is one of the city’s newest pools and features a slide, lap lanes and a children’s pool. Plus, you can check out the new library (ah, poolside reading). This is the pool to check out if you want it all. Though you may want to phone ahead and see if there are lots of camps scheduled for the day. It might ruin the idea of a quiet afternoon.
The pool at the Capitol Skyline Hotel has many fans, and there are a lot of opinions about the weekend pool parties. But as far as I know, no other local pool offers sports cabanas and a fireside bar. Plus there’s family memberships.
Sometimes all you need is a little bit of water. The spray park trend has hit DC in a big way recently. A hop-skip-and-a-jump from the hill you’ll find the newish Joseph H. Cole Spray Park in Trinidad, 1299 Neal Street, NE. Not only do you have a spray park, but the site boasts walking paths, flower gardens, a picnic area, a community terrace and a “tot lot” playground for younger kids.
And, of course there are the interactive fountains and super-shallow wading options at Canal Park. Plus, Five Guys and Park Tavern cocktails are close-by. Shade is pretty minimal, so visit in the morning for the best experience. My personal favorite: The Yards’ fountains are thrilling, and there’s shade for adults and kids watching the madness. The wading pool is deep enough for those over three feet to cool down. Check the park’s website updates regularly to avoid days when repairs are being made to the fountains. And, if you haven’t checked out the Friday evening concert series yet, the entertainment rivals the water feature.
You can skip the slathering of sunscreen if you stick to indoor pools. At 1100 Michigan Avenue NE, in Brookland, you’ll find Turkey Thicket Aquatic Center. With many lap lanes, a children’s pool, a wide variety of classes and a hot tub (it sounds more alluring in January, trust me). Turkey Thicket has a lot of Hill fans. It certainly gives our dear old (decrepit) William H. Rumsey Aquatic Center a run for the money, but it’s not exactly close. Rumsey seems to stay brisk throughout the summer, and it’s convenient for a quick dip or lap lane swim. You’ll want to make sure to call ahead here. There seem to be a lot of reasons why they close the pool, the baby pool is frequently closed, and the pool is in a very popular spot for campers. For a fantastic indoor pool experience hike across town and visit the Wilson Aquatic Center in Tenleytown. Or maybe don’t, my case of pool lust makes visits to Rumsey all the more disappointing.
Editor’s note: Capitol Hill resident Lyndsey Medsker started a petition several months to ask Mayor Gray to open outdoor pools at 10 am on weekends, instead of noon. More than 1,000 have signed. It’s probably too late for this summer, but it could make a difference for next year — and a few fewer sunburns.