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Dive Into Summer!

It’s June! Time to evict the spiders living in your deflated pool toys, dust off your kayak, don your captain’s hat, and give the boat a power wash.

Before you know it, you’ll be unpacking the car while sunscreening the kids, leashing the dog, and inventorying the snacks while simultaneously surveying the beach and calculating ideal umbrella-to-shade ratios; or maybe just sneaking out of the house at 5 a.m. to enjoy a quiet swim or paddle.

This summer, why not freshen up your go-to water destinations or maybe find some cool alternatives? The good news is you don’t have to hit the same crowded spot you always go to. You’ve got options! Geographically, our region may be landlocked, but there’s more swimming and water-based activities than you could poke an oar at! We’ve scoured the area for the best of the best: rivers for whitewater rafting or lazy floating, lakes for boating and fishing, public pools for swimming lessons, water parks to get your splash on, and swimming holes for (let’s be honest) re-living your youth. Whether you have tots, teens, or are simply seeking a little bit of serenity, we’ve got you covered.


Get your non-motorized water activities on at Lake Natoma. All of them. From stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking to sailing or windsurfing, equipment rentals are readily available from the Sacramento State Aquatic Center ( And if you have a California fishing license, there’s plenty of great angling to be had. Some good swimming spots, too, but do proceed with caution as the water is quite cold, even in summer. (Yes, even you, fearless teens.) For families, check out *Black Miners Bar—a quieter beach that’s ideal for kiddos, kayaking, and swimming.

Lake Natoma


If boating, jet skiing, or swimming is your aim, head to Folsom Lake and just pick a beach. Some are more suitable than others, so here’s the hit parade in a nutshell: Granite Bay Beach is expansive and features a marked swimming area and lifeguard, landscaped picnic area, snack bar with equipment rentals, and a boat ramp; Oak Beach is located further down from Granite Beach and is perfect for kayaking, swimming, and day picnics; Beal’s Point offers a shaded sandy beach, snack bar with equipment rentals, landscaped picnic area, campground, and boat launch; and Brown’s Ravine is home of the Folsom Lake Marina (multiple boat launches, marine provisions, and fueling) and a small picnic area.

Sacramento State Aquatic Center


If you’re looking for a boat out on Folsom Lake this summer, check out GetMyBoat ( the top boat rental booking platform in California. It’s like Airbnb, but for boat rentals and water experiences (and no weirdos in the basement). Find great rentals, including jet skis, for $100 or less! And if you don't have boating experience (or if your last trip was a three-hour tour that turned into a long-running TV sitcom) don’t sweat it: You can book captained charters with professionals to handle the navigation.


Cameron Park Lake is a fun hang in the summer—whether your forte is fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, paddling, or all the above. Kick off summer right and enjoy all that Cameron Park Lake has to offer at Summer Spectacular on June 24—featuring food trucks, live music, a kids’ zone, fireworks, and live music beginning at 5 p.m. Visit for tickets and more info.

Cameron Park Lake


Auburn’s Lake Clementine is one of the gems of the foothills. Stubborn folks like yours truly are often skeptical of popular spots, but Lake Clementine lives up to its popularity through sheer scenic gorgeous-ity. Like the Montagues and the Capulets, it’s a house (lake) divided: Upper and Lower. Lower Lake, and technically the “lake” proper, is calmer and suited for boating, hiking, and camping. Upper Lake, open seasonally, is a great summer spot for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding with pristine waters and picturesque surroundings.

Lake Clementine



The American River offers a little bit of something for everyone, and you can take that to the bank (pun intended). Here are a few prime spots where you can adventure-seek, chill out, or do a little of both.

Whitewater rafting on the South Fork of the American River


If you’re planning a local American River float trip, try the 6.5-mile, approximately three-hour journey that starts just under the Sunrise Avenue Bridge at Sunrise Recreation Park and goes to River Bend Park in Rancho Cordova. But don’t go rogue; rent equipment and life vests from one of the outfitters, like River Rat ( or American River Raft Rentals ( And don’t forget to apply (and reapply!) sunscreen and wear a hat: “Lobster” is not a good look on anyone except, well, lobsters.

American River Raft Rentals


Attention rafters: Your lazy river floating odyssey begins at the Sunrise Recreation Area. Both the Upper and Lower areas are great spots to enjoy the calm waters; or, if you have a valid fishing license, you can make some elbow room for an early morning fishing trip. It’s also a great spot for a picnic. Upper Sunrise, near the Fair Oaks Bridge, includes a boat launch; Lower Sunrise features trails and nature walks and links to Sacramento Bar via Jim Jones Bridge.

Auburn’s American River Confluence proves that hanging out under bridges is not just for trolls anymore. (In summer, it’s a lot cooler in the shade of the bridge, so maybe trolls were onto something.) Located under the Highway 49 bridge, this spot is known for slow-moving water that’s perfect for swimming or floating or just staying put. Arrive early because the car park fills up quickly. And like any river in the wilderness, this is a rocky beach, so be sure to bring appropriate footwear.

Kayaking on the American River near Nimbus Flat


Nimbus Flat on the American River is just a hop and a skip from the Sacramento State Aquatic Center and Lake Natoma, which makes equipment rentals a snap. It’s a great beach for family-friendly swimming, stand-up paddling, kayaking, or a well-placed floatie. Fair warning: Arrive early to beat the crowds or be prepared to teach your children about disappointment.

Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael is right next to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center and the perfect place to access the American River if you’re looking for quiet paddling, a zen-kayaking moment, or just dangling your feet in the water and relaxing under the spreading live oaks. Bring a picnic, take the dog for a walk, have a nap. Trade in your scheduled Calm app appointment and get an hour or two of actual, real-life calming vibes here in Sacramento. (We can’t believe it’s here either. Maybe don’t tell anyone?)

If you’re an intermediate or advanced thrill-seeker looking for a guided whitewater rafting experience, look no further than Chili Bar on the South Fork of the American River, where the water is cold and the action is hot. Check out local outfitters in Coloma or Lotus for guides and equipment, like WET River Trips (, a company that’s been creating memorable whitewater adventures since 1978.

Plan your Chili Bar whitewater adventure to end at Henningsen Lotus Park. Picturesque and perfectly idyllic, this lovely gem of a spot is a great area to unwind, a perfect place to bring families and dogs, and ideal for fishing, swimming, or kayaking. There’s even a boat launch if you’re of the boating persuasion.


The Steve Miklos Aquatic Center—Folsom’s premier outdoor swimming facility that boasts a colorful, interactive play structure—has summer season passes available through September 4: that’s more than 100 days of swimming and exactly the ticket to beat the wicked summer heat! Swim laps, learn to swim, or participate in fun events, classes, and more.

Summer 2023 swim passes for the Roseville Aquatics Complex (includes an Olympic-sized competition pool, zero-depth recreation pool with beach entry, 150-foot water slide, and a children's interactive spray ground), Mike Shellito Indoor Pool (state-of-the-art facility that includes eight lanes, a 25-yard pool, and additional 1,500-square-foot warm water pool), and Johnson Pool (features a small water slide and picnic area) are currently available. All three pools have something for everyone: group lessons or private lessons, lap swimming, playtime with the kids, or just a fun place to beat the heat.

Roseville Aquatics Complex


Craving a cooldown but don’t own a pool or feel like swimming around strangers? There’s an app for that. Slide into paradise with Swimply (, an online marketplace that allows people to rent pools (hourly rates in our region run anywhere from $25 to $125) from homeowners. Search by distance, date, price, water type, and other amenities (hot tub, water slide, and fire pit, to name a few)—then dive in.

Auburn Recreation District’s Sierra Pool has summer fun on lock. Open for public swimming starting June 5 (swim passes are available), they have various public swim sessions (plus a pool snack shack operated by Carol’s Market). Save the date for a free family swim night and outdoor movie on June 23.

Steve Miklos Aquatic Center


The CSD Community Pool is the hottest spot in El Dorado Hills with the coolest customers. Purchase a summer swim pass and enjoy amenities like a zero-entry beach area, wading pool, snack bar, lap swim (ages 16+), Wi-Fi, lounge chairs and tables, free use of Coast Guard-approved life vests, and more.

Johnson Pool


The Placerville Aquatic Center is your family-friendly oasis for summer with recreational swimming, lap swimming, and a fun swirly slide that kiddos will go crazy for. Opening June 9, they’re gearing up for another summer of fun.


Rancho Cordova’s Village Green Park has a fun splash pad plaza for kids that’s open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekly from June through August.

Cool down your overheated kids at the Sprayground at El Dorado Hills’ Promontory Park, open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Labor Day weekend.

Nisenan Park


Nisenan Park in Folsom has an impressive splash pad just begging for your kids to get their splash on! Open from 7 a.m. until one hour after sunset.

There are three splash pads in Rocklin located at Whitney Park, Kathy Lund Park, and Johnson-Springview Park, each operating daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. through October 15. Maybe this summer we’ll invent the “splash pad crawl”?

As of press time, the beloved interactive fountain at the Fountains at Roseville was undergoing maintenance; keep an eye on their website and social media channels for updates. In the meantime, you can get into the groove with the dancing fountain or take a ride on the train!


Wake Island Waterpark ( in Roseville is so big that it would get an air guitar and a “whoa!” from Bill and Ted themselves. Boasting a jaw-dropping 80 acres and self-proclaimed to be the largest water park on the West Coast, Wake Island has everything from wide sandy beaches and cabana rentals to cable (aka, boatless) wakeboarding, a floating obstacle course, ziplining, stand-up paddle boards, a ninja racecourse, and even human hamster wheels. (Have we explored hooking this place up to the power grid? Just a thought.) Most of the action goes through September 5; visit their website for more info, passes, and memberships.

Wake Island Waterpark


Roseville’s Golfland-SunSplash ( is where adults go to feel like kids again, and where kids go to show adults what youthful energy really looks like. Whether you’re zooming down the Zoomerang, ripping through the Riptide, shooting down the Six Chuter, hanging ten in the Thunder Bay Wavepool, or getting lost in floatie relaxation in the Bermuda Triangle, there’s truly something for everyone in this watery paradise. And if thrills and adventure aren’t your bag, there’s always hot dogs, pizza, and “Iceberg Shakes”; oh, and don’t forget all the great “landlubber” activities like mini golf, laser tag, and bumper cars!

Golfland Sunsplash



Word to the wise: Many swimming holes in hidden, out-of-the-way places are on private property, so ensure you do your due diligence and, as the TLC song goes: “Don’t go climbing over fences to go chasing waterfalls.” But Auburn has a couple of legitimate bangers, as the kids would say, that are worth a visit.

Hidden Falls


Hidden Falls may be small, but size isn’t everything when a quick cooldown is all you need in the dog days of summer; plus, it’s a mercifully easy hike. The gorgeous waterfalls along the way will lead you to the pool on Coon Creek. Note that parking reservations are required on weekends.

Clarks Hole is a gorgeous deep swimming hole on the North Fork of the American River, upriver of the confluence. Fun fact: At the turn of the century, before it was a swimming hole, it was a municipal swimming pool run by the city of Auburn!

Clarks Hole


* California State Parks continues to work with the local community and stakeholders to change the place name of the day-use area, identified as Black Miners Bar, within Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. It is hoped by State Parks’ staff to present a recommendation for decision as soon as possible. Share your thoughts, comments, and suggestions at


Designate a Water Watcher
No matter how advanced you think your child is at swimming, they must always be supervised when in and around the water.

Know CPR
CPR is a procedure that everyone should know how to do. You never know when administering CPR could help to save a life.

Install Pool Fences & Barriers
If you have a pool, installing fences or other barriers around the pool is highly recommended, especially if there are children near the area.

Limit the Use of Floaties & Water Wings When Swimming
Throughout the “learn to swim” phase, we highly recommend that parents get in the water with their children during any non-swim lesson time in the pool. This is important, because it allows children to learn to swim independently, without the use of any flotation devices. These devices create a false sense of security and cause children to become dependent on swimming with them. If a child falls or jumps in a pool, it is important that they know how to float and/or put their face in the water, without the aid of a flotation device, and swim to the side of the pool.

Enroll Your Child in Swim Lessons
The earlier a child enrolls in swim lessons, the better. Swim lessons at an early age teach children water safety and water awareness skills. These skills instill respect for the water and help develop confidence. Students enrolled in year-round swim lessons will achieve developmental, physical, and social benefits, as well as learn a life skill that ensures a lifetime of safe, fun swimming.
—Tips courtesy of Steve Wallen Swim School,

Photos courtesy of Visit Rancho Cordova. Folsom Lake photo by Mehr Virk @mehr.virk. Lake Clementine paddleboard photo courtesy of Visit Placer.  Kayaking on the American River near Nimbus Flat photo courtesy of Visit Rancho Cordova.  Swimply sidebar photo ©F8  \ Suport Ukraine - Clarks Hole photo by @adventure_is_dre. Hidden Falls photo cby Erik Bergen, Placer County. Other photo courtesy of its respective company or organization.