It's officially the middle of the summer and some days, it's just perfect. Other days: it's hot. It's time to break out the emergency plan for chilling out on the cheap, because no Sonoma mom wants to pull a triple-digit electricity bill at the end of the month because she loafed indoors, blasting the air conditioner and setting the kids on a video game marathon.
Here are some of my favorite solutions for keeping it cool, Sonoma-style for you and the kids.
1. Hit the nearest pool
Morton’s Warm Springs still has $5 Wednesdays going through August. They have three mineral pools, all of which are fed partially by water from geothermal hot springs 200 feet below the Earth's surface. The water comes out of the springs at 94 degrees and cools to 84 degrees in the pools, which are chlorinated. They have three pools: a diving pool which is the largest, a three-foot to five-foot family pool, and a kiddie pool. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6pm.
2. Plan a day at the beach
Doran Beach and Dillon Beach are just a 45 minute drive and worth the $6 (or $7 at Dillon Beach) entry fee. Splash, play in the sand, fly a kite and have a picnic. My perfect day! Just remember to bring a sweatshirt, sometimes it can be in the 60s and a little chillier than you would expect.
3. Turn on the sprinkler
Old fashioned running through the sprinkler can’t be beat. Aside from your water bill, this one is free and the kids will enjoy it. Your lawn will stay nice and green as well. I picked up a new sprinkler at Target last week on summer clearance for $1.25, so keep your eyes out for a good deal.
4. Play water gun tag
Hit the doller store and stock up on “squirties” as we like to call them in my house. You need one for each person and a big bucket to fill them up. On the count of 10, start the game: the goal is to squirt all of the other players so that they will be “out." The last person who is dry wins!
5. Head to the fog
Of course you can always head into SF but Sausalito is just a short drive away and nice for a change. Park in the lot behind the fountain and walk along the promenade. There is usually a great breeze right along the water and lots of shops to pop in. Great way to cool off for a few hours.
6. Play carwash
Get out the hose and some suds and wash the car or have a bicycle wash. My kids love anything involving a hose and sponge. If you want to get a little more creative, you can also make the great sponge balls here. Definitely multi-tasking at it’s best!
7. Make homemade ice cream in a bag
Milk can become ice cream in 5 minutes in a bag! Check out Kaboose.com’s very easy way to make ice cream in minutes. All you need are a few ingredients (see full list here), a couple of ziploc bags, rock salt, ice and a good arm. Yum!
8. Go ice skating
If you don’t mind taking a quick drive up north, The Snoopy Ice Arena has a great deal going on Thursday night’s called “Fire & Ice." From 5-8pm through August 18th, you can skate and have a BBQ dinner with choice of “Big Dog” burger or “Young Pup” hot dog, side dish, drink and dessert for $10 (skate rental included).
9. Hit the movies.
The Sonoma Cinemas have some great kid movies for the summer: Winnie the Pooh is playing now and coming this Friday, the Smurfs. The kids price is always $6 (age 3-11) and adults pay $6 for shows before 6:00pm. An hour and a half of air-condition bliss!
10. Indulge in a book
Taking your kids to the library is a fantastic way to cool off and knock out that summer reading list at the same time. Why not check out another branch of the library why the is closed for renovations? Rincon Valley library has a great kids section and huge adjoining park. The Petaluma and Rohnert Park branches also have great children sections. Not only are libraries air conditioned, but they have a great selection of books for children of all ages. If your child was assigned summer reading, help them find a cozy chair and get through their book sooner so they don't have to wait until last minute. While you're there, pick up a few books for yourself and enjoy the quiet...while it lasts!
Any way you slice it, beating the summer heat doesn't have to be difficult, it just requires a little creativity.