Let’s Swim

South Sound summer break ideas

We’re surrounded by water in the South Sound, but even on the hottest summer days, much of it can be too cold for swimming and play. Here are some area lakes that make for great summer destinations for families. Many include roped-off swimming areas with lifeguards, and they’ll all have you in the swim without having to pick your way through the barnacles. Because you can’t tell the kids to, “Go jump in a lake” every day, we’ve also included some favorite summer outings and activities for South Sound families.

Go-To Lakes and Swim Spots

Lake Tapps North
Feel like you’re part of the scene at this Pierce County Parks property with a sandy swimming beach, concessions, and picnic areas. This is a hugely popular area with both swimmers and boaters. Go early to find a place to park.

American Lake, Lakewood
Lifeguards on duty keep everyone safer at this popular five-acre park. There’s a great playground, and plenty of parking in addition to the swimming beach area.

Long Lake, Lacey
This popular park is a favorite for a day of swimming and play. There are picnic areas and trails, and the swimming area has lifeguards, life jackets, and floating toys.

Anderson Island
If you’re up for a ferry ride, you can find the “Old Swimming Hole,” aka Lowell Johnson Park, on Anderson Island. The swimming area is a lot of fun, but not supervised.

Millersylvania, Olympia
You can swim, fish, or boat in the fresh water of Deep Lake at this state park. There also are trails through the forest for hiking and biking. Don’t forget your Discover Pass!

Mayfield Lake
This spot is an ideal first camping destination for young families with lake-loving kids. Reserve campsites directly along the shore, or come for the day. There are a playground and park onsite, along with sandy beach access, and a boat launch at this Tacoma Public Utilities property.

Other popular swimming lakes worth a trip include: Angle Lake Park at SeaTac, Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park in Renton, Lake Wilderness in Maple Valley, Steel Lake Park in Federal Way, and Lake Meridian in Kent.

Other Options

Bigger Pond
What if saltwater is more your style? Head straight to Dash Point State Park for plenty of shoreline and one of the only area beaches with enough sand to be truly bucket worthy!

Make a Splash
All of Tacoma’s spraygrounds are free. Popular outdoor pools with reasonable fees are at Stewart Heights and Kandle Park (wave pool)!

Tide Pools
Water fun isn’t all about swimming. Metro Parks Tacoma and Harbor WildWatch in Gig Harbor offer tidepool programs during low tides this summer. Take the kids to see the creatures revealed by a minus tide!

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