Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Hottest Ways to Stay Cool

I’m a bit tired of the festival scene, so I think we’ll take a weekend off from the Chicago fest round-up to gear up for Lolla. Instead, in honor of the heat wave that we just finished and will be starting again shortly (although high-80s and sunny this weekend doesn’t sound too shabby!), here is your guide to the hottest places in the city to cool down – apart from sticking your head in the freezer, which is always a decent and efficient idea. (*Big thanks to Huffington Post for some of the pool ideas!*)

Public Pools

Chicago Park District has put a ton of time and money into developing the city’s parks, and most of them boast awesome outdoor public pools that Chicagoans can frequent during the summer!

Hamlin Park Pool: Roscoe Village (3035 N Hoyne Ave)

Lots of lounge chairs, sunny space to lay out, and shower and restroom facilities free of charge make this spot in Roscoe Village a popular spot on weekends (so we recommend arriving ~15 minutes prior to opening if you want to snag a chair!). The young adult crowd dominates the facility, and kids with their parents tend to stay in the shallows. Vending machines are available, but no other food/drink vendors beyond ice cream carts—you should bring your own drinks (especially some water!), but no coolers allowed. Free entry and use of all facilities!

Schedule: Mon/Wed/Fri 1:15pm-7:15pm, Tues/Thurs 1:15pm-8:15pm, Sat/Sun 11-7:15

*Please check website for exact Open Swim hours throughout the day*

Portage Park Pool: Portage Park (4100 N Long Ave)

Boasting an Olympic-sized pool with diving boards, a large deck for sun-bathing, misting sprays and an interactive play area for kids, Portage Park Pool also draws a large crowd on hot summer days. Passes are needed for Adult Lap Swim times, but otherwise it is open to the public for free. Quick warning – the lockers don’t actually lock, so be careful with valuables you leave in there! You might be better off taking a bag out with you to the pool deck.

Schedule: Mon-Fri 7am-10am + 4:30pm-7:15pm, Sat/Sun 9:30am-6pm

*Please check website for exact Open Swim hours throughout the day*

Chase Park Pool: Ravenswood (4701 N Ashland Ave)

With a smaller sized pool (maybe the size of a basketball court), Chase Park is definitely less crowded than the others, and usually has lounge chairs open – so what more do you need? Bike-friendly areas are available, and this park is actually a wonderful place to work out as well. An outdoor track, basketball and tennis courts, and baseball diamonds are all available free of charge (as is the pool), and use of the workout room is offered for a nominal fee. Work up a good sweat and hop in the pool to cool off!

Schedule: Mon-Fri 3pm-7:15pm, Sat/Sun 12pm-7:15pm

*Please check website for exact Open Swim hours throughout the day*


Lake Michigan, a.k.a the Heavens’ gift to Chicago, is quite possibly my favorite thing about this great city. As a New Yorker who grew up swimming in the Long Island Sound, trust me – you really don’t know how good you have it with the lake, so take advantage!

North Avenue Beach: Lincoln Park (1600 N Lake Shore Dr)

The young adult crowd that frequents North Avenue Beach makes it a bit of a singles scene, with sand, surf, and booze aplenty. Biking and running paths, volleyball tournaments, and equipment rentals also make this a work-out fiend’s dream. It’s easily the busiest beach in the city, so public transportation is recommended because parking is limited.

Oak Street Beach: Gold Coast (1000 N Lake Shore Dr)

Close to the Magnificent Mile and John Hancock Building, Oak Street Beach is steps away from the bustle of the city and thus a great place for people-watching (though there are definitely some eensy-weensy Speedos you may not want to look too closely at…). It’s also got a great running and biking path along Lake Shore Drive – but watch out for bicyclists with 2 headphones in and no cares as to whether or not they run you over.

Montrose Beach: Uptown (200 W Montrose Harbor Dr)

The home of Windy City Watersports, Montrose Beach is the best place to rent your WaveRunners, sailboats, and other equipment for some action sport fun on our Great Lake. This Saturday, you can even check out Beach Palooza, a crazy 5K obstacle course race on the beach starting at 9am. Either join in the festivities (race-day registration will be available for $65), or just come laugh at the fools crawling around drunk in the sand. All participants will also receive a pineapple hat, and you know how often that comes in handy. Every. Day.

*If you’re traveling with your pooch, check out Belmont Harbor (3200 N Lake Shore Dr) – the fenced in beach area makes this the city’s perfect unofficial doggie beach!*

A few more water-related ideas

-Splash around in Faces Fountain at Millennium Park – just because the average age of frolickers is somewhere around six shouldn’t stop you. Man up and channel your inner child!

-Rent a kayak to cruise down the Chicago River with Kayak Chicago. Be forewarned, this is not an activity for the faint of heart! Paddling back upstream is a work-out, and the river, while not toxic anymore, also has a bit of a garbage aroma at times. Nothing to worry about, just be sure to shower afterwards…really well.

-If you’re up for a bit of a drive, trek out to some of the best water parks in Illinois – Raging Waves in Yorkville is a great time, as is Hurricane Harbor at the Six Flags in Gurnee (and who doesn’t love a Six Flags?!).

-And finally, you can always head out to the suburbs and run through somebody else’s sprinklers. This is pretty self-explanatory. If it isn't, please see diagram below for directions.

And for those festival die-hards, here’s a brief list for this weekend:

Taste of Lincoln Avenue: N Lincoln Ave b/w Fullerton + Wrightwood Ave – Sheffield/De Paul

Saturday 12pm-10pm, Sunday 11am-10pm, $10 suggested donation

Randolph Street Market Festival: 1340 W Washington BlvdWest Loop

Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-4pm, $10 entry ($5/students)

Fiesta del Sol: 1400 W Cermak Rd – Pilsen/Heart of Chicago/Little Village

Thursday 5-10pm, Friday/Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday 11am-10pm, Free

Celebrate Hyde Park – July Summer Festival: 53rd St b/w Harper + Kimbark Ave – Hyde Park/University of Chicago

Saturday/Sunday 11am-9pm, Free

Also, don’t forget that Critical Mass is this Friday (the last Friday of every month) – take back the streets of the city with your fellow bicyclists for a fun, free community building event! Just show up with your bike in Daley Plaza by 5:30pm on Friday and join in the two-wheeling fun, and be sure to wish pedestrians, drivers, and passers-by a Happy Friday!

Enjoy the weekend, the weather, the water, and wow – so many good words start with a w (waffles, walruses, wine, Wham!…). Anyways, until next time!

Written by: Keren Mikva

1 comment:

Tony said...

I can't wait for critical mass! I have seen it so often, tonight I join!