It’s the beginning of August, which means you probably realized simultaneously that summer is finally here, and that summer is almost over, which set off a frantic series of summery activities, like, I don’t know, drinking a cucumber cocktail while wearing a tank top and listening to Katy Perry while sweating profusely. I don’t know. I’m not a summer person.
I do like to go sit by a pool though, and of all possible summer activities, what could be more summery than going to the pool? The pool is ninety percent as good as the beach, at literally like one percent of the bother; no hours of traffic, no sharks, no raw sewage. You can get a light tan (everyone looks better with a light tan – NOT the beef jerky-ish deep orange tan), and look at various bodies that will make you feel less hatred towards your own imperfections, while conveniently ignoring all the superior ones that would make you feel insecure. A bad pool can be its own kind of nightmare, though, so you have to choose carefully. So without further ado, here are the best pools in DC.
2500 Georgia Avenue NW
This is really the gold standard of DC pools. It’s huge, there are tons of loungers, a big shade pagoda thing, and there’s a separate pool for all the little screamers. I’ve probably sweat out four pounds of toxins here over the past month, so try to avoid the lounger I was sitting on. It’s centrally located, just off U Street, on Georgia. There’s even an ice cream truck that comes by every hour or so; there’s this gap in the chain-link fencing where you can slide your dollars through, and he’ll slide back your ice cream sandwich. The only downside is that the pool is in kind of a natural depression, so there’s this hill on the north side where non-swimming dudes in regular clothes will gather on the other side of the fence and loudly discuss exactly what sexual acts they’d like to perform on the various women sunning themselves around the pool, many of whom are within earshot. Also, there’s a McDonald’s right next door, and if you sit in the sun for a little too long, mild sunstroke may impair your judgement to the degree that you go directly there afterwards and order a 20-piece order of chicken nuggets and a 72-ounce Flurry.
4300 Arkansas Avenue NW
This out-of-the-way public pool is up in Petworth, so it doesn’t get super super busy. But since it’s a neighborhood pool, there can be a ton of kids. Not only does this mean earsplitting screaming and water-winged six year olds floating into your cannonball paths, it also means there’s a lot of the dreaded “Code Brown” at this pool. Almost every time I’ve gone here, the proverbial Baby Ruth has turned up floating in the water, and everyone has to get out. Which is fine, I prefer to read on a towel anyway, but come on! My expectations for kids aren’t super high, I’m not saying every five year old needs to read at a high school level or compose sonatas – just hold it in for God’s sake. The last time I was at this pool, there was a Code Brown, everyone had to get out, and this little kid next to us asked his dad why nobody could swim anymore. His dad murmured, “Hmm, I don’t know.” The kid turned to me and asked the same question and I said, “Someone went number two. In the pool.” The look on his face was priceless. He immediately began tugging on Dad’s arm and saying, “Daddy, I wanna go home, I don’t wanna swim anymore.” The dad was like three pages into his beach read and looked like he wanted to strangle me with the straps of his $75 swim goggles. It took all my willpower to not be like, “Hey kid, Santa isn’t real either, and those noises you hear at night from your parents’ room is not, in fact, them rearranging their furniture.”
EAST POTOMAC POOL
972 Ohio Drive SW
This is the pool to go to if you’re one of those Type A personalities who likes to methodically swim laps; it’s Olympic-sized, so you’ll have plenty of room, and plenty of precisely-delineated lanes, for your joyless obsessive-compulsive flailings. There is a lot of room for lounging though, and since its pretty off the beaten path (it’s on Hains Point), it’s almost never crowded. If it’s a weekday and you’ve called in sick or whatever, any pool will be pretty pleasant, but if it’s the weekend, this is really one of the only public pools that’s tolerable. One good/bad thing worth noting: since it’s an Olympic-sized pool, a lot of the local swim clubs and swim teams practice here, and watching them will inspire equal parts humiliated self-loathing at your jelly belly and overripe banana thighs, and paralyzing lust the likes of which you haven’t felt since that time you were riding the metro late at night, wearing a shirt that was colored similarly to the seats, and a random drunk girl accidentally sat in your lap.
COURTYARD MARRIOTT DUPONT CIRCLE
1900 Connecticut Avenue NW
Even though this pool technically “cracked down” on non-hotel guests breezing in and using the pool, “my friend” told me that the security guards openly don’t care, and if you do get one who does care, “my friend” told me that “he” is able to waltz right in by telling the guard, “Jeff said it was okay!” in a loud confident voice, without breaking stride, leaving the guard to be like, “oh okay then, if it’s cool with Jeff.” (Jeff is a totally made up person; you can substitute whatever name strikes you as managerial-sounding. Point is, security guards tasked with monitoring pool passes get paid minimum wage and are barely going to look up from their phone as you walk past.) Of course, you can pay $20 for a day pass, but come on.
The pool itself here is pretty nice, and there are a lot of loungers, but hanging out with hotel guests can be sort of depressing. They’re not really real people, if you know what I mean. It’ll be you, some middle-aged businessman reading a binder of documents, some parents in town to see their kid (Dad: “We’ve been out here forever, can we got back to the room now?” Mom: “We’re on vacation, Harold!”), and like three underbooked sex workers lotioning their capital assets. Weird vibes.