Sometimes you want to take a dip outside of your normal community pool that is, oftentimes than not, swarmed with others who have the same “beat the heat” ideas like you! Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area are home to many secret and not-so-secret swimming spots that will make you feel like you’ve escaped the kiddie pool area and entered an oasis in your own backyard! Here are 8 of the best swimming spots in the Tuscaloosa area:


  1. Hurricane Creek 
Hurricane Creek Park located on Highway 216 is a local favorite for cooling down in Tuscaloosa’s scorching sun. Hurricane Creek Park is open to the public from dawn to dusk. This spot is a wonderful place to explore native plants and aquatic wildlife, or spend time enjoying nature and soaking up the sun with friends and family! Visitors are encouraged to wear rubber-soled shoes so that they will not slip on the shale which exists along part of the stream. The water is usually deep enough to do some serious swimming if you’re up for it! If not, there is a shallow, flat end to sit, relax, and unwind!


  1. The Cliffs at Lake Nicol
Beyond the Lake Nicol Spillway near North River lies The Cliffs at Lake Nicol. This lake is relatively small, but packs a big punch when it comes to fun in the sun and aquatic activities! While its swimming holes are a crowd-pleaser, Lake Nicol is also known as a great beginner’s spot for those who want to canoe. Beware, this location is called “The Cliffs” for a reason, but do not get too caught up in the lure of thrilling excitement. There is a $500 fine for those who take their chances and jump off of Lake Nicol’s cliffs. Plus, this is extremely unsafe, so you’re better off wading in the waters with the rest of the smarty-pants!


  1. Payne Lake
Payne Lake is one of the lesser-known isolated gems of Tuscaloosa. Located off County Road 71, Payne Lake offers a perfect shallow swimming spot that is perfect for water activities and picnicking. While this location is one of the few that is a little bit of a drive from the heart of Tuscaloosa, escaping the city can come with its perks! Tucked conveniently within the Talledega National Forest, Payne Lake is the picture-perfect campground scene with its tranquil waters, boating, and fishing activities. We promise this swimming spot is worth the drive! Wake up early to pack a lunch and head on out to make a full day out of Payne Lake!


  1. Lake Lurleen State Park
Lake Lurleen is a Tuscaloosa icon for its hiking trails and fishing spots, but it also is home to a perfect sandy lakefront beach! Beat the heat when you head over to its waterfront to have a relaxing day on the “beach”! Lake Lurleen’s swimming spots are open from 7 am to 9 pm every day so you can be ready for the heatwave all day! Admission to the state park is $3 per adult/$1 for children and seniors (children under age 6 admitted free)


  1. Lake Harris
Lake Harris has been a famous swimming spot for University of Alabama students for decades, and for a great reason! Hosting high cliffs, two dams, hiking trails, a beach, and lots of water to swim, you’ll never get bored of this Tuscaloosa hotspot! Lake Harris is a tranquil place to relax, swim with friends, and enjoy a sunset picnic. The swimming area is open one hour prior to sunrise and an hour after sunset. Make the most out of your sweltering day with a little swimming with friends!


  1. Lake Tuscaloosa
By now, we all know that Lake Tuscaloosa is a hotbed for fun outdoor activities! Surrounded by hills and southern pines, Lake Tuscaloosa is a scenic spot to lay out and sunbathe or relax on a boat with friends and family. While this lake is popular with boats and watercraft, that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy the water on your own! Or if you are feeling adventurous, and have your boating license, you can rent a pontoon boat of your own to take on the open waters! Pier 43 on Lake Tuscaloosa has various boats to choose from to make sure you have the best fit for your sun-filled day!


  1. The Harrison Taylor Splash Pad
While the Harrison Taylor Splash Pad is not a nature-filled natural swimming hole, it is still an outdoor aquatic adventure for your little ones! The splash pad offers many water devices to keep your kids cool and entertained while the heat is high! Staying out of the sun is also a convenience thanks to the many shaded pavilions surrounding the Harrison Taylor Splash Pad. The park is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m six days a week and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Grab a cooler and head on over!


  1. UA Arboretum
We can’t forget our furry friends when the heat starts to rise! Puppies deserve to cool off too and the University of Alabama Arboretum is the perfect spot for you and your pup to take a walk and cool off! Before Tuscaloosa’s official dog park opened, UA’s Arboretum served the area’s residents looking to burn off some extra energy. The pond, located a short walk from the entrance, still serves as an unofficial dog park of sorts, and you can often find several dogs and their owners staying cool in the water and playing fetch by the pond’s side!