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How to Stay Cool in a Seattle-Area Heat Wave

Spray parks, pools, homemade A.C. (?), cheap movies and more chillin' solutions

Author Elisa Murray

Published on: June 12, 2019

Splashing at a spray fountain to stay cool during a Seattle heat wave

We've got a bit of a scorcher on deck today here in no-A.C.-land. We've rounded up a few of our coolest ideas on, well, staying cool. We have a how-to on a DIY swamp cooler, a guide to the most kid-friendly coffee shops with A.C. and the best spray parks, fountains, lakes and beaches around. Heat wave? We're not sweatin' it.

Forest Park spray park | Photo credit: Sandra Lam

1. Spray parks and fountains

On a hot summer day, you can't go wrong with playing in the water. And that's what free spray parks are all about. Check out our guide to spray parks in greater Seattle area; or our list of South Sound spray parks.

2. Kid-friendly coffee shops

Then there are those days that you just want to chill out with a latte (or maybe get some work done) while the kids play, preferably in a setting with A.C. Check out this awesome list of kid-friendly coffee shops, many of which have A.C. and play areas.

Family watching movie during Seattle heat wave

3. Cheap movie seats

What's better than escaping a steamy day with a cheap trip to the dark, air-conditioned cave that is a movie theater? This summer, with the help of this cheap seats guide, your family can share the big-screen tradition for some very retro prices.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center

4. Outdoor pools and water parks

Outdoor pools and water parks are an all-day solution for a heat wave. Our outdoor pool guide points you to where to have fun with wave pools, simulated surfing pools, lazy rivers, zero-depth (beach-like) pool entries, aquatic play structures and slides, slides and more slides. 

5. DIY water games

Stuck at home with no A.C. and antsy kids? Water play is the best solution for everyone. Here are easy and fun ways to have a blast with water, from sponge-ball fights to liquid chalk art. 

Boulder River. Credit pfly via Flickr CC

6. Head for the woods

Shade is nature's A.C. and a walk in the woods is a fun way to stay cool. These in-city forest walks don't even need a long drive to get you among the trees; or try one of these hikes for strollers and little legs. Feeling extra adventurous? Try one of these lake hikes and take a dip!

Lake Wilderness. Credit: Tiffany Doerr Guerzon

7. Beach time

It’s tough to beat a summer’s day at a favorite beach: watching the kids sprint toward sand and water, followed by hours of wading, building sand creations and treasure hunting. In honor of beach magic, we've spotlighted 13 local beaches that should be on your summer bucket list, plus these five swimming lakes for South Sound-area families. (Note that this popular local beach is not yet open for the season. Next heat wave!)

8. DIY swamp cooler

Stuck at home with no A.C. in sight? ParentMap friend Jennifer Bardsley (of Teaching My Baby to Read) sent instructions for a DIY swamp cooler along with an image that shows how she did it. 

She says, "Using a sharp knife, cut out two holes on the side of Styrofoam cooler. Insert two bottomless plastic cups. Cut out a circle on top of the cooler's lid and place the fan face down. Fill the cooler with ice. Important note, the ice cannot be wrapped in plastic because it needs to be exposed to the breeze of the fan." Thanks, Jennifer!

Editor's note: This article was originally published in 2015 and updated for 2019.

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