SPLASH! New Jersey's Best Family Swimming Pools
Summertime means swimming–the kids cool off, get exercise, and are entertained all at once–triple bonus! While NJ abounds with beaches and lakes, many of us prefer the plain old comfort of a chlorine-enhanced, sand-and-mud free, lifeguard-protected swimming pool. For you, the pool-lover, we’ve assembled a list of NJ swimming pool options—some public, some private, summer-only, year-round, indoor, outdoor....take your pick—and then, take the plunge!
When it comes to swimming pools, typically the lowest cost option, and the one closest to home, is your local Department of Recreation’s public pool. Most towns offer a resident-only, summer-long membership. Unfortunately, there’s not a consolidated list of municipal New Jersey pools, but you can find your local public pool through searching online with keywords “New Jersey,” your town name, and “Parks and Recreation.” Typically, you’ll need to submit an application with payment (which varies greatly by town,) then you’ll receive “badges” good through the summer. Before you apply, it’s a good idea to stop by the pool and visit local community postings for reviews, as the quality of these facilities varies greatly. But they’re definitely worth checking out!
You know the song! “You’ve gotta go to the Y-M-C-A”. Click here to find your local Y. The Y’s websites offer great, detailed information on lessons, teams, open swims and memberships. Almost all locations offer day-passes, in case you want to check out the facilities, or you just need an indoor play option on a rainy day. While prices vary, our local Y offers day passes at $15./Adult, $10./Children 18-and-under; and a Family Pass (all members of household): $25. Peace at a bargain! Call 1-800-872-9622 for more information.
The Madison Community Pool (Madison)
Now here’s a town that wants its residents in the water! The Madison Community Pool opens June 18th, and offers swimming, entertainment, a snack bar, swim lessons, and a competitive swim team. The pool is handicap-accessible and divided into several areas, each catering to the different needs of its members: Deep water features a 19' drop slide with a 12' plunge, a 120' winding slide starting from 18' above the surface and a 1m diving board; Adult lap offers two lanes in five feet of water reserved for lap swimmers; Four foot is a swimming/wading section for taller children and adults; Three foot is a wading section for young children who are toilet trained; and Baby pool is a separate pool for kids under 5. There’s also a snack bar, games and Wi-Fi. $425. plus a $125. Facility assessment/ Resident family; $780./non-resident family. Call 973.377.0043 for more information.
Berkeley Heights Community Pool (Berkeley Heights)
Pack the swimsuits and picnic baskets and head to the Berkeley Heights Community Pool for a great day outdoors! There’s an Olympic-size swimming pool featuring two diving boards and two slides; a shallow end for pre-schoolers learning to swim; and a baby pool for the youngest swimmers. There’s also swim and dive teams, swim lessons, basketball, tennis courts, and tetherball on-site. When everyone’s water-logged and hungry, head over to the new barbeque grills and refurbished picnic tables! $450./Membership + $275. Initiation fee/Resident Families; $550./Non-resident families. Call 908-464-6214 for more information.
Maplewood Community Pool Recreation (Maplewood)
WARNING: Maplewood resident-only pool! Live in Maplewood? Lucky you! With three pools, a 10 meter dive tower, arts & crafts, games, volleyball, water aerobics, street hockey, a concession stand and a summer concert series, Maplewood residents have a great place to get their summer swimmin’ on! The pool opens on Father’s Day and offers FREE swim lessons to members’ kids. $320. /Family Resident Membership. Call 973-761-6330 for more information.
Tenafly Swim Club (Tenafly)
If you’re looking for a laid-back outdoor swim club, this is it. Nestled between overhanging trees and grassy areas, the heated pool offers a reserved lane for lap swimmers; a diving well with two one-meter spring boards; and a gated kiddie pool. Done with the water fun? Head to the recreational area boasting a playground, jungle gym, ping pong tables, knock hockey, shuffleboard, tetherball, basketball, and sand volleyball court. Umbrellas and lounge chairs are available, and a picnic area allows you to pack lunch and spend the day in the sun. Residents and non-residents welcome. Click here for the current $499. family membership coupon. For more information, call 201 567-5572.
The Cruiser Club Swim & Tennis Club (Sparta)
Take the natural scenery of North Jersey mountains and Lake Mohawk, combine with the comforts of a private pool-and-tennis club, add a great “Snack Shack,” a Kids Club offering children’s soccer, kickball, basketball, dodge ball, ping-pong, arts-and-crafts, face-painting and more, and you have The Cruiser Club. Since 1937, this club’s been a Northern NJ family summer staple, and with good reason; the 50-meter, 6-lane pool with 2 diving boards; the kiddie pool and swingset play area, the hard-surface tennis courts; ½ court basketball; multi-purpose athletic field; picnic area; and the welcoming, family feeling. You may join for the pool, but you’ll end up staying for the great activities and friends. $750./Family membership. For more information, call 973-722-2217.
Round Top Swim and Tennis Club (Warren)
“Like having a backyard pool party with all of your friends, every day of the week,” states a member, joining a chorus of rave reviews for this private swim-and-tennis club situated on 14 acres in Warren Township, Somerset County. Approximately 200 families share a large pool, kiddie pool, 4 tennis courts, volleyball, basketball, bocce, shuffleboard, playground, and snack shack. Hey, a daily party with no clean-up? I’m in. $50. Application fee + $500. One-time member fee + $1,500. Refundable bond fee+ $995. Annual due/Family Membership. Call 732- 356-0944 for more information.
Chatham Fish and Game Protective Association (Chatham)
Funky name for a pool club? Hey, give ‘em a break–they were named in 1891! This landmark, year-round club offers not only swimming, but tennis, platform tennis and bowling. There’s also a member's lounge and ballroom in which members’ may host private parties; teen/tween socials; and lots of member fund-raiser events. It’s your go-to place for family get-outs! $200. Non-refundable application deposit + $1,500. Initiation fee + $780. Semi-annual all-inclusive membership fee/Family. Call 973-635-8131 for more information.
Toms River Fitness and Aquatic Center (Toms River)
Your kids want to swim, but you’re just not all that into it. We all know what chlorine does to bleached blonde hair (hello, Grinch green?) Plus, there’s the sunburn issue. And mosquitos. Ugh. Gotcha. Head instead to Toms River Fitness and Aquatic Center where the kids can swim indoors while you take in a wicked new work-out! Voted the Asbury Park Press' Reader's Choice for Ocean County's Preferred Fitness Center, they offer both day passes and memberships, so you can dip your toe into the waters without fully committing to the plunge. Kids’ swim lessons start at 6 months and go through adults, there’s swim teams and clinics, open swims, and a vast array of fitness classes (bikini blaster anyone?). An added benefit? Their Family Support Center is a qualified NJ Department of Developmental Disabilities "One-Stop Shop" clearinghouse, offering information on all types of disabilities as well as national, state and local support. Non-member day pass: Person/ $15. ;Summer membership special expiring June 15 (membership now through Labor Day for 12-and-over) includes 5 free spinning classes and option to extend to annual without enrollment fee membership: $99. Call 732-914-9500 for more information.
Into The Swim (Deptford, East Brunswick, Edison, Princeton/Plainsboro , Somerset, Springfield, Toms River, Voorhees, Woodbridge)
The old method of throwing your kids into the water to force them to doggy-paddle their way to swimming ability is OUT (and may earn you a visit from DYFS.) Instead, drop them into a swimming class! Into The Swim offers swim lessons in comfortably-heated indoor pools, for all ages, year-round. Their rolling admission policy also allows students to join at any time during the session. (Cost is pro-rated, based on the number of classes remaining after the start time of the current trimester, so you pay for only what classes are left.) Most trimesters meet once a week for 8-12 weeks. Each class is 30 minutes, and other than Mommy-and-Me classes, there’s never more than 3 students-per-teacher–a fantastic ratio for learning. There’s also private lessons available for kids with special needs or fears. For more information, call 1-866-307-SWIM.
And before your kids dash off with their goggles and towels, be sure to go over these “Top Ten Tips for Beach and Water Safety” from the United States Lifesaving Association.