8 Best Places to Swim Near Los Angeles (That Aren't The Beach)

Swimming Hole in Angeles National Forest, California

The best beaches in Los Angeles are fantastic and world-famous, but when you're in the mood for a different aquatic experience in the area, trade the sand for a scenic hike and a hidden swimming spot. Los Angeles is surprisingly close to stunning natural pools tucked away at the end of trails, with waterfalls, mountain views, and a welcome escape from the crowds.

Nature's Private Pools: Discovering LA's Swimming Holes

Sturtevant Falls in Angeles National Forest, California

The Allure of a Swimming Hole

Swimming in a secluded pool carved out by nature, perhaps with a waterfall cascading nearby, can be a magical experience. You've earned this refreshing reward with a scenic hike, making the cool water feel even sweeter. That's the essence of a swimming hole, and if you’re looking to swim near Los Angeles without the sand and salt water, these lesser-known bodies of water are great choices.

A Few Things to Remember

  • California's Dry Season: Our best swimming weather coincides with the driest time of year. Before heading out on an adventure, it's wise to check online or call park rangers to ensure your chosen spot has enough water to enjoy.
  • Bacteria After Rain: While rain is a welcome sight in California, it can temporarily make swimming holes less appealing. Give the water a few days to clear after a downpour.
  • Hiking Safety: These aren't roadside attractions! Be prepared with good shoes, plenty of water, and an honest assessment of your fitness level. Wet rocks are slippery, so stick to the trails and admire those waterfalls safely.

Malibu Creek Rock Pool (Malibu Creek State Park)

In the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains lies a hidden pool, a gem among LA's natural wonders, in Malibu Creek State Park. The park is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the state, less than 10 miles north of Malibu and southeast of the heart of Calabasas. The hike to the pool is manageable and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. Upon reaching the pool, visitors are greeted by a sight that will take their breath away. 

The crystal-clear pool surrounded by smooth rocks offers the perfect respite from the warm California sun. After a refreshing dip, visitors can relax on the surrounding rocks and soak up the sun's warm rays. This spot is a classic among LA adventurers, offering a perfect combination of natural beauty, easy accessibility, and a sense of seclusion.

Switzer Falls (Angeles National Forest)

Amidst the region's natural splendor and less than 25 miles north of Downtown Los Angeles, Switzer Falls is a sought-after destination for hikers. It offers a spacious and serene hiking experience. Embark on a 3-mile round-trip trek, which provides a moderate workout suitable for various fitness levels. 

The highlight of the hike is Switzer Falls, one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area, which cascades beautifully amidst the lush surroundings. Along the trail, smaller wading pools provide opportunities for refreshing dips and relaxation. Plan your visit accordingly to make the most of this natural wonder. A $5 Forest Adventure Pass is required for parking and can be purchased at ranger stations or sporting goods stores.

Cooper Canyon Falls (Angeles National Forest)

Another swimming spot in Angeles National Forest, Cooper Canyon Falls, offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. From the trailhead of the Burkhart Trail, a scenic three-mile out-and-back hike through lush woodlands leads to this hidden gem, where a cascading waterfall plunges into a crystal-clear pool below. Surrounded by towering trees and rugged cliffs, the serene atmosphere invites visitors to relax and rejuvenate in nature's embrace. 

The trailhead is about 45 miles from the beautiful La Cañada Flintridge community, and while it’s a bit further away from LA’s top neighborhoods, it’s well worth the trip. With its cool waters and picturesque surroundings, Cooper Canyon Falls provides the perfect spot for a refreshing swim on a hot summer day, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts seeking natural beauty near Los Angeles.

More Options to Beat the Heat

Lake Life

People Swimming in Lake Gregory, California

In addition to swimming holes, the best lakes near Los Angeles are great swimming destinations in the region. If you're looking for a classic lake day filled with swimming, boating, fishing, and sunbathing, be sure to check out some of the area lakes.

  • Lake Gregory (San Bernardino Mountains): This beautiful lake is located in the San Bernardino Mountains and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. There's a sandy beach, a swimming area, a boat launch, and a fishing pier, all within a 20-mile drive of San Bernardino. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
  • Castaic Lake (north of LA): This lake, located just north of Santa Clarita and 40 miles from LA, is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and boating. There's a sandy beach, a swimming area, a boat launch, and a fishing pier. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.
  • Big Bear Lake (mountain escape): This lake is located in the San Bernardino Mountains and is a popular destination for a mountain escape. Various activities are available, including swimming, fishing, boating, hiking, and biking. There are also various restaurants, shops, and hotels in the Big Bear Lake area.

Public Pools with Personality

Public Pools in Los Angeles Are Great Options for Swimming

If you're looking for a more curated swimming experience, a few public pools in Southern California offer something unique.

  • Annenberg Community Beach House (Santa Monica): This historic pool is located on the beach in Santa Monica and offers stunning ocean views. It is open to the public and features a heated pool, a children's pool, and a sun deck.
  • Hansen Dam Aquatic Center (Lake View Terrace): This huge aquatic center is located in LA’s Lake View Terrace neighborhood and features various pools, including a competition pool, a diving pool, and a water park. There's also a waterslide, a lazy river, and a splash pad.

Explore Hidden Gems

Los Angeles County boasts an extensive network of trails leading to hidden swimming holes and natural wonders. Embark on these trails to discover new and captivating places to swim. You might just uncover your favorite swimming hole—a sanctuary where you can escape the urban hustle and immerse yourself in nature's beauty.

Here are some additional tips for finding your perfect swimming spot in Los Angeles:

  • Research Online: Numerous websites and blogs provide valuable information about swimming spots in LA.
  • Local Recommendations: Ask friends, family, or colleagues for their favorite swimming spots.
  • Explore the Coast: LA's stunning beaches offer excellent swimming opportunities.
  • Mountain Adventures: Discover swimming holes and waterfalls in the San Gabriel and Santa Monica Mountains.
  • Be Prepared: Bring sufficient water, sunscreen, and a hat for sun protection.

Your Swim Adventure Awaits

Consider your individual preferences when choosing a swimming spot. Do you prefer a lively atmosphere surrounded by people or yearn for the tranquility of a secluded location? Take the time to explore various spots until you find one that resonates with you.

Fantastic year-round weather makes swimming one of the most popular things to do in Los Angeles, and with all of these options, you can always take a dip without trekking out to the beach. 

If you're looking to make your home in Los Angeles, contact The Brad Korb Real Estate Group with LA Homes at (818) 953-5300 to discover your LA dream home today.

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