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A large bucket of water over turning at ISLAND Waterpark in Atlantic City
Photograph: courtesy of ISLAND Waterpark at Showboat

Fun ways to stay cool during NYC’s heat wave this week

You don't need to stay home to keep cool—NYC has a multitude of fun ways to avoid the heat.

Written by
Shaye Weaver
&
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Contributors
Adam Feldman
&
Amber Sutherland-Namako
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We’re in the dog days of summer, but this week, in particular, is going to be brutal.

In what's called a "Bermuda High," temperatures will creep back into the 90s on Wednesday, with peak heat on Friday potentially reaching 105 degrees. Saturday will likely continue to be in the 90s, or possibly hotter.

Of course, always head to one of NYC’s cooling centers if you need to escape the heat. Call 911 if you or someone is experiencing heavy sweating, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, feeling faint, headache, decreased energy, loss of appetite and/or nausea.

If your apartment has good air conditioning, it's easy to stay inside to avoid the sun, but NYC has a lot of fun ways to keep cool so that you don't need to become a hermit when the mercury rises. And if your apartment traps heat, fear not: There are great places to escape to across the boroughs.

Below, we’ve rounded up 27 fun ways to cool off in NYC during this wicked heatwave. And remember: Stay cool and stay inside whenever possible!

RECOMMENDED: 49 ways to have the best summer in NYC

The best things to do in NYC to keep cool

  • Bars

Escape the stifling heat and do as a vampire might do—head underground to one of NYC’s coolest subterranean bars. Though some share a crossover speakeasy-style appeal, these bars are all literally underground, safely ensconced in basements where you can eschew the SPF and avoid the harsh light of day outside. As cool as they are chill, these are the best basement bars to beat the heat in NYC. 

  • Things to do

NYC's public swimming pools are an oasis for heat-weary New Yorkers every summer, whether they take a dip in the cool waters or just lounge poolside. We certainly have our pick of options as there are more than 60 public swimming pools scattered around New York’s five boroughs. Here's our comprehensive list of the squeaky clean—and totally free—swimming pools in NYC.

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  • Attractions

It helps to have the sea breeze for sure, but there’s nothing like feeling the wind in your hair aboard one of the thrill rides in Coney Island, including on the Cyclone, the Thunderbolt, and the new Leti’s Treasure—a log flume ride that will operate with 12 flume boats and lifts riders up to 40 feet in the air before plunging down.

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  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

When it's this hot out, forget the outdoor sports. Instead, play some games indoors at at this new board game cafe near Union Square.

Filled with 500 games, Hex & Co.'s latest location is now open just south of Union Square at 801 Broadway (Broadway and East 11th in Greenwich Village) and ready for gamers of all fandoms. 

This is the third location for Hex & Co., joining fellow board game cafes in the Upper West Side and Upper East Side. It also joins sister stores The Uncommons in Greenwich Village and The Brooklyn Strategist in Carroll Gardens.

  • Bars

Our area’s finest water-top spots are an easy, breezy way to bottle a few drops of the yachting lifestyle without the high price and pesky barnacles that stow away on an actual watercraft. Mostly only open seasonally, they’re peak spring and summer destinations with the warm weather menus to match, all with a side of the sea. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

Be transported when you step inside The Woo Woo, which aims to evoke the 1980s and Times Square in those same, pre-Disney days with sex shops and speakeasies. These themes are executed with a combination of graffiti that reasonably approximates the style of the time, vintage nude mags and video tapes, rouge neon, throwback punk show posters and the whole password thing. 

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  • Things to do

Every Tuesday, this dreamy affair gives you an astronautworthy view of the stars from the high-powered telescopes of the Amateur Astronomers Association. And here we all thought we couldn't gaze at constellations in New York City! Stargazing at the High Line runs from sunset to 30 minutes before the park closes each Tuesday.

Just in case you're worried you'll have no idea what you are looking at, the AAA leads the star-spotting expeditions, pointing out celestial bodies above the park. Follow the High Line’s Twitter feed (@highlinenyc) for updates in the event of inclement weather.

  • Things to do
  • Soho

Ice cream is at the center of this 20,000-square-foot museum that'll make the cold treat even more fun (who knew it'd even be possible?). Across 13 multi-sensory installations, visitors to the museum will be able to interact with fun elements like a three-story indoor slide, the all-pink Celestial Subway, and a new add-on where guests can build their own edible slime.

Even better: The sweet treats along the way. Yes, we're talking about unlimited ice cream throughout the museum. For adults, check out some fun themed cocktails as well.

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Descend into a "crazy mini-golf course" and entertainment complex straight from London with three nine-hole golf courses across 23,000 square feet under 20-foot-high ceilings.

"Crazy golf" is a British spin on mini-golf, but it's for a 21-and-over audience since craft cocktails are served by caddies on the course. At Swingers NoMad, expect six cocktail bars with signature classic cocktails from London and D.C., as well as 12 cocktails created specifically for NYC, private rooms you can rent, an opulent clubhouse and four gourmet street food vendors—Sauce Pizzeria, Miznon, Fonda and Mah Ze Dahr Bakery.

  • Restaurants
  • Drinking

Spend a few hours indoors belting your heart out at Ms. Kim's, a K-town karaoke lounge from Korean beauty entrepreneur Anna Kim that combines sophisticated style with sing-alongs. Ms. Kim's offers both communal space and soundproof private karaoke rooms, so guests can customize their experience as it suits their needs.

In the main lounge and bar, mixologist-approved cocktails take the place of the ubiquitous karaoke bar beer pitcher. Ingredients in the signature drinks, which start at $16, include butterfly pea flower, herbal infused syrups and top shelf spirits. Fine wine is sold by the glass or bottle, and beer is available on tap or by the bottle. For soju, the 46-proof Hwayo - 23° is available by the 375 mL bottle. 

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  • Shopping
  • Shopping & Style

The beloved Century 21 store is back in Lower Manhattan with cool temperatures and hot clothes. 

With 100,000 square feet spread across four floors, this discount retailer at 22 Cortland Street is a shopper's paradise. The newly reopened flagship sits in the exact same location as its predecessor, right across from the World Trade Center.

Starting from the basement level, you’ll find shoes, luggage and kids’ clothing. On the main level, there’s a wide array of handbags (including YSL and Louis Vuitton), sunglasses (including Raybans), fragrances and belts. Keep climbing the escalator and you’ll get to the women’s floor on two, then the men’s floor on three. 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Manhattan Park's annual pop-up pool party is back at the luxury waterfront property on Roosevelt Island, and the ninth annual summer-long celebration is perhaps more unique than ever. 

When the pool re-opens each year, a new outdoor transformation is revealed. This year’s is by local artist James Gortner, chosen for his artistic and colorful vision for this summer’s themes of the joy of existence and sustainability.

The Manhattan Park Pop-Up Pool Party and annual pool mural will remain open throughout the summer 2023 season. Access to the pool is available via monthly or seasonal membership. All summer club rates start at $550 for Roosevelt Island residents and $1,100 for non-residents. Monthly membership is $400 for individuals, $550 for couples, and $750 for families. 

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  • Restaurants

We love ice cream in all its forms—and all year round. Though we’ll happily partake any time, ice cream is a true joy in the summertime. New York City has an abundance of options for when you can’t catch the Mister Softee truck. These are our favorite classic, offbeat, unique and traditional ice cream offerings to help you cool down this season.

  • Art
  • Art

Nearly every artist has their fixation, and for two years, Vincent Van Gogh was possessed with the challenge of capturing the cypress trees that surrounded him in France toward the end of his life.

You’ll be able to see this glorious obsession firsthand at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s major summer exhibit, “Van Gogh’s Cypresses,” which runs through August 27.

And it is history in the making as it is the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s cypress trees, reuniting some of his most iconic paintings, including “Wheat Field with Cypresses” and “The Starry Night” and other rarely lent works.

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  • Things to do

It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about summer in the city, but when you need to beat the heat, why not give free kayaking in NYC a try? We’ve got plenty of water, from the Hudson River to the East River.

There are many organizations around the city that aim to reconnect urbanites to nature and the aquatic ecosystems that surround us. Groups of boaters and paddling enthusiasts lead small groups around New York’s waterways, offering a cool, relaxing and educational adventure. Best of all? It’s free!

  • Things to do
  • Events & Festivals

As the Revolutionary War came to a close, British Loyalists and soldiers evacuated the colonies in droves. But the evacuation was more complicated for Black Loyalists, some of whom joined the British cause in response to offers of freedom. 

In 1783, the new government formed a special committee to review the eligibility of some Black Loyalists to evacuate with the British Army, and that committee met at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan. A new permanent exhibit at the Fraunces Tavern Museum explores this important moment in history. 

It's all indoors, so you can stay out of the heat and grab lunch in the tavern afterwards.

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  • Things to do
  • Queens

Now you can actually look forward to going to JFK International Aiport because of this gorgeous, completely renovated TWA Terminal, which serves as a hotel, food-and-drink and convention destination. The interior of Eero Saarinen’s landmark 1962 building exudes 1960s chic with 512 guest rooms that offer views of JFK’s runways, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant, a rooftop pool and an observation deck. 

  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

New Jersey’s Atlantic City just got a new distinction—it is now home to the world’s largest indoor beachfront waterpark.

Starting this weekend, visitors to the casino haven can head to Showboat—a family-friendly resort with the largest arcade in the world, go-kart racing, minigolf, roller skating and more—to the new ISLAND Waterpark.

At 120,000 square feet, ISLAND Waterpark holds more than 317,000 gallons of water that cascades down 11 curvy slides (the Electric Eel, Sonic Serpent and Barracuda Blaster), three “Tidal Racers” and five waterslides suitable for younger visitors at Slide Island.

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  • Travel
  • Transport & Travel

'Tis the season of weekend getaways and Amtrak is making things way easier with its Berkshire Flyer, a seasonal passenger rail service between New York City and the Berkshires.

The Berkshire Flyer returns for the 2023 summer season with service running each weekend through Monday, October 9. Trains depart from New York Penn Station at 3:16pm on Fridays and arrive at Joseph Scelsi Intermodal Transportation Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts at 7:12pm. (Yes, specific, we know.) Return trains depart Pittsfield each Sunday at 3pm and arrive back in New York City at 7:05pm.

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