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Manhattan Park Pool Club
Photograph: Max Touhey for Citi Habitats New Developments

The best ways to cool off in NYC

It’s been a sticky, sweaty hot mess of a summer, but NYC still has plenty of ways for you to keep cool

By Will Gleason

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 or just grab an ice-cold cocktail at one of the many rooftop pools 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

Ways to cool off in NYC

Photograph: Courtesy The Downtown Boathouse

1. Kayak on the Hudson River

You don’t need a boating license to glide on these waters! Hop aboard one of the Downtown Boathouse’s free kayaks at Pier 26 and paddle to your heart’s content.
Hudson River Park

Mister Dips
Photograph: Spencer Kohn

2. Try some retro frozen treats

Restaurants Hamburgers Greenpoint

Grab a refreshing choco-cherry float ($6) or a heavenly Berry Gibbs ($6), made of strawberry, Nilla wafers and sweet cream, from Mister Dips’ sleek ’70s Airstream trailer. It’s a throwback in the best way.

North River Lobster Company
Photograph: Courtesy North River Lobster Company

3. Ride on a floating lobster shack

Restaurants Seafood Hell's Kitchen

There’s no better place to enjoy a lobster roll than while drifting on the water and enjoying a river breeze. North River Lobster Company’s regular cruises are short but offer a full seafood menu.

Alamo Drafthouse
Photograph: Courtesy Alamo Drafthouse/Heather Leah Kennedy

5. Sip a boozy adult milkshake

Movie theaters Downtown Brooklyn

Escape the heat in a beautifully air-conditioned movie theater at Alamo Drafthouse and order a creamy spiked drink ($8) from the chain’s extensive spirits menu.

Photograph: Max Touhey for Citi Habitats New Developments

6. Take a colorful dip

Don’t just taste the rainbow: Feel the damn rainbow with a plunge at Manhattan Park Pool Club, which local artist Elizabeth Sutton transformed into a Technicolor wonderland using more than 60 gallons of brightly colored paint.
Roosevelt Island (30 River Rd). $25–$60.

Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Frolic at the World’s Fair site

Don’t overthink it: Sometimes the best way to cool off in the city is to get soaking wet. Run through the water at the Unisphere, the 1964 World’s Fair icon,  then grab a shady spot to relax in the nearby park.

Bonsai Kakigōri
Photograph: Ali Garber

8. Slurp up some kakigōri

Restaurants Patisseries Midtown West

With a history that can be traced back to 11th-century Japan,Bonsai Kakigōri’s melt-in-your-mouth dessert pairs fruit syrup and extra-fine ice flakes.

The Oyster House at Pier A
Photograph: Courtesy The Oyster House at Pier A

9. Devour oysters on the waterfront

Restaurants Seafood Battery Park

Grab a table outside at the scenic Pier A Harbor House and work your way through a plate (or three) of bivalves while taking in the gorgeous view.

Need to get out of town for a few days?


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