The Best Swimming in California

Looking for the best swimming in California? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping and more around California. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top swimming spots in and near California

  • Apple Valley, California

    Hike to Deep Creek Hot Springs

    4.2
    2 mi / 900 ft gain
    Deep Creek Hot Springs is nestled along the Mojave River at an elevation of 3,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains. This year-round mineral water retreat consists of three pools the size of large hot tubs, that range in temperature from around 96 degrees in the first pool to 102 in the third....
    Read more
  • Newport Beach, California

    Exploring the Arches at Little Corona del Mar

    4.9
    Little Corona del Mar Beach is a secluded beach located on Poppy Avenue across Ocean Boulevard in Corona del Mar. Known as one of the less crowded beaches in the area, this spot is the perfect place to chill for the day or photograph a sunset. You will find plenty of free street parking in the ne...
    Read more
  • Greenfield, California

    Adventure at Arroyo Seco

    4.7
    This off-the-beaten-trail adventure has a little bit of everything for everyone, and is as challenging as you make it. Many just make it about a mile down to the river for a leisurely day of relaxing, swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a few cold beverages. Others embark on a 7+ mile adventure up...
    Read more
  • Pioneer, California

    Camping at The Pots

    4.2
    This fantastic camping or chilling spot has beautiful granite pools and slides of all sizes. The area consists of a river flowing over a granite slab creating pools some of which are over ten feet deep. The water cascades down the granite in small water falls. The area is located next to Silver L...
    Read more
  • Descanso, California

    Hiking to the 3-Sisters Falls

    4.9
    Although this hike is not very long (in terms of distance) it will be a workout nonetheless...as possibly one of the harder hikes in all of San Diego. Start out earlier in the day for a less strenuous trip and be prepared to drink a LOT of water. The path is fairly well marked and at certain poin...
    Read more
  • San Diego, California

    Explore La Jolla Cove

    4.8
    La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in San Diego, located on the coast just south of Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. La Jolla Cove is also one of the best spots in San Diego for snorkeling and scuba diving. This calm cove is ecologically protected with many animals making their ho...
    Read more
  • Felton, California

    Hike to the Garden of Eden Swimming Hole

    3.8
    Are the beaches of Santa Cruz too cold to swim in? Of course they are. But this swimming hole has your back. The Bay Area isn't blessed with a bounty of freely accessible, dog-friendly swimming holes. The Garden of Eden, just off Route 9 in the Henry Cowell Redwoods is one of them. Park on the si...
    Read more
  • Big Sur, California

    Explore the Big Sur River Gorge

    4.7
    1 mi
    If you are in the Big Sur area during the summer, exploring the Big Sur River Gorge is a must! The gorge is located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, and your closest parking will be day use parking lot 3. The trailhead to the gorge can be found at the northeast end of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park C...
    Read more
  • Laguna Beach, California

    Exploring Pearl Street Beach's Arch Rock

    4.0
    Pearl Street Beach is a great spot to just chill and watch (and photograph) the sunset with friends and family. Parking for the beach can be found on S. Coast Hwy (the 1) and is meter parking. There is also free, but limited parking available along the smaller streets closer to Pearl Street Beach...
    Read more
  • San Diego, California

    Explore Sunset Cliffs Open Ceiling Cave

    0.5 mi
    Starting from you parking spot on the street you will see it right away. Then look to the right in the small bay--to the right of it you'll see a small place to climb down. There is no rope so be careful when scaling it. Walk south until you hit the reef wall and walk along it until you get aroun...
    Read more
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, California

    Adventuring at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park

    4.3
    Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a Palos Verdes gem. This 64-acre reserve is a state ecological preserve. There is something for everyone here, whether you want to relax and lay out or be adventurous and swim across channels to get to sea caves. The large parking area is very easy to find and costs...
    Read more
  • Laguna Beach, California

    Explore Laguna Beach's Pirate Tower

    4.5
    To find this little hidden treasure, put Victoria Beach into your phone as your destination and park for free on S Coast Highway anywhere between Sunset Terrace, McAulay Place, or Victoria Drive. Make your way down any of these streets toward the beach and you will see stairs going down at the en...
    Read more
  • McCloud, California

    Hike to Middle McCloud Falls

    4.8
    1.5 mi
    Just 4 hours north of San Francisco, McCloud Falls offers a quick hike and swimming hole for those looking for something less crowded than Burney Falls. McCloud Falls has 3 tiers, but the middle section offers the best views by far. To get here, park at the Fowlers Campground which is roughly 5 m...
    Read more
  • Ramona, California

    Hike to Cedar Creek Falls

    4.8
    4.2 mi
    The trail starts out at a hill in a residential area and ends in an unexpected spot where there is a beautiful waterfall complete with swimming hole. Surrounded by 75-foot high cliffs, a magnificent waterfall splashes into a pool known as the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Hikers have been known to dive fro...
    Read more
  • Bolinas, California

    Hike and Swim at Bass Lake

    4.2
    6.3 mi
    Follow the Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead to Bass Lake. It's a fairly easy ~2.5-3 miles to the Lake. As soon as you pass the lake, on the left you will see a narrow unmarked dirt trail. Take this trail and you'll get to a nice clearing with easy lake access (this will be a great spot for lu...
    Read more
  • Calistoga, California

    Camp at Bothe-Napa Valley SP

    4.5
    Looking for a romantic getaway but you’d prefer to spend your nights around a campfire? This adventure is for you. This beautiful Napa Valley campground has it all – 10 miles of hiking trails, 1,900 acres to explore, and…new yurts! Yurts are basically cool circular tents that allow you enjoy the ...
    Read more

Quick links

More California Destinations