In the summer, having fun boils down to one thing… how to stay cool in the heat and enjoy the season. With school out and vacations calling, we're sharing our guide for how to stay cool all summer long, complete with family-friendly fun and over 21 options. Whether you prefer to stay in, go out on the town, or escape from the city, we have ideas that will help you make the most of your summer.

Fresh Ways to Entertain at Home

Nothing says summer quite like a cookout, but we have some twists that will help keep the temperature down, without turning down the fun. 

Family Friendly: When entertaining with kids, we suggest a cold sweet treat to cap any gathering. For the best in town, check out Steel City Pops (1021 Bardstown Road and 117 St. Matthews Avenue) who sells conveniently packaged popsicles to go, wrapped to ensure they stay cold until it's time to share. Help the kids work up an appetite with a water feature for entertainment.  A Slip-n-Slide, well-timed water balloon fight or even a sprinkler will delight children of all ages, and make sure they get a good night's sleep. Speaking of nighttime, keep the kids up a little later than usual, and do some stargazing once the hot sun has set. We suggest a book, map, or even the handy mobile app Night Sky to help you pick out constellations. 

21+: When planning your summer parties, think beyond the grill and try a new gazpacho recipe. Cold soups are unbelievably refreshing on a hot day, and the creative possibilities are endless. Turn up the heat on your adult beverages with fruit filled ice cubes. Raspberries, blueberries, and even herbs will brighten up mixed drinks and add a surprise ingredient as the cubes melt. Keep the cool factor turned up with a mellow summer playlist that will remind your guests to slow down and relax. 

Cool Places Out on the Town

It's easy to get lazy in the summer heat, so getting out of the house is an excellent way to keep the energy up.  These are our favorite places to celebrate throughout the city in the summertime.

Family Friendly: It's noticeably cooler when you are in our city's green spaces, so make sure to check out Louisville's amazing park systems and pay special attention to the ones with splash zones, some of our favorites are Cherokee, Iroquois, the Parklands at Floyds Fork, and Waterfront Park. After wearing them out, fill them up with ice cream from one of the many unique local establishments. We love the dairy-free options at Louisville Cream (632 East Market Street), or the nostalgia served up at Ehler's Ice Cream (201 East Main Street), who just opened their first brick and mortar location in nearly 15 years. Looking to stay out of the sun, no one says you can't go ice skating in the middle of July. Check out Alpine Ice Arena (1825 Gardiner Lane) or Iceland Sports Complex (1701 Ups Drive) for a twist on summer fun, but bring an extra sweater.

21+: No kids, or have a sitter? We suggest chillin' on the most happening patio in town at Garage Bar (700 East Market Street). Get there early if you want to grab a ping pong table, but the beer and cocktail selection is extensive, not to mention the delicious homemade non-alcoholic sodas. If it's still too hot, get a little higher at 8up Elevated Drinkery & Kitchen. The views and breeze are unbeatable. If you're looking to get out during the day, we think a great family-friendly location to go to the Parklands of Floyds Fork is also a romantic spot to share a kayak for two on Beckley Creek. 

Cool Escapes

When the road is calling, you don't have to go far to get a great summer get-a-way. We often make summer bucket lists with our families and weekend trips are easy, inexpensive, and energizing when you can't get away for a full vacation. 

Family Friendly: When the kids are driving you crazy, turn to one of the many area water parks. Hurricane Bay is local, but Holiday World (Santa Claus, IN) and Kings Island (Mason, OH) are just a short drive away. If you're feeling outdoorsy, you can take on a natural adventure by heading south and underground to explore Mammoth Cave National Park (Cave City, KY) where temperatures that stay around 54 degrees throughout the year, make it a weekend and rent a cabin or camp at one of the nearby lake resorts! Nothing says "Kentucky summer" quite like a pontoon boat; you can even rent one with a slide and skip the water park lines. 

21+: romantic get-a-ways in the summer are usually of the beach variety, but we have some nearby suggestions that will make you feel miles away from Louisville. For a sophisticated weekend retreat head to French Lick, Indiana and check into West Baden Springs Hotel or French Lick Resort and enjoy world-class cuisine, indulgent spas, and old-world charm. If that isn't your scene, nothing says summer quite like honky-tonk hopping in downtown Nashville during a hot summer night.  For the more outdoorsy types, take a day and relax in the Awesome Lazy River of Shepherdsville (165 Dawson Drive). You can even rent a float for your cooler!

After all the fun is over, we hope you give back to our city and help everyone cool off by planting a tree. Louisville is one of the country's fastest growing heat islands. Several city organizations will help you help improve our city's tree canopy. Check out Trees Louisville (, Louisville Grows ( or Louisville Nature Center ( for more information. Your act will pay it forward for generations to come. 

Posted on 2019-07-08 by Marcela Kragel and Ina Miller | Photos by Allison Myers