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13 ways to cool off in NYC

Sweltering weather got you down? Survive an unbearable heat wave with these ingenious ways to cool off in NYC.

Sailing on the Hudson River
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Michael Vadon

Every summer, New Yorkers get a few truly sweltering days, when no amount of window unit air conditioning can stop you from sweating. Instead of resigning yourself to the terrible weather, beat the heat with these clever ways to cool off in NYC. Find a shady spot in one of the best NYC parks, cannonball into the nearest swimming pool or just grab an ice-cold cocktail at one of the many rooftop bars in NYC. Your dreams of outdoor adventures might have to wait for a more temperate day, but hey—at least you can console yourself with ice cream.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to things to do in the summer in NYC

13 ways to cool off in NYC

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Sail the Hudson River while sipping rosé

Nothing washes your cares away quite like the ocean (er, river) breeze. Board the historic Shearwater sailboat at North Cove Marina to sail out along the Hudson River and into the Upper New York Bay. Once you’re out on the water, the crew will prepare a wine tasting and cheeseboard for you. The captain will even let you take a turn at the helm—before you start drinking, of course.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/rabendeviaregia

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Mehanata Bulgarian Bar ice cage
Photograph: Courtesy Groupon
Bars, Lounges

Throw back shots of vodka in an ice cage

icon-location-pin Soho

You read that right: Mehanata actually has a full-on sub-zero ice cage lined with vodka inside the bar. Thirsty patrons are handed a Soviet-style coat and frozen shot glass before going into the ice cage for two whole minutes of uninterrupted shots. (The bar limits you to six, but that sounds like plenty to us.) Bring some friends along—you’re going to want photos of this.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/
Restaurants, Ice cream parlors

Make your own gelato

icon-location-pin Murray Hill

I scream, you scream, we all scream for… gelato? Italy’s ultra creamy frozen treat is just the thing on a boiling hot afternoon, and it tastes even better when you make it yourself. Learn the tricks of the trade in a workshop at Mia Chef Gelateria. You can take home all the gelato you make—if you have any leftovers, that is.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/jen

Rowing in Central Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Row, row, row your boat in Central Park

If the rolling waves make you queasy, head to Central Park for the next best thing. Rent a classic rowboat and make the rounds of The Lake. Soak up the picturesque surroundings, then head inside the Loeb Boathouse for a tall glass of something cold. Pro tip: It also makes for a very romantic (yet affordable!) date.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Charley Lhasa

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Photograph: Shutterstock

Treat yourself to a spa day

Trade your cramped, way-too-warm apartment for a day of relaxation at the super luxe Queen Jane Day Spa. Whether you choose an hourlong Swedish massage, pampering pedicure or cleansing facial, you’ll feel totally blissed out. Those cucumber-infused spa waters don’t hurt, either.

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Photograph: Shutterstock

Indulge in a few ice-cold beers with an expert

When the weather is hot, the beer must be cold. It’s just the truth. Crack open a few bottles of the good stuff in a private beer workshop at Top Hops Beer Shop. Beer snobs and noobs alike can learn something from the expert instructors, and a few hours sipping suds in an air-conditioned store will do your sweaty self good.

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Escape Room, Escape Games NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Challenge your pals with an escape room

icon-location-pin Tribeca

If you want to get away from the hellish smells of the subway and the streets for a little while, there’s no better place to do it than at Escape Games NYC. You’ll completely forget the temperature outdoors while you’re puzzling out a detective story or trying to turn around an errant spaceship. Bring a group of up to six people to try to figure out the devilishly hard escape rooms.

Magic Mix juice bar
Photograph: Courtesy Magic Mix Juicery
Restaurants, Juice bars

Sip some refreshing cold-pressed juice

Replenish those electrolytes with a swig of something healthier than Gatorade: green juice. OK, it doesn’t have to be green, but it should be cold-pressed and served chilled for optimal refreshment. Try the Green Aphrodite at Magic Mix Juicery or the Grasshopper at Liquiteria.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Decorate and plant some succulents

If you must stay inside, you can at least get something done. Get crafty in a paint-and-pot class at CraftJam in Chelsea. You’ll get all the supplies you need to decorate a pot for your brand new succulent. Plus, since they’re hardy desert plants, your new little buddies won’t wilt in the heat on the way home.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Karolina M

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Bars, Cocktail bars

Order a super Instagrammable cocktail at The Loopy Doopy

icon-location-pin Battery Park City

How do you make light, bright rosé any more summery? Plunk an ice pop in it. At this seasonal rooftop bar, you can choose between three flavors of People’s Pops—think strawberry-lemongrass, blueberry-peach and Empire apple—to add to your prosecco or rosé. Raise a glass with the Jersey City skyline in the background for the most photogenic happy hour ever.

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Need to get out of town for a few days?

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