Chicago Traveler Blog

Chicago Traveler Blog

Staying Cool in Chicago - How to Deal With Rising Summer Temperatures on Your Next Chicago Vacation

7/25/12 | by

Have you noticed this summer feels a little hotter than it did in the past? Well a recent study has found that Chicago truly is getting hotter. But don't let that deter you from booking your next trip to Chicagoland! Chicago might be experiencing more heat than it was six decades ago at this time of year, but the city safety measures have grown right along with the heat and Chicago is more than equipped to make staying cool on a summer trip easier than ever.

Places to Go To Escape the Heat: When outdoor temperatures rise to the 90's and even higher it's a good idea to do any outdoor activities in the early morning or late evening when the city has cooled down a bit. These places to go and things to do in Chicago are great escapes for the hotter parts of the day.

  • City Cooling Centers: Due to the increase in heat the state of Illinois has taken many measures to ensure the safety of residents and tourists, including establishing cooling centers where people can escape from the heat. There are 6 cooling centers in Chicago itself, and 21 senior centers that convert to cooling centers on especially hot days. If you're out and about exploring attractions in Chicago and find yourself feeling a little to overheated, these cooling centers provide an excellent way to cool down. The city also urges anyone worried about themselves or others to call 311 for aid regarding heat issues (but still call 911 in case of emergency).
  • Public Libraries: These air-conditioned buildings might not immediately come to mind as good vacation destinations but on a hot day an hour or two in a library can be just what you need to rejuvenate and replenish energy levels. Check out the Harold Washington Library Center for a look at the largest public library building in the world! The architecture will astound you and the huge collections are always worth browsing. For another beautiful library the Chicago Newberry Library is not to be missed. This Chicago library holds more than 1.5 million books, 5 million pages of manuscripts and 500,000 historic maps.
  • Chicago Malls: Chicago has a huge variety of shopping destinations in all parts of the city but the hugest concentrations of places to shop are in the Magnificent Mile and Loop areas of Chicago. Spending time at malls in Chicago is a great way to stay cool in the climate-controlled stores, enjoy the people-watching opportunities, eat some delicious food and also stock up on great souvenirs to take back home!
  • Movie Theaters: Catching a recent release during the hottest part of the day can be a perfect way to escape the heat in Chicago. Movie theaters are well known for their great air conditioning and they also often serve cold beverages, frozen treats and other snacks that can help to cool your core temperature down. Chicago even has a summer special where certain theaters offer $1 kids movies! This inexpensive Chicago treat is perfect for families looking to cool off and relax on their summer trip.

Downtown Chicago Hotels: Not only will you most likely need to book a hotel so that you have somewhere to stay on your next trip to Chicago, but hotels are also wonderful places to enjoy supreme climate control in the hot season. The following hotels are in Downtown Chicago where you can get the best of both worlds: a cool relaxing retreat in your hotel rooms and close proximity to many of the above places to go to escape the Chicago heat.

  • Doubletree Magnificent Mile Hotel: This hotel is an ideal pick for hot summer months in Chicago. In addition to the relief of being able to relax in clean and air-conditioned rooms, Doubletree Magnificent Mile has a pool and is just two blocks from Ohio Street Beach. While the pool and beach aren't ideal places to be in full afternoon sun, they can be great ways to cool off in the mornings and evenings when temperatures are lower. This excellent Chicago hotel is also just two blocks from the Magnificent Mile, a great place to go to find many of the above places to cool off in Chicago.
  • The Fairmont Hotel: The Fairmont is a chic hotel in Downtown Chicago with easy access to Grant Park and the Navy Pier, ideal destinations for early morning or evening strolls and exciting nighttime entertainment, the Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago, great places to find air conditioning and hours of interesting things to see, and Michigan Avenue, home to wonderful shopping opportunities.
  • Check out a full list of Chicago hotels for more options, and don't forget to find discounts and promos to make your trip even more affordable.

Tips to Stay Cool - What to Pack: No matter if you're out and about finding refuge in cool Chicago places to go or if you are staying inside your hotel room for a few hours, these tips to stay cool and packing suggestions can make your Chicago vacation an all-around more comfortable experience. 

  • Light Clothing: The best clothes to pack for hot weather are loose-fitting, light colors and made of natural cloth that breathes easily. For people with especially sensitive skin, wearing clothes that cover more of you but are especially thin is a great idea. Wide-brimmed hats are always recommended if spending time outdoors, so throw one of those in the suitcase too.
  • A Spray Bottle: Perfect for keeping cool while walking around, a spray bottle is like a personal air conditioning system. Not only can you keep one with you while exploring the city and spray yourself and friends when feeling hot, but it can also be super helpful when trying to sleep in hot weather. Give your sheets a light spritz with your spray bottle before bed and you'll sleep better all night.
  • Bandanas: A great way to stay cool is to put cool things on your pulse points including wrists, necks etc. A bandana can be an easily-packed tool that makes this super easy: grab a few ice cubes (most hotels have ice machines in the hallways) and wrap them up in your bandana, tie your bandana around your wrist or necks and feel the refreshed almost immediately!
  • Reusable Water Bottles: Drinking water and drinks with high electrolyte content is one of the absolutely most important things you can do in heat. Carrying reusable water bottles can ensure that you have water with you at all times and a way to replenish your supply at public water fountains and restaurants throughout your day.
  • Sunscreen: If you plan on being out in the sun at all, sunscreen is a must. While it doesn't make you feel any cooler, it is imperative for skin health. In addition to your light full-coverage clothing, make sure to pack sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
  • Bathing Suits: Chicago hotels almost always have great pools where you can cool down, and the city also features beaches that make for ideal locations to strip off warm layers and cool off. Just remember the sunscreen and hydration if you plan to be outdoors in the heat!

Heat Sickness Warning Signs: With the above tips heat sickness should not be a worry while your traveling in Chicago this summer, but just in case things do get a little too hot here are the warning signs that could mean you have experienced too much exposure to heat.

  • Strong, rapid pulse 
  • Elevated body temperature 
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Hot, dry skin 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Dizziness 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Seizures

At-Risk People: While the Chicago heat can be uncomfortable at times for all travelers, there are certain groups of people that may have a higher risk of getting heat sickness. Traveling to Chicago is still an option, but if you fall within the following groups or have members of your traveling party that do, make sure to follow our tips to stay cool especially closely and keep an eye out for any heat sickness warning signs.

  • Children: Young kids are dependent on others for water and care and are thus high-risk if not helped with staying cool and hydrated. 
  • Elderly Individuals: Many seniors and elderly people experience limited mobility and are not able to take care of themselves as well as is needed in hot times. 311 is the number to call if you are unable to help an elderly person in Chicago but feel they need aid. 
  • People with Chronic Medical Problems: Some medications exacerbate heat problems making people with certain medical problems more vulnerable. Check with your doctor before traveling if you fall into this category. 
  • People with Breathing Problems: The poor air quality that often comes along with extreme hot weather can be very troubling for people with breathing issues such as asthma or other lung-related medical problems.

For more tips and hints, take a look at the following helpful articles about dealing with the heat in Chicago:

Got any of your own good ideas for staying cool this summer? Please stop by our Google+, Facebook and Twitter pages and leave a comment!