Cruel Summer? 5 Ways to Beat the Heat Indoors in Seattle

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Maybe you are more of a "layers person." Maybe you have been counting the days to Halloween since November 1. Maybe you're just sick of the smog. This summer in Seattle has been dry and HOT, and we all need a little break indoors sometimes. But even indoor spaces can be stuffy in a town where AC is rare.

If you want to beat the heat in Seattle, you don’t need to sit at home in front of a fan with an ice pack on your head. There are plenty of ways to keep life from passing you by while outlasting the summer. Here are five activities that keep you cool, mind and body.

1. Take a Trip to the Museum

Museums are great in the summer. Those big ceilings allow you to stay indoors without feeling confined. Even better, the art demands good climate control to be preserved, so you get a steady, cool environment, too.

Right now, the big show in town is Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at Seattle Art Museum. There’s just one teensy problem: you can’t buy tickets in advance, and same-day tickets sell-out first thing when the museum opens at 10 am. That means you’ll have to line up around 8:30 or 9 am if you want in. Fortunately, the entrance faces west and the mornings are cool, so it’s the best time to be outdoors. Need more guidance? Our pal and art critic T.s. Flock has written a guide to getting in hassle-free.

Speaking of free…the Frye Museum always has free admission, and on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 1 pm, they have mindfulness meditation sessions in one of the galleries. You can come in, see the art, and then relax (or work) in the cafe. Read about the current exhibitions online.

2. Get a Frozen Cocktail in Town

Lots of Mexican restaurants around town will have blended daiquiris and margaritas—a classic summer drink. Other bars mix it up a bit, with different alcohol and flavors. We’ve tried quite a few over the years and can recommend many, but since the object here is also to have a cool environment, we’ve narrowed our list.

Two Tom Douglas restaurants with wide open interiors offer boozy slushies: TanakaSan in Belltown and Brave Horse Tavern in South Lake Union. TanakaSan’s offerings are fruit and sake blends, while Brave Horse takes classic cocktails and gets them nice and icy.

That is also the case at Artusi in Capitol Hill. The acclaimed, Zagat-rated restaurant has a chic, comfortable interior and, of course, delectable dishes to go with their rotating frozen cocktail.

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3. Watch Some International Films at SIFF

The year-round programming at SIFF Cinema locations offers wonderful international and independent films. (If you aren’t a member and you love film, you should seriously consider joining to get discounts on tickets.) Their SIFFsational Summer Film Series of beloved blockbusters has just ended, but their upcoming films are looking excellent. Opening this week, there’s the award winning documentary Step and the dramatic debut feature of director Kogonada, Columbus. See more upcoming films on the website.

4. Make Your Own Frozen Treats

After a long, hot day, indulging in a little frozen sweet treat can be heavenly. There are, of course, scads of great flavors out there on hand, but with so much great food available to us in the PNW, it’s a great time to experiment and make your own.

This is especially true if you are lactose intolerant or want to cut out the calories of cream. Check out this delish fresh strawberry granita recipe at Epicurious during berry season. If you want the full ice cream experience without the dairy, check out kitchn’s vegan ice cream recipe.

For those of us who can eat (and love) real cream, there are countless recipes out there, including an easy overnight technique by One Pot Chef (video below). That technique may have to be tweaked, or you may need to just invest in an ice cream maker if you want to go with more exotic flavors. Brown sugar bourbon ice cream? Don’t mind if we do! Chocolate matcha ice cream? That’s one you won’t find in stores.

Of course, you can easily just eat up some store-bought goodness, but why not mix it up. Real Simple has a list of 24 floats and shakes and Martha Stewart has decadent no-bake recipes to get you inspired and mix up your dessert menu. Mango lime ricotta parfaits? Martha, you’ll be the death of us!

5. Shop for Fall Fashion (and Halloween)

It’s not just the AC in the department store…the mere state of mind that comes from shopping for layer-season can help you cool down. fall fashions are already in stores. The leaves will be changing before we know it. Why not pick out your new favorite cardigan or a modish slicker now so you have it to look forward to?

But maybe fall fashion is less about lush knits for you and more about black lace and bat motifs. If so, you are probably already giddy about the Halloween decor popping up in grocery and craft stores. Now is the time to start putting together your five costumes for Halloweek. (Or are you going for six this year?) There’s nothing like imagining the chill in the bones of all who see your ghoulish attire to help cool you off!


Check out our list of outdoor summer activities, too, if you tend to run hot and cold.

Featured image from Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors by Natali Wisman, courtesy of Seattle Art Museum.

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