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11 free places in PA to swim, splash and cool off this summer

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If you’re looking to stay cool without breaking the bank this summer, we’ve got your back. Here is a list of destinations where you can take a dip, make a splash or otherwise relax with some water-based entertainment, all free of charge.

  • Middlesex Township Splash Pad: The Middlesex Splash Pad, 50 Beagle Club Road, Carlisle, has been open since 2009 and operates 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s a 30’ x 30’ area with underground water sprinklers, and the surface is a brushed concrete (you should have your kids wear rubber-soled water shoes). If you’re bringing a group of 10 or more, the township asks to you contact the office.
  • Memorial Park, Carlisle: The 2-acre Memorial Park has a spray pool where the kids can cool off. The park, located at 149 Penn St., Carlisle, is adjacent to Hope Station, a community aid organization.
  • Doubling Gap Lake, Colonel Denning State Park: The sand beach at Colonel Denning State Park is open from late May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. There is no lifeguard available, so it’s swim at your own risk. The park is located at 1599 Doubling Gap Road, Newville.
  • Pine Grove Furnace State Park: The beaches at Fuller and Laurel lakes are open from May 1 to September 30, 8 a.m. to sunset. The park is located at 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners. Laurel Beach is swim at your own risk, while Fuller Beach has lifeguards from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day weekend. The parks department advises swimmers to exercise caution because of extreme depths and cold subsurface waters.
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park: The large, ADA-accessible beach in the Quaker Race Day Use Area is open from late May through mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. There are no lifeguards on duty. Boat rental, picnic facilities, a snack bar and a children’s play area are located near the swimming beach (which is grass).
  • Veterans Memorial Pool, McClure: This free public swimming pool is located off Route 522 at 34 E Ohio St., McClure, in Snyder County. They’re open 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday. There’s a snack bar, and they accept donations. There’s also a park a few blocks away. For more information, 570-658-8352.
  • Splash Pad at Fairmount Park, Red Lion: The park at 108 Boundary Avenue in Red Lion has a free splash pad, open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, in addition to changing rooms, rest rooms and pavilion. The activator is found at the center drain, and features are motion-activated. Parking can be found at the Community Building at 190 S. Charles Street, or along South Charles or Fairview streets. For more info, call 717-244-3475.
  • Penn’s Park Splash Pad, York: York City Recreation and Parks Bureau opened the Penn’s Park Splash Pad early this year, and it will be open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, weather permitting. The park is found at 100 W. College Avenue in downtown York.
  • Seven Tubs Recreation Area, Wilkes-Barre: Seven Tubs in Luzerne County is so named due to the seven “tubs” carved out of the surrounding stone by glacial action, which are filled with water today thanks to the Wheelbarrow Run stream. The stream and the tubs are found on a 500 acre nature area.
  • Locust Lake State Park: The sand beach at Locust Lake, found in Barnesville, Schuylkill County, is open from late-May to mid-September, with hours from 8 a.m. until sunset. Swimming areas are marked with buoys.
  • Yellow Breeches Creek, Mechanicsburg: The Yellow Breeches Creek is a destination for fishing, kayaking and yes, swimming. There are a few places the public can access the creek, including at Messiah College’s campus at the historic covered bridge. Click here for more info on the Yellow Breeches Creek Water Trail.

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