Places to Shed Your Clothes
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Barton Springs (Austin, TX)
Locals enjoy year-round swimming at Barton Springs, a manmade swimming pool fed from underground springs that keep the water temperature a constant 70 degrees. Spanning 3 acres in Zilker Park, Barton Springs is home to grassy hills and moss-covered rocks that are ideal for sunbathing when it's equally nice outside.
Central Park (New York City)
Central Park's iconic, 250-acre lawn is home to several sunbathing spots. Join the crowds on the Great Lawn or Sheep Meadow (where Wi-Fi is available) -- because isn't people watching half the fun? -- or sneak off to a more secluded corner on the East Green, which is also one of the park's quiet zones.
North Avenue Beach (Chicago)
Try keeping Chi-Town residents off the Lake Michigan beachfront after surviving a subarctic winter. In May, North Avenue Beach becomes a hive of activity, with sand volleyball courts, access to water sports, Castaways restaurant and bar as well as unbeatable skyline views.
Charles River Esplanade (Boston)
This wide, wooden pier attracts dog-walkers, joggers and bikers -- as it is best accessible via the Arthur Fiedler footbridge crossing Storrow Drive. Enjoy the only waterfront sunbathing spot within Boston city limits, and relax as teams of sailboats and racing college crews go by.
Dolores Park (San Francisco)
On weekends, Dolores Park in the Mission fills up with families on the playground, tennis players on the free courts and sunbathers on the grassy hill -- all seeking an urban "beach" with some of the most beautiful views of San Francisco.
Lake Calhoun (Minneapolis)
The largest -- and most popular -- of Minneapolis's Chain of Lakes, Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach tends to attract a younger crowd for sunbathing, picnics and beach volleyball. The paved trail circling the lake, which is almost exactly a 5k, boasts views of downtown Minneapolis and is popular with cyclists, runners and walkers alike.
Georgetown Waterfront (Washington, DC)
The nation's capital is not known for lacking green space, but unabashed sunbathers eschew quieter neighborhood spots like Lincoln and Meridian Hill parks for the bustling Georgetown Waterfront. Walkers and joggers take advantage of the paved paths along the Potomac River; children run through the 50-foot-wide fountain; professionals spill out onto the decks of waterfront bars; and a lucky few party on docked boats.
Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City, AZ)
There's no shortage of sunshine in the desert, but you still might be surprised to find this spring break oasis on the Colorado River between California and Arizona. On nice weekends Arizona college students, boating enthusiasts and retirees alike trade in the community pool for Rotary Beach's pristine sands and calm waters (due to a no-wake zone).
Volunteer Park (Seattle)
North Capitol Hill's 45-acre Volunteer Park is perfect for sunbathing when there's a reprieve from Seattle's perpetual rain. See the Space Needle and Olympic Mountains, meant to be viewed through Isamu Noguchi's 1969 sculpture, Black Sun, then visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum (located in the middle of the park) and 5 adjacent green houses -- after you've covered up, of course.
Cheesman Park (Denver)
Bordered on 3 sides by private residences and apartment buildings, Cheesman Park's beautifully manicured lawns are a hidden respite from the city. There's a running trail, beautiful pavilion, children’s playground and roughly 80 acres of green space to throw a frisbee, fly a kite or just stretch out with a book -- if you can get over the fact that you're sunbathing over scores of unmarked graves. No seriously, Cheesman Park used to be Prospect Hill Cemetery, boasting ghost tours as well as botanical gardens.