If you've ever been to Houston, you know that it's hot and humid in the summer. While temperatures rarely reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they do surpass 90 degrees Fahrenheit for 99.6 days a year. An average humidity of 75 percent makes it seem even hotter and more uncomfortable.
So naturally, there is an abundance of public pools where you can cool off. If you're visiting Space City anytime from Memorial Day at the end of May to Labor Day at the beginning of September, you could very well be looking for one of those public pools, especially if you are in a hotel or motel without a decent pool or you are staying with relatives or friends who don't have a pool.
The best bets are community pools, which serve specific community members and charge visitors a nominal fee, or free city pools in Houston and its suburbs.
In Houston, the city's Parks and Recreation Department operates 37 free public pools, where you not only swim free but also take classes free that teach swimming and water fitness. Each pool is open afternoons and evenings from Tuesday through Sunday. Children under 8 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The Quillian Center is a community pool facility with two pools that accommodate pre-K children to adults.
The full-size pool for adults has water slides, diving boards, and a floating alligator.
The shallow, smaller Noah's Ark Pool has been voted the best pool in Houston. Children love its fun mushroom water drop, mini slides, and, in the center of the pool, the fantastic playground that's a kid-friendly depiction of Noah's Ark.
The cost to use the pool is $8 per person, with discounts available for seniors age 65 and older and for active military members. Infants under the age of one are admitted free. The fees can add up for a family of four or more, so why not make the most of your time thereby packing a picnic for everyone and spending the day?
The pool at Colonial Park in the town of West University Place is a community pool with great features, including a corner with massaging jets and in-water lounge chairs. The nearby playground, rock wall, drop slide, and lily pad crossing makes the park a great all-in-one spot for outdoor fun. An on-site concession stand and plenty of shade make it easy to stay there all day.
The pool is open from mid-spring to early fall during the day, but hours may vary. Be sure to check the website before visiting, or call ahead to make sure the pool is open before making the trip.
Walk-in rates are $6 for residents and $12 for non-resident guests. Weekly, monthly, and seasonal passes can be purchased for both residents and nonresidents; however, nonresidents must be accompanied by a resident in order to purchase a guest pass. Nanny passes are also available.
This pool in Houston's Memorial Park is a great spot if you're looking for something free and don't need a lot of bells and whistles with your water play.
This city pool is clean and well-maintained, though debris from nearby trees sometimes blows into it. Changing rooms are available on-site.
The Memorial Park pool remains open for lap swimming early mornings from Tuesday through Friday until November 3, or until the water temperature cools to below 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tip: In the summer, this pool can be packed during peak times, so come during less busy off hours if you want to swim laps or avoid crowds.
The Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA in downtown Houston has a large indoor pool with plenty of lanes for lap swimming and an open area for free play. Classes are also available for all ages, including basic swim lessons, water aerobics, and lifeguard training and certification.
Admission is free with a membership that covers all activities at the downtown YMCA location; nonmembers pay $25 for a day pass. The pool is sometimes closed for classes or maintenance, so be sure to call ahead for hours.
The Campus Recreation and Wellness Center at the University of Houston has an indoor pool as well as an outdoor leisure pool. They are open from late spring to mid-fall.
Community passes are available from May through August each year and cost $12 for the day, $25 for the week, or $80 for the month. In order to purchase a community pass, you must present a valid government-issued ID. Reduced prices are available for center members and their guests.
Facility hours vary throughout the year. Check the facility's website for specific days and hours when the pools are available.
The Williams Indoor Pool, located in McConn Webster, Texas, near Space Center Houston, is a lap pool for adults that are open to the public year-round. The facility also offers swim lessons for adults and children, including babies.
Adults who are nonmembers can get their lap pool workout for $5 an hour. Membership packages are available for individuals and families and include access to the facility's weight room.
The Bellaire Town Square Family Aquatic Center in the town of Bellaire, Texas, is a facility built for both competition and fun.
In August and September, this well maintained facility hosts swim meets during the week and invites the public in on the weekend.
The center features a splash pad with fountains, dumping water buckets, and a children's slide, as well as an activity tower with sprayers, a slide, and a bucket. The pool has two large diving boards, a waterslide, and three lap lanes for adults, plus three lanes for water exercise and therapy.
To use this facility, visitors ages 3 to 59 pay a daily fee of $16; those 60 and above pay $14. Residents of Bellaire pay half this amount.
No food or inflatable toys are allowed on the premises. Read the pool rules on the website before you visit so that you know what to expect.
If you have questions about exact times of operation, check the website for up-to-date information or call 713-662-8280.