Although summer is soon coming to a close, the heat is still here—as of late, temperatures have been hovering around the 80s, and in some areas the 90s and 100s, across the country. If you have some late-summer urban travel planned or simply want to cool off close to home, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best spots around the U.S. to find reprieve from the heat. Make the most of these days we like to call “scorchers” at any one of these aquatic attractions.
Potomac River — Washington, D.C.
Serving as the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay and spanning 405 miles along Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and D.C., the Potomac River offers a beautiful respite in our nation’s bustling capital. Home to a wide variety of animals such as freshwater fish and aquatic birds, there’s so much to see when out exploring the Potomac. (There have even been multiple sightings of Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins swimming in the water, if you can believe it.) With the Potomac’s vast landscape, locals and tourists can experience an array of water sports from rowing and kayaking to boat tours and jet skis—there’s always something to enjoy for all age groups and activity levels.
Barton Springs — Austin, Texas
Located just a few minutes from the city center, and measuring about 3 acres in size, lies Austin’s crown jewel—Barton Springs Pool. Home to two endangered species, the Barton Springs Salamander and the Austin Blind Salamander, this urban body of water is listed as a federally protected habitat. Barton Springs has a unique ability to be two things at once—a local swimming pool equipped with lifeguards and a diving board, as well as a natural habitat with beautiful wildlife. Fed from four underground springs, with refreshing temperatures of 68-70 degrees, this an ideal spot for year-round swimming in Austin.
Lake Michigan — Chicago, Illinois
Lake Michigan is one of the five Great Lakes of North America, and with its proximity to the thriving metropolis of one of the largest cities in the country, it’s a great urban body of water to cool off in when the heat just won’t quit. With the numerous activities along Chicago’s Navy Pier—including 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, and restaurants—tourists and locals alike can relish in this urban oasis. Rent a boat or book a boat tour to see the towering skyscrapers from the water, or head to Ohio Street Beach—a clean and safe swimming area of Lake Michigan—and take a dip in the lake to cool down.
Boulder Creek — Denver, Colorado
Just 35 minutes north of Denver, you can experience the refreshing Rocky Mountain runoff water that flows right through Boulder, Colorado. At the base of Boulder Canyon is the 31-mile-long Boulder Creek, formed by two main branches along the Continental Divide. It’s home to many different species of fish and is an attraction for locals and tourists to frequent in the summer months, when average temperatures linger around 90 to 100 degrees. Join in on the fun and tube down the creek’s scenic path or take a dip—staying mindful of some of the more rapid, rocky areas—and immerse yourself in the cool water of the Rockies.