5 places to cool off for free in DC this summer

- We’re in the midst of our first heat wave of the summer. Let’s be honest though. This IS July in DC, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. With the worst of the heat yet to come, now is the time to make plans to keep cool.

Sure, you could sit at home or work in the air conditioner all day, but what fun is that? DC residents, do not forget you could head down to any of the 18 pools that DC Parks and Recreation manages free of charge!

DIVE IN: 5 DC-area swimming holes to it before summer is over

But if the pool isn't your thing, here are 5 other places to keep cool for free around DC:

#5: The National Zoo
Recommended by the one and only Tucker Barnes himself! One of his favorite ways to cool off is to visit the zoo. Wait a minute…isn’t most of this outside?  Right you are! However, misters abound to keep guests nice and cool as they enjoy the exhibits. If the heat is still too much, just head inside either the Reptile Discovery Center or the Small Mammal House, both of which are air conditioned. It's a great way to stay cool-- and get the family out to see DC’s own Panda family!

#4: Columbia Heights Civic Plaza
Located only a block from the Columbia Heights Metro station, this Plaza features a cooling fountain right in the center. Several fountain jets around the circle shoot water up, and kids and adults alike are free to run through for a quick and easy way to cool down. There is no standing water at this fountain, so no swimming trunks required! Want to cool off even more with a frozen treat? Frozenyo is located right next to the fountain, along with numerous other eateries and shops to make this an enjoyable place to keep cool on a hot afternoon. 


#3: A Smithsonian Museum
If you are absolutely determined to stay out of the sun completely but do not want to spend the afternoon at home, why not get out and learn something? A number of the Smithsonian Museums are easily accessible right on the National Mall. You can easily spend an entire day exploring the massive exhibits at the Air and Space Museum, or hanging with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, among others. All of this under the comforting breezes of industrial air conditioners and, best of all, free of charge!

#2: Georgetown Waterfront Park
You know those sprinklers you can put in your lawn that shoot water up and move back and forth to water the grass? Ever wish there was a giant one of those to run through? Well wish no more. The Georgetown Waterfront Park has exactly what you are looking for! Located right next to the Potomac River, this fountain has jets which create an arch for adults and kids alike to run under or through. Similar to Columbia Heights, there is no standing water here. The fountain is especially popular on warm summer nights when it is lit up in a multitude of colors.   

#1: The Yards Park
Our number one destination is just two blocks from both the Navy Yard Metro station and Nationals Park. It offers beautiful views of the Anacostia along a boardwalk, garden walks, and free fitness classes, too. On a hot summers day however, the most popular feature at The Yards has to be the fountain and wading pool, all of which are open for play. The fountain is located at street level and has multiple jets that you can run through. Below, the wading pool is shallow and calm and extends to the boardwalk. A waterfall connects the two features, with a pathway leading behind it for those wishing to cool off but stay dry, but the adventurous are welcome to stand under the waterfall as it hits the wading pool. Note there is no lifeguard on duty, but when you use these features safely, it is a wonderful way to cool off on a steamy afternoon. 

Did we miss one? Tell us your favorite place to cool off on our Facebook page! 

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