Swimming pools, rivers, lakes and holes in Atlanta 

You ever notice how dogs and kids both have the same, gleeful reaction to water? Instinct takes over, decorum goes out the window, and the only thing that seems to matter is to GET IN IT!!! We appreciate that notion, especially by the time August comes around and Atlanta steams up. Water’s the one factor that can take your summer from sweaty funk-fest to cool playtime. From public pools to more natural settings, here’s a few places to splash it up.

HOTEL POOLS On select weekends this summer, one of the city's swankiest hotels will host pool parties open to the public — with free admission if you show up early enough. The W Perimeter will offer poolside cocktails, a summer movie series, a super-hip vibe and, for an additional charge, private cabanas with their own sound systems. www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels.

LAKES Sure, you may have to toe some mysterious muck before submerging in one of Mother Nature’s giant pools, but it’s worth it. Lakes abound across the state with swimming, boating, fishing and more. The well-known and busy Lake Lanier lies just 30 minutes northeast of the city. But lakes Allatoona (30 miles from Atlanta, near Cartersville) and Hartwell (two hours away, on the Georgia-South Carolina border) are worth a visit too. www.greatlakesofgeorgia.com.

PUBLIC POOLS For as little as $2, there are plenty of local options for sunning and swimming. At the top of the list, the newly renovated Piedmont Park Aquatic Center — smack dab in the middle of Atlanta's most prized greenspace — offers a landscaped deck, loungers and both lakeside and skyline views.

The Grant Park Pool, which also received a recent overhaul, and Candler Park Pool are other worthwhile intown options. And the picturesque Chastain and Garden Hills pools in north Atlanta are well worth visiting, too. www.piedmontpark.org/do/swimming.html. www.grantparkpool.com. www.atlantaga.gov.

SWIMMING HOLES If the chi-chi W pool ain't your bag, go for something a little more ... natural. Georgia has a bunch of off-the-beaten-track swimming holes — and even a few clothing-optional ones. We love the website www.swimmingholes.org, which provides swimming-hole aficionados' insight into the best underground swimming spots in the country, including descriptions and detailed directions to a dozen in Georgia.

According to the site, Watkinsville's Rose Creek offers an "historic covered bridge with swimming hole and sliding rock nearby" and is "frequented by University of Georgia students." Having been there years back, that assessment rings true. If you don't want to risk driving an hour or more to a swimming hole that might not live up to your expectations, might we suggest the kick-ass shoals and rapids at Watson Mill Bridge State Park (www.gastateparks.org/info/watson), which surely won't disappoint. Bring an inner tube and your inner child.

TUBING The Southern river: there’s nothing like it. Hazy air, chirping bugs, outrageously green foliage, lazy meandering water. One of the best ways to experience a great Southern river is on an inner tube. The Chattahoochee is imminently tube-able, and Chattahoochee Outfitters in Roswell can make it happen for you (www.shootthehooch.com). Up The River Outfitters floats on at Buford Dam in Sugar Hill (www.uptheriveroutfitters.com), and Tailwater Tubing drops in just below Buford Dam (www.america.net/~canoe/).


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