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Child swimming in Charlottesville water

Where To Enjoy the Water Around Charlottesville

Swimming, Tubing, and Sunbathing Hotspots

Charlottesville, VA, has plenty of refreshing spots to cool off in the water, making it a great getaway for travelers and locals looking to beat the heat. From scenic rivers and serene lakes to inviting swimming pools and splash parks, there’s something for everyone. Whether you're planning a family outing, a romantic picnic by the water, or a solo adventure to relax and unwind, Charlottesville has you covered for those hot summer days.

Fun for Kids: Pools & Splash Parks

Onesty Family Aquatic Center

Address: 300 Meade Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Splash park at Onesty Family Aquatic Centerundefined

The splash park at Onesty Family Aquatic Center features a variety of interactive water play areas, including fountains and water cannons, as well as slides suited for various age groups. Shallow pools designed specifically for little ones ensure a safe and fun environment. The facility also offers ample shaded areas and well-maintained picnic spots, making it a perfect place for a family day out.

Park Includes:

  • Water Slides
  • Lazy River
  • Diving Board
  • Zero-Depth Play Area
  • In-Water Playgrounds
  • Obstacle Course
  • Lap Swimming

Summer Pool passes can be purchased online, and are valid from May 23 - September 2, 2024. You can also book birthday parties!

Washington Park Pool

Address: 1001 Preston Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Charlottesville residents swimming at Washington Park Poolundefined

Washington Park Pool is also an amazing option for families! Dive into its large swimming pool and let the kids splash around on the exciting splash pad. The picnic areas and playgrounds ensure a full day of family fun!

Park Includes:

  • Zero-Depth Play Area
  • Water Slides
  • Lap Swimming
  • Mushroom Waterfall

Both daily admission and summer pool passes are available for purchase.

Crozet Park

Address: 1085 Claudius Crozet Pk, Crozet, VA 22932

The splash park at Claudius Crozet Park is also a community favorite. There are a range of exciting water features like fountains, sprayers, and dumping buckets to keep the kids cool. The park also has plenty of shaded seating areas for parents to relax. In addition to the water activities, Crozet Park also includes hiking trails, playgrounds, and a dog park.

Park Includes:

  • Kiddie pool
  • Spray garden
  • Poolside cafe
  • Shaded and sun-lounging areas

Crozet Park has a day rate as well as month by month membership. Click here for more details on pricing.

Secluded Sunbathing Spots

Beaver Creek Reservoir

Address: 4365 Beaver Creek Park, Charlottesville, VA 22901

The Beaver Creek Reservoir is free to visit and spans approximately 104 acres in Crozet and features calm waters perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. The surrounding parkland is ideal for picnicking and bird-watching, providing several quiet spots to lay out a blanket and soak up the sun.

Paddler at Beaver Creek Reservoir undefined

Park Includes:

  • Boat Ramp
  • Paddle Access
  • Picnic Tables
  • Fishing

Mint Springs Valley Park

Address: 6659 Mint Springs Park Road Crozet, Virginia 22932

The park covers 520 acres of rolling hills, woodlands, and spring-fed lakes. Visitors can enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating in the park's three pristine lakes. Fantastic park for family and community gatherings!

Park Includes:

  • Swimming beaches
  • Volleyball Court
  • Grills - Charcoal
  • Canoe/Kayak Access
  • Fishing Pier
  • Playground
  • Picnic Shelters (Reserve for $70)
  • Picnic Tables
  • Trails

Park entry fees are cash/check only, discount provided for Albemarle County residents. Season passes are also available.

Dog-Friendly Swimming Locations

Walnut Creek Park

Address: 4250 Walnut Creek Road, North Garden, VA 22959

Beach and picnic table at Walnut Creek Parkundefined

This park, located in the southern section of Albemarle County, was voted “Best of the Best” by Cville Weekly for its outstanding amenities and natural beauty. It features scenic trails, picnic areas, and plenty of open space. Additionally, the park is dog-friendly, ensuring that your furry friends can join.

Park Includes:

  • Swimming Beaches
  • Boat Launch
  • Canoe/Kayak Rental ($15/hour)
  • Fishing
  • Picnic Shelters
  • Picnic Tables
  • Playground
  • Trails
  • Disc Golf
  • Grills - Charcoal

Park entry fees are cash/check only, discount provided for Albemarle County residents. Season passes are also available.

Chris Greene Lake Park

Dock and water at Chris Green Lake Parkundefined

Address: 4748 Chris Greene Lake Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911

Chris Greene Lake Park is a dog-friendly destination for water lovers. The park features two swimming beaches, and a separate area for dogs to swim, play and socialize. This is the perfect spot for families that want to bring their four-legged friend along their day of summer fun.

Park Includes:

  • 2 swimming beaches
  • Dog Park with water access for dogs to swim
  • Reservable Picnic Shelters ($70)
  • Single Picnic Shelters
  • Sand Volleyball Court
  • Kayak/Canoe Rental ($15/hour)
  • Boat launch
  • ADA wheelchair-accessible fishing pier

Park entry fees are cash/check only, discount provided for Albemarle County residents. Season passes are also available.

Unique Water Experiences

Sugar Hollow Reservoir

Finding Sugar Hollow Reservoir can be a bit of an adventure, but the journey is worth it! The hike to this hidden gem in the Blue Ridge Mountains is approximately 3 miles roundtrip and includes stunning views of waterfalls, swimming holes, and rock formations.

Blue Hole swimming Holeundefined
Shenandoah National Park

Directions from Charlottesville

From I-64 near Charlottesville, take exit 124 for US-250W. Turn right onto US-250W and drive for 5 miles. Take the exit for Country Road 654/Barracks Road. Turn right onto Barracks Road and continue for 2 miles. Proceed on SR 601/Garth Road for another 9 miles. Stay straight as Garth Road becomes Sugar Hollow Road and continue for 5.5 miles. When you see the Sugar Hollow Reservoir on your left, you're almost there. The road will turn to gravel, and you'll soon reach the first large parking area. Park here and walk an additional 0.5 miles up the road until you reach the second parking area and a closed gate.

Download Trail Map

Wildrock Discovery Center

Wildrock nature centerundefined

Address: 6600 Blackwells Hollow Road Crozet, VA 22932

Wildrock Nature Discovery Center is a must-visit destination for families, school groups, and nature enthusiasts of all ages. The center offers a variety of interactive exhibits and hands-on activities designed to foster an appreciation for the natural world. Visitors can explore immersive nature trails, participate in guided educational programs, and engage in creative outdoor play in beautifully designed nature play areas. Children especially enjoy the riverside mud kitchen and barefoot sensory walk through the riverside.

The Brewing Tree

Back of Brewing Tree Beerundefined

Address: 9278 Rockfish Valley Hwy, Afton, VA 22920

This charming spot offers a blend of relaxation and family fun. Unwind in one of the riverside hammocks as you sip locally brewed beer, root beer, Kombucha or Scratch Lemonade. The Brewing Tree also caters to families, with ample opportunities for kids to play safely in the shallow river waters. Great food, beer, live music, and river views - what more could you ask for in a hidden gem?

Adventures Along the Rivanna River

Rivanna River Co. offers various packages that cater to all experience levels, whether you're looking for a leisurely float or a more invigorating paddle. Many services include shuttle transportation to and from launch exit points. Tubing trips available just five minutes from the downtown mall!

Book Your Tubing or Paddling Adventure

Man with feet out tubing on riverundefined

Already have your own tube or kayak? The Rivanna River Water Trail is a great option for those with their own equipment, with access points and maps available online. Popular routes include:

1. Darden Towe Park to Riverview Park

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Rapids: none

2. Riverview Park to Milton

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Rapids: several class II - III drops

3. Milton to Crofton

  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Rapids: one class I - II drops

4. Crofton to Palmyra

  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Distance: 6.5 miles
  • Rapids: One class I - II drop

5. Palmyra to Columbia

  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Distance: 16 miles
  • Rapids: several class I - II drops and one class II - III drop

See the Rivanna River Public Landings Float Map for more information on these routes.

If water isn't your thing check out our guide for other outdoor activities in Charlottesville!