Stay Sober During Summer Part Two: Places to Swim and Places to Escape (In a Healthy Way)

Photo of woman swimming in a pool
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In Part One of our Sober All Summer Series, we shared two lists of recovery friendly activities to help you stay on track and stay on your program this summer. We keep these lists simple, because we want to offer suggestions that are accessible to everyone That’s why our first two lists were about foundational recovery activities: walking for health, stress relief, and relaxation, and talking with friends or recovery peers for support, fellowship, and staying connected to the recovery community and the people in it.

We’ll share our next two lists in a moment. First, however, we’ll offer the same advice we offered at the beginning of Part One: the most important part of staying sober all summer having a recovery plan and sticking to it. If you’ve had professional treatment and support, you probably created your recovery plan with your therapist and counselors before discharge. If you haven’t had professional treatment and support, we encourage you to either 1. Seek treatment, or 2. Find a sponsor at a 12-step meeting or similar recovery group to help you create a personalized plan for the summer – and beyond – that increases your likelihood of sustainable, lifelong recovery.

You can also navigate to the blog section of our website and read our previous posts on staying sober in the summertime:

Our Summer Sobriety Tips: A Reading List

Summer Recovery Tips: 8 Ways to Stay Sober During 4th of July

Summer Recovery Tips: The Potluck Picnic (Recipes Included)

Having a plan, having a sponsor, and having a robust support system are core components of a successful recovery. In addition, evidence shows that the earlier a person with an alcohol or substance use disorder (AUD/SUD) receives professional treatment, the better the outcome. Therefore, if you think you need help, we encourage you to contact an experienced mental health provider for a full mental health/addiction assessment.

Remember the Basics

We can’t write an article about staying healthy, happy, and sober in the summer months without saying this:

Stay hydrated!

We know, we know. Everyone says it – but they say it for a reason. You don’t have to carry a fancy water bottle around everywhere you go. Just make sure you drink water throughout the day, because it helps al the cells in your body function smoothly and efficiently. And in the summer, your body loses water while regulating heat – i.e. sweating – so it’s important to drink more water when you do any kind of outdoor activity while it’s hot outside.

With that said, we’ll move to the topic at hand, which is how to fill your summer with activities that are recovery friendly. We’ll share two lists in this article: places to swim and places to escape (in a good way).

Sober Summer: Places to Swim

Public Pools

Most of us lived for the pool when we were kids. But we didn’t think about everything that went into getting to the pool. Was it a public pool? A friend’s pool? Were you a country club kid? Or maybe a swim team kid who went to the YMCA for lessons and then joined a swim club. Whatever you did as a kid, now that you’re an adult, you have to figure it all out for yourself, and the first thing you realize: it’s not free!

That’s why public pools are a blessing. They’re usually inexpensive, if not free, and their goal is your goal: make it possible for everyone to have a good time swimming during the summer. In case you’re skeptical about whether there’s actually a public pool near you, we went ahead and did some research for you. We chose a city/town at random from each of the nine states where we own and operate treatment centers, and found links for the public pools in that city/town. If your town isn’t on the list, then do what we did: google “public pools [enter location]” and you’ll find a pool. Here’s our list of links:

From small towns like Boone, NC, to larger metro areas like Cincinnati, OH, public pools are there for you. Check the list, or search in your town: you can recreate those awesome summer pool days you may remember from childhood, or make your own memories, starting this summer.

Condo/Apartment/Neighborhood Pools

We don’t have a list of apartment pools near you – all apologies. However – unless you live in an apartment, condo complex, or neighborhood with a free pool, then this suggestion combines two things that can help you stay on track this summer: staying connected to others, and of course, going swimming. Finding a friend with a pool is easy: all you do is ask. Ask coworkers, ask old friends, ask people at 12-step meetings. Better yet, hang around by the coffee after a 12-step meeting and find a small group and organize a sober/recovery friendly pool party. You never know: you might start an annual summer tradition. Sober 4th of July part, anyone?


Sometimes a pool won’t cut it. You need to get out in nature and immerse yourself in water that’s not chlorinated, get mud between your toes, and look up and see trees and the sky, rather than a canvas awning. The best way to do this is to find what country folk call a swimming hole. Those might be in rivers, lakes, or even creeks. Local knowledge is best, so you need to ask friends, or think way back and remember any non-pool places you went to swim when you were a kid.

Or you can use this list we compiled to help you find a good ‘ol swimmin’ hole in your state:

Every state where we operate treatment centers has parks where swimming is easily accessible. Check these links and plan a fun swim day, a quick getaway, or – if you have time and can make it happen – and actual vacation.

The Beach!

Who doesn’t love the beach? Well, we suppose some people don’t: that’s okay – there’s plenty for you to do if you don’t like the beach. But we’re beach advocates and think the beach can be a great place to relax and recharge during recovery. If you live near the ocean, you know going to the beach doesn’t have to be a big production: you can just take a day and go for it. If you’re in the middle of the country, though, we have good news: plenty of state parks and rivers have recreational beach areas. Use the list of links above to find a state park on a lake or a river – and make plans to go.

One last thing about swimming, especially in rivers, lakes, and oceans: jumping into ice cold water during the summer feels amazing, and might just be the most refreshing thing, ever.

How to Escape Without Running Away

This list gave us pause, because the idea of escaping or running away/getting away from it all is dangerously close to the reason many people develop an alcohol or substance use disorder: they want to escape. Escaping with alcohol or drugs will backfire over time: we all know that. Nevertheless, we all need to escape sometimes. We all need to get away from it all sometimes. And that’s okay. But if you’re in recovery, escaping and getting away from it all can’t mean you forget or ignore the basic reality of your situation, which is that recovery comes first.

When we’re in recovery, we escape to recharge, rather than deny reality. With that in mind, here’s our next list to help you fill your time with recovery-friendly activities for a sober summer.

Places to Escape (Without Running Away)


Bookstores still exist. They exist in all shapes and sizes. They’re in every big city in the country. You can find them in small towns, too. The gist of what we’re saying here is that although Amazon sells more books than anyone on earth, you can still find a brick-and-mortar bookstore filled with real books on real shelves. Whether it’s a small independent mom and pop or a big chain like Books A Million or Barnes and Noble, bookstores are still out there. If you’ve never escaped in a bookstore before, here’s how:

  1. Find store
  2. Get a stack of books
  3. Find a quiet corner – a chair or a spot on the floor – and lose yourself in those books.

Don’t worry. Anyone who works in a bookstore has done this a thousand times, themselves. They won’t hassle you because this is perfectly acceptable bookstore behavior. Honestly, they’ll be jealous they have to work while you get to read.


No explanation needed: going to a movie is a great way to escape from reality for a short period of time. Nothing beats sitting back in one of those big comfy movie theater seats, waiting for the lights to go down, and losing yourself in a comedy, romance, or action movie.

Live Theater

When was the last time you went to see a play? If it’s been a while, we encourage you to reconsider. While some theater tickets are pricey, most theaters have discount days or special deals for afternoon performances. There’s something magic about the theater that you don’t get with movies or television. You see real live humans right there in front of you, performing lines from memory with no second takes, no computer effects, and no stunt doubles. A movie or TV show is what it is: it’s fixed forever, frozen in the final edited form. But theater? When a performer steps on the stage, anything can happen. Sure, there’s a script and they’ve rehearsed the scenes, but the potential is there: when the house lights go down and the stage lights come up on a real human, it’s true: anything can happen. That’s where the magic is.


Wherever you want to go, music can take you there. Concerts are great, and if you can afford Taylor Swift or Foo Fighters tickets, go for it. But we suggest finding smaller, less expensive options in your area. Look in your local papers for jazz clubs, outdoor festivals, or small, family friendly venues. Open mic nights and folk nights can be great fun. We advise against the club scene because, well, most aren’t what you’d call recovery friendly. However, we advise for finding any way to experience music as you can. Live music can be transcendental, but so can putting on your headphones, sitting back in your comfortable chair, closing your eyes, and zoning out to your favorite track. That’s a great way to recharge.

Or consider this: remember back when you were a kid and you’d invite friends over just to sit around and listen to records? You can still do that – but now you can make it recovery friendly. We bet there’s a low-key movement for old-school vinyl record enthusiasts in recovery – and if there’s not, it’s time for you to start one.

Staying Sober All Summer

This might be your first summer in recovery. If it is, we encourage you to make a solid plan and follow it. Get help from your treatment team, your sponsor, or recovery peers. Summers can be tough. You may not have realized that in the past, all your free time during the long summer days revolved around alcohol and substance use, and now you need to find a way to fill that free time. You can do it. Use the suggestions in these two Stay Sober All Summer articles, or read the articles and come up a list of recovery friendly summer activities that work for you.

One last thing, in case we forgot: stay hydrated!

The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.