20 ways to cool off

Go from a hot mess to ice cold.

Splash around in a public pool
Despite a handful of closures and a delayed opening, the city's 54 outdoor public pools are now open until September 6. We've rounded up the top ten swimming pools, depending on which mood you're in, but if you're feeling frisky, New Yorker Julio Rivera nominated the Lasker Central Park Pool (Enter at 110th St and Lenox Ave; 212-534-7639, nycgovparks.org) for TONY's 50 warm-weather pickup spots.

Be thankful the Atlantic is freezing
There's no shade, the sand is burning, and it's so crowded you're practically wedged into someone's armpit, but thankfully the Atlantic is steps away and it's never warm. So ladies, pack your swimsuits, gents, pull on your swimming trunks and try one of these ten great beaches.

Take a dip in the Washington Square Park fountain
If dealing with the regulations of official public pools is too much trouble for you, and saltwater ruins your hair, try this option. Now the $16 million plus renovations are complete, the park is reemerging as one of the city's most popular playgrounds so it's perfect for lazing in the shade and eyeing the pickup scene. Once you get too hot (or you want to show of your abs to a hottie) wade through the calf-high water and into the fountains. Emerge dripping la Ursula Andress. Both hot and cool. W 4th St to Waverly Pl between MacDougal St and University Pl (nycgovparks.org)

Open a fire hydrant
It is illegal, is incredibly wasteful and costs the city thousands of dollars, but it's your right as an American to do as you please despite the social cost—especially when you're hot and grouchy. Here's a handy guide to opening a fire hydrant, but do weigh the benefits against the sweat you'll work up running from cops. Make sure you line up a five-year-old as a fall guy beforehand, or, y'know, just go the legal route and ask the FDNY for help.

Feel the breeze off the water
Years ago, in geography class, we were taught how the different heat-retaining properties of land and water result in wind. What we didn't learn until later is how this phenomenon exponentially increases the enjoyment of a cold one. Leave the stifling city for a view of the bay and the breeze ruffling your hair at Clemente's Maryland Crab House in Sheepshead Bay (Venice Marina, 3939 Emmons Ave at Knapp St, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; 718-646-7373, clementescrabhouse.com), or head to one of these nine waterfront bars.

Pay to have a bucket of ice water dumped on you
You think we're crazy now—read on. As if you're not hot enough already, we're going to recommend the Platza treatment at Body by Brooklyn (275 Park Ave at Washington Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn; 718-923-9400, bodybybrooklyn.com; 15mins; $44), which involves lying in a 205-degree Russian river-rock sauna and being flagellated with two wide, flat oak-leaf brooms. Your reward for this pain? Sitting with your feet in the plunge pool and having a large bucket of ice water dumped on you. It's invigorating to say the least, and access to the spa is included in the price so you can hurl yourself in the plunge pool whenever the urge takes you.

Grab an alfresco beer without boiling to death?
We love drinking outdoors, but when the temperature tops 90, the combination of booze and sun can be a recipe for disaster. Find your suds fix at Mission Dolores (249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and President Sts; 718-399-0099), which boasts 20 taps and has a concrete central courtyard—plus a cool, dimly lit front room—that offers fresh air without the perils of direct sunlight. As a bonus, it's often filled with dogs whose panting will remind you to be thankful that, while it may be hot as the dickens, at least you're not covered in thick fur (we hope not, anyway).

Quaff a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink
A cold beer on a hot day may sound appealing, but remember that alcohol has a dehydrating effect. Be smart and choose wisely with a cup of organic cold-pressed watermelon juice from the Juice Press. Besides being full of vitamin C, the rehydrating potable has an intense flavor that evokes the pleasures of summertime. 70 E 1st St between First and Second Aves (212-777-0034, thejuicepressonline.com). 8am--8pm; $7.

Spend the day shopping in Limelight Marketplace
This isn't the Midwest and we don't do blissful (soul-destroying), environment-controlled megamalls. We do have the Limelight Marketplace, though, a cool, white-tiled shopping heaven. With three levels of merch—including screen-printed tees ($25) at John Wye and vintage-inspired jewelry at Old Hollywood—and a food court that boasts a Grimaldi's and Baci Gelato, you can while away the day shopping and eating in cool comfort. 656 Sixth Ave at 20th St (212-226-7585, limelightmarketplace.com). Mon--Sat 10am--10pm, Sun 11am--8pm.

Stop whining, you'd fare poorly in Antarctica
You may feel like you're roasting to death, but a trip to see the American Museum of Natural History's "Race to the End of the Earth" will help you to count your blessings. Charting the competing expeditions to the South Pole by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and British Royal Navy captain Robert Falcon Scott, the exhibit includes a personality test to determine how you'd cope with the extreme weather conditions. And let's face it, you'll probably even regret forgetting to bring a sweatshirt to the air-conditioned environs. Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5200, amnh.org). 10am--5:45pm; $14--$24.

Go to New York City cooling centers
In the event of an extreme heat wave, the city opens air-conditioned cooling centers to provide relief. Call 311 to find your nearest center or visit NYC Hazards: Cooling centers.


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