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woman swimming in a lake

7 Sweet Spots to Go Swimming this Summer

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.

1. The “Jaws Bridge” – Martha’s Vineyard, MA

While there’s no shortage of swimming spots on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, this one is extra famous. As you approach Joseph Sylvia State Beach, you’ll see a low bridge crowded with dozens of beachgoers prepping to leap off into the water below. Officially, it’s the American Legion Memorial Bridge, but its role in the 1975 movie Jaws, which was filmed on the Vineyard, earned the bridge its more commonly used nickname. The jumping-off point is popular with adults and kids alike; just be sure to keep an eye on the tide and the local conditions if you’re considering joining their ranks.

2. Kalmus Beach – Hyannis, MA

clear water and white sand at Kalmus beach in Hyannis with large beach houses in the distance

For an easy beach day on Cape Cod this summer, you can’t beat Kalmus Beach. About a 15-minute walk from the harbor, and just a few minutes more from HI Hyannis hostel, Kalmus Beach offers gentle surf and a life-guarded swimming section for cooling off. There’s even a snack bar on site serving lobster rolls and ice cream (it doesn’t get more Cape Cod than that). 

3. Ballston Beach – Truro, MA

a white sandy beach with light blue ocean water

This hidden gem of a beach near the tip of Cape Cod is known for its wide, pristine stretches of white sand and relatively small waves. One reason it stays quiet and chill all summer: it’s only possible to park at the beach with a resident parking pass. Lucky for guests at HI Truro hostel, Ballston Beach is less than a five-minute walk down a dedicated path from home.

4. Lake Michigan – Chicago, IL

People on the beach on Lake Michigan in Chicago

Don’t think there are beaches in the Midwest? Think again. In Chicago, locals and visitors alike flock to the shores of Lake Michigan for sand and sun. A few of the city’s lakefront beaches are especially good for swimming: if you’re in town during the summer, don’t miss Oak Street Beach — it’s about a 20-minute bike ride from HI Chicago hostel.

5. Paradise Beach – Sacramento, CA

the American River in Sacramento

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. Whether you want to swim, float, or paddle the river, the staff at HI Sacramento hostel are full of insider tips to help your outing go off without a hitch.

6. The Pacific Ocean – Santa Monica, CA

people on the beach in Santa Monica

You don’t have to venture too far from home base to enjoy a swim when you’re staying at HI Los Angeles Santa Monica hostel — the Pacific Ocean’s just a few blocks away! The water can be chilly, but when the LA summer gets a little too hot, this is the place for a refreshing dip.

7. Coronado Beach – San Diego, CA

Coronado beach, San Diego

In San Diego, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a swim spot. A highlight is Coronado Beach, which is consistently 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. Grab the ferry to Coronado Island from the San Diego Convention Center, a quick walk from HI San Diego Downtown hostel.