Today's Monday 5 List includes my tips for staying cool in Chicago.
- Cool house. I'm lucky enough to live in a small all brick bungalow built in the mid 1950's. Unless the humidity is unbearable I rarely turn the air conditioning on and usually only will if I have guests who aren't familiar with Chicago heat. My basement is an ice box and I don't use the oven unless necessary. I keep window fans and ceiling fans running at low speed to circulate the air and I have plantation style blinds on all my windows which are great for filtering the hot sunlight and my curtains do the rest.
- The Lake. Chicagoans will tell you "It's cooler by the Lake" and that is usually accurate. Sometimes the 5-10 degree difference is all you need and it's nice to put your toes in the cold waters of Lake Michigan. I haven't swam in the Lake in a few years but when you have access to a boat it's wonderful to be about 2 miles off the Chicago lakefront where the water is deep and ice cold and you can cannonball off the deck.
- Street Festivals. Chicago is THE City of street fests. On any given weekend you can find a fest in neighborhoods all over the City. The better ones have plenty of shade, cold beer and fans misting water. For a list of Chicago's Street Festivals, check out this guide from Metromix.
- Water. Public parks have a variety of water features. Some are splash pools, other spouting fountains. Probably the most famous one in Chicago is the Crown Fountain, known to Chicagoans as the "Water Wall" in Millennium Park. These huge glass towers feature faces of Chicago residents seen through water that rains down and if you wait long enough, spits out the mouth of an image. It's totally cool and very popular with residents and tourists. Here is a link to a YouTube video of the "spitting" wall. Great place to cool off.
- Fans. During the weeks I spent in Spain in 2011 I began using small pocket fans. Women all over Spain keep these small fans in their bags and you see them being used everywhere from buses to restaurants. Once it's warm in Chicago, I have at least one of my Spanish fans with me. Pic of my pocket fans below.