Feature photo by Ruse Laris

I know I don’t have to explain this to Chicagoans: Summer is great. What adds to the great myth of Summer, and why is it our favorite season?

In Chicago it’s obvious. The city hates the snow, and I don’t blame it, the snow can be an inconvenience to everyone, and its positives are limited. It’s pretty, for one thing (admit that it looks nice from your window), and um…that’s about it.

For fun purposes, snow is best appreciated on slopes. So unless you leave Chicago for the mountains to slide, ski or snowboard (and by slide I also include the steal-your-neighbor‘s-trash-bin outings), snow is just a nice thing to look at (sometimes)! Maybe you’ll carve out one snowman all season long and enjoy it as long as the Halloween pumpkin, or date someone who wants you to form a snow angel. Or maybe you’re one of those who skis on Grant Park when it’s covered, nice try.

But with summer, one way or another, you’ll have fun. Whether you’re finishing a semester, graduating, or taking your vacation days, it is time to rejoice! The simple beauty about summer is that you don’t need to visit Mexico or camp in Wisconsin to enjoy it. Summer is as close as an ice cream truck’s lousy speaker rolling down your block. Time to indulge in mini-getaways, and be a little unselfish this time–let your taste buds have the fun. Taste buds buckle down, we’re off to Cabo, and it’s 5 minutes down the street.

Here at Gozamos we thought of simple, low cost, easy to find summer desserts to cool down in the city:

Italian Ice
The Italians have a knack for inserting things into our culture, so start the journey here and trust that this is popular for a reason. Find a local shop in your neighborhood that focuses mainly on making Italian Ice, and wander in. Most stores will allow you to taste the offerings, and will have different sizes to sell. Don’t be surprised if the vendors are social folk–this breed enjoys making their desserts and always look happy. Look for a place that uses real fruit, sugar and clean water as ingredients, and no dairy. It is refreshing to taste Italian Ice, and you’ll find a flavor to suit your taste. You can try Miko’s Italian Ice, a Bucktown neighborhood location that’s been around for 13 years. You can follow them on Twitter to learn about current flavors as they change according to seasons (I love coconut). If you’re near Berwyn, go to Gina’s Italian Ice, 33 years in the making. Either way, find a shop, try it and enjoy the trip.

Street Vendors– Paleteros y Raspados
I grew up calling these guys paleteros, the great makers of paletas, ice pops made from fresh fruit. This is why you should always carry one or two loose dollars in your pocket! You’ll find similar flavors here as with Italian Ice, but these are on the road and the thrill is in the surprise. If you have doubts, don’t be afraid to approach these carts at the park or on the sidewalk. The vendors appreciate your business and have a good product to offer. The paletas vary; sometimes the vendors buy in bulk and simply parade them around the city for your outdoor need, or there are also vendors who make their own product and sell it proudly. Also look for raspados, or shaved ice. These vendors are often stationary, but you can also spot them on the go.

Good Old Ice Cream
We can think of lots of substitutes, but sometimes we need to go to the source, the time-tried ice cream. Aside from the ice cream in your freezer–save that for winter–it’s time to enjoy it outdoors. Find yourself a spot and let your getaway begin. After a movie, before a movie, after dinner, for dinner, during the week, by yourself or in a group, however you do it, find it. Never stop exploring ice cream offerings and the different shops that serve it. Be adventurous, mix different flavors, toss on different ingredients. If ice cream for dinner is your style of fun, try Margie’s Candies, a place that’s been doing it for over 80 years, and it’s not as touristy as you may think. It’s as simple as adding some hot fudge to vanilla ice cream. That alone will cool you off and fill your belly.

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