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Where To Get Wet: The Best Pools, Water Parks and Splash Zones

Photo by hans.slegers via Shutterstock
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By Krista Simmons, Sharon Knolle & Lindsay William-Ross
When it's this insanely hot in the Southland, pretty much all we want to do is run our heads under the faucet every five minutes. We've got several suggestions on where to get good and thoroughly wet, no matter what your budget.


Altitude Pool at SLS Hotel: We so need a dip in the pool right now. And snacks from José Andrés wouldn't hurt either. Which is why the Friday afternoon goings-on at the Altitude Pool at the SLS Hotel sound so darn lovely. Every Friday starting at 3 p.m., a DJ spins lounge music by the rooftop pool while you can chill out, enjoy a cocktail, and a bite to eat. The vibe is much more relaxed than on the weekends. The SLS also just launched Swimdustry Mondays, where hospitality industry members who typically have Mondays as one of their only nights of, can hang out by the pool and enjoy 25% off all Altitude food and beverage menus. For reservations and inquiries contact

The Tropicana Pool at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: The pool at this iconic Hollywood hotel can become a bit of a scene on the weekends, but it's always a good time on Friday afternoons where things are still happening but not too raucous. The crowd is always beautiful and well-heeled, so step up your cover-up game so you don't stick out like a sore thumb. Then have a late lunch or some happy hour cocktails poolside, and go for a dip.

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Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Public Pool: Sure, public pools aren't as swanky as the hotels. But you can get in for $2 with a LAPL card, and $2.50 without. Can't beat that. You might run into a few triathletes doing their final practices before this weekend's Malibu Triathlon this weekend while you're at VNSO, but no matter. The pool has room for everyone. The 50 meter by 25 yard pool has an area for kids to play and adults to do lap swim. There's plenty of deck space to lay out too, if you dare. Be sure to check the times for swims listed on the site above before you head over, because there are hours that the guards closet lanes down to reset.

Rose Bowl Aquatics Center: Diana Nyad trained at the Rose Bowl facility for her Cuba to Florida feat, and we can't blame her. If we had to spend all day every day in the water getting ready for a race, we'd pick the Rose Bowl too. It's been the home to many national level swim meets and competitive club teams. There are two Olympic pools, a diving well, Therapy Pool and dry land training areas as well as a snack and smoothie bar that you get access to for the $10 entrance fee. Head in for a dip after the Rose Bowl Flea Market on Sunday and you're set for a day of fun in the sun.

Glassel Park Public Pool: This pool isn't as large as the others, but the staff is friendly and the pool itself is kept pretty clean. The locker rooms are kind of lame, as they are at VNSO, but California is broke. Don't hate. Again, bring your library card and get in for $2.


Raging Waters: "California's Largest Water Parks" in San Dimas boasts 36 slides . It's great for kids of all ages, with kiddie pools and more extreme body slides and rides for the adults with names like "The Bermuda Triangle" and "Ragin' Racer." You can even take it slow with a float down their "Amazon River." Adults pay $35.99 and kids and senior tickets are $26.99. This is the last full weekend the park will be open this year, so get in while you can. Last day open, according to the site, is September 21.

Knott's Soak City: This adjunct to Knott's Berry Farm in Buena park has rides geared towards all tastes, with simple splashing for kids (as well as interactive octopuses and submarines) in the "Gremmie Lagoon," getting drenched with 500 gallons of water at the Toyota Beach House or the extreme (and misleadingly named) Old Man Falls slide. After Labor Day, the park is open weekends-only through September 15. Adults pay $35.99 and kids and senior tickets are $26.99. Expect to also pay for parking.

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor: Folks in Santa Clarita (where this park is located) really need a cool-down about now. Like the other water parks, this one is open weekends only through the end of September. It offers "mild" attractions like the Castaway Cove up through "max" rides like Black Snake Summit. General admission is $38.99 for adults, $30.99 per kids over 2 (kids under are free) with discounted prices for three-day-advance and online purchases.

Jurassic Park, The Ride at Universal Studios Hollywood (Photo by Shawn Park via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

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Universal Studios: While it's true you will bake at this park that offers very little in the way of shade while you're waiting in line for most rides, the ones where you get wet may be worth the effort. "The first few rows will get wet" is quite true for the long-running Waterworld show and there's always the big, scream-inducing plunge on the Jurassic Park, The Ride but of course it always has the longest lines. There's also the Nickeleodeon Splash Zone where you and your kids can get absolutely, ridiculously soaking wet. Tickets are $84 per adult but Southern California residents get $15 off.

Disneyland/Caliornia Adventure: The mother of all theme parks is pricey but it's got a lot of great ways to keep cool, including Splash Mountain, the always cool (temperature-wise) Jungle Cruise and while you don't get very wet on it, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is always deliciously chilly, as is the neighboring restaurant, Blue Bayou. At adjoining California Adventure (separate admission unless you get a Park Hopper pass), there's also the It's a Bug's Life-themed Princess Dot's Puddle Park, and Grizzly River Run. Tickets, well, they will cost you. SoCal residents also get discounts.

Keepin' cool at Universal Citywalk. (Photo by robertvega via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
For a cheap and cheerful thrill, pay a visit to a public space or park that happens to have the kind of fountain you can interact with—as in get wet in. Our top picks include the ones at Grand Park, The Music Center, Downtown Culver City, and Universal City Walk. Then escape to the nearest air conditioned shop, cafe, theatre, or restaurant to dry off and keep your cool. Please don't go jumping into just any old fountain and tell security LAist made you do it, okay?

Check out our list of 10 Best Beaches in the L.A. area, as well as Rosie's Dog Beach in Long Beach and other off-leash dog beaches.

So you can't afford park or pool admissions and don't want to drive to some goldarned fountain, there's always the do-it-yourself approach, with trusted-and-true garden hoses, super soakers, water balloons, plastic kiddie pools, lawn sprinklers, or just spending all day in your shower. You could also get really ambitious and build an epic slip-and-slide. You'll be the neighborhood hero.

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