How Do Chicago Homeowners Stay Cool In the Summer?

The world’s first air conditioning system was developed in 1902 - and prior to that, Chicagoans resorted to some pretty extreme measures to keep cool (like, you know, submerging their heads in ice buckets).

Today, we have a few more options when it comes to beating the heat, especially during the long summer months.

From taking advantage of our local waterways to seeking out a chilly sweet treat, here are seven ways that Chicagoans can keep cool, even as the temperature rises:

1.) Head to the Beach (or River)

One of the advantages of living around Chicago? The gorgeous blue water and sandy beaches of Lake Michigan are never more than a stone’s throw away!

There are miles and miles of beautiful lakefront spots worth checking out when the weather heats up, with most accessible no matter what neighborhood you call home.

Even better, there is no shortage of things to do during your day at the lake. From splashing in the water, to lounging under an umbrella, to grabbing a frosty drink from a waterfront bar or restaurant, there are plenty of ways to keep cool, whatever the weather.

Plus, if you don’t feel like making your way to a beach, you still have other options! Navy Pier is a beloved tourist destination, full of some amazing sites and tasty bites. And the world-famous, award-winning Riverwalk is another great place to stay cool, whether that means hopping on a boat, laying under the shade of the iconic Chicago skyline, or just hanging out in the gentle breeze.

2.) Take a Dip in a Local Pool

Want to enjoy some time in the water without hitting the beach? Why not make your way to one of the many pools around Chicagoland?

The Chicago Park District manages 49 outdoor pools, 28 indoor pools, and runs 14 pools connected to public schools, which offer community programs and events. The Park District’s website is a great way to find a pool near you, as well as a resource for finding opening and closing schedules, accessibility information, and more.

Plus, there are other local watering holes worth looking into, as well. Plenty of gyms and community organizations around town offer access to pools, with a membership.

3.) Grab Some Ice Cream or FroYo

Does a warm day instantly make you crave something sweet and cold? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, Americans typically eat around 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream a year.

Chicago is a major destination for all kinds of food lovers - and ice cream cone-heads are sure to find something to satisfy.

Whether you like Italian ice, frozen yogurt, artisanal gelato, or a hometown classic that the Beatles once ate up with glee, you’re probably going to find something to like in Chicago. Looking for something a little more adult? Don’t forget that Chicago’s bar scene is also full of spots serving up delicious frozen drinks and slushies, all year round.

4.) Get Some Culture

Is the weather so hot that the thought of sitting around the house seems downright unbearable? When the summer restlessness settles in, why not head out and soak up some of the area’s amazing culture?

For instance, Chicago is home to some of the world’s most iconic museums - and many of them hold “free days,” where residents can enjoy their offerings without having to pay a dime. (You can find a schedule of discounted and free days at local museums here).

At the same time, there are other local options that are inexpensive, free, or which offer a pay-what-you-can option. Just as an example, you can check out the rotating exhibits (and astonishing architecture) of the Chicago Cultural Center for free.

And finally, remember that every neighborhood in Chicago is home to local gems, offering art, culture, and, most importantly, air conditioning. Want to escape to a classic movie theater, like the Music Box or the Logan? Feel like enjoying your summer by watching live sports, or world-class comedy? You’ve got options!

5.) Work Around the House

Want to make your living area feel cooler - and maybe save some money on your energy bills during the dog days of summer? There are a variety of DIY projects you can take on to help create shade, go green, and make your home feel more comfortable, no matter how hot it gets outside.

For instance, it may be worth it to spend some time focusing on your outdoor decor. Making the switch from water-sucking plants to an environmentally friendly stone garden could help you save big on your water bill every season. Similarly, you could plant trees that allow your home to get some shade. Studies show that homes with some shade cover have “reduced their energy costs by more than 10% saving more than 30 dollars per month on energy bills.”

And, remember that there are green updates you can make quickly - and, in many cases, for a lot less than you might think! For example, hanging curtains is a project that will typically take less than a day - but which could help keep your rooms cool all season long. Similarly, there are all sorts of credits and incentives from energy companies and local government you may be able to take advantage of for green home updates, like installing a smart thermostat or green power strips.

6.) Head to a Cooling Center

In need of somewhere to go in order to stay cool, no questions asked? Cook County and the city of Chicago both offer cooling centers, which are located in strategic locations all around Chicagoland.

7.) Check Out a Street Festival

When you’re looking to cool down, your first thought may not be to hang out in a large crowd of people. But true Chicagoans know that there’s nothing like a local fair or community celebration to help make the hottest days of the year go by more comfortably.

With drinks flowing, tents popped open, music playing, and delicious food all around, you may be surprised by just how quickly you forget all about the heat!

Looking for a festival near you? We’ve got a definitive guide to Chicago’s street fests and block parties available here.

Helping You Get Through the Dog Days

How do you beat the heat on a Chicago summer day? We’d love to hear your thoughts over on Facebook or Twitter, where we keep the local conversation going 24/7!

Ready to turn up the heat on your home sale? Ready to find the coolest Chicago property around? Whatever your realty needs, our team is here to help! Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!

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