Mayor Bloomberg’s “dumpster pools” seemed like a joke when first announced—certainly to David Letterman’s audience—but after the sweltering summer of 2010, they don’t look so bad. There are, however, many great “real” pools in the city, and here are three of our favorites, rated on quality of facilities and lack of crowds:
Asser Levy Rec Center: There are two free outdoor pools, and for a reasonable membership fee ($75 a year for adults, $10 for seniors and free for kids up to 18), you have access to a gorgeous indoor pool and recreation center. East 23rd Street at FDR Drive, 212-447-2010
Asphalt Green: Manhattan’s only 50-meter Olympic standard swimming pool, Asphalt Green is a bit pricey ($35 a day for adults and $10 for kids), but the daily cost goes down with a membership, which lets you participate in a number of year-round programs for kids and adults. And the pool is lovely. 555 East 90th Street, 212-369-8890,
Highbridge Pool: The outdoor Olympic-size pool and wading pool are free, and the park has spray showers, fitness equipment, plus volleyball, baseball, and basketball facilities. There is also a great playground and a barbecue area—who could ask for more? Amsterdam Avenue and 173rd Street, 212-927-2400

Wednesdays. Starts: Aug. 25. Continues through Sept. 15, 2010