cool down toronto

The top 10 ways to cool down this summer in Toronto

Ways to cool down this summer in Toronto aren't limited to hibernating inside with the air conditioning at full blast. On the contrary, there's plenty of fun ways to beat the heat that allow you to embrace the dichotomy of summer: as much as we crave warmth in the winter, once it finally arrives, all we can do is think of ways to get relief.

And yet there's fun in precisely this tension, this full experience of the heat of summer, which we can recall when we get our first sniff of fall in late August. So while the Chill House is still yet to open its doors and the splash pads are probably best left to the kids, there are still plenty of options for the rest of us to take respite this season while not hiding from the heat.

Here are 10 ways to cool down this summer in Toronto.

Take off all your clothes at Hanlan's Point
One way to cool down when it's positively scorching is to dispense with as much clothing as possible. For some this entails donning the latest swim suit and heading for the beach, while for others it entails busting out their birthday suit. You can't get any less encumbered than naked, and, as the city's only clothing-optional beach, Hanlan's Point is the place to do it. It's also a great beach for swimming with some of the best water quality ratings in the city.

Have a chlorine bath at a public pool
Toronto has 57 outdoor pools at which to beat the heat, keeping alive a long tradition of swimming-as-air-conditioning in this city. Many of us are lucky enough to enjoy AC these days, but there's still nothing quite like a communal dip to bring the body temperature down. Personal favourites include the Gus Ryder pool at Sunnyside, Alex Duff at Christie Pitts, and the Joseph Piccininni Community Recreation Centre at St. Clair and Lansdowne.

Hit up a rooftop pool
The Thompson's rooftop pool tends to get most of the attention -- perhaps because of its infinity design overlooking the Toronto skyline -- but it's not the only rooftop pool worth sneaking into checking out. The indoor/outdoor pool at the Sheraton Centre is one of the nicest around and the public can access it for $30. The Hyatt Regency has also recently made its facilities publicly accessible Thursday through Sunday for $39.

Stroll through the mist garden at the Four Seasons
Did you know that that Toronto has a mist garden? Tucked beside the Four Seasons in Yorkville, the Claude Cormier + Associés and NAK Design Group built park is small in stature, but the perfect place to spritz some relief upon yourself when the mercury spikes. Mistings take place once every few minutes and last for about a minute until the next interval. This is one of Toronto's hidden gems of a park, and never better experienced than on a hot and sunny day.

Get brain freeze from a frosty drink
Thankfully, we Torontonians have access to a whole raft of boozy slushies, from Momofuku's cherry-sake slush to Disgraceland's rainbow of fruit flavours. Our restaurants and bars also mix up some killer margaritas (which are not actually supposed to resemble slushies, but are mega-refreshing nonetheless). The caffeine-dependent can switch to cold brew for the summer. And if you haven't tried a frozen beer yet, get on that.

Hide out in a movie theatre
What better way to escape from the sun's oppressive rays than a windowless room? Transport yourself to another time and place (one where it's not 32 C outside) at one of Toronto's best movie theatres near you.

Party on a boat
Summer in Toronto is the perfect time to hit the party boats in Lake Ontario. There's a ton of options out there, from the loud, electro-thumping rager to more refined affairs that won't bust your ear drums.

Build an ice cream sandwich
Customizable ice cream sandwiches are the new frontier of frozen desserts. Toronto's got lots of great places that will happily stack your scoop of Rocky Road onto a cookie, but the current top player in the ice cream sandwich game might be Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery, who will even put your ice cream on a macaron for you. (If fried stuff is more your speed, head to Uncle Betty's to get your ice cream smushed between donuts.)

Hole up in a shopping mall
Ah, air-conditioned comfort: Pairs nicely with a side of consumerism. If you'd like to walk around for hours at a time and never have to go outside, Toronto's top shopping malls will have what you need - and a lot of things you don't. If you're feeling peckish, both the Pacific Mall and the Eaton Centre also made it into our list of the city's best food courts. Bring me back some fro-yo.

Reaquaint yourself with Lake Ontario
Toronto's beaches deserve a better reputation for how clean and safe the water is to swim throughout the summer. While some like Sunnyside struggle with water quality more than others, the old 80s fear-mongering that swimming in Lake Ontario will ensure that you're first born has two heads is slowly starting to fade as word gets out that the majority of our designated swimming areas enjoy Blue Flag ratings, the highest you can get. Everyone has their favourites, but I still think that Woodbine Beach is the best for a dip given its gradual drop-off and the quality of the sand under foot (nearby Kew, for instance, is already more rocky).

Writing by Natalia Manzocco and Derek Flack. Photo by Nickon in the blogTO Flickr pool

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