Where to go swimming in New Hampshire
View a list of public pools, great NH beaches and water parks
Break out the bathing suits and waterproof sunscreen. From lakes and ponds to pools, water parks, and even the Atlantic Ocean, splish splash the heat away at one of these family friendly hot spots for cool and refreshing summertime fun. Here are some of our favorite places to go when the temperatures soar!
NH public swimming pools
Seacoast NH area pools:
Peirce Island Outdoor Pool
99 Pierce Island Road
Just can’t make it to the beach? Spend a hot, lazy summer afternoon at Portsmouth’s Peirce Island Pool, a local swimming institution that has kept kids and families cool since first opening in 1945. Located only steps away from Prescott Park and downtown, the pool’s swimming space is a plentiful 33 yards wide with depths ranging from 14 inches to 6 feet. Open seven days a week, weekday mornings at the pool are reserved for children's swimming lessons. Afternoon, evening, and weekend recreational swim hours are open to everyone, including six lap lanes for serious swimming. Portsmouth residents with ID pay reduced pool admission prices.
Portsmouth also has the Portsmouth Indoor Pool located across from the High School on Andrew Jarvis Drive. This pool is open all year long.
Jenny Thompson Outdoor Pool
140 Portland Avenue
The Jenny Thompson Outdoor Pool is a 50-meter competition pool and is used for competitive and recreational swimming, as well as occasional lessons during the summer. The Jenny Thompson pool is a favorite destination of many summer camps during the hot summer months as the pool also has a large grassy area for kids to play on.
UNH Hamel Center Outdoor Pool
128 Main St.
Somersworth Splash Pad
45 Grand Street
At Noble Pines Park and is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Manchester NH pools:
Livingston Park Pool
955 Beech Street
With its kiddie splash pool, water slide, racing lanes, and shower fountain, Livingston Park’s oversized outdoor pool is easily mistaken for a resort water park. A very welcome relief from the city heat, the urban oasis offers swimming lessons, recreational pool time, and lap swimming. Don’t live in Manchester? Non-residents are welcome during late afternoon open swim hours. Call ahead for weekly schedule and resident/non-resident admission prices.
More public pools and favorite spots to swim in Manchester include:
66 Head Street in Manchester
Hunt Memorial Pool
297 Maple Street (by the Adam Curtis Skateboard Park) in Manchester
679 Bodwell Road in Manchester
Dupont Splash Park
Mason Street in Manchester
Nashua NH pools:
The Nashua pools and wading pools are open Sunday through Saturday, weather permitting. Swimming lessons are held in the mornings and there is open/general swim time in the afternoon.
Crown Hill Pool
(located near Girls Incorporated)
The Rotary Pool also has a wading pool
Greeley Park Wading Pool
Concord NH pools:
There is no charge of use for Concord and Penacook residents but there are additional fees for non-residents. Passes can be obtained from the Parks and Recreation office.
31 Hutchins Street
2 Newton Avenue
171 N.State Street
25 Eastman Street
79 Community Drive
33 Bow Street
1 White Street
Keene NH pools:
Robin Hood Park
Off of Roxbury Street
101 Park Avenue
West Keene, NH
Season passes available at the Keene Recreation Center. You can find more information on Keene's public pools here.
Derry NH pools:
Derry Splash Pad at Don Ball Park
14 Humphrey Road
Free of charge and open to everyone (registration required)
Gallien's Town Beach
39 Pond Road
Open to Derry residents and their guests
Lebanon NH pool
Lebanon Memorial Pool
67 Pumping Station Road
Free for children under 5, $1 for youth up to 17-years-old and $2 for residents 18 and older ($5 for non-residents, youth $4)
Littleton NH pool
165 Pleasant Street
Free admission and open 7 days a week
Route 1A (Ocean Blvd.)
A magnet for beach seekers from all over New England, Hampton is a hot spot with cool breezes, even cooler ocean waters and no shortage of really cool shops, restaurants and community events. New to ocean swimming? Pay close attention to the warning flags posted along the shore and near lifeguard stations. Red flags indicate dangerously high surf and very strong currents (including deadly rip currents), yellow flags mean moderate surf and semi-strong currents, and when green flags fly, beach-goers should expect relatively calm conditions.
Great Island Common
301 Wentworth Road (Route 1B)
New Castle, NH
This popular oceanfront park in New Castle boasts a sandy beach with stunning views of nearby lighthouses and the Isles of Shoals. Take a quick dip in the Atlantic’s chilly waters (no lifeguards are on duty) or wade along the shore and explore the rocky outcroppings. Elsewhere in the park, find a bathhouse, playground, seaside walking paths, picnic areas, playing fields and two volleyball courts. Visitors pay a nominal admission fee during the summer months and children younger than 5 enter Great Island Common free of charge.
Wallis Sands State Beach
Looking for a low-key alternative to Hampton? With its sandy beach, sweeping ocean views, grassy picnic area, park store, and deluxe bathhouse (hot and cold showers), Wallis Sands State Beach is a family favorite when all you want to do is play all day in the sun and surf. The parking lot at Wallis Sands can accommodate up to 500 cars, but be prepared to pay a hefty parking fee ($15 per car in 2009). Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
Popular NH lakes and ponds at state parks
Bear Brook State Park
157 Deerfield Road
Towns offering lake and pond access often enforce various residency restrictions, but for a low entrance fee, all are welcome to get into the swim of things at beaches located within the New Hampshire State Park System. At Bear Brook State Park, cool off at Catamount Pond, a family-friendly swimming hole surrounded by towering pines. Out of the water, build a sandcastle on the sandy beach, find a shady picnic spot or explore the rest of Bear Brook’s 10,000 acres. The park is home to a campground, miles of hiking trails, archery ranges, even more ponds, and the Museum of Family Camping. Open seven days a week, weather-permitting. Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
Forest Lake State Park
NH Route 116
One of New Hampshire’s 10 original state parks, the crystal clear waters of Forest Lake have refreshed Granite State families since 1935. Swim, fish, boat, and play along the stretch of sandy beach. Other lakeside amenities include lifeguard supervision, bathhouse, playground and shaded picnic grounds. A trip to Forest Lake State Park is also a trip to the Great North Woods. And like most places in this wilderness-dense region, don’t be surprised if you see a moose or two wondering through the 397 acres of forested park land. Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
Wadleigh State Park
North Sutton, NH
It’s sun, fun and not too many crowds at this clean and quiet lake just off I-89 in North Sutton’s Wadleigh State Park. Go for a swim in Kezar Lake, play along the narrow stretch of beach and have a waterside cookout in the pine-shaded picnic area. Lake-goers will also find a spacious bathhouse, park store, and on-duty lifeguards (weather- permitting). Non-swimmers looking for something to do? Fishing is permitted and the park’s playing fields are perfect for a soccer scrimmage or pick up baseball game. Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
Ellacoya State Park
Route 11, Scenic Drive
Cool off in scenic style. Located on the southwest shore Lake Winnipesaukee, this long sandy beach rewards bathers with panoramic views of the lake and nearby peaks of the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains. An ideal spot for a full day of swimming and picnicking, amenities at Ellacoya include on-duty lifeguards, accessible bathhouse, boat launch, picnic grounds and a small park store offering refreshments and souvenirs. Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
Wellington State Park
Off Route 3A
New to Newfound Lake? The pristine body of water is one of the deepest and clearest lakes in this state. Finding your way into Newfound is easy with a trip to the 204-acre Wellington State Park beach, the largest freshwater swimming beach in the New Hampshire State Park System. Weather-permitting, the lake is open daily for swimming, boating and fishing. Once you’ve dried off, follow the park’s kid-friendly nature trail to shaded picnic areas, plant identification markers and spectacular views of Cliff and Belle Islands. For even more post-swim adventure, a well-marked hiking trail provides access to Goose Pond, Bear Mountain, Welton Falls, and Mount Cardigan. Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
Pawtuckaway State Park
128 Mountain Road
A favorite beach of NH families, Pawtuckaway offers lifeguard-supervised swimming, group picnic area, bathhouse, playground, lakeside campsites, park store, canoe rentals, boat launch and ball field (available by reservation). Taking to the water at Pawtuckaway also gives kids a lesson in New Hampshire geology. Surrounding the lake is a number of glacial erratics: gigantic boulders dumped in the area at the end of the Ice Age. Take a swim break to follow one the park’s hiking trails for an up close look at these oversized rocks (many with heights over 12 feet). Hiking trails at Pawtuckaway also lead to such sites of interest as a mountaintop fire tower and a marsh where you will probably spot beavers, deer and great blue herons finding their own relief from the summer heat. Call ahead for conditions and lifeguard hours.
New Hampshire Water Parks
2300 Lafayette Road
Catapult through the darkness of the watery Dragon’s Den, race along the speed slides, climb aboard a pirate ship and plunge down 422 feet of racing rapids. With more than a dozen different water rides and slides, plus many more activities on the park’s 47 acres (including a wading pool area for younger kids), your family is in for a wet and wild time. Water Country even boasts New England's largest wave pool: more than 700,000 gallons of crashing surf.
Whales Tale Waterpark
481 Daniel Webster Highway
Want a thrill to go along with your chill? Twist through the flume slides, get drenched in a downpour, ride the surf in the White Mountains’ only wave pool and streak down extra-slick slides at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. At Whale’s Tale Waterpark in Lincoln, cooling off has never been more exciting. A true fun-for-all-ages destination, families with younger children can splash the day away at Whale Harbor, a toddler activity pool with mini-waterslides, spray fountains, water see-saw and a manageable depth of 16 inches.
Candia Springs Adventure Park
446 Raymond Road
Fort Jefferson Fun Park
1492 Presidential Highway
Celebrating its 61st summer of frontier-style family fun, it’s the best of both worlds at the venerable Fort Jefferson Fun Park. Spend the morning on the go-karts, roller coaster, and western-themed amusement rides. When the midday sun starts to really turn up the heat, put your bathing suits on and head to the water slides. With new features and improvements every year, get ready for a wet afternoon of waterslides, bumper boats, and a wild ride on the Prospector’s Plunge water coaster. A wading pool is ready to cool off the theme park’s youngest guests.
Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer from Nashua and frequently writes travel and vacation stories for PNH.