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The Best Outdoor Swimming in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, & Puyallup

June 28, 2024

The Best Outdoor Swimming in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, & Puyallup

One of the big benefits of living in Pierce County is the fact that we have several opportunities for outdoor swimming. Saltwater and freshwater swimming adventures are never far away, and there are plenty of parks and pools where you can beat the heat, too.

In this blog, we are focusing on outdoor swimming opportunities Tacoma, Puyallup, and Gig Harbor. But you’ll find a few outliers in the mix as well—we couldn’t resist including a few more of our favorites to this list!

What Are the Best Swimming Beaches on the Puget Sound in Pierce County?

While Pierce County includes miles and miles of waterfront on the Puget Sound, not every beach is great for swimming. Here are a few of the best beaches for swimming on the Puget Sound:

Owen Beach in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma is a popular beach for swimming when the weather warms up. While this North Tacoma park was recently renovated and totally transformed to improve amenities, its natural setting and beach for swimming are as beautiful as ever!

Dash Point State Park is in Federal Way (bordering Northeast Tacoma) and is right on the border of Pierce and King Counties. (This state park is a destination for those near and far, so we had to include it!) In addition to acres and acres of forested beauty to explore, there are scenic beaches for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and more.

In Gig Harbor, you’ll find several beaches on the Puget Sound that are lovely spots for swimming. Kopachuck State Park is not only great for swimming, but you can boat, kayak, paddleboard, windsurf, and scuba dive, too. Sunrise Beach Park also has a picturesque beach for swimming, scuba diving, and fishing. Gig Harbor is home to hundreds of waterfront homes, so many of the beaches aren’t necessarily easily accessible to the public.

What Are the Best Swimming Lakes in Pierce County?

Spanaway Lake Park (just south of Tacoma) is an epic destination for summertime swimming. Here you’ll find two swimming beaches, a boat launch, boating rentals, and many other amenities in the park including a fishing pier, playground, trails, and more.

American Lake Park in Lakewood (just south of Tacoma) is a stunning park with breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier, and of course tons of swimming opportunities! The swimming beach is very popular in the summer, and there’s also a public boat launch here. Harry Todd Park is another park on American Lake, which includes a swimming beach.

Lake Tapps in Bonney Lake is definitely worth mentioning, as this huge lake and surrounding community is a destination for people from around the region. North Lake Tapps Park features a sandy beach around the swimming area, as well as the ideal setting for a summer picnic. In the southern area of Lake Tapps, Allan Yorke Park has a large swimming area with a playground, room for picnics, and more.

Horseshoe Lake Park in Port Orchard also gets a special shout out—this 39-acre park has it all, from a swimming area and playground, to trails and ball fields.

What Are the Best Outdoor Pools in Pierce County?

Stewart Heights Pool in Tacoma is so much more than just an outdoor pool. This impressive feature of Stewart Heights Park includes a lap pool, a 160-foot water slide, a lazy river, zero-depth entry, water basketball, and tumble buckets.

The Edwards Family Aquatic Center in Fircrest (next door to Tacoma) is another great option—the Fircrest pool features a massive outdoor pool with lap lanes, a diving board, a whirlpool play area, a kiddie pool, and more.

There are a few more incredible pools in the area, with varying levels of membership requirements. Tacoma Lawn Tennis Club, Tacoma Country Golf & Club, and Canterwood Golf & Country Club all feature outdoor pools and several other pool-related amenities, such as swim lessons and poolside cafes.

What Are the Best Spraygrounds in Pierce County?

While spraygrounds are not technically for swimming, we wanted to be sure and include our favorites in case you need a way for smaller kids to cool off this summer!

Tacoma is home to several parks throughout the city with spraygrounds, including Wright Sprayground, Titlow Park Sprayground, Grand Plaza Ruston Spray Park, South Park Sprayground, Jefferson Park Sprayground, Kandle Park Sprayground, Norpoint Sprayground, SERA Campus Sprayground, and Verlo Sprayground.

In Downtown Puyallup, the 2-acre Pioneer Park features a popular spray park. There’s also a playground, grassy area, trees for shade, farmers market on spring and summer weekends, and much more, all adjacent to the library.

Gateway Park in Gig Harbor on the Key Peninsula features the Scott Gallacher Memorial Spray and Play Park, and there are other convenient amenities here like a play area and covered picnic shelter.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord is home to a few spray ground parks—click here to explore options and learn about other outdoor opportunities!

We also want to give a shoutout to Port Orchard—McCormick Village Park shows off a gorgeous setting and newer amenities, including a splash pad.

Are There Any Water Parks Close to Pierce County?

Wild Waves Theme & Water Park is in Federal Way in King County, but it’s just about one mile from Tacoma. This park is a popular destination during the summer with its water slides, wave pool, lazy river, and so much more! And when you’re done with the water part of the park, there are several other rides including roller coasters.

Keep Exploring Pierce County & The South Puget Sound