Summer is finally here in West Michigan, and with temperatures hitting the 80s and 90s this week, you're likely bracing yourself to rock sandals, shorts, and anything possible to keep yourself cooler.

Lemon_tm/ThinkStock
Lemon_tm/ThinkStock
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Not everyone owns a pool or has the money to run their air conditioning on full blast, so you may be looking for creative ways to stay cool while not breaking your budget. We're all battling higher gas prices and higher prices at the store, so why not save where you can?

1. Visit one of Grand Rapids many free splash pads

City of Grand Rapids- Heartside Splash Pad
City of Grand Rapids- Heartside Splash Pad
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Not only is a good idea to get out and stretch your legs as much as you can during the summer months, but Grand Rapids offers a few great spots in their public parks to help you keep cool in the summer months.

Courtesy of Lily Pad Splash Facebook Page
Courtesy of Lily Pad Splash Facebook Page
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Currently, there are 14 splash pads available in Grand Rapids, with one opening later this summer. If you'd like to see their locations, you can get full details on their website.

2. Use ice and water bottles strategically

A group of water bottles, clean, blue.
Diana Klohr
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Did you know you can use ice to cool yourself off just like your drinks? And I'm not talking about just eating it. You can use a cold water bottle or a paper towel filled with ice to cool yourself off.

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JJ Gouin
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Just place the ice or bottle near the inside of your elbow, the back of your neck, or the inside of your kneecaps. These are areas that your main arteries flow through, and as the blood passes through these areas, it will cool off and carry that temperature throughout your body. note: do not stick bare ice on your skin, you can cause yourself frostbite and that won't help, either. 

3. Get blinds and black out curtains for your home

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Blocking the light from entering your home during peak heat hours of the day can help reduce your need for air conditioning, while also saving you money. Currently DTE is offering credits to certain customers who are able to reduce their energy use in the afternoons. This hack can help you without entirely sacrificing your A/C.

English Heritage Prepare The Former Home Of Charles Darwin Ahead Of The New Visitor Season
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Make sure you're using curtains that are not opaque, otherwise they won't keep light out as well, thus defeating the purpose.

4. Rent a pool on Swimply

Swimply
Swimply
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While going to the pool for a day may be cheaper if you're a smaller family, if you know of another group or have a large family yourself, it may actually be more cost efficient to rent someone else's pool for a few hours.

Swimply
Swimply
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A lot of the pools also offer access to grills and gazebos, so if you'd like to make it an event, many of these hosts offer options to accommodate you. To learn more, check out swimply and find listings and times that work best for you.

5. Get some ice cream

Ice cream
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This one seems obvious, but it comes with a bonus. Not only will you cool off, you'll also get a treat to make you less sad about the fact you feel like a melting ice cream cone yourself.

Frosty Boy / Facebook
Frosty Boy / Facebook
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Some ice cream stands offer deals on certain days and times, so check before you go and if you pick a non-weekend time to visit you might be able to score a sweet deal too.

6. Visit one of our many lakes and beaches

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While some beaches may have parking costs or require a travel passport, there are tons of options of watering holes to enjoy that don't have an admission fee.

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva
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Most of the beach in Grand Haven has free parking, so take the family for a great time without spending a dime (other than gas money)

7. Take a walk in one of our shaded parks

Laura Hardy / TSM
Laura Hardy / TSM
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While not every park offers spots to cool off, there are tons of parks and national forests in West Michigan that offer some shade while you stretch your legs.

Courtesy of James Shotwell
Courtesy of James Shotwell
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One of my personal favorites is Aman park right outside of Walker, which has a few streams and ponds depending on the time of the year you visit. They're perfect to stop and stick your toes in for a second to cool off.

Good luck this summer as West Michigan is looking at hitting record heat levels. Make sure you drink lots of water, take some sunscreen along with you, and wear a hat. And of course make the most of all of the pure Michigan out there that doesn't cost money to enjoy.

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