12 places that will help you keep cool this summer

Local spots where you can jump in, cool off, and enjoy the summer

Shenandoah River state park 2.jpg

It’s hot. And getting hotter.

Luckily, we live by the water. There are plenty of spots where you can jump in, cool off, and enjoy the Potomac River and local streams - no pool pass required. Check out our team's top picks!

 

12. Poolesville Swimming Hole | Poolesville, MD

Photo Credit: Dion Hinchcliffe from flickr

Photo Credit: Dion Hinchcliffe from flickr

 

Looking to escape DC's heat island to recharge and refresh? This is your ticket.

Take a short drive to a nearby swimming hole in Seneca Creek. With no hike to the creek and plenty of shade, this is definitely an easy access adventure for anyone!

Directions >

 
 

11. Blue Hole/Buzzard Rock | Fort Valley, VA

Elizabeth_Furnace_-_Swiming_hole_by_the_parking.JPG
 

You've decided to go for a loop hike in George Washington National Forest - Buzzard Rock, High Peak, Mudhole Gap, Signal Knob, or Meneka Peak. It's a hot day and after the hiking, all you want to do is jump in some cold water. Well, swing right into Blue Hole. It actually has a rope swing that you can use to immerse yourself completely.

You can also check out Red Hole and Passage Creek for opportunities to get soaked or hang out on the shore.

Directions >

 
 

10. Cunningham Falls State Park | Thurmont, MD

Photo credit: Instagram @dana518_yoon

Photo credit: Instagram @dana518_yoon

 

Wanna escape to the mountains? Cunningham Falls State Park is the perfect place to go. Take a dip in the lake, make a sand castle on the beach, or grab your hiking boots and take to the trails that lead to the park's spectacular waterfalls. There are also campsites and cabins available for rent from April through October. 

The park is popular and fills to capacity from time to time, so plan ahead and check the park’s Twitter account for updates

Directions >

 
 

9. Watermelon Park | Berryville, VA

Photo credit: Watermelonpark.com

Photo credit: Watermelonpark.com

Tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Shenandoah River, Watermelon Park has been family owned and operated since the 1930s.

Rent a tube or kayak and take a leisurely float down the river. When you get back, grab a snack from the park's on-site camping store, or pitch a tent for the night. 

Directions >

 

8. Tivoli Fountain | Washington, DC

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering www.flickr.com/photos/vpickering

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering www.flickr.com/photos/vpickering

If public pools aren't really your thing, check out Tivoli Fountain. The fountain, which used to go by a different name, reopened in 2009 as part of a redevelopment project in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC.

Within walking distance of shops and restaurants, it's a great place to spend an afternoon on a hot summer day.

Directions >

 
 

7. Greenbrier State Park | Boonsboro, MD

Photo: Angel Benner

Photo: Angel Benner

 

If you're dying to get your toes in the sand but don't feel like battling Bay Bridge traffic, head to Greenbrier State Park!

The park is a popular spot for everyone from "beach goers" to fishermen. There's a boat launch and boat rental so anyone can explore the 42-acre lake. The Appalachian Trail also passes through the park. Oh and camping, 165 campsites to be exact. 

Directions >

 
 

6. Shenandoah River State Park | Bentonville, VA

photo credit: Virginia department of conservation and recreation

photo credit: Virginia department of conservation and recreation

Canoeing on the Shenandoah should be on everyone's bucket list. Shenandoah River State Park has three car-top launches and there are two outfitters within five minutes of the park. It's a great place to try your hand at paddling and cool off in the crisp waters of the Shenandoah. 

BONUS: You can tour the park by zip line if you so choose. 

Directions >

 
 

5. Mather Gorge | Potomac, MD

photo credit: Potomac Paddlesports

photo credit: Potomac Paddlesports

 

Feeling a little more adventurous than a day at the lake? Explore the wild whitewater of the Potomac's Mather Gorge from a raft or kayak. Inexperienced paddlers should not go it alone. Sign up for a lesson with Potomac Paddlesports or find a professional guide who knows the waters. 

This is NOT a place to go swimming, but it is a great place to give whitewater rafting a try with a guided trip. Emphasis on guided. Be smart out there folks.

Directions >

 
 

4. Cacapon Resort State Park  | Berkeley Springs, WV

photo credit: JEANNE MOZIER for the Charleston Gazette-mail

photo credit: JEANNE MOZIER for the Charleston Gazette-mail

 

Encompassing over 6,000 acres, Cacapon Resort State Park has a lot to offer, including lake access and a beach area for swimmers. There are also over 20 miles of hiking trails and a golf course. 

The park has a ton of activities slated for the month of August -- everything from a star gazing night to nature walks

Directions >

 

3. Point Lookout State Park | Scotland, MD

photo credit: reid silverman for somdnews.com

photo credit: reid silverman for somdnews.com

Get a taste of the salt life at Point Lookout State Park in Southern Maryland where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay.

Public beaches give way to beautiful landscapes and fascinating wildlife. Last year the park was the site for a Kemp's ridley sea turtle release. There's also a lighthouse and a Civil War museum. 

Directions > 

 

2. The Yards Park | Washington, DC

photo credit: facebook.com/the-yards-park

photo credit: facebook.com/the-yards-park

The District's newest riverfront park is a great place for kids to splash and play. There are fountains and even an 11-inch deep pool. There's also room to picnic on the lawn and shady spots to sit and relax.

The park is metro accessible via the Navy Yard station and is a short walk from Nationals Park. 

Directions >

 

1. Harpers Ferry, WV 

photo credit: River & Trail Outfitters

photo credit: River & Trail Outfitters

Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. It makes sense that it's a must-visit spot for river lovers. 

Take a lazy tube ride down the river or strap on a helmet and set out on a whitewater adventure. River & Trail Outfitters also offers bike rentals for the water-weary traveler. 

BONUS: If you stick around till dusk you can take a ghost tour of the historic downtown. 

Directions >

 
 

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