1. Take a dip in one of Chicago’s luxurious hotel pools.
From the spacious indoor pools at Essex Inn and The Peninsula Chicago to the dazzling outdoor pool on the rooftop at Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, a number of hotels in Chicago offer plenty of opportunity to frolic, relax and cool off poolside.
2. Enjoy a scoop of ice cream.
Head to The Original Rainbow Cone in Beverly to indulge in Chicago’s signature ice cream cone: a vibrantly colored, five-flavored scoop with chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House (New York vanilla with cherries and walnuts), pistachio and orange sherbet. Check out even more spots for ice cream in Chicago.
3. Feel the breeze while riding on a speedboat.
The wind will be blowing in your hair when you take a high-speed ride on the Chicago River with Seadog Cruises. Looking for a slower paced ride? Choose your own boating experience with these additional boat tours in Chicago.
4. Catch a movie in a cool, dark theater.
Navy Pier is a destination in itself, but for the feeling of escaping to another world (at least for a few hours), watch a movie on the immersive, six-story screen inside Navy Pier IMAX Theatre. Or, experience one of the many unique movie houses, such as Music Box Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center or Facets theater, where documentaries, indie and foreign films thrive. Both The Logan Theatre and Harper Theater boast great history, plus a full-service bar and a mix of mainstream blockbuster hits and unique films. For cheap admission to cult classics paired with beer, try The Brew & View.
5. Sip a frozen drink.
To cool off and wind down, head for the slushy, frozen Pomegranate Margarita at Bub City, where you can also enjoy barbecue and live country music. Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning restaurant Wood has a grown-up twist on a childhood favorite with their seasonal Negroni Push Pop. At hip hangout The Dawson, enjoy a frozen Mai-Tai in the airy outdoor garden, or try the low-key cool patio at The Promontory for a fabulous blended take on a classic cocktail, such as the blended Gin & Tonic or the Zombie. Boozy snow cones with shaved or crushed ice are also a big hit this summer.
6. Jet ski on Lake Michigan.
Want an adrenaline rush with your cool down? Zoom across the surface of Lake Michigan with a jet ski rental from Chicago Water Sport Rentals at 31st Street Beach or from Jet Ski Chicago at North Avenue Beach.
7. Test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard.
Get out on the water while trying one of the latest trends in water sports: stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), offered by Chicago SUP at North Avenue Beach. Really want to test your limits? Try the stand up paddleboard yoga class. For visitors at Montrose Beach, Kayak Chicago offers a breathtaking sunset SUP tour you won’t want to miss.
8. Cool off on one of the many rooftop patios.
Spend some time enjoying the breeze from chic rooftop venues, such as the playful outdoor terrace at Cerise, located on the 26th floor of the Virgin Hotel Chicago; the trendy J. Parker at Hotel Lincoln or The Terrace at the sophisticated Trump Hotel Chicago. Check out even more rooftop bars in Chicago.
9. Escape the heat in a cool basement bar.
Head underground to enjoy the cool darkness of a trendy subterranean bar, such as neighborhood sports spot Timothy O’Toole’s Pub or punch-centric watering hole Punch House. Or escape to a tropical paradise at Three Dots and Dash, an underground tiki joint with an array of tropical frozen cocktails.
10. Enjoy the air conditioning in one of Chicago’s malls.
Head to The Magnificent Mile, where you can escape the heat by spending the afternoon in one of the three indoor shopping malls: The 900 North Michigan Shops, The Shops at North Bridge and Water Tower Place.
11. Take a jaunt through Crown Fountain.
Act like a kid again and cool off with a skip and a jump through Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. Part art installation, part fountain, this piece features two towers displaying LED video projections of Chicago residents, with a waterfall giving the appearance of water spouting out of their mouths.
12. Pedal along the Lakefront Trail.
Rent a bicycle from Bike and Roll Chicago or Bobby’s Bike Hike, and catch a cool waterfront breeze as you coast along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. Another great option is Chicago’s bike sharing system, Divvy Bikes, featuring bike rental stations throughout the city.
13. Spend the day on one of the sandy beaches in Chicago.
With 26 miles of shoreline and 26 beaches to choose from, there’s sure to be a sandy spot to suit your sunbathing style. North Avenue Beach is a favorite for visitors and locals alike, but check out even more beaches in Chicago.
14. Splash in one of Chicagoland’s waterparks.
Kids – and kids at heart – will love getting wet and wild in the waterparks in nearby Gurnee, about 45 minutes from Chicago. Try the rides and slides at Six Flags Great America or the KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort.
15. Kayak the Chicago River.
Take a unique tour of the city while getting out on the water with a kayak tour up the Chicago River. Wateriders and Urban Kayaks both offer an array of historic and sightseeing kayak tours. Head over to 31st Street Beach for a lakefront option with Chicago Water Sport Rentals, where you can rent peddle-powered Hobie Kayaks and go hands-free.
16. Sip a cold one at one of Chicago’s breweries.
Chicago’s craft beer scene is booming, so cool off with a cold one at one of the many brewpubs or breweries in Chicago. For an added bonus, some breweries even offer tours of the facility, so you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process.
17. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier.
Reach for the sky from 150 feet in the air when you ride on this iconic Navy Pier ride. Enjoy panoramic views as well as some cool breezes coming off Lake Michigan from here or its Pier Park neighbor, the Wave Swinger.
18. Cruise along the lakefront on a Segway.
Want to cruise along the lakefront without having to break a sweat? Take it easy with Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours or City Segway Tours, offering guided tours and the perfect way to feel the breeze in your hair while seeing the sights.
19. Try your hand at flyboarding.
Try something completely out of the ordinary with a flyboard rental from Chicago Water Sports Rentals at 31st Street Harbor. Similar to a snowboard but connected to a jet ski, the flyboard allows riders to soar and levitate over the water’s surface while giving the ultimate adrenaline rush.
20. Peruse artwork in one of the climate-controlled art museums.
There’s no better way to escape the heat than in one of the many high-quality museums in Chicago. Explore approximately 300,000 works of art in the permanent collection at Art Institute of Chicago, see the new cutting-edge Robot Revolution exhibit at The Museum of Science and Industry, or see if you can catch one of the Free Museum Days offered at museums around the city.