Don’t get us wrong—we love the Pacific for its dramatic, natural beauty, but the rough surf and frigid ocean temps aren’t exactly swimmer-friendly. So we found 11 Northern California spots within driving distance of the city where the weather is hot and the water is perfect for cooling off on long summer days. From popular swimming holes only a short hike from the road to secluded lakes that require more of a trek into the wilderness, we’ve got options for every kind of summer adventure.
Editor’s Note: Always check conditions carefully before taking a plunge. Swift currents and changing water levels can make some of these swimming holes dangerous, especially in the spring. Use extra caution before diving or cliff jumping in case of submerged boulders.