What’s not to love about the summer? Long days and warm nights, road trips and outdoor adventures, new cities to see and new friends to make at HI USA hostels. And, when the sun gets a little too hot, is there anything better than taking a refreshing swim to cool down?Take a look at some of the sweet spots we enjoy when the days heat up and the water calls.
Texas Beach, Richmond, VA - HI Richmond (Distance: 2.3mi)
The James River, which runs through Richmond, is lined with parks and beaches for canoeing, fishing, and swimming. While Belle Isle is a popular option for many to spend the day, Texas Beach, on the north side of the river, is perfect for a secluded swim with laid-back locals and their dogs. Bring snacks and supplies you can carry easily along the trail from the parking lot.
Where to stay: HI Richmond, which is just blocks away from the James River.
Coronado Beach, San Diego, CA - HI San Diego Downtown (Distance: 6.2mi)
In San Diego, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a swim spot. A highlight is Coronado Beach, which is constantly ranked as one of the country’s best beaches because of its white sands sparkling with mica, gentle waves and sweeping views. This is the type of beach where you post yourself for an entire day of swimming or surfing, and though it’s popular, it’s also spacious enough for sunbathers to have their own space.
Where to stay: Hang at the beach by day, and at HI San Diego Downtown in the Gaslamp quarter by night.
Potomac River, Harper’s Ferry, MD - HI Harper’s Ferry (Distance: 1.9mi)
If swimming is a bit too much work during your vacation, tubing might be more your speed. All it entails is finding a slow-moving river, a big inner tube, some friends, and a few hours to spare where you’ll just be lazily floating in the water. In Harper’s Ferry, the Potomac is the tubing river of choice, and you can choose to either go your own way or check out one of the nearby outfitters who will supply you with the tube and pick you up down river once you’re done.
Where to stay: HI Harper’s Ferry is a short walk from the river, so you can also just go for a quick dip near the hostel.
Bass Lake, Point Reyes, CA - HI Point Reyes (Distance: 23.8mi)
Work up a sweat and get rewarded with a beautiful secluded swim in Bass Lake, complete with a rope swing for pure fun and nostalgia, in the serene and scenic Point Reyes National Seashore. The 2.5-mile hike to the water goes along the Coast Trail, which also includes breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, and ends at the lake hugged by trees.
Where to stay: The only non-camping accommodation within the park, HI Point Reyes is the perfect retreat for an outdoorsy summer.
Barton Springs, Austin, TX - HI Austin (Distance: 3.8mi)
In true Austin fashion, even the best places to swim in this town are a little “weird”. Barton Springs is an outdoor swimming pool filled with natural spring water from Barton Creek, so it’s kind of like swimming in a lake. The water is perfectly cool on those scorching Texas days, and the pool is surrounded by grassy banks where you can do your sunbathing.
Where to stay: HI Austin is a short bike ride from Zilker Park, where the pool is located.
Paradise Beach, Sacramento, CA - HI Sacramento (Distance: 4.7mi)
During the seemingly perpetual hot days in Sacramento, locals and visitors flock to the American River, which sits pretty along a bike trail and has a number of beaches for people to hang out and take a dip. One popular (but not crowded) spot is Paradise Beach, which is on a cove created by a bend in the river. It’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the beach, but the reward is ample space for you to picnic, and the water is gentle enough for you to float in a tube without drifting too far.
Where to stay: The river is accessible by car or bicycle from HI Sacramento.
HI Houston, Houston, TX
You don’t have to venture too far from your dorm bed to cool down when you’re staying at HI Houston, because the gorgeous historic mansion also comes with an in-ground pool for guests to enjoy. With deckchairs to lounge on and a world of fellow travelers to befriend, this might be the coolest spot to be in Texas in this summer.
Where to stay: The pool is only open to guests at HI Houston, so get booking!
HI USA tip: Find more places to cool down at these summer hostels you didn’t know where beach destinations. And while you’re on the road, try these tips to lighten your travel footprint to help keep these rivers, lakes, and oceans accessible to future travelers.