Pool time: Where to take a dip in Columbus

By
From the July 5, 2012 edition

Find relief from the blistering temperatures (and take your mind off storm damage and the power outage) at one of Columbus’ many swimming pools.

Best way to experience water-logged thrills: Zoombezi Bay

4850 W. Powell Road, Powell

614-645-3550

zoombezibay.com

With features Python Plunge and Big Boa Falls, the Columbus Zoo’s 22-acre mother of all water parks is sure to satisfy your every yearning to frolic in water. Waterslide that shoots you up instead of down? Yep. Giant wave pool? Mm-hmm. Not one, not two, but four different raft rides? Covered.

Hang out at Croctail Island, a 21-and-over area with a lazy river, sunning decks, bar and food service. Or go for the ultimate experience in a private cabana ($89 weekdays; $129 Friday, Saturday or Sunday) and enjoy a private patio, discounts on food and drinks, and attentive wait staff.

You’ll want to set an entire day aside to enjoy Zoombezi Bay’s amenities. Got a yearning to visit the polar bears, too? A two-day pass gets you into the water park and the zoo for $44; that saves you $4 on separate admission. —Kristen Schmidt

Most spanking-new pool in the land: Dodge Pool

545 Sullivant Ave., Franklinton

614-645-7365

parks.columbus.gov

Franklinton got a little more beautiful this year with the unveiling of more than $6 million in improvements to Dodge Pool. The aging facility got a new bath house, spiffy landscaping and a sweet waterslide. There are separate areas in the pool for lounging around and for swimming laps, if Olympics fever is inspiring you.

The perked-up Dodge is the latest reason to visit Franklinton for some leisure time. Play hooky from work and lunch at the Dinin’ Hall food trucks at 400 West Rich before taking a dip. Or pack a picnic and a Frisbee for a pre-swim lounge in Dodge Park, which has fantastic views of the skyline. —Kristen Schmidt

Best reason to stay home on a Saturday: The Goat at Paddock at Hayden Run

5730 Silver Falls St., Dublin

614-876-1427

lcgoat.com

If you lived here, you’d be in the pool by now.

Or maybe you’d make a stop at the bar first for suds and a burger. You’ve got to hand it to Lifestyle Communities for putting some heft behind the word “amenities” for its Dublin apartment community. The Goat is the name of the community bar and restaurant, which is settled enticingly close to the pool and volleyball courts. Fun ensues.

Residents and members of the company’s popular volleyball leagues get first dibs on the pool, which is the place to be on summer afternoons, evenings and weekends. The menu at The Goat is full of pub fare, and there are plenty of televisions to itch your sports-loving scratch.

We can’t promise everyone at The Goat will be as beautiful as the people on our cover, but it’s definitely a hangout for the young, attractive and fun. Who said living in the suburbs is boring? —Kristen Schmidt

Best watering hole within a watering hole: Flannagan’s Dublin

6835 Caine Rd., Dublin

614-766-7788

flannagans.com

Known for its competitive sand volleyball summer leagues and popped-collar college crowd, Flannagan’s is also home to Elly Bay. That’s the name of the 2,000-square-foot pool in the back that has a swim-up bar and a concrete island with comfy lounge chairs that will swallow all your motivation to do anything but lie in the sun.

Entry to the heated waters (don’t worry, the pool is warm on purpose) is typically $5 on the weekdays and $7 on the weekends. There is always a game, dance party, band or bikini-clad babe that will inspire you to belly up — or belly flop — to the bar and order a cold one. —Jackie Mantey

Best place to feel like Lewis and Clark: Trapper John’s

7141 London-Groveport Rd., Grove City

614-877-4321

trapperjohnscanoeing.com

Set your inner adventurer free at this canoe livery in Grove City. Trapper John’s rents canoes and kayaks from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at myriad price points (newbies fearful to tip a canoe should try The Sampler package: a two-hour tour for $15 per person). Or ditch the boat and paddles and traverse the Big Darby Creek in a floating tube.

Before you go, visit the Trapper John’s website to survey all the routes you can take and the rules you have to follow to avoid being up a creek with the employees; for example, Styrofoam coolers for refreshments are not allowed. Your bonus for checking out Trapper John’s online: There’s a link to a coupon for $2 off canoe and kayak rentals on the home page. Happy trails to you. —Jackie Mantey

Best reason to road trip for a dip: Buckeye Lake State Park

2905 Liebs Island Rd., Millersport

740-467-2690

dnr.state.oh.us

When the municipal pools are packed to the brim, a day of swimming might not mean a day of tranquility. That’s what nature is there for. Buckeye Lake, located 40 minutes east of Downtown, is your serene solution.

Not only can you choose from three distinct beaches (Fairfield Beach, Crystal Beach and Brooks Park) for splashing around until nightfall, there’s also a wealth of activities in the park (boating, fishing, picnicking) and around it.

Enjoy the shade of Dawes Arboretum, the air conditioning of the Buckeye Lake Historical Society Museum or the bird-watching jackpot that is Hebron Fish Hatchery. You can even reserve a camping area and extend your aquatic outdoor getaway by a day or two. And if you time your visit with Labor Day weekend, the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival will be in full swing.

Remember that the next time you’re elbow-to-elbow in the chlorine trying to carve out a five-foot radius. —Chris DeVille

Best way to swim on a budget: Tuttle Pool

240 W. Oakland Ave., Campus

614-645-3603

parks.columbus.gov

With its convenient central location just north of Ohio State campus, “Tuttle puddle” is easy to access from almost anywhere inside I-270. You can even bike there via the Olentangy Trail, which connects Tuttle to parks such as Worthington Hills Park, Antrim Park and Confluence Park.

Pedaling instead of driving would be a great way to save money, but then again, Tuttle is already a highly affordable option. The purchase of a “leisure card” for just $1 gets you access to the pool (and lots of other Columbus Recreation and Parks facilities) for a year. Pick one up at one of 28 affiliated community centers around town.

The pool is open from 1:30-7:30 p.m. daily, but those who show up early or stay late can stay active at the rest of Tuttle Park’s features, including basketball courts, a lighted tennis court, baseball diamonds and a playground. —Chris DeVille

Best way to splash without swimming: Scioto Mile Fountains

233 Civic Center Dr., Downtown

614-645-3300

sciotomile.com

Although the wading pools that were initially advertised as part of Bicentennial Park are nowhere to be found, Scioto Mile’s 15,000-square-foot fountains are still something special. In fact, they just got a lot more special — as of last week, the 1,079 ground-level spray nozzles squirt to heights of up to 12 feet from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Furthermore, the geysers within the halo sculptures erupt once an hour as high as 70 feet in the sky, creating an effect one employee called “synthetic rain.”

The place tends to be swamped with kids, but there’s at least one significant adult amenity in the form of adjacent restaurant Milestone 229. Why not spend half an hour enjoying the fountains, then dry off and grab a drink on the patio? The restaurant’s extensive list of pizzas, sandwiches, snacks and starters also makes for fine fountain-side fare. —Chris DeVille