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Best Swim Spots In OC

There are swim spots in Orange County with something for just about everyone’s preference. It doesn’t matter if you prefer swimming laps in a saltwater pool or if you fancy wading in a low tide beach haven. Orange County also has some thrill rides that will send you sliding down a water slide at an adventure park. So grab a towel or two, put on your favorite swimsuit, and learn about all the best swim spots Southern California has to offer.

Best Swim Spots In OC

Best Pools 

Swimming pools can be a swimmer’s best friend. There are major advantages to having temperature-controlled waters that stay calm with an occasional cannon ball or two. Plus, you cannot beat the lack of sand getting, well, everywhere.

Community pools also provide a space for low impact exercise with long lanes for laps and no ocean tide to upset your stroke. For younger ones or young at heart, some community pools will often offer swim lessons for all ages to take advantage of. Plus, many pools are monitored by lifeguards at all times which can put at ease more anxious swimmers unsure of their capabilities. 

Ready to take a lap? Here are some of the best pools in Orange County:

  • The Brea Plunge: This historical pool is located in the town of Brea just north of Fullerton. The outdoor pool is 25 meters in length and is one of the oldest pools still operating in all of California. The original cost to swim here was only 2 cents in the year 1929! Now it’s a bit more but still worth the admission fee. 
  • The Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center: This 6-lane pool is located in the heart of Aliso Viejo not too far from Laguna Beach. The pretty, high end pool also boasts some of the best swimming lessons in the area through the swim experts, Premier Aquatic Services. 
  • Crown Valley Community Park: This YMCA pool has the best facilities for diving. And many come to practice their craft. Not into diving? The recreational facility also has public swimming times in its lovely salt water pool. Crown Valley Community Park also features the Sprayground, a splash pad area for the littles and the young at heart.
  • Janet Evans Swim Complex: Located at Independence Park in Fullerton, the neighborhood community center and swim complex features an Olympic-sized pool for lap swimming and recreational swims, plus swim lessons are conducted in a second heated instructional pool.

Beach Havens 

You can’t talk about Southern California swimming and not talk about the world famous beaches. Here in Orange County, you can be sure to find miles of sandy shores, rain free weather, and fantastic swimming. But for many, swimming in the ocean can be a bit daunting and even scary for young ones. So where can you go for more tepid waters? Here are some lovely beach spots along the coast. 

  • Baby Beach: Located in Dana Point between the Ocean Institute and Dana Point Harbor, this calm section of water is protected by the jetty allowing for calm-water swimming. We like this spot for little ones as it includes a roped-off area dedicated to swimmers only.
  • Marina Park: This is one of our favorites for a day out. Located in Newport Beach on the Balboa Peninsula, Marina Park has a community center, large playground with a lighthouse replica to climb up and slide down, and a sandy beach area on one of the channels of Newport Bay that is perfect for splashing in wave-free waters.
  • Pirates Cove Beach: If the name does not enchant you with mystery, the unique rock formations definitely will. Located on the west side of the parking lot at Corona Del Mar State Beach in Newport Beach, this alcove complete with sea caves has calm waters to play in. Dogs are even allowed on the beach but only before 10am and after 4:30pm. 
  • Linda Lane Park Beach: This park is wonderful for both picnicking on grassy lawns and beach swimming. A fun tunnel connects the playground to the shore going directly under the railroad tracks. On the sandy beach itself are volleyball courts plus the San Clemente Pier not too far away to check out! 
  • Seal Beach: One of our favorite beach cities, located in the northernmost part of Southern California’s Orange County is the picturesque town of Seal Beach. Besides the notorious good surfing and relaxing sunbathing you can opt to enjoy a stroll down the long historic wooden pier. Another bonus? There is a sand playground, volleyball courts and fishing pier to explore. 
  • Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina: Located in the Newport Bay, Newport Dunes features plenty of seaside sand to sprawl out on, and during the summer months, there is an inflatable water park for beachgoers to splash and climb on. Thanks to calm waters here in the back bay, this is also an ideal spot for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
Best Swim Spots - Marina Park Newport Beach
Marina Park, Newport Beach

Water Slides and More  

Now swimming alone is pretty fun. And heading to the beach is it’s own kind of adventure. But some people just can not pass up the opportunity for a water slide or two. 

  • Knott’s Soak City Waterpark: This 15-acre water park is open from mid-May through mid-September. The park has 23 water slides plus family rafting, but our favorite places for swimming are the smooth lazy river, and the massive wave pool. There is a lot here to enjoy from a kid splash area complete with water guns to spray an annoying sibling or two. 
  • Great Wolf Lodge: Want to stay at a hotel and enjoy an indoor waterpark? We love this place! There are high-thrill drop slides, toddler friendly splash pools and family raft rides all indoors. You can buy a day pass or spend the night and after a day of fun, snuggle up in your own themed suite. 
  • Buccaneer Cove at Boomers! Irvine: This pool is located in the small theme park nestled in the urban city of Irvine. The waterpark has colorful tubes and slides, small wading pools complete with splash buckets and side by side go-karts, an arcade and a mini golf course. It is family fun for water lovers and those who prefer dry land. 
  • Splash! La Mirada: Not technically in Orange County, but just minutes away from Buena Park, La Habra, and Fullerton, this water park is worth the visit. Splash! features a lazy river, water slides, interactive water play structure, spray pads, and more.
Best Swim Spots - Knott's Soak City
Knott’s Soak City

Splash Pads

If you’re looking for a place for the little ones to get wet and splash around but not necessarily a pool or beach, check out these splash pads and water playgrounds in Orange County:

  • Crown Valley Community Park: As mentioned above and located in Laguna Niguel, here you’ll find the Sprayground – one of the newest water playgrounds in the county.
  • Sigler Park: The Sigler Park splash pad is located in Westminster and is fully fenced in so that little ones can’t wander off. There are lots of interactive waterplay features here at this large splashpad.

Find a list of Orange County Splash Pads here!

Hotels & Resorts

Orange County is home to a number of hotels and resorts with luxury pools and waterparks for the kids. Best part is, you don’t always have to stay the night to take advantage of the amenities — although, who wouldn’t want to spend the night at one of these beachside resort destinations after spending the day at the pool? One of the best ways to take advantage of the resort pools is by purchasing a Hotel Day Pass. Here are a few of the OC hotels you might want to visit for a day poolside.

  • Waterfront Beach Resort, Hilton: Located in Huntington Beach, the Waterfront Hilton offers hot tubs and multiple pools including one with waterslides for guests to enjoy.
  • Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa: Also located in Huntington Beach, complete with ocean views. Set up and spend the day poolside. Here you’ll find Slyder’s Water Playground, an area with three water slides for hours of fun.
  • Hyatt Regency Newport Beach: Adults can relax at the Indulge and Serenity pools, and families can spend the day at the Oasis Pool – an area with a waterslide, splash zone, and games for the kiddos.

Find out how to get your Hotel Day Pass!

Pro Tips 

Here are some things to remember to make sure whatever water activity you do is a success!

  • Safety first: Not all of these have lifeguards on duty. Make sure you have floatation devices for the less secure swimmers and keep your eyes on children at all times.
  • Sunscreen: No one wants to be a lobster roll after a beach day. Pack sunscreen and reapply every 20 minutes to keep that skin healthy! 
  • Water: Oftentimes being in water makes you forget you still need to drink water. Stay hydrated to keep heat stroke and dehydration away. Add some strawberry slices or lemon to water to give kids a less sugary ‘juice’ option. 
  • Snacks: Easy grab and go snacks are great for swim days. Grab some veggies, nuts, and dried fruit to feed all the hungry little ones and yourself! 

Happy adventures!

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Kaitlin is a former ballerina who now travels around the country in an 18-foot converted school bus. Her and her husband have welcomed 34 sweet children into their home the past eleven years. Although they would not be a forever home for all of them, they adopted their daughter buckets and are legal guardians to their son monkey. Follow their crazy adventures on Instagram @runawaymusbus