The pool at Embassy Suites by Hilton. Courtesy photo

The Best Places to Swim in and Near Boulder

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If you’re sweating as you read this, well, so is everyone else. It’s been a hot-hot-hot summer. One of Colorado’s hottest, in fact.

July brought an intense heatwave with multiple 100-degree days, and local weather’s high temps broke a 145-year-old record. Even June was grueling: hotter and drier than usual.

Needless to say, swimming pools have never looked better.

If you’re looking to cool off during this toasty summer, here are some of our favorite pools and bodies of water in Boulder and a short drive away. But we’re not talking about the common city pools that we all know (and love). Let’s take a deep dive (ahem) into the area’s lesser-known bodies of water that you may not have tried yet.

The Best Rooftop Pools

Not that we’re trying to get closer to the scorching sun (the mile-high altitude makes Colorado close enough), but there is something special about floating by the clouds. A pool with a panoramic view of the city makes cabana time just as entertaining as splash time.

In Boulder, the Embassy Suites by Hilton, 2601 Canyon Blvd., features a rooftop pool that is open year-round. To be clear, this is a pool on the roof of the second floor, not on the tip-top of the hotel. But what it lacks in elevation it makes up for with ambiance: cozy fire pits, heated water and ample seating to relax under an umbrella. Tip: Request a room with a view of the pool.

Not far from Boulder, the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel (1550 Court Place, Denver) recently opened the new Spritz Pool Bar and game room on the roof of the hotel, next to the beautiful rooftop pool. The Sheraton boasts downtown Denver’s only rooftop pool bar. Book a shady cabana and spend the day hopping in and out of the pool, eating poolside, drinking mimosas and enjoying the views of downtown and the skyscrapers. Tip: Book the “Downtown Denver Experience” and get a $20 credit to the pool bar.

The pool at Sheraton Denver Downtown. Courtesy photo

The Warwick Denver, 1776 Grant St. in Denver, also has an incredible rooftop pool, open year-round with panoramic views of the city (and it’s open until 10 p.m. for a romantic late-night dip).

In Cherry Creek, the Halcyon’s spacious rooftop has poolside service, high-end cabanas and a rooftop pool with views for days. This pool is heated and open year-round. The best way to do it: Rent a private cabana with a personal server who can bring you drinks and munchies all day. Splash in the pool, unwind in the hot tub and relax in the shady cabana with a view of the city and mountains. The Halcyon is located at 245 Columbine St. in Denver.

The pool at Halcyon. Courtesy photo

The Best Water Slides

If you’re looking for some action and running through the sprinkler in your front lawn just isn’t going to cut it, you can find some great water slides in and around Boulder County.

In Lafayette, you can splash around in the Great Outdoors Waterpark, 500 E. S. Boulder Road. This family-friendly water wonderland has it all: a lazy river (with great views), water basketball, a swirling “vortex pool,” an AquaArch (imagine rope monkey bars above the water that you have to climb and swing across), a “dump bucket” that spills water from up high every so often and multiple slides.

Great Outdoors Water Park. Courtesy photo

The Wood Mini Slide is for younger swimmers and connected to the zero-depth entry pool. Brave swimmers can test their grit on the Big Slide (yes, that’s its name): a 21-foot double flume twisting plunge from atop a tower. Ignite the adrenaline.

Then there’s the Bay Aquatic Park in Broomfield (250 Spader Way). This family-friendly outdoor water park has more water adventures, including multiple slides: two body slides, an inner tube slide and a kiddie slide. It also has a water play structure, spray ground, kiddie pool, leisure pool with zero-depth entry and more.

Or head to nearby The Splash at Fossil Trace, 3151 Illinois St. in Golden, which is a water amusement park with a sandy beach area. Play in the spray fountains, swim in the lap pool and slide down the body and tube slides.

Beaches Near Boulder

Boulder may be landlocked, but believe it or not, we have a great selection of sandy beaches on the water, if you’re craving a beach getaway but don’t want to travel far. You surely already know about the 700-acre Boulder Reservoir and its popular beach, but that’s not the only body of water you can build sandcastles next to in this part of the state.

Nearby, Union Reservoir Nature Area in Longmont is a no-wake lake known for sailing and sculling. It also has one of our favorite dog beaches in Boulder County.

West of Boulder, you can go camping at Gross Reservoir in Boulder County. It’s less of a sandy beach getaway and more of an alpine escape, but it feels like a vacation nonetheless.

Carter Lake in Berthoud has a swim beach, impressive views and welcomes boats and all kinds of water activities.

The no-wake Flatirons Reservoir not far from Carter Lake is not as busy, but it’s smaller. You can camp here and at Carter Lake if you want to spend more time on the water.

Boyd Lake in Loveland has a massive sandy beach where you can always find a space for your beach umbrella.

Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins is 6 ½ miles of water for boating, swimming and fishing.

Or head toward Denver to Littleton, home of Chatfield State Park, with a large sandy swim beach.

A short drive from Chatfield is Bear Creek State Park in Lakewood, with swimming in Big Soda Lake and even a designated swimming lane.

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