Nothing marks the true onset of summer like a dip in the pool—even better if it's one that’s part of a historic castle, villa, mansion, or the like. And, even if you have to travel far and wide to find a pool to cool off in, it’s well worth it if that means escaping the dreadful summer heat. Naturally, with temperatures rising in lead up to the official start of summer next month, it’s the perfect time to take a look at our list of the best pools to visit at historic houses across the country, including ones at the Versace Mansion, Old Westbury Gardens, the Getty Villa, and more. Don't forget the sunscreen!
8. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West, Florida
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is where notable works like “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and To Have and Have Not were written—and it’s also where the famed writer’s second wife, Pauline, had a 75-by-25-foot pool installed. Hemingway was initially enraged with her decision to spend $20,000 on this pool—even though it was solely Pauline’s money that went towards its creation—to the point where he threw a penny to the ground before stating, “You might as well take my last cent.” Pauline saved the penny and later had it preserved in the concrete. Eventually, Hemingway learned to appreciate the pool, and he even had a 6-foot-high brick wall built to surround it, so that he could have full privacy while swimming in the nude, according to The New York Times.
7. Falaise at Sands Point Preserve, Sands Point, New York
Long Island’s Sands Point Preserve is home to several properties, including Hempstead House and Falaise, the latter of which served as the residence of businessman Harry Frank Guggenheim and his wife, Caroline Morton. The home was a wedding present from the groom’s father, mining magnate Daniel Guggenheim. Falaise, which means ‘cliff’ in French, boasts the only pool on the property—and it was originally a rose garden, but Harry had it converted following his doctors’ orders to exercise more, given his cancer diagnosis.
6. Old Westbury Gardens, Old Westbury, New York
Old Westbury Gardens—which was built in 1906 in the Carolean Revival style of architecture—may be known for its luscious landscape and countless appearances in major films and television shows (think Gossip Girl and Cruel Intentions), but it also boasts a picture-perfect pool that overlooks a scenic pond. And there’s even a trinity of mosaics viewable from the ground level of the pool!
5. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C.
Built between 1938 and 1940, Dumbarton Oaks is a Georgetown gem that was created for diplomat Robert Woods Bliss and his wife, Mildred Barnes Bliss, both of whom were notable art collectors and philanthropists. Its landscape was designed by Beatrix Farrand (who happened to be Edith Wharton’s niece), and the sight of its pool will certainly have you thinking you’ve ventured off to the French countryside.
4. The Villa Casa Casuarina at the Former Versace Mansion, Miami Beach, Florida
Before it became a boutique hotel with its own restaurant and event space, the Villa Casa Casuarina was home to legendary fashion designer Gianni Versace from 1992 until 1997, when he was murdered in front of the dwelling. One of the property’s most distinguishable features is the Thousand Mosaic Pool, which you actually swim in as a guest of the hotel.
3. The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design, Honolulu, Hawaii
Doris Duke’s former home in Honolulu, Hawaii, now known as the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, & Design, was built between 1936 and 1938. She was inspired to create the dwelling as a space to house her expansive collection of Islamic artwork, which would eventually include over 4,000 items in total. Its picturesque (and oceanfront!) pool, pond, and playhouse make for the ultimate backyard landscape. And best of all, this isn’t the only Doris Duke residence that now operates as a house museum; Rough Point, the billionaire heiress’s former home in Newport, Rhode Island, is also available to tour.
2. The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, California
Located in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, California, the Getty Villa is one of two sites that make up the J. Paul Getty Museum. Its 220 foot-long marble-lined pool—which boasts bronze statues from an ancient Italian villa on either end—is undeniably a focal point of this 64-acre property.
1. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California
Hearst Castle famously boasts two pools that are surely unlike anything you’ve ever seen: The Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool—both of which were dramatically transformed for Lady Gaga’s “G.U.Y.” music video in 2014. The outdoor Neptune Pool holds an impressive 345,000 gallons of water and is accompanied by 17 nearby showers and changing rooms. The indoor Roman Pool, on the other hand, is covered in royal blue and gold-leafed Murano glass tiles. On occasion, members of the Hearst Castle Foundation are allowed to swim in both pools—but it will set you (and your wallet) back, given that membership costs $500, and swimming event tickets are worth an additional $950. Is it too late to befriend Lady Gaga?
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