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12 ways to stay cool that aren’t sitting by the lake

Written by
Laura Rote

We can always appreciate a good day spent on one of Chicago’s best beaches, but gathering your beach towels, sunscreen, picnic basket and Frisbee is a lot of work. And sometimes you just don’t want to be covered in sand. When the sun is beating down on you and the temps reach into the 90s, here are a few of the places we suggest you hit up this summer.

1. A massive Slip ’n’ Slide. At the end of this month, you’ll get the chance to ride down the slide again and again when Slide the City makes a stop at Montrose Beach on July 30. 

2. Museums. Free museum days abound in Chicago, even in summer. Escape the heat with a visit to the Art Institute on Thursdays, when it’s free to Illinois residents 5–8pm, or the Field Museum on August 11, 27 and 29, when it’s free to active military personnel and Illinois teachers.

3. The best ice cream shops. Maybe this is a no-brainer (or a freeze-brainer?), but if you haven’t been to any of the city’s best ice cream shops for an Original Rainbow Cone or had one of the massive servings of ice cream from Margie’s Candies, now is the time. 

4. Skydive. It doesn’t even matter if it’s raining at this new indoor skydiving joint in Lincoln Park (there are also suburban locations in Rosemont and Naperville). Feel the wind in your hair and conquer your fear (sort of). 

5. Water parks. You don’t have to be a kid to have a good time at one of these nearby water parks with crazy waterslides and pools.

6. And rollercoasters, too. We recommend starting with the ones at Six Flags Great America. We rode and ranked them all last year. Zoom through the sky at high speed and forget about that hot pavement below.

7. Local swimming pools. When it gets too hot out, you always have the option of jumping in one of the neighborhood pools. Fortunately, Chicago has tons. 

8. Frozen cocktails. Maybe it doesn’t even matter where you go, as long as it has a breeze or air conditioning. But we suggest you make an educated decision and also see if your next destination has what basically amounts to alcoholic slushies (the best kind). 

9. Brew & View at the Vic. In July, the theater is showing The Nice Guys (okay, good luck cooling down with Ryan Gosling on-screen) and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

10. Dining on the waterfront in an unexpected spot. Take a moment to try out a snack shack on a northern beach or discover a hidden riverfront eatery in the heart of Chicago. 

11. And don't forget the Chicago Riverwalk. It's changing. This year has already brought a lot of new offerings to the Riverwalk. Check out Tiny Hatt for live music and barbecue on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5–7pm. 

12. Inside the theater with some of the month's best productions. Stay cool and snag top tickets to shows like War Paint, Newsies and Woz: A Rock Cabaret in July. 

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