June 25, 2016

Swimming in San Francisco? Yes. You. Can!

June 25, 2016

Swimming in San Francisco? Yes. You. Can!

For those who love swimming, you ought to know that this city has a bunch of swell indoor and outdoor pools, both public and private, that you should probably check out. For the public pools, you will need to head first to the McLaren Lodge Annex at 501 Stanyan Street or to the Treasurer’s Office at City Hall to purchase a 10-pack of pool passes (called scrips) for $51. This is a slightly cheaper, more streamlined way to use the public pools, though you can also pay $7 cash for a day pass when you arrive at each pool, but note: you must have exact change. Then, of course, there are a number of gyms with great lap pools too, but not all of us are made of money. Below, nine of our favorites from both groups.

Sava Pool
This public pool tucked out in the middle Sunset got an awesome, $17 million renovation in 2009, and thus it’s housed in a pretty, modern, concrete and glass building with tons of natural light. It’s got eight lanes, and it’s generally open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays (except Tuesday when it closes at 4), and has more limited hours on weekends. Check the schedule especially if you’re a serious lap swimmer to make sure you arrive during lap-swimming hours. — Jay Barmann
19th Avenue and Wawona Street


Mission Pool
Mission Pool is the best public pool in San Francisco, but don’t tell anyone because no one likes a crowded pool. The facility on 19th (at Valencia) was shut down for the winter and has emerged bright, shiny, and surprisingly clean for a public space. Mission Pool is one of the few outdoor public pools in San Francisco, and the fresh air makes all the difference in the quality of your swim. Check the Rec & Parks website for lap times and arrive right when each begins. 30-minutes into any lap session, the lanes fill up with people who think they’re training for the Senior Olympics. — Beth Spotswood
19th Street at Linda


Bakar Fitness & Recreation Center at UCSF Mission Bay
One rad outdoor pool that not too many people know about is at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, and $20 gets you a day pass that gives you access to both that and a heated indoor pool. Another bonus is that this place has long hours, open weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and you may just want to get yourself a membership if you swim a lot, especially if you live nearby. They offer 30-day trial memberships, and they’re offering 1- to 3-month summer membership specials right now.Jay Barmann
1675 Owens Street


Hamilton Pool
Hamilton Pool makes this list (and most San Francisco pool lists) because it has waterslides. And other than driving yourself and your swimsuit to some suburban waterpark next to a gun store, or breaking into a backyard in Walnut Creek, this is the only place nearby you’re going to find a waterslide. Actually, at Hamilton Pool, you’ll find two. Other than the aforementioned slides, the pool and lap schedule is pretty standard for SF Rec & Parks, but SF Rec & Parks has a pretty great aquatics program. So lucky you! — Beth Spotswood
Geary & Steiner


Crunch Gym at Yerba Buena
Here at SFist, we’re partial to an outdoor pool, and Crunch’s roof contains one of the few outdoor pools located at a gym. Formerly Club One, this current Crunch gym has a surprisingly luxurious, hotel-esque rooftop pool. All you have to do is fill out some form on their website for a “Free Day at Crunch.” Otherwise, access to this terrific pool requires a gym membership, but the pool is so good that even if you hate gyms, it’s worth the monthly membership for a serious swim fan. — Beth Spotswood
350 Third Street


Nob Hill Spa
Fancy pants types will love the five-star indoor pool at the Nob Hill Spa, inside the gorgeous Scarlet Huntington Hotel. The pool is a bit on the small side, but the stunning outdoor deck with a view of downtown San Francisco more than makes up for it, as does the pool chair drink delivery and plush, steal-able towels. A pop into the “Zen Room” is a particularly relaxing post-swim experience, complete with potted orchids and a stack of magazines. The spa is free to guests of the hotel, spa clients, and anyone willing to pay $50 for a day pass on Mon-Thurs. — Beth Spotswood
1075 California Street at Taylor


Hotel Nikko
It might be more of a special-occasion-swim-day kind of pool at $25 per day pass, but the pool at the Hotel Nikko near Union Square is pretty gorgeous and rad. It’s flooded with natural light from peaked windows that offer views of the buildings all around it, and while it’s not huge (15 meters with just four undivided lanes), it’s a perfect refuge for light lap swimming or just floating around. Also, the fitness center has a hot tub and steam room as well, and if you plan it right, you can slip right out of a spa day into the second-floor lounge and catch show at Feinstein’s. — Jay Barmann
222 Mason Street


Chinatown YMCA
She’s big, she’s beautiful, and she is located really close to your office. This downtown YMCA has recently been so fantastically renovated, the Village People should write a whole new wedding DJ song about it. If you join the YMCA, you can use any of the other facilities in the San Francisco YMCA (including Marin and San Mateo) for $5. You can also apply for financial assistance, allowing anyone who wants to enjoy this great pool. Otherwise, day passes are $15. — Beth Spotswood
855 Sacramento Street between Stockton and Grant


Fitness SF Fillmore
Double-wide takes on a whole new meaning at Fitness SF’s Fillmore location, where five massive lap lanes allow for a big butterfly stroke or easy passing, depending on your workout. This facility also houses one of the largest saline-based pools in San Francisco, if saline is super important to you. Many urban gyms tend to advertise a pool, but the reality is a small, smelly puddle towards the toilets. Fitness SF has put their money where their water is, and devoted some serious resources to their pool. Other than signing up for a free three-day trial online, use of the pool requires a membership and group aquatic classes come with an additional fee. — Beth Spotswood
Fillmore Center, Fillmore Street at O’Farrell


(Bonus) Fairmont San Jose
There’s only one good thing about San Jose, and it’s their abundance of fantastic hotel swimming pools. We’ve got lots of favorites, but the Fairmont’s rooftop pool and lounge area is wonderful, in a San Jose kinda way. Sun-soaked and only slightly-upscale, this huge pool area is home to table service and tramp stamps. If you’re looking for a pool-themed weekend getaway, grab a deal at the Fairmont, spend all day at the pool, and all night at like, a Dave and Buster’s. — Beth Spotswood

Source :

Skip to content