My top 6 Toronto pools for swimming with kiddos

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I love (LOVE!) swimming, but since having my kid 18 months ago, I've realized how much more complicated it can be to swim with a kid (especially solo).

I've learned to strategically pack a bag (towels on the top for quick post-swim-shivering-kid access!) and to make sure there are snacks for both of us to combat the post-swim hangries.

Pools with big, wide benches in the change rooms, warm (at least not freezing) water are key, with extra bonus points for super shallow steps/area for littles to splash around in.

With nap schedules and a toddler who despises being strapped into a car seat, especially on hot summer days, I've only been able to explore west-end pools, but here are my favs:

#1: Alex Duff Memorial Park at Christie Pits

It's taken me until today to get to this west end gem (and it did open late this season), but I am a convert! There are FOUR (!) pools here: three shallow ones, including a wading pool, wide steps, and a really wide, slow entry for timid swimmers (and a deep end and a twirly slide for big kids).

There are even universal change rooms (in addition to men's and women's), and there's stroller parking on deck! The shallow pools are also super warm AND it's even TTC accessible.

AND the hours are amazing: M-F 10am-9pm, S/Su 10am-8pm until Labour Day, the THEN there are extra hours from Sept 6-18: M-F 4-7pm and S/Su 12-4pm. So much swimming left!

Amazing, right?!

#2: High Park Pool:

The photo at the top of the post is from High Park Pool. The hours aren't great with Jack's nap schedule, but it has a really shallow wade-in for littles, and a mini splash pad next to the pool. (Oh, and a twirly slide for older kids). There are two connected pools: one shallow end and one deep end, which means the rowdy cannonballing older kids aren't plowing into little guys. It's a chilly pool, so it's best appreciated mid-summer, in the middle of a heat wave

Also, there's an amazing wading pool/splashpad combo nearby (that is open in the afternoon window the pool is closed) and it's near a subway station (and bikeable from my house – extra points).

Oh, and the rows and rows of lockers in the change room makes for great entertainment while you get changed...

#3: Lambton Kingsway Pool at Dundas W at Prince Edward Dr.

This was the first pool I took Jack to, and I guarded at this pool briefly, so I'm definitely biased, and it's open until 4:15 for public swim, which makes for post-nap dips. It's not particularly transit-friendly, BUT, there's a family change room and long ramp into the shallow end makes for great kid-entries. It's surrounded by parks and tennis courts and baseball diamonds, and grass (which makes for the perfect place to change a toddler...!) Be warned: the change rooms are tiny (and there is currently a cold water alert on!)

#4: Giovanni Caboto Pool at Lansdowne and St. Clair

This one is a big huge, beautiful pool. The change rooms here are SO great for getting a wriggly toddler in and out of a suit – big benches, lots of space. It gets busy, but there are wide steps that are great for water-timid toddlers to get their feet wet.

And after the pool closes for an hour from 4-5, don't take off your kid's suit – just head over to the wading pool in Earlscourt Park. A brilliant summer afternoon!

I've already waxed poetic about Park Lawn Pool, the pool that holds my entire childhood so once again, I'm far from objective, but it's a quiet pool (this year at least!). It's next to a small park with swings and a slide (and my sister's amazing backyard is close by...!) 

It's not particularly transit friendly, but it's open till 4:15 (which is great post-nap for us!) and there's a huge parking lot. Note: there is a "family change room" though it's nowhere near the pool, and is less a change room than a room with a bench. 

#6: Sunnyside Gus Ryder

I love Sunnyside because it's big and huge and always busy. It's right by the lake, with extra points for being beside the dinosaur park and near the Lakeshore Blvd, (and if your kid loves trucks/buses/cars half as much as mine, it makes for entertaining viewing!) It's got wide steps and a ramp in the shallow end. Note: you can't bring bags out on the deck, which can be tricky with littles.

The best part about Sunnyside is that it's open every day from 10-3:45, and then again from 5-8. Is there anything better than a morning swim? (And morning swims always make for solid afternoon naps!)

Aaaaaaaand when naps are long, or bathing suits are MIA, there's always the backup "pool":

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