California’s Best Swimming Venues

With summer weather already arriving, it’s time to start looking for ways to cool off. Swimming holes provide a relaxing venue to take a dip in chlorine-free water all while taking in spectacular views that only nature has to offer. Enjoy the scenic drives to these secluded destinations. Just bring a swimsuit, sunscreen, a towel, and a picnic to enjoy a day of relaxation.

Big Sur River Gorge

Use a rock as your pillow while you lounge at the Big Sur River Gorge. Hidden among the boulders, the Big Sur River Gorge is a not-so-obvious location with lots of potential for an awesome day trip. Pay the $10 park fee and head up the half mile trail it takes to reach the natural swimming destination. The short trek is well worth the reward of refreshingly cold, crystal clear water that you can cool off in all day long.

Malibu Creek State Park

Since 1967, Malibu Creek State Park is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, rock climbers, and tourists from across the globe. One of its unique features is Rock Pool, a swimming hole that requires visitors to hike, bike, or ride a horse over a mile to reach it. The pool is surrounded by trees and brush. Volcanic rock towers above swimmers.

North Fork Falls

North Fork Falls is a surprise oasis filled with beautiful waterfalls and swimming areas tucked away in the forest. A cool feature for thrill seekers out there, the pools even have the ideal depth for cliff jumping if you’re willing to try. If that’s not your thing, then just go for a peaceful swim under one of the waterfalls and have a picnic with a view to end your perfect day near the Sierras.

Sturtevant Falls

Sturtevant Falls is one of the most popular day hikes in the Los Angeles area, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a fairly accessible hike, the payoff is a waterfall that flows year-round, and you reach it by following a historic trail that dates back to the 1850s and the California Gold Rush.

Standish-Hickey SRA Swimming Hole

Located at the end of Eel River, this oddly named spot in Mendocino County is a popular destination for camping, hiking, and of course, swimming. The jade-hued waters of the swimming hole make for a picturesque getaway you won’t want to leave. A popular spot for cliff jumping, visitors tend to bring a lot of energy — so make sure to prepare yourself for lots of splashing water.

West Fork Day Use Area Angeles National Forest, San Gabriel Mountains

The West Fork Day Use Area is a stop at the confluence of the West Fork and North Fork San Gabriel Rivers along Highway 39 in the San Gabriel Mountains. It has no available campsites, but it is an excellent staging ground for adventures in the area and a great place to escape the summer heat in the cool waters of a mountain stream.

Garden of Eden Swimming Hole

Flourishing with greenery, this swimming hole lives up to its name. Once you find this site, you’ll understand exactly how this swimming hole got its name. A longtime secret for locals, this spot claims its exclusivity from its lack of signs and do-it-yourself nature in finding the right trail. But once you do, you are welcomed with a turquoise-colored paradise surrounded by beautiful foliage.

Lake Gregory Regional Park

Named for citrus grower Arthur Gregory Sr., Lake Gregory Regional Park is maintained by San Bernardino County. The park is popular with families with its large waterpark, complete with diving platforms, water nozzles, slides, paddle boats, and magnificent beaches. Visitors can head over to the marina to rent a variety of aquatic equipment including stand-up paddleboards and motor boats. Anyone hoping to catch some fish will enjoy Lake Gregory’s abundance of rainbow trout and brown trout.

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