You don't need to wait for an invitation to dip into your neighbor's pool when there are at least 15 pools around the city that are open to the public. Many community and recreation centers around Rochester use their indoor or outdoor pools to offer free-swim times and lessons to the community. Genesee Valley Park Complex costs a mere 50 cents for kids and 2 dollars for adults. This outdoor pool is Olympic-sized so there's plenty of room for everyone. Call 428-7889 for schedules.
In addition to its many pools, our region has rivers, lakes, ponds, and waterfalls for those who prefer a more natural swimming experience. Below are a few spots to visit. These listings are mostly state parks, which typically charge $5-$6 per car to enter the park grounds.
Keuka Lake is one of the most pristine and beautiful Finger Lakes. Hammondsport, on the southern tip of Keuka Lake, is a charming town with two great swimming holes. Champlin Beach (607-569-3700) is a delightful sandy beach and there is also a neat swimming area near the village square. While you're in the area, Hammondsport is definitely worth checking out. This quaint town has wineries, antique and gift shops, and restaurants.
Keuka Lake State Park has a gorgeous swimming beach on Keuka Lake. The park, a picturesque spot in the heart of wine country, is at 3370 Pepper Road in Bluff Point (315-536-3666). Red Jacket Park, on the east side of Keuka Lake, is another place to swim (315-536-3015). One of the best public beaches in the Finger Lakes, this Penn Yan pebbly beach is extremely clean and the water tends to be very calm. Red Jacket Park also has a place to set up volleyball games, as well as a children's playground, picnic tables, and grills.
There are a lot of excellent options if you want to swim in Lake Ontario. Hamlin Beach State Park (964-2462) is huge, with 264 camp and trailer campsites, plenty of picnic sites and playgrounds, clear water, and sandy beaches. Find it on the Lake Ontario State Parkway.
Ontario Beach Park (256-4950) attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year. You can boat, stroll along the pier, or ride the 1905 Dentzel menagerie carousel. Free outdoor concerts are held there in the summer. Seven open-air shelters, in addition to the Roger Robach Community Center, are available for rental.
Fair Haven State Park (Route 104A, southwest of Oswego, 315-947-5205) is a fantastic place to visit. It is one of upstate New York's nicest public lakefronts. High bluffs overlook sandy beaches and beautiful woodlands. Sterling Pond lies inside the park. You can swim, row, canoe, and rent paddleboats.
If you're seeking less-populated swimming spots, Kershaw Park (396-5080) is a nice little beach in Canandaigua and North Ponds Park (Route 104 East, Webster, 872-4150) is a great swimming area for families.
Waterfalls, gorge trails, and nature walks are also within driving distance. Around the southern part of Seneca Lake you'll find Watkins Glen State Park (607-535-4511). The park offers foot trails that go over and under 19 waterfalls. Watkins Glen also has an Olympic-sized pool.
The Genesee River runs through the Letchworth State Park (493-3600) and over three waterfalls in its borders. There are many well-maintained trails along the gorge that offer spectacular views. The park also has two outdoor Olympic-sized pools at the North and South picnic areas. There is a small fee for swimming as well as an entrance fee.
Stony Brook State Park (335-8111) is a summer favorite. Located on Route 36 in Dansville, Stony Brook has a gorge trail, which goes along cliffs and overlooks stunning rock formations and three waterfalls. Two stream-fed swimming pools are dammed in the summer to make an ideal swimming area.