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The sun’s out, the temp’s climbing to 80-90 degrees everyday, and we’re all dreaming of cooling off with some ice cream by the water. Luckily Southern California has plenty of opportunities for both. There’s not only sandy beaches along the coast but also a few swimming holes further inland where you can go for a dip as it gets progressively warmer this season.

1. Rock Pool

swimming holes near California Photo by Tony Hoffarth on Flickr

Rock Pool is one of many highlights in Malibu Creek State Park, just outside of L.A. It’s a three-mile loop to the swimming hole and a relatively easy family-friendly hike. Some brave swimmers like to jump off the cliffs here but it’s dangerous and not recommended. The depth of the pool varies and there are rocks scattered throughout that you definitely wouldn’t want to land on.

2. Red Rock

swimming holes near California Photo via

Some locals consider Red Rock to be a legendary party spot. But the deep swimming hole – at the end of Paradise Road on the Santa Ynez River – is popular with teenagers, families and people from all walks of life. Aside from swimming, the area is also excellent for car camping and having a picnic. More info here.

3. Devil’s Punchbowl, Cedar Creek Falls

swimming holes near California Photo by Byron Hetrick on Flickr

The 3-mile hike down to Devil’s Punchbowl is easy. However coming back up is where it gets brutal. It’s another 3 miles back to the start but the climb is steep. Of course the trek’s worth it – you’re rewarded with an 80-foot waterfall at the bottom and a natural pool to cool off in. The trailhead’s just off Thornbush Road in Ramona, about a 45-minute drive northeast of San Diego. Spring is the best time to visit – the falls typically become dry during the summer months and the hike is brutally hot then. More info on Cedar Creek Falls.

4. Switzer Falls

Photo by Jason Ippolito on Flickr Photo by Jason Ippolito on Flickr

Switzer Falls is a popular and relatively easy five-mile hike in Angeles National Forest, just outside of L.A. Not only do you get views of a 50-foot waterfall, but there are several swimming holes along the trail where you can take a dip in ice-cold mountain water. Here is the location of Switzer Falls.

5. Lake Arrowhead, Aztec Falls

swimming holes in California Photo by brenrub on Flickr

Aztec Falls has it all: great views, places to cliff jump, cool mountain water and complete solitude in the San Bernardino Mountains. The only tough part is trying to find this natural pool – it’s hidden along the Pacific Crest Trail, near Lake Arrowhead. To get there start at the Splinters Cabin Day Use Area in San Bernardino National Forest and then hike the PCT north along Deep Creek and look for a side trail that drops down to the pool at Aztec Falls.