Review: Bartholomew Park Pool

Written by Emily Mathon

We arrived opening day (6/6/14) at Bartholomew pool at about 12:30. I never swam at this pool before it closed down years ago, so I don’t have that as a point of reference. We typically go to Patterson Pool to cool off. As we walked to the gate, one family was leaving muttering about not having cash or an ATM (note to visitors: bring cash or your municipal pool punch card). When we walked inside, the place was packed with kids, adults, toddlers and teens. There were a few places in the grass to place our towel and bag, none in the shade. Unlike most other pools, there’s a designated area with picnic tables (most of these were claimed by coolers, although not many seated occupants).

Bartholomew Pool. Photo by J. Potter-Miller.

The biggest pool there has lap lanes, a deep end with diving board, and long shallow end (3.5 feet deep) for playing. This pool is not shaded, which made it slightly warmer. We ran into many friends in this pool.

For a change of scenery, we headed to the shaded pool with the lily pad walk-across challenge. There was a line for that, which moved pretty slowly depending on the size of the adventurer. This pool felt cooler, perhaps because of the shade?

The large water slides had a line of children big and small. Some of our friends warned us about the height restriction (kids must be 48″ to ride). Fortunately both of we’re tall enough to go. We decided to save that for last. There are 2 options of slide, a dark loopy one and a longer, less loopy one. We tried the dark loopy one-it was awesome. The line moved pretty fast as well.

After about 2 hours, we were ready to go. We visited the nice restroom, took a shower (warm water and private), checked out the commodes (plentiful), and used the hand drier to dry off a bit.  There are two family restrooms (one men’s, one women’s) also that include a shower, toilet and bench for dressing.

On the way out, the giant blue gate was closed. There was a growing line outside, waiting to get in (2pm). As we left, two more were able to enter; one in, one out when there’s a line. Another man that was leaving was reminded that he’d have to wait in line to return, if he left. I asked if folks could call ahead to check on the gate status-they have no phone for addressing such inquiries.

Other features:

* on our second visit we checked out the baby/toddler pool. It’s mostly shaded, has splash pad features, a tiny water slide (for kids ages 2-4 years old) and a slightly deeper area (~2 ft).
* there is a “vending area” but nothing’s for sale right now. You can bring in food/drinks but no alcohol or glass.
* parking is pretty ample (unless the pool is full) and it’s right across the street from HEB.
* my main caution for families with kids ~ 6 years old (and close to 48″), the deeper pools are right at ‘mouth’ level. Be prepared to stay in the water with your kids, unless they are strong swimmers. The pool is full and they can’t stand comfortably.
* updated on our second visit: we decided to wait in line on Sunday afternoon around 3:30pm. We waited for 30 minutes under the shade of our large umbrella (recommended).

Bottom line – This pool is lots of fun for all ages (might be a little tough on the small 5 year olds, if they’re looking for a slide). Prepare for crowds, not too much space for sitting in the shade (although lots of in-pool shade!) and a little adventure. We’ll go back but will likely wait for the lines to die down. I think part of the bottleneck this weekend was the novelty and the fact that other pools were closed. We returned for a second visit on Sunday because the list of “open” pools on the city website was inaccurate and we didn’t want to drive around.

I’d love to hear from other families about their experiences!

Bartholomew Park pool opening. Photo by Emily Mathon.

Photo by Emily Mathon.

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