Oakland Swimming

Circling one big toe on the surface of Hearst Castle's outdoor Grecian fantasy pool might be the end-all cure for water lust. But no chance for the toe or the cure. Even Castle employees have to take clandestine dips in the buff under night's cover just to get at that blue, blue calm. Luckily Oakland's watering holes (including Berkeley and Alameda), from public pools to sandy beaches to lakes, are right here waiting to ease the symptoms of hydrophilia, and drench those dry summer bones.

Crown Memorial Beach

Eighth St. and Otis Dr., Alameda California; Tel. + 1 510.562.PARK
Bora Bora's oh-so-boring when there's a long sandy stretch of beach with sweeping bay views right here in Alameda County. Daily access, 5am-10pm. Free.

Lake Anza

Tilden Park, Berkeley California; Tel. + 1 510.843.2137
Open to the sun and sheltered from the wind, the top layer of Lake Anza water is bath warm in late summer. A roped-in patch of lake has a lifeguard, but hike around the perimeter trail to find secluded areas, and rocks for jumping into the lake. There is no entrance fee or lifeguard after 6pm. Daily, 11am-10pm.

Lake Merritt Boating Center

568 Bellevue, Oakland California; Tel. +1 510.238.2196
Rent canoes, pedal boats, kayaks and sailboats for cruising on the largest man-made, salt-water tidal lake in the US. Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-6pm. Rates vary.

Piedmont Swim Club

777 Magnolia, Oakland California; Tel. +1 510.655.5163
Every Friday, this elite private club opens its three pristine, Olympic-sized pools for legitimate Piedmont residents. Bring your papers. $5-$10.

Robert's Regional Recreation Area

10570 Skyline, Oakland California; Tel. +1 510.482.0971
Heated indoor lap pool in a redwood park. Open for public swim and private lessons. Open from May to September, call for hours of operation. $2-$3.

Strawberry Canyon Recreation Area

On Centennial, behind UCB's Memorial Stadium, Berkeley California; Tel. + 1 510.562.PARK
One pool for gusty kiddy lessons, and another for languid laps and lounging on a grassy lawn surrounded by shady trees. A word of advice for corneas: wear goggles, this pool is chlorinated. Strawberry Canyon also features a locker room, BBQ pits and the Haas Clubhouse for special events. Mon-Fri, 8:30am-10:30am, noon-7pm; Sat-Sun, 11am- 6pm. $5.