I’ve done many posts about the Wilson Aquatic Center in Tenleytown DC, but I still get tons of questions about it, so I decided to make one super post that will hopefully be very informative for visitors. And since it’s winter out and the pool is FREE (to DC residents) it’s a great indoor activity for you and your baby / toddler / kids!
Here’s the important info: (If you have other suggestions / tips please leave a comment!)
1) You must have your ID – no exceptions! Of course, your child doesn’t need one. If you are not a DC resident, you have to pay a $4 fee to get in. They don’t take cash, so bring your credit card. You can also use a utility bill to prove your DC residency if you don’t have a DC licence yet (like me – eep!)
2) Your small child needs to be wearing a swim diaper AND a swim suit – they can’t just wear a swim diaper. I am guessing if they just had a swim suit on there wouldn’t be any way for them to tell if there was a diaper on underneath. Besides, who is to say your kid isn’t potty trained?! If you are wondering where you can get swim diapers in winter, check on Diapers.com or Amazon.com.
3) There are men’s, women’s, and family locker rooms. Both the women’s and family locker rooms have diaper changing stations in them (I’m not sure about the men’s…) Children over the age of 3 of the opposite sex must change in the family locker room. AKA, you can’t take your son into the women’s locker room. I used to prefer the women’s locker room (the showers are generally warmer) but I got a lot of dirty looks for having Cam there (even though he is just 2) so now we stick to the family locker room. There they have large private changing rooms – there are 4 or 5 of them available.
4) There is stroller parking available at the base of the stairs that lead from the lobby to the pool – just outside of where the elevator lets you off.
5) Things to bring:
A combo lock for the lockers – they do not provide them.
You might want to bring flip flops / sandals for yourself and your child. I’m not really a fan of walking barefoot in public places – but maybe that’s just me.
I also bring shampoo, conditioner, and some liquid soap. The showers have soap dispensers in them, but they are often empty. I just keep travel size bottles in my swim bag to have on hand.
I always bring 2 towels – one for me and one for Cam. The pool is very warm, but it feels COLD when you get out! I also got Cam another bath robe to wear post swim.
Toys – one father I’ve seen there a few times has a great set of bath squirter toys that are a big hit. They also have a basketball hoop and a few balls, but those are often in high demand – so feel free to bring some of your own things.
The children’s pool itself is a “beach pool” meaning it starts at 0″ depth and gradually gets deeper, just like at the beach. It tops out somewhere between 2 or 3 feet. There are several water features – some water jets that shoot up, and some buckets that fill and dump which are often off. They seem a little scary and loud for little kids, but older kids LOVE them. You can always go talk to the people in the office and ask them to turn them off or on. They are very friendly.
Then there’s a semi separate deeper area (5 feet?) that the less serious swimmers do laps and water aerobics in. There is also a HUGE lap pool if you really want to get your swim on and go without your child. And, there is a “therapy pool” (gigantic hot tub) that only adults are allowed in.
There is always a lifeguard on duty at the kid’s pool and the main lap pool. They are very attentive and I always feel safe having Cam there.
Phew! That was a lot of info – I hope you find it helpful. I can’t stress enough how great this pool is – especially on a rainy, snowy, or cold day. And, after you’ve gone swimming, hit up the Whole Foods across the street for lunch. They have an upstairs seating area that has plenty of high chairs!
The Wilson Aquatic Center is open Mon-Fri 6:00am – 9:00pm; Sat,Sun 9:00am – 5:00pm. It will be closed December 24 and 25 for Christmas, and December 31 and January 1 for New Years. You can call them with any questions at: (202) 730-0583. If you are interested in learning about classes at the Wilson Aquatic Center, check out the DC DPR website.