Eat & Drink Out & About

16 Ideas For How To Spend A Meltingly Hot Day In The Illawarra

What to do and where to go when it’s hot, hot, hot.

You know those scorcher days? The kind where your legs get stuck to plastic chairs, you’re probably more sweat than person, the mercury on the thermometer is flirting with the edge, and even a fan and ice block can’t save the day.

We’re lucky to have great weather in our part of the world. Long summers, easy-going winters, and probably only a couple of weeks a year when you have to actually replace the double pluggers with ugg boots. Most of the time, we don’t have much to complain about. But, let’s be real, sometimes it gets downright sizzling, and even for us locals, those hot days can come as a bit of a shock.

So, what do you do to keep yourself entertained, comfortable and most importantly cool?

We’ve put together a few ideas for ways to spend a flaming hot day in the Illawarra, whether you’re the kind who likes to get out amongst it or someone who prefers the sweet relief of indoor air conditioning, we’ve got you sorted.

Oh, and don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, whatever you do. 

1:: Cool off in a local pool, beach or watering hole.

We’re a beachy bunch here in the Illawarra and there are plenty of beaches and ocean pools all along the coastline to take a dip in.

You can also check out our list of local swimming pools across town, with both indoor and outdoor options if you’re a little concerned about the UV.

If you prefer to skip the sand, we’ve got awesome swimming holes to choose from as well.

Just remember whatever swimming spot you choose to visit, make sure to pop on the sun protection before you leave home and pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.

2:: Catch a flick

It’s a classic ‘escape the heat’ activity, and for good reason. Dark room, air conditioning, a jam-packed action or swoony romance, aaaaand all the snacks… What more could you ask for?

Hit up the Illawarra’s only remaining independent and locally owned cinema, Gala Twin Cinemas in Warrawong. They show funky foreign films, local and arthouse films as well as the most recent blockbusters.

Here’s a list of other cinemas around town to catch a movie.

3 :: Indoor picnic

If the idea of even leaving the house sends you into a sweat [on top of the sweat you already have] then why not plan an indoor picnic at home?

Pick up some fresh bread and baked goods from one of our local bakeries like Flour Water Salt in Kiama or Millers Local Bakehouse in Wollongong. Grab some cheese, meats and olives from a deli like Deli & Dine on Market or Leisure Coast Fruit Market & Deli and don’t forget some sweet pastries like the ones at Pasticceria Massimo Papa or maybe even some deeelish donuts from Donut Jam.

Spread out the rug, close the blinds, crank up the fan and imagine it’s actually a cool spring afternoon instead.

4 :: Go shopping

Aaaah sweet, sweet air-conditioned shops. Whether you’ve got a million things on your list or just wanna do some window browsing, the shops and shopping centres become a bit of a refuge for us locals on a hot Illawarra day.

Wollongong Central and Stockland Shellharbour are pretty big and usually nice and cool. Head here for a list of other shopping centres around town.

Oh, and whilst you’re out splashing cash, or at least pretending to be, we recommend stopping at a local bookstore like Collins Booksellers for a book to take home.

Then once you’re shopped out you can head home, crank the cooling and escape into the pages…. Maybe even choose a book set somewhere cold for extra escapism.

5 :: Hit up the other kind of watering holes.

Scorching days call for a refreshing bevvie or three and we’ve got quite a selection of drinking spots in the Illawarra to get you going.

We love the Great Southern Hotel for its friendly vibe, Club Windang for that classic bowlo charm and The Imperial at Clifton for those epic ocean views, just to name a few.

Check out even more excellent pubs, breweries and distilleries that we love parking ourselves up at on a hot day right here.

6 :: Be playful

If you’re feeling in a playful mood then why not knock some pins over at one of our local bowling alleys? Zone Bowling in Albion Park has a ton of lanes and a fun and buzzy atmosphere. They’ve also got over 76 arcade games to keep your crew entertained once you’re all bowled out.

Speaking of arcade games, Timezone in Shellharbour is bursting with fun. Or to keep the good [and cool] times going all day head to Wollongong. Start with some bowling at Strike followed by a round of putt putt at Holey Moley and finish off with some arcade fun and a few refreshing cocktails at B. Lucky & Sons, all without having to step a foot outdoors, nice!

7 :: Get cultured

Time to up your cultural knowledge whilst keeping cool. Wollongong Art Gallery is a leading regional art gallery that showcases incredible regular and rotating exhibitions. With nearly 3000 works in the collection, you can surely while away a good portion of the hot day here.

Here’s a list of other wonderful art galleries in the Illawarra you can visit to continue your art-lovers journey.

8 :: Get Learning

Museums are not only a fantastic escape from the heat but also a wonderful opportunity to get a little more educated. Knowledge is power peeps!

Science Space in Wollongong is not just fun for the littles but pretty eye-opening for the grown-ups too. Open daily from 10am to 4pm, there’s loads of science-y goodness to explore as well as science shows most weekends and other fun events.

For other museums we recommend checking out in the Illawarra, head here.

9:: Fill up on ice cream

When it’s hot outside the best thing to do is cool down the insides [or something like that]. And what better way to cool yourself down than with a big old jolly scoop of ice cream?

We’ve rounded up some of the best spots to grab a scoop in the Illawarra, ice cream-themed road trip anyone?

10:: Make boozy [or not so boozy] slushies

Another way to cool down the insides is with an icy and fresh homemade slush. We’re partial to the ones that include a little tipple in the recipe [hello, frozen margaritas], so naturally we’ll be stopping at one of the local bottle shops or distilleries around town to stock up on ingredients.

If you’re going sans booze, hit up a local produce store to add some fresh fruit instead.

11:: Control the action

Did you know that Jamberoo Action Park is NSW’s only 5-star accredited water theme park? Pretty neat right?!

We love spending hot summer days braving The Tai Pan, bobbing in the wave pool, whooshing down the hill on the bobsled and screaming loudly as we jump off The Rock.

If you’re planning to visit on a hot day, we recommend getting to the park early to secure yourself a shaded picnic area. That way, you can park yourself for the day and stay nice and cool.

12 :: Have a spa day

Keeping with the theme of indulgence, why not take the day to fully treat yo’ self?! We love Arabella Day Spa for total relaxation, Endota Day Spa for its awesome selection of packages and City Cave for an epic float sesh, just to name a few.

Or you could have a go at doing your own spa day right at home. Grab some fantastic goodies from the local beauty legends, like Peggy Sue, or pop into one of our other fab local beauty stores.

We’re thinking face masks, foot scrubs, body lotions and of course a comfy robe and delish scented candle. The Native Nest in Kiama has a wonderful selection of candles and we’re partial to their Waterlily and Basil ones.

13 :: SUP it up

Ok, we’re getting back outside and we’re giving stand-up paddleboarding a go. Stand Up Paddle Boarding Shellharbour offers group and private lessons for both beginners and the more advanced.

If you’d like to hire a board or any other water sports gear, check out Unhooked Watersports in Port Kembla.

Remember just like all outdoor expeditions make sure to slip, slop and slap as well as pack plenty of water and healthy snacks to keep you well hydrated and fed.

14 :: Visit a play centre

If you’ve got little ones who are also feeling the heat, being stuck indoors can sometimes feel like an extra tough challenge, right?

So, get out and about and head to a local play centre. Go Kids Play in Albion Park is open 7 days a week and has plenty to keep the little ones entertained whilst the big ones enjoy an iced drink from the cafe onsite. Chouchou Bebe in Warrawong is also a play centre that doubles as a restaurant and cafe.

Another excellent option is the Tabatinga Play Centre at Dapto Leagues Club. There are activities for toddlers right up to 12-year-olds and of course lovely, lovely air con all the way through the club, sweet!

15 :: Get your skates on

Roll away those hot-day blues at GO Skating in Oak Flats. Roller skating or blading is a nostalgic and old-school way to have fun with your crew, and they’ve even got the ICEE slushie machine going in the kiosk to keep the nostalgia and cool refreshments flowing.

Regular sessions are $18 and they’re open weekends through the school term and every day in the school holidays. They also have retro nights all year round, so dig out your sparkly tank top and flare-iest flare pants for a night of classic fun.

16 :: Turn on the sprinkler

And last but certainly not least, the classic sprinkler. It’s a golden oldie for a reason. Suit up the whole fam in their swimmers, take turns leaping over the hose, get nice and wet, and stay cool. Cap it off with some sugary ice blocks [and maybe a cheeky boozy slush, as mentioned earlier]. Because when those chilly winter days roll around later in the year, you’ll be reminiscing fondly about hot days like this.

Stay cool Illawarra.

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