If you don't have a backyard pool, or at least one that serves your neighborhood or apartment complex, your summer fun could be serious curtailed. Luckily, in Orland Park, Illinois, a southwest suburb of Chicago voted the 45th Best Place to Live by CNN Money in 2006, a long-standing aquatic center stands ready to serve the village's nearly 60,000 citizens.
Centennial Park Aquatic Center is the only swimming attraction in Orland Park. The village maintains a few dozen parks and sports complexes throughout the suburb, but only Centennial Park has swimming. It's a big, fun-packed park, with an Olympic-size pool, two amusement park-style water slides and a lazy river surrounding it all. With sand volleyball, concessions and a water-soaked play area for children, Centennial Park is open from late spring to late summer and, as of publication, costs $7 a day to get in for residents and $14 for nonresidents.
If you're looking for a little variety, you can drive to a neighboring city or village to take part in that municipality's amenities. For instance, next door in Crestwood, Illinois, the city's Crestwood Recreation & Wellness Center has open swimming, with lifeguards on duty. It doesn't have the flair of Centennial Park, but it's an indoor pool with a fully stocked recreation center, so you can take part all year. Nonresident fees for the day are $10 for adults and $5 for children up to 15. The city of Chicago also maintains a range of pools that allow nonresidents.
You can plunk down membership fees at a local gym like Bally's Chicago Health Club, Midtown Fitness or Life Time Fitness. All of these clubs are within Orland Park borders and have indoor pools to let you swim comfortably year-round. Another wellness-based center with an indoor pool in Orland Park is the Palos Health and Fitness Center. Costs for each of these facilities vary widely.
You might be looking for free swimming, the kind your forebears partook in before the dawn of air conditioning and city pools. A short drive to the northeast will get you to the Lake Michigan shore, where the city of Chicago maintains 24 lifeguard-monitored beach accesses available from May to September. Check the water advisories before you go at the Chicago Park District's website, since sometimes it's unsafe to swim, especially after heavy storms.
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