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The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phil Roeder

Where to go in NYC when you don’t have air-conditioning

Leave your sweltering shoebox apartment for the air-conditioned sanctity of one of these public spaces in NYC

By Annalise Mantz
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When it’s as hot as it is humid in New York City, that leaky window unit just isn’t going to cut it. Escape the stifling heat of your apartment and cool off at one of these air-conditioned public spaces in NYC. Luckily, there’s no shortage of climate-controlled coffee shops, arcades, gyms and museums in NYC. So next time you wake up drenched in sweat, just consult this list of where to go in NYC when you don’t have air-conditioning and be thankful you don’t have to pay that electric bill.

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

Where to go in NYC when you don’t have air-conditioning

Ninth Street Espresso
Photo: Hannah Mattix

Ninth Street Espresso

Restaurants Coffee shops East Village

Finding a coffee shop in NYC with air conditioning as strong as the iced coffee is no easy task. Discovering one that also won’t judge you for lingering for hours is like finding the holy grail. This local mini-chain serving just four drinks—brewed coffee, iced coffee, espresso and espresso with milk—started in Alphabet City, but has since added locations in Midtown, Chelsea Market, Tompkins Square and Gowanus.

The Climbing Gym at Manhattan Plaza Health Club
Photograph: Courtesy Carlos G. Nieves

The Climbing Wall at Manhattan Plaza Health Club

Sports and fitness Hell's Kitchen

Ready to get your adrenaline pumping without sweating your butt off in the ungodly heat? Conquer the 5,000 square foot indoor climbing wall at Manhattan Plaza Health Club. Beginners might want to find their footing in an hourlong lesson, while more experienced climbers can try their luck on the 160-foot bouldering route or multi-stepped cave. And since the gym redesigns the 60 routes every month, you’ll never tire of the options.

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best clothing stores nyc
Photograph: Courtesy Brookfield Place

Brookfield Place

Shopping Shopping centers Battery Park City

This massive shopping center in Battery Park City has enough high-end stores, restaurants and free events to keep you occupied for hours. Some of this summer’s highlights include adult coloring, live music, art shows and happy hours.

Minus5 Ice Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Groupon

Minus5 Ice Bar

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown West

In the depths of winter, New Yorkers pine for summer, and when it’s 95 degrees and nearly 100 percent humidity outside, we miss the snow desperately. Get a little taste of the winter chill inside Minus5 Ice Bar, where the seats, walls, bar and even glasses are made entirely out of ice. It’s so cold that you have to slip into a fluffy parka to enter. Once you take that first sip of your frozen drink, you’ll forget all about the midsummer heat outside.

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Ford Foundation Atrium
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Ford Foundation Atrium

Tucked inside the glass panels of the Ford Foundation building, this 160-foot-tall garden filled with ferns, gardenias and tropical plants is an ideal escape from the busy streets of Midtown East. Wander the three-tiered terraces of the garden, basking in the cool, fresh air. It’s a little slice of heaven.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Timothy Vollmer

New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

Attractions Libraries, archives and foundations Midtown West

Go say hi to your old pals Patience and Fortitude (those are the two marble lions outside the Stephen A. Schwarzman building, for those unfamiliar) and slip inside the main portal of the New York Public Library for an afternoon of reading in the peace and quiet. Not a soul will disturb you—and thankfully, the temperature is always extra cold.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photograph: Shutterstock/Tupungato

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museums Art and design Central Park

Though any museum would be a welcome escape, the Met’s enormous size makes it easy to spend an entire day inside its cool, air-conditioned embrace. With more than 5,000 years of art history contained within its walls, you’re guaranteed to discover a new artwork or gallery every time you visit. Plus, the Met offers pay-what-you-wish admission, so it’s totally affordable.

Gelato
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/

Mia Chef Gelateria

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Kips Bay

Get the scoop (pun very much intended) on whipping up luscious frozen gelato from scratch in a cooking class at this Murray Hill gelateria. After the instructor shares some of the tricks of the trade, you will make your very first batch in the professional kitchen. And of course, you’ll get to sample the fruits of your labor at the end of class. Buon appetito!

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/jen

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New York Aquarium
Photograph: Luciana Golcman

New York Aquarium

Attractions Zoo and aquariums Coney Island

Sure, you may not be able to submerge yourself in water all day, but you can at least gaze at the 150,000-gallon tank of Caribbean fish and imagine you’re right there with ‘em. Make sure to check the board in the main lobby for the daily schedule of feedings, too: You don’t want to miss your chance to watch the keepers give the penguins and sea otters their lunch.

Museum of the Moving Image
Photograph: Peter Aaron

Museum of the Moving Image

Museums Movies and TV Astoria

You could certainly go see a movie, but why settle for one when you could spend all day watching classic cinema, playing arcade games and learning about the filmmaking process? The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria is a movie buff's playground, and it would be easy to burn several hours browsing the collection of behind-the-scene photos, set pieces and costumes.

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