Testing the waters: NOW rates swimming hot spots

Cool Waters in West Allis ranked high as a place for adventure with its four different water slides, obstacle courses and zero-depth wading area.

Cool Waters in West Allis ranked high as a place for adventure with its four different water slides, obstacle courses and zero-depth wading area. Photo By C.T. Kruger

July 18, 2011

The bright summer sun would have been too much for veteran reporters to handle when trying to rate some of the NOW community swimming locations; but alas, it was no match for the younger reporters.

So there Andrea Sielicki and I were, two news interns sent out to explore three of the area’s swimmin’ holes (open water sources), and three of the area’s cee-ment ponds (swimming pools). Along the way, we scoped out the best body slides, kiddie pools, concessions stands and more to get the best look at the six locations.

Let’s face it: If it get’s hot enough, jumping in any cool water source would be refreshing and satisfying. But if beggars can be choosers, they will be. That’s why we’re giving the lowdown on where to find the high dives, and the skinny on where to take a dip. We want parents to know where their children will have fun, but we also want parents to know if they’ll enjoy themselves, too.

So here’s our take on six of the area’s summer hot spots from two college kids who wish they had remembered to wear sun block on a long sunny day.


Five waves = Bring the family, the neighbors, and maybe some strangers. This is the place to be

Four waves = Very family friendly, and the older kids will have a blast, too

Three waves = Everyone can enjoy an afternoon here

Two waves = Kids and teens should come prepared with things to do

One wave = Little kids only


Cool Waters in West Allis

Andrea’s take: If you’re looking for something different and more exciting than an average trip to the pool, Cool Waters has it. My favorite part was the log and lily pad crossings, which is a feature unique to this pool. This place has more water slides than any other and it has two sand volleyball courts within the gate, so bring a volleyball!

Ian’s take: This is a great, family-oriented place built for adventure. The giant pool features kid’s slides and play sets, water obstacles and big swim areas, while two larger slides have a spot of their own. Great concessions and tons of lounge chairs help make Cool Waters the perfect afternoon getaway for the whole gang.

Rating: Four waves

Idle Isle in Muskego

Andrea’s take: Retreat, relaxation, and rest are words that come to mind when I am at Idle Isle. When I’m here, I finally get to do absolutely nothing. Bring a fishing pole, a towel, a good book and you’re all set. And if you can bring a hammock to set up, all the better. Also, there’s a water-ski show on Tuesday nights, and a bass tournament on Wednesday nights, but parking is limited so get there early!

Ian’s take: This is the only place where you’ll never hear “No running” yelled by a lifeguard, since there are none. This is a swim-at-your-own-risk location meant for tranquility. Little Muskego Lake provides a peaceful backdrop for soaking up the sun, cooling off in the water, or picnicking in the shade. It’s a hidden gem where you can finally sit back and enjoy nature. That is, unless you have a sweet boat to launch.

Rating: Two waves.

Menomonee County Park

Andrea’s Take: The Lannon Quarry in Menomonee County Park attracts kids and teens with its long span of beach. The six separate swimming areas are nicely divided for safety and there is a deck and diving board for experienced swimmers. The large pavilion allows parents a shaded spot to overlook their children as well as the rest of the park. Outside of the quarry, there are numerous walking trails, fishing spots and campgrounds to make Lannon a desirable spot for a weekend staycation.

Ian’s Take: The century-old quarry in this park is a great place to explore because trails trace its entire perimeter and the beach is the biggest of all the spots we visited. The landscape just looks awesome and it entertains opportunities for everything that summer brings, including tanning, swimming, diving and fishing. Tons of shade invites you to sit in a hammock with a great view of the diving deck, the beach and the kids’ play area. You can’t go wrong here.

Rating: Five Waves

The Pond in Brown Deer

Andrea’s Take: Next to the village center, Brown Deer’s pond is its own little oasis. The beach and water are clean, rock-free, and there is a diving board and deck to jump from. Be sure to bring a cooler full of drinks and food, since carry-ins are allowed. Altogether, it’s like bringing the good parts of a pool to the beach. It’s the perfect place for kids and ‘tweens.

Ian’s Take: It’s unusual to see a 1-acre pond in the middle of an industrial park, but this one works. It’s got a campground feel to it, and it just looks very well kempt. I’d say bringing kids by the masses is a good idea here, and the diving board and deck are a great addition to the wide beach. This is a great place to escape the crowds that cramp up the pools, so bring food, beach towels or chairs and get away for a short while.

Rating: Three waves

Tosa Pool at Hoyt Park 

Andrea’s Take: The best features of this pool are its great concession stand and the fact that it is brand new as of May. There’s a lot going on here, with two diving boards, a slide and a large children’s water play set, but the open swim area wasn’t big enough for me. However, there is a good amount of green space inside the pool enclosure, great for spreading out with a towel.

Ian’s Take: It’s hard for me to find a negative aspect to Tosa Pool, which is why it’s my favorite of the group. The pool is highly interactive for kids, with a wet and dry sandbox for making castles, a big shiny waterslide, and an all-in-one water play set. There’s tons of great seating, whether in the sun or the shade on the pavilion. But there’s more. The concession stand sells Alterra coffee and Cousin’s Subs. Seriously. Need I say more?

Rating: Five Waves

Wirth Aquatic Center in Wirth Park

Andrea’s take: This cee-ment pond definitely has the largest swim area of all the pools, as well as a large kid’s area. The high dive and drop-slide are its highlights, and there’s a great sandbox and play set for younger children in its own separate location with a wading pool. I really like the division between the regular and the wading pools, and the overall variety and size of the Wirth Aquatic Center make it my favorite pool.

Ian’s take: I loved the fact that this place has a high dive. I can’t get over it. So cool. That being said, Wirth is the place to make waves since it also has a low dive and a drop slide. Wirth succeeds in appealing to all ages of kids with the sandbox and play sets to the giant water slide. Apart from the smaller selection of seating and concessions, the surrounding skate park, tennis courts and ball fields, this place can keep everyone busy all day long.

Rating: Four Waves


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