Stay cool this summer inside the Philadelphia area's numerous indoor attractions. (Photos clockwise from left courtesy Adventure Aquarium, by Will Klein, courtesy National Constitution Center, by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)
Get ready, Philadelphia. The dog days of summer will soon be upon us.
As temperatures begin to creep upwards (triple digits are most likely in our future), it’s time to start thinking about how to stay cool while still enjoying summer fun.
To keep from overheating, check city attractions that boast refreshingly cold climate-controlled environs.
We’ve assembled a handy guide to attractions with cold A.C. You’ll want to store this roundup and our roundup of cold confections in a cool, dry place to reference throughout the summer.
Our top picks for attractions with cool A.C., below:
• Adventure Aquarium: Where better to cool off than at Camden’s riverfront aquarium? Adventure Aquarium is a true waterfront treasure, where you can immerse yourself in nearly 200,000 square feet of air-conditioned space, which houses more than two million gallons of water and 8,500 animals. Plus you won’t want to miss Mighty Mike, an 800-pound alligator taking a breezy vacation from the Florida heat this summer at the aquarium.
• Philadelphia Museum of Art: Philadelphia’s premier art museum and one of the world’s finest offers a great refuge from the blasting heat outside, with the cool marble, a thermostat regulated at 70 degrees and even cooler libations like the Cherry Lime Fizz at Stephen Starr’s Granite Hill. For those humid July nights, find refuge in the Van Pelt Auditorium for the July film series, Portrait of the Artist.
• The Barnes Foundation: Clean white informs the interior color palette of the Barnes Foundation on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, making for a cool hot-day environment. In addition to the permanent collection of incredible post-impressionist and early modern paintings, the special exhibition Ellsworth Kelly: Sculpture on the Wall is on view this summer, too. The beautiful, refreshing garden just outside is a great place to cool off, too; just be sure to fight the urge to jump into the reflecting pool.
• Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: PAFA’s ongoing video installation, Bill Viola: Ocean Without a Shore in the Historic Landmark Building is perfect for scorching summer weather and on view right now. Dip into the dark gallery and watch as figures duck in and out of sight through a splashing waterfall. Head indoors to get a water-filled art fix while you let your body temperature lower. Also on view this summer, Jennifer Bartlett: History of the Universe explores the important artist’s scope of work in the modern Hamilton Building.
• Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University: There’s a multitude of interesting and informative discoveries to be made at the Academy of Natural Sciences, one of the world’s foremost such institutions and a natural-history buff’s dream. The newest exhibit Glow: Living Lights takes you on a journey through the dark in pursuit of creatures with the incredible ability to produce their own light.
• National Constitution Center: If you think this year is a hot one, don’t miss The 1968 Exhibit at the National Constitution Center where you can travel through 12 exhibition areas corresponding to each of the chaotic months of the year and hang out in three chilly lounge spaces. And be sure to make a pit stop at the shady Crosswalk Cafe on Independence Mall, the site of the Constitution Center, for some icy cold hydration.
• The Franklin Institute: Keep your shades on. The recently-opened SPY: The Secret World of Espionage exhibit invites guests into the world of classified information and undercover work with a fascinating display of artifacts and interactive elements. First step: stay calm, cool and collected.
More ways to beat the heat, below.
• Tuttleman IMAX Theater: Also at The Franklin Institute, the Tuttleman IMAX Theater offers cool respite and engaging, immersive entertainment through a range of big, big-screen films like the nature-focused Flight of the Butterflies and the blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness.
• Penn Museum: Take a trip to the Penn Museum to go deep within the dim Egyptian Tombs gallery to chill with remarkable artifacts including human and animal mummies. Also on view this summer and fall, discover the anthropological history of propaganda in Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster, on view through March.
• Independence Seaport Museum: Though we don’t advise swimming in the Delaware River, just being in the proximity of a body of water is somehow cooling and the Independence Seaport Museum sits at Penn’s Landing, right on the river. It’s appropriate, too, since the museum explores the history of Philadelphia’s relationship with sailing and as a port. Don’t miss the special exhibition on view through 2015, Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River, which explores the concept of freedom through the lens of the African experience along the Delaware.
• Please Touch Museum: Take a journey with the kids down the river in the Please Touch Museum’s River Adventures exhibit: race sail boats in water currents and play with bubbles sans slathering the kids in sunscreen. Tip: for a really cool treat, stop by Rita’s in the Please Taste Cafe.
• The Free Library of Philadelphia: As temperatures begin to top out in the triple digits, a number of Free Library of Philadelphia neighborhood locations will serve as official cooling centers. Swim through the pools of books and kick back in the air-conditioned space, keeping the dreaded farmer’s tan at bay.
• Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum: No need to fear your car seat’s hot leather on the back of your legs because the A.C. in the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is cranked up. Check out cars that are too hot to handle and kick back and watch what Top Chef Kevin Sbraga wishes you knew about the Simeone in our Philly 101 video.
• Ritz Movie Theaters: Catching a summer movie at any of Philadelphia’s beloved three Ritz Movie Theaters is a surefire way to lower your body temperature. The ticket prices are no more than $9.