The Guide to Attending a Philly Public Pool: Just Show Up

Philadelphia has 71 outdoor public pools, the most of any city. Taking a dip in one is as easy as showing up.
The Fishtown Swimmo

The Fishtown Swimmo (Photo: Dan McQuade)

When I tell people I was at the public pool, I invariably get the same reply every time: I don’t know how to do that.

I guess it can seem complicated for the uninitiated. The city’s website for public pools isn’t that informative — though there is a very good independent site — and web searches mainly go to news stories about Philly public pools that don’t explain how to actually go to one.

“Do you need a pool card like it’s the library?” a friend asked. I told him no (and that one can look at library books without a library card as well). Fortunately, I am here to help you too. Here is a step-by-step plan on how one can attend a Philadelphia public pool:

  1. Put on a bathing suit
  2. Find a Philadelphia public pool (here’s a helpful map).
  3. Go to that pool and jump in!

If you didn’t know how easy it was before, now you do. Some pools may have restrictions (like adult swim, camp swim, lessons) at certain times, and you might have to sign in, but otherwise the way to get into a Philadelphia the pool is to show up in a bathing suit when it’s open. It’s free! Legitimately, a lot of people do not know this.

Philadelphia actually has 71 outdoor public pools, the most of any city in the country. Every public pool I’ve ever been to has been clean and suitable for swimming. Pool hours are generally Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Adult swim or family swim may be held at certain pools.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • John B. Kelly Pool in Fairmount Park: The nicest, most beautiful pool in the city, Kelly is in Fairmount park near Memorial Hall. It is a gorgeous place to swim laps.
  • Max Myers: Max Myers is, legitimately, where my mom swam as a kid — when the pools were so popular they’d have boys swim days and girls swim days. We trekked up there once to experience the true Mayfair experience. It was pretty nice! Not too crowded, and it’s shaped like a giant T-shaped Tetris block.
  • Ridgway Pool: This is the pool I frequent the most. It’s better known as “the pool behind CAPA surrounded by trees.” It’s occasionally crowded, but that’s part of the fun.
  • Francisville: This is a pool with attractions. It even has an aqua zumba class! This summer, it’s part of the pop-up pool project and has been spruced up a bit.
  • O’Connor Pool: This is probably the most private public pool in the city; it’s surrounded by a high brick wall. It’s also right on South Street at 26th!
  • The Swimmo: Actually Lederer Pool (named after the late State Rep. Miles Lederer, this is a destination pool if you want to see a lifeguard drinking an Arctic Splash.

It’s cooled off a bit today, but the heat wave will be back. And what better way to cool off than by putting on your swim trunks and hopping in a pool. Now you know it’s just as easy as showing up.