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Five Great ... Ways to Stay Cool on the Cheap

The weather forecast is predicting a scorcher this week, with the high temperature every day supposed to be in the 90s through at least Sunday. And of course we’ll likely have a couple more runs of extra-steamy weather before Labor Day. So we thought we’d offer up some ideas for how to stay cool without spending too much cash.

Photo by tjstaab on Flickr.* "Check Out" the Libraries: Most of the area libraries seem to be hitting the high point of their summer reading programs right about now. That means the Go West Calendar is packed with drop-in crafts, storytimes, movies and special programs, all free! Just to highlight a couple coming up: The Messenger Public Library in North Aurora is offering family bingo on Wednesday at 2 p.m.  The Sugar Grove Public Library is showing “Despicable Me” today at 2 p.m. And the Gail Borden Public Library’s Rakow Branch in Elgin will host a “Renaissance storytime” at 11 a.m. Thursday. Your kids will be treated to a “highly interactive” show about pirates, princesses, Robin Hood, Irish faerie legends, etc.

* Cheap Flicks: Nearly all of the local movie chains have some kind of summer promotion aimed at families and children. Goodrich Quality Theatres will be showing “Stuart Little” for $1 this week at its theaters in both Oswego and Batavia at 10 a.m. “Rio” is on the bill at the Marcus Theater in Elgin on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. with admission $2. Classic Cinemas in St. Charles shows a $1 movie each Wednesdy at 10 a.m.; this week the movie is “Alpha & Omega.”   

* Splash Around: The “spraygrounds at Geneva’s Moore Park and splash pad at Aurora’s Phillips Park (outside the Visitor Center) are free, as is the splash fountain at Elgin’s Festival Park. The large splash park at Otter Cove is $4 for resident children, $6 for non-resident kids and you only pay for the children’s admission. The Glen Ellyn Park District also has a splash park at Maryknoll Park that’s just $3 per child.

* All Wet: We have such wonderful public pools in the western suburbs, but admission prices can certainly add up. But there are deals to be had. The “Way Back Wednesdays” promotion at the Harold Hall Quarry Beach in Batavia means residents get in for $2, non-residents for $5. Nearly every pool has a weekday rate for after peak hours, often called the “twilight swim.” At Swanson Pool in St. Charles, the cost is just $3 per person.  Most of the pools don’t let you bring your own food onto the property (except the quarry.) But you could always pack your lunch or dinner in a cooler, leave it in the car and get a re-admission stamp to go outside and eat under a tree or on a picnic table. Most of the pools are located in lovely parks, anyway.

* Chilly Treats: I absolutely love going out for ice cream (hence “The Ice Cream Diaries”) yet it’s not always the most budget-friendly outing. So how about making ice cream at home? Why not dig that ice cream maker you got as a wedding gift up from the basement? We don’t have an ice cream maker, but we had great fun last night making this yummy “faux” ice cream in a blender using Greek yogurt and frozen fruit. There are tons of recipes online for homemade popsicles, but Real Simple never lets me down. We’ll be using trying this recipe for Peach & Strawberry Popsicles from Weelicious later today, using my mom’s “vintage” Tupperware popsicle molds!

Go West Readers: Do you have other inexpensive ideas for how to stay cool when the temperature is on the rise?

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Reader Comments (5)

LOVE this!!! We went to Otter Cove the other weekend and had tons of fun, but with 4 of us it came to about $50. You always provide such great info, thank you so much! We're going to the quarry tomorrow!!

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErrin Courtney

Great ideas!! I can't wait to try those frozen treats! We had an ice themed afternoon yesterday, which was very cheap. :) We painted with ice cubes (put a little paint in with the water/ice cube trays). We also did some ice excavating w...ith a "glacier". I froze some army men, hot wheels, and other little toys in a large tupperware container. My son played for a half an hour trying to chip the toys out. We also made homemade icees... http://food.com/recipe/7-1‚Äč1-cherry-slurpee-97773

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal

Erinn ... Yes, I really enjoyed Otter Cove, but admission prices would definitely add up for a family without coupons. Let me know how you like the quarry!

Crystal .. You always have the best ideas. Love your use of themes. I see an ice-themed afternoon in our future. Thanks for sharing!

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTara Burghart

Went to the quarry today. The boys all loved it! Way back wednesdays are worth it for sure. Pack a lunch or snacks and set yourself up for an all around great and cheap afternoon.

July 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamie saam

Freezing toys in a block of ice = what a fun idea!
I'm going to try the faux ice cream. I think I have everything on hand.

July 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSniglet

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