Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Places for kids to cool off

Slip into these comfy-even icy!-sanctuaries to escape the heat wave.

Spa Castle in College Point Queens

Spa Castle in College Point Queens

Maybe you're recovering from too much of a good thing: sun, margaritas, a deadly combo of the two. Perhaps you're just put off by the wrestling match that is the kiddie sunscreen-application process. At these hideaways, it's all about AC and the sunshine banned.

Chelsea Market
It's a solid block of air-conditioning! The kids can eat ice cream from Ronnybrook Dairy (gelato from L'Arte Del Gelato for you), throw coins in the waterfall and giggle at their goose bumps in the refrigerated Manhattan Fruit Exchange, where it's so frigid the employees wear winter jackets.
75 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (chelseamarket.com). Subway: A, C, E to 14th St; L to Eighth Ave.

Chelsea Piers
This one is a no-brainer. Rent a batting cage with your Little Leaguer ($2.75 for ten pitches), drive balls into the Hudson (seemingly) with your aspiring Annika ($25for 90 balls during peak time), and explore the Little Athletes Exploration Center with your intrepid couch climber ($12 per child for a three- to four-hour play session). If all that action gets you overheated, go land on your rump a few times at the indoor ice rink (all ages $10).
Eleventh Ave at 23rd St (212-336-6666, chelseapiers.com). Subway: C, E to 23rd St.

European Sculpture Court at the Met
The soaring marble-lined hall, designed as a classical French garden, is the stuff New York City childhood memories are made of. Kids can gawk at Central Park sunbathers through the floor-to-ceiling windows and pretend they're kings and queens in their own (well chilled) castle.

Grand Central Terminal
You could spend the entire day within this commuter crossroads' cavernous halls (yes, there's AC). Visit the Transit Museum's Gallery Annex; gaze up at the constellations on the Main Concourse ceiling; share secrets across the Whispering Gallery; indulge in classic New York cheesecake at the Junior's of Brooklyn outpost; and marvel at the plastic wonderland that is the Pylones shop. Mom and Dad can also grab iced coffee from JOE or Oren's Daily Roast and swing by Grand Central Market to pick up prepared meals from Dishes, Murray's Cheese and Pescatore Seafood.
E 42nd St between Lexington and Vanderbilt Aves (grandcentralterminal.com). Subway: 42nd St S, 4, 5, 6, 7 to 42nd St--Grand Central.

Puppetworks, Brooklyn
Sure, movie theaters are a great way to beat the heat. But how about trying something different? This not-for-profit marionette theater in Park Slope has the relax-in-the-dark allure of a cineplex, but without the pimply teenagers making out in the back row.
338 Sixth Ave at 4th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-965-3391, puppetworks.org). Subway: F to Seventh Ave. Adults $8, children $7.

RollerJam USA, Staten Island
Before the proliferation of suburban malls, roller rinks were where the youth of America escaped the summer heat. Though you won't see a speck of sunshine once you're inside this heavily AC'd palace, the summer anthems and disco classics will put you in that giddy "school's out" mood. Family-skate hours every Saturday from 1 to 8pm and open bounce party every Sunday from 1 to 7pm.
236 Richmond Valley Rd between Arthur Kill Rd and Page Ave, Staten Island (718-605-6600, rollerjamusa.com). Travel: From the Staten Island Ferry, take the Staten Island Railroad to Richmond Valley (roundtrip $4.50, free for up to three children under 45 inches with adult). $9.50, plus $4.50 skate rental (traditional and in-line).

Spa Castle, Queens
Part water park, part spa, this bubbly oasis in Queens overlooking the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge is a glitzy remake of a jimjilbang, a traditional Korean bathhouse. Sit in a massage chair, chill out in the Iceland Room (just don't touch your tongue to the frosted pipes!), and loll in the many pools, gilded saunas and Jacuzzis, all while snacking on tuna rolls and red bean sorbet. It's weird, it's wonderful, and your kids will love it.
131-10 11th Ave, College Point, Queens (718-939-6300, nyspacastle.com). Travel: 7 to Flushing--Main St, then take the free shuttle bus from Flushing municipal parking lot on Union St at 39th Ave. Weekdays $35, children between 1 and 2 years under 3 feet $20; weekends $45, children between 1 and 2 years under 3 feet $25; children under 1 always free.

Wall Street Bath & Spa 88
Skip the saunas and steam rooms, and head straight to the indoor junior-Olympic pool. Brave little bathers can dare one another to jump into the cold plunge pool (kept in the mid-40F range). Don't be deterred by the photos of bikini-clad babes on the spa's website; the proprietors swear the place is child-friendly.
88 Fulton St between Cliff and Gold Sts (212-766-8600, wallstreetbath.com). Subway: A, C to Broadway--Nassau St; J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4, 5 to Fulton St. Adults $35, children ages 8--13 $17.50, under 8 free (one child per adult).

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