It’s summer, and Sydney does it well. We’re all lucky enough not to be too horrendously far from a beach, a suburban swimming pool or a national park watering hole, and a dip before or after work pushes that Sydney smug-metre up real high.

I love an ocean pool, and I know it’s not hidden or off the beaten track, but joining the throngs of people holding onto the rope as the waves crash over the edge of Bronte pool – is there anything better? The excited ahhhhhs and the wallop of deliciously cool water gets me every time. Mahon Pool, which isn’t too far from Maroubra beach, is pretty great too. (Go early so you can catch a spot in the shade.) And then there are the glorious harbour beaches. Camp Cove in Watsons Bay is my go-to, but you could also easily pick Store Beach in Manly. Pack a picnic, find a spot under a tree and settle in for a day of floating interspersed by napping.

If you’re looking for other ways to remain fresh, head indoors, into one of the galleries. There’s a stack of blockbuster shows on this summer, including the free MCA retrospective on notable British artist Cornelia Parker. She’s clever, funny and doesn’t mind an explosion. For her major work Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View she stacked a garden shed with explosives and blew it up, only to then painstakingly recreate the moment of impact by dangling the 2000 pieces from the ceiling. It’s on till February 16.

AGNSW has taken a deep dive into the creatures that inhabit the spirit realm of Japanese folklore and fantasy for Japan Supernatural, which is showing until March 8. You also have until Australia Day to see White Rabbit’s Then, a showcase of more than 60 key pieces from the gallery’s first shows in 2009 and 2010. The Chippendale gallery, which has the world’s largest private collection of 21st-century contemporary Chinese art, celebrated a decade this year.

The long lunch is another great summer pastime. Right now the place as hot as the weather is Cafe Paci, the innovative Newtown eatery making devilled eggs cool again. (Make sure you get the potato and molasses bread, it’s killer.) And in mid-December, a second outlet of superb Bondi Italian eatery Totti’s will open in the CBD. The original is perpetually full; it’s bound to be a similar story at this newbie. I’m the type of person who likes to see the sun when I’m dining long in the day, but if you’re a person who likes to shun the sun, book a table at The Gidley. It’s the new subterranean steakhouse by the guys who gave us another subterranean steakhouse, Bistecca.