Chicagoland in the summertime can be truly beautiful. But then there are those days when the temperature climbs higher, the humidity gets thicker, the sun feels stronger — and your home’s HVAC systems just don’t seem to be cutting it.
Through the decades, Chicagoland residents have used all sorts of creative methods to beat the summer heat, from sleeping on outdoor balconies, to stocking their homes with blocks of preserved winter ice. Today, we have more options than ever to cool down when the hot, sticky weather settles in — but in some ways, you can’t beat some of those classic cooldown methods, including getting out of the house and finding somewhere new to chill out for a few hours.
Here are seven classic ways to cool off when the temperature climbs in Chicagoland. What would you add to the list?
1.) Relax in Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is one of the crown jewels of the Chicagoland region, and on hot summer days, it’s a prime destination for locals and visitors alike. With miles of pristine lakefront beaches within the city of Chicago and well into the northern and southern suburbs, Lake Michigan is a great place to relax and enjoy a bright summer day, while savoring that cool breeze coming in over the sparkling blue water. Chicagoland’s beaches offer something for everyone, whether your goal is to read with your toes in the sand, splash in the waves, head out on a paddleboard or boat, or grab a bite to eat at a beachside grill.
2.) Grab a Frosty Treat
For some people in Chicagoland, summertime is all about the sweets. On a sticky, hot summer day, there’s no better way to cool off than by enjoying a cold, frosty treat — as long as you watch out for brain freeze! Just about every village and neighborhood in the Chicagoland area has its signature spot for ice cream, custard, or other frozen goodies. Looking to explore? The area is full of some iconic destinations for lovers of all things cold and icy. In the city, you’ll want to seek out spots including Mario’s Italian Lemonade on the west side, Margie’s Candies in Bucktown and Ravenswood, La Michoacana Premium in Pilsen, and the Original Rainbow Cone near Beverley. Around the region, there’s no shortage of sweet spots to enjoy, like Dairy Dream Drive In in Libertyville, or Aurora’s longstanding Banana Split, Inc., to name a few.
3.) Explore a Local Museum
Some days, the best way to beat the heat may be to escape into another world — complete with air conditioning, of course. Chicagoland is home to countless museums that can help educate, entertain, and inspire, while allowing you to get out of the hot weather for a few hours. In the South Loop, the iconic Museum Campus area is home to institutions that draw visitors from around the world, including the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. A little further downtown, you’ll find world famous destinations like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And around the region, there’s no shortage of great places to discover, from the Fox River Trolley Museum, to the DuPage Children’s Museum, to the DuSable Museum of African American History.
4.) Kick Back in a Classic Movie Theater
On hot, humid days, your local movie theater can be the perfect place to get out of the sun and relax. The Chicagoland area is home to countless fantastic movie theaters, offering up the latest and greatest in cinema. Looking for a film screening with a side order of history? Our region is also home to countless vintage movie theaters, presenting brand new movies with a classic Chicagoland feel. Need some inspiration before buying your next movie ticket? Check out the Music Box Theatre, the Logan Theatre, the Davis Theater, Classic Cinemas Lake Theatre, the Pickwick, or the Patio Theater.
5.) Enjoy a Day at Your Local Pool or Park
When the weather heats up around Chicagoland, people flock to the area’s many pools for a quick dip, or a long soak. There are local community pools open around the region, and the Chicago Parks District also operates dozens of pools within the city, including 49 outdoor pools that open their gates from mid-June through early September. To find your local pool and start planning your next summer swim, you can use the CPD’s easy search tool, available here.
And who says you need to be able to dive in to have a cool, refreshing time in the water? Around Chicagoland, there are also plenty of spray features and splash pads in local parks, where kids — and the young at heart — can cool off. Your neighborhood park may have a spray park or splash zone. Around the region, you’ll find kid-friendly water features in Ty Warner Park in Westmont, Mayfair Park in Albany Park, or Adams Playground Park near Old Town, among many others.
6.) Go for a Splash at a Local Waterpark
Illinois and Wisconsin are full of water parks of all shapes and sizes, from sprawling vacation destinations to local neighborhood gems. Whether your itinerary includes floating down a lazy river or soaring down a massive water slide, there’s sure to be a park out there that’s perfect for you. Need a few water parks to add to your summer cooldown bucket list? Some local spots worth exploring include Rainbow Falls in Elk Grove, White Water Canyon in Tinley Park, The Water Works in Schaumburg, and Mystic Waters in Des Plaines.
7.) Wander Along a River
Whether you want to kayak or canoe, enjoy a cool breeze, or relax in the natural world, the Chicagoland area is full of rivers worth exploring when the summer heats up. During the dog days, a classic way to beat the heat in the city is to head to the Chicago Riverwalk, a prime spot for launching a kayak, catching a water taxi, enjoying a delicious meal, wandering along the water’s edge, or simply sitting and relaxing in the shade. South of the city, the Naperville Riverwalk offers a similarly simple way to enjoy the beauty of the DuPage River. To the west, McHenry Riverwalk allows visitors to explore the heart of the Fox River from scenic paths in a historic community district.
Baird & Warner: Helping You Discover Chicagoland Since 1855
At Baird & Warner, we’re all about connecting people with the best things to see, do, and experience around Chicagoland. After all, we’ve been a part of this community since 1855. That’s a lot of hot summer days under our belt!
Whether you’re getting ready to sell, looking for a new home, or just want a recommendation on a hidden gem to try out when the weather gets warm, talk to your local Baird & Warner agent. At Baird & Warner, we get you, and we’re here to help you find exactly what you’re looking for — while making the real estate experience easier, at every step of the way.