TravelDestinations

8 Places to Cool Off This Summer

Stunning swimming holes, lakes, and pools to dunk into as temps heat up

Lake Tahoe, one of the most classic summer swimming holes (Photo: Megan Michelson)
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Wherever you’re going this summer, don’t forget to pack the most essential item: a swimsuit. Whether it’s your hotel pool, a cliff jump into a river, or a lake with a sandy beach, swimming is a must on any warm-weather trip. But not all swim spots are created equal. We’ve rounded up some our favorite iconic and off-the-radar places to take a dip.

Cavitt Creek Falls

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(Photo: Reggie Alvey/Creative Commons)

Glide, Oregon

For a dreamy swimming hole not many people know about, head to Cavitt Creek Falls Recreation Site, 23 miles east of Roseburg off Interstate 5 in southern Oregon. The area’s six-foot waterfall on Cavitt Creek, off the Umpqua River, ends in a majestic emerald pool surrounded by a dense fir and oak forest. Sleep in one of ten campsites in the park or book an apartment at Bell Sister Flat (from $189), a vacation rental and historic inn in downtown Roseburg.

Ski Portillo

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(Photo: Frank Shine)

Portillo, Chile

Devoted skiers head to the Southern Hemisphere for a taste of winter in the middle of our summer. Which is why you’d end up at Chile’s Portillo ski area in August. After shredding laps in the resort’s wide-open bowls, cannon ball into the Hotel Portillo’s legendary swimming pool, which overlooks Inca Lake with the Andes rising up around it. If you’re feeling really adventurous, dive into the frigid lake, which has become a rite of passage for skiers when it’s not frozen over.

Flathead Lake

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(Photo: Courtesy Visit Montana)

Bigfork, Montana

Swimming in Flathead Lake is a must-do after a visit to Glacier National Park or anywhere in northwest Montana. Enjoy clear, glacier-fed waters and refreshing temperatures. Visit 2,160-acre Wild Horse Island, a state park on the lake’s largest island, accessible only via boat, to spot wild horses and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Stay at Flathead Lake Lodge (from $3,998 for the week; reservations from early June and August require a Sunday through Sunday stay) or the Islander Inn (from $107), located lakeside in the charming town of Bigfork.

Sliding Rock

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(Photo: Courtesy ExploreAsheville.com)

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Shoot down a 60-foot natural waterfall into a welcoming, eight-foot-deep pool of 60-degree water at Sliding Rock ($3 entry fee) in Pisgah National Forest, 20 minutes north of the town of Brevard. If you don’t feel like launching yourself, there’s a viewing platform to watch others. Camp nearby in a well-stocked canvas tent (from $120) at Lake Powhatan Recreation Area—you can swim there, too.

Bondi Icebergs Club

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(Photo: icebergs.com.au/@icebergsclub)

Bondi Beach, Australia

Visiting Sydney? Then don’t miss the spectacular Bondi Icebergs Club ($8 entry fee), a pool with stellar views courtesy of its seaside location at the southern tip of Bondi Beach. The year-round swimming club has been in operation since 1929, and the public is welcome, too. There’s an Olympic-size lap pool and a smaller kid pool, plus a sauna, a clubhouse, and a cafĂ© that serves tasty fish and chips. You can also sign up for yoga classes on the patio. Do the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk and work up a sweat; then dive in to cool off. 

Lake Dunmore

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(Photo: Courtesy vtstateparks.com)

Salisbury, Vermont

In winter you’ll find college kids doing polar-bear plunges into frosty Lake Dunmore. In summer it’s more hospitable, with grassy fields you can lounge on and relatively warm water. Swim from the sandy beaches at Branbury State Park, on the eastern shore of Lake Dunmore, where you can camp or rent a two-bedroom cottage (from $80) situated steps from the lake.

Lake Tahoe

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(Photo: Megan Michelson)

Emerald Bay, California

Welcome to the largest freshwater alpine lake in North America. The water is never particularly warm—August and September are your best months for a swim—but it’s always clear and blue. If you’re a scuba diver, check out this summer’s debut of the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail, which offers views and directions to four old boats and barges that have sunk to the lake’s floor around Emerald Bay State Park. Camp Richardson (from $45), on the lake’s southwestern corner, has a hotel, cabins, lakefront campsites, and a great ice cream shack.

Johnson’s Shut-Ins

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(Photo: Courtesy Visit MO)

Ozark Mountains, Missouri

Johnson’s Shut-Ins, less than two hours south of Saint Louis, is a natural water park formed when the Black River flowed around ancient volcanic rock to create slides, chutes, and pools. It’s a swimmer’s paradise during the balmy Midwestern summer heat. At the bottom of the shut-ins, you’ll find a deep, translucent swimming hole. Camp, hike, or stay in a cabin at Johnson’s Shut-In State Park (camping from $13), or post up at Wilderness Lodge Resort (from $95), ten miles away, where breakfast and a three-course dinner are included. 

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