If you’re looking for a fabulous family-friendly swimming day trip in the East Bay, Contra Loma Lagoon in Antioch should be top on your list. I recently took my four kids (ages 2-9) and they all absolutely loved the part-beach-part-pool setup. The lagoon is currently taking reservations up to two weeks in advance and is ideal for non-swimmers and older children alike. We loved it so much we’ve already booked our next trip for when the grandparents visit!
What is the Contra Loma Lagoon
About an hour’s drive from Berkeley, Contra Loma Lagoon is a large chlorinated swimming pool set next to a lake, surrounded by rolling hills and open space parkland. The pool’s shallow half is partly filled with sand, while the deeper section is not. There’s a special lip to keep the sand in place and the deeper parts are cordoned off only for adults and children who have passed a swim test.
Pro Tip: Don’t be turned off by the idea of “dirty” sand! It’s actually a lovely large grain type that doesn’t stick to wet bodies quite as much as smaller grains can. It really is awesome.
There’s grass surrounding the pool, with 6 large permanent shade umbrellas offered and several trees as well. Arrive early to snag one of the shady areas, or bring along a canopy or half-tent since it gets HOT in Antioch. The entire pool and grassy area are fully fenced in. Just outside the gates, you’ll find bathrooms and a snack bar (they have yummy chocolate-dipped soft-serve!).
Contra Loma Lagoon for Toddlers and their Siblings
If you have a water-loving toddler who isn’t quite a swimmer, Contra Loma Lagoon is the perfect pool for them. The shallow sandy area is perfect for sitting and playing in without the hazard of waves at a beach. The gradual deepening slope of the pool is also pretty gentle, so it feels very approachable for small children.
My younger two children, who aren’t yet real swimmers, and usually require a lot of adult assistance to feel safe in pools, were far more independent and happy than usual. So I was easily able to play with them in the shallows while still supervising my older boys’ play in the slightly deeper area. For added peace of mind, there are at least four lifeguards on duty. Bring sand toys and plenty of sunscreen because nobody will ever want to leave!
Pro Tip: If you forget your floaties, there are life jackets available to borrow for free!
What to Bring:
- Lots and lots of sunscreen! Reapply often!
- Half-tent or a canopy or half-tent for shade
- Blanket and towels
- Cooler with cold drinks and food
- Floaties or life jacket for younger children
- Cash for parking
- For 2021 masks are required when not swimming
- Sand toys, beach balls, etc.
- Goggles (no snorkels allowed)
The Bottom Line on Contra Loma Lagoon
Yes, it’s a bit of a drive from Berkeley. Yes, Antioch gets crazy hot. That said, Contra Loma Lagoon is totally worth it. In fact, the high temps are actually a positive since then you won’t have to worry about a foggy, cold day at the pool. The unique sandy shallow area is wonderful for young children. It’s also pretty inexpensive, very clean and the water is refreshing (not too chilly for this cold-averse mom!). And with the reservation system in place for the 2021 season, it likely won’t get overly crowded. Ultimately, Contra Loma Lagoon is a must-go for Bay Area families!
Contra Loma Lagoon Details:
Hours: 11 am to 6 pm beginning Memorial Day Weekend.
Location: 1200 Frederickson Lane, Antioch 1-888-327-2757. About an hour from Oakland/Berkeley
Editor’s Note for 2021: Admission to Contra Loma is reservation-only for your entire party, and it is a bit of a hassle, especially using the EBparks website the first time. Reserve your spot at Contra Loma Lagoon >
$3 age 16-61
$2 age 1-15
$2 seniors 62+ or disabled
FREE under 1 year
$5 Parking Fee