Best in Chi: The best places to cool off

I like to be on the go during the summer. There’s no better time to be out and about than when the sun streams down on the city. However, there’s nothing worse than a big ol’ sunburn to ruin a day out with the kids.

Plus, sweat does nothing for my cute summer dresses.

Sometimes (oftentimes), I just need to stay cool, even when everyone else is sunning. Here are my secret (and not-so-secret) places to “cool off” when the temps rise.

Daley Plaza, Washington Street and Dearborn Street

You might be thinking, Daley Plaza with kids on a weekend? Why, yes! Daley Plaza is one of the “coolest” spots in the city if you go in the afternoon. By then the sun has gone to the west of the skyscrapers that line the Loop and there’s nothing but the famed Picasso statue to slide down and fountains to splash in. And no maddening crowds to push through. Cool.

Riverwalk, North Cityfront Plaza Drive at the Chicago River

Just underneath Pioneer Plaza of NBC Studios and the Gleacher Center of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business sits a quiet stretch of sidewalk along the Chicago River untouched by commercial entities-and the sun. You may get scorched sitting on a water taxi on the water, but you can lower the temps by sitting just to the east of Michigan Avenue. Plus, the view of the Wrigley building is the best in town.

Juniper Playlot Park, 3652 N. Greenview Ave.

If parks are your thing, but pushing the swing in the blazing sun is not, you will love the Juniper Playlot in Lakeview. During the summer months, I’m on a mad search for the shadiest parks where I care less about applying sunscreen every five minutes and more about tiring the kids out for nap time. At Juniper Playlot, you not only get the benefit of shade, but a small water feature, sandbox, swings (in the shade) and a jungle gym the perfect size for a toddler.

Bean/Cloud Gate, Millennium Park

Sure, it’s crowded, but in my opinion there’s no better spot to get some relief from the sun’s rays than by sitting under the silver Bean in Millennium Park. It’s one of the only shady areas in Millennium Park’s vast open expanse, and the kids will love seeing their reflection in the metal.

North Shore Channel Trail, Argyle Street and Francisco Avenue

If you’re into biking and walking and need a break from that crowded Lake Shore Drive path, check out the North Shore Channel Trail-a sometimes-paved, tree-lined shaded bike/skating/walking path along the north branch of the Chicago River. It’s a good escape from the summer sun and crowds. Just don’t jump in the water to cool down.

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