The weather forecast is predicting a scorcher this week, with the high temperature every day supposed to be in the 90s through at least Thursday, July 5. So we thought we’d offer up some ideas for how to stay cool without spending too much cash.
* '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 Oswego Public Library has a "People in my Neighborhood" storytime focusing on firefighters on Saturday afternoon; the Gail Borden Library in Elgin is hosting the "Children Just Like Me" exhibit through Aug. 19, as well as its always-awesome play area; and the "Books for Breakfast" storytime at West Chicago Public Library even includes a healthy snack.
* Cheap Flicks: Nearly all of the local movie chains have some kind of summer promotion aimed at families and children. The Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton will be showing "How to Train Your Dragon" next week; Regal Entertainment will be screening "Cats & Dogs" and "Hugo"; and Goodrich Quality Theaters is screening "Big Miracle." (Classic Cinemas and Marcus Theatres have cheap movie series, too, but they are taking a break next week for the holiday.) You can find all the details in the Go West Guide to -- you guessed it -- Cheap Family Movie Series.
* Splash Around: The spraygrounds at Geneva’s Moore Park, Oswego's Prairie Point, Fountain Square Park in Elk Grove Village, Dragonfly Landing in Lisle and Leiseberg Playground in Bartlett are free, as is the splash pad at Aurora’s Phillips Park (outside the Visitor Center) and 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. (You can bring your own food into the Otter Cove Splash Park, although not the Aquatic Park that contains the pool.) The Glen Ellyn Park District also has a splash park at Maryknoll Park that’s just $3 per child. Find out more info about hours and locations for all the above facilities, and a few more in other suburbs, right here.
* 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 $3, non-residents for $6. 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 popsicles at home? I was happy to score a book called "Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone" recently for just $5 at Kohl's, part of the Kohl's Cares promotion. Of course there are tons of recipes online for homemade popsicles, but Real Simple never lets me down.
And here's a sixth suggestion, provided by creative Go West reader Crystal Rutherford during a heat wave last summer:
* Get Icy: Crystal says her family put together an "ice-themed afternoon." They painted with ice cubes, by putting a little paint in with the water and then freezing the ice cube trays. They also did some "ice excavating": She froze some toy soldiers, hot wheels and other little toys in a large tupperware container. She says her son played with the "glacier" for 30 minutes, chipping his toys out. They also made homemade cherry slurpees.
Go West Readers: Do you have other inexpensive ideas for how to stay cool when the temperature is on the rise?