Can’t fly your family to some sunny locale for the midwinter school break? Try the next best thing: Take the kids for a dip in balmy 90-degree water, surrounded by palm trees, sea-life murals and tiki-hut accents — all without leaving Long Island. That’s what you can experience at the Hawaiian-themed Goldfish Swim School, which offers family swim hours for nonmembers at all three of its Long Island locations.
“When people first walk in, they are kind of blown away by the tropical atmosphere,” says Jessica Caturano, general manager of the Farmingdale location. “It’s an awesome escape, especially in wintertime.”
If that sounds like fun, read on: Here are all the details parents need to know at this and other indoor pools across Long Island where families can swim without a membership.
Goldfish Swim School
At only 4 feet deep from end to end, the school's heated pool is well suited for families with young swimmers. The facility features a snack bar, a pro shop and a comfortable separate viewing area for those who prefer to stay dry while the youngsters swim under lifeguard supervision. Non-gendered restrooms and 14 individual changing rooms relieve parents of a common conundrum: where to change a child of the opposite sex. Reusable swim diapers are permitted.
INFO Location: Farmingdale, Garden City and Centereach; Family Swim hours: Farmingdale, noon-1 p.m. daily; 6-8:30 p.m. Fridays; Garden City, noon-1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 7-8 p.m. Fridays; Centereach, noon-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays; 6:30-8 p.m. Fridays; noon-1:30 p.m. Sundays; $5 per family member with a $15 maximum per family; goldfishswimschool.com.
Nassau County Aquatic Center
This public facility’s 68-meter indoor pool has an interesting feature: a movable floor that allows the depth to be three feet, four feet or seven feet deep. During Presidents Week, the pool depth will be set to the kid-friendly three feet starting at noon each day (call the facility for the complete schedule). Flotation devices are not permitted. Kids up to age 5 are allowed into the same locker room as a parent of the opposite sex. There is a non-gendered changing room, but just one, so there can be a wait. Swim diapers are allowed. Strollers are allowed in the locker rooms, but not on the pool deck. The snack bar is open only during events, but vending machine snacks are available.
INFO Location: Eisenhower County Park, Merrick Avenue, East Meadow; Public swimming hours are weekdays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and weekends, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Nassau County residents with a Leisure Pass pay $8 for adults and $6 for kids ages 4 to 17; residents without a Leisure Pass and nonresidents pay $22 for adults and $14 for kids; 516-572-0501; nwsdy.li/EISpool.
Life Time Athletic
Life Time Athletic's pool features a “zero entry” — a gently sloped edge that mimics the beach, letting kids safely ease into the toasty 95-degree water. The deepest part of the shallow end is 3 feet. Only Coast Guard-approved flotation devices are permitted; the pool provides life vests for guest use. Swim diapers with a rubber cover are allowed. There are family locker rooms with individual shower stalls. Strollers are allowed on the pool deck and in the locker rooms. The on-site Life Cafe serves omelets, sandwiches, smoothies, salads and more, and features a children’s menu for kids under age 12.
INFO Location: Garden City and Syosset; Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; Nonmember daily passes cost $35 for adults and $15 for kids under 12; lifetime.life.
Long Beach Recreation Center
Both residents and nonresidents of the City of Long Beach are welcome to swim here in water that’s kept between 80 and 82 degrees. There are two pools — an Olympic-size swimming pool with a shallow end that ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 feet, and a separate diving pool that’s 12 feet deep. In addition to conventional Styrofoam floaties, the center offers flotation belts in a softer material that some kids prefer. No outside flotation devices are allowed. Strollers are permitted in one section of the pool deck -- an area beneath the windows. There are two family changing rooms, and kids up to age 6 are allowed into the same locker room as a parent of the opposite sex. Note that kids need to be toilet-trained to go in the water; swim diapers are not allowed. There’s no snack bar at the pool, though there is one at the ice rink in the next building.
INFO Location: 700 Magnolia Blvd., Long Beach; Hours: The pool is open seven days a week, and hours vary; for a complete schedule, call or check the website; Residents pay $8 for adults, $4 for kids and seniors; nonresidents pay $12 for adults, $6 for seniors and kids 15 and younger; 516-431-3890; longbeachny.gov.
Freeport Recreation Center
The 80-degree, 30-meter pool is just the beginning of the indoor fun to be had here: from noon to 4 p.m., families can swim, skate and play in the gymnasium, all for $7, thanks to Triple Play pricing on school vacation days. The shallow end is 3 1/2 feet deep. Coast guard-approved life jackets are the only flotation devices permitted. Kids must be toilet-trained to use the pool; swim diapers are not allowed. Kids under age 5 are allowed to use the same locker room as a parent of the opposite sex; there are no family changing rooms. Strollers are allowed in the locker rooms and on the pool deck. The snack bar will be open over the school break, and there are vending machines as well.
INFO Location: 130 E. Merrick Rd., Freeport; Hours: Weekdays, 6:15 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; weekends, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Village residents pay $10; nonresidents pay a $12 guest fee; kids under 3 swim free; 516-377-2314, nwsdy.li/FRec.
Brookhaven Aquatic Center
This 25-meter pool, which features both lap lanes and open swim areas, is kept at 86 degrees. The shallow end is 4 feet deep. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are the only flotation devices permitted; there are some provided. Swim diapers are allowed. Kids up to age 6 are permitted into the same locker room as a parent of the opposite sex, and there is one family changing room. Strollers are allowed in the locker room, but not on the pool deck. Don’t come hungry: There’s no snack bar or vending machine.
INFO Location: 300 Mastic Beach Rd., Mastic Beach; Hours: The pool will be closed on Presidents Day but open the rest of the week. Hours vary; call the facility or visit the website for a complete schedule; $4 to $12 for a day pass; price depends on residency and age; 631-281-2870, nwsdy.li/BACpool.
Suffolk County Community College Health Club
The water in this eight-lane, 25-meter lap pool is kept between 80 and 82 degrees. The shallow end is 4 1/2 feet deep. Flotation devices are permitted as long as an adult guardian maintains hand contact with the child at all times. The facility has pool noodles but no life vests. Strollers are permitted on the pool deck and in the locker room. There are no family changing rooms, but kids up to about age 5 can go into the same locker room as a parent of the opposite sex. Swim diapers are allowed. There’s a snack bar as well as vending machines.
INFO Location: Crooked Hill Road, Brentwood; Hours: Open daily, hours vary; for a complete schedule, call or visit the website; Day pass costs $10; 631-851-6904, nwsdy.li/SCCCpool.
If you’re willing to travel a bit farther afield, these indoor water parks are within driving distance from Long Island:
Camelback, 193 Resort Dr., Tannersville, Pennsylvania, 570-629-1665, camelbackresort.com
This resort’s water park, Aquatopia, features 13 waterslides, seven pools, a water coaster, an adventure river and more. Admission is free for resort guests. Rates start at about $650 per night during the school break.
Great Wolf Lodge, 1 Great Wolf Dr., Scotrun, Pennsylvania, 570-688-9899, greatwolf.com
The indoor water park, which is for resort guests only, has attractions catering to all ages, including an 18-inch-deep toddler pool, a variety of waterslides, a lazy river and a water coaster. Rates start at around $609 per night during the school break.
Split Rock Resort, 100 Moseywood Rd., Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania, 570-722-9111, splitrockresort.com
The on-site H2Oooohh! Indoor Waterpark features three four-story waterslides, an activity pool, a zero-entry wave pool and a jungle-themed play structure. The Splash & Stay package, which includes water park admission with your stay, starts at around $224 per night during the holiday week.
Red Jacket Resort /Kahuna Laguna, Route 16, North Conway, New Hampshire 508-760-9240, redjacketresorts.com, kahunalaguna.com
Attractions at Kahuna Laguna, which is adjacent to the Red Jacket Resort, include two body slides, two tube slides, a wave pool with waterfalls, an in-pool basketball court and a water activity tower with a rope bridge, tipping bucket and water cannons. February school vacation rates start at about $325; water park admission starts at an additional $20 per guest.
Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, 89 Six Flags Dr., Queensbury, New York, 518-824-6000, sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com
This on-site water park features a white water raft ride, a wave pool for body boarding and surfing, two tube waterslides, a lazy river and an activity structure for younger kids with squirt guns, slides and a tipping bucket. Room rates start at about $299 and include water park admission with your stay.
Kalahari Resort, 250 Kalahari Blvd., Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania, 877-525-2427, kalahariresorts.com
Attractions at this African-themed indoor water park include a family raft ride, a surf simulator, a basketball pool, a zero-depth activity pool, several slides and themed photo-op activities such as Become a Mermaid and Shark Attack Lessons. February vacation week rates start at about $470 and include water park admission with your stay.