5 Ways to Cool Off in New York City

New Yorkers cooling off in the Washington Square Park fountain during hot summer days.

July is awesome in New York City because of all the great block parties, outdoor festivals and free concerts, and also because EVERY month is awesome in New York City. But it does get hot here in July, no question… in fact, it looks like we’re going to get at least ten days of 90-plus temperatures again this year.

And it gets sticky. And, sometimes, kind of gross. So if you can’t decamp to a beach house for the entire month, here are a 5 suggestions for enjoying all the summertime fun the city has to offer AND staying cool.

Cooling off on a hot summer day with a sno ball.

1. Eat lots and lots of frozen treats

Fact: I eat at least one serving of ice cream every day, and the summer months are no exception. With so many fantastic ice cream, fro-yo, icee, and gelato options in the city, everyone has their own list of favorites. This one, for example, over at Used York City, is particularly solid, especially the inclusion of Big Gay Ice Cream, whose Salty Pimp cones, a chocolate-caramel-salt concoction, are hopelessly addictive. Il Laboratorio del Gelato, Grom, L’arte de Gelato, Sundaes and Cones, Blue Marble, People’s Pops, and Victory Garden are all excellent classic choices as well, but here are three of my current favorites.

  • Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls: New Orleans-style ices (the ice is shaved ultra-fine for a remarkable smoothness) return to the big town with a pop-up kiosk in the Meatpacking District. A ridiculous 46 flavors–from Watermelon and Mango to Cotton Candy and Wedding Cake–and an astounding ability to lower your body temp keep me coming back for more. Also: the super-friendly staff. On Gansevoort between Greenwich and Washington.
  • Amorino: Located in the heart of NYU-land, this cultishly-adored European import has some of the richest, smoothest, most vibrantly flavored gelato I’ve ever had. Get up to five flavors in a cone (I always get at least two of the following: Ecuadorean Chocolate; the intense Brazilian Coffee; the creamy Speculoos, studded with biscuits; the Caramel with Salted Butter), and they’ll present it to you in the shape of flower. On University Place and 10th Street.
  • A.B. Biagi: I’ve only been to this spanking-new Nolita gelato parlor once, but was so impressed by the sparkling flavors and delightfully creamy texture that I’ve been a craving a revisit ever since. Raised by his Italian family in the the Brazilian countryside, the cute little parlor’s namesake, A. B. Biagi, only has room to create and scoop ten flavors of gelato and sorbet at a time, but when stuff tastes this bright, fresh and lively, ten is plenty. On Elizabeth Street between Houston and Prince.

New Yonkers enjoying A.B. Biagi parlor's gelato.

Kayakers in NYC during summer heat.

2. Paddle out onto the water in one of NYC’s many free kayaks

If it’s always cooler over by the rivers, then it’s always even MORE cooler when you’re actually out there in them! We’ve been longtime fans of the Downtown Boathouse’s free kayak program. They have launches at 72nd, 56th, and Houston Streets–and they’ve since added a new location on Governors Island. And for inter-borough travelers there’s the Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse near Pier 2, the LIC Community Boathouse in Hallett’s Cove, and the North Brooklyn Boat Club in Greenpoint, which also organizes Birdwatching Canoe Trips.

New Yorkers swimming in one of NYC's public pools.

3. Everybody in the Pool!

Private pools within rental buildings and condos are a remarkably rare amenity in Manhattan, and Glenwood residents enjoy way more than their fair share of the total. But if you want to go on a swimming pool adventure, there are plenty of terrific public pools all over Manhattan and Brooklyn. Again, Used York City offers a good place to start with their list. I would add the always surprisingly uncrowded Tony Dapolito Pool on Carmine Street (there’s even a diving board!); as well as the 145-foot-long, surrounded-by-trees John Jay Pool on the East River Esplanade at 77th Street.

Also: Let’s go to the beach!

I love NYC subway beaches. You get on a train however many blocks from your home–usually the same station where you begin your work commute–and emerge some time later right by the Atlantic ocean. There are a few beach-going options, but my favorite is Rockaway. And as the Ramones once said: It’s not hard, not hard to reach. Just hop on the A, and either transfer at Broad Channel to the shuttle and get out at Beach 90 or 98 (the incomparable Rockaway Taco, below, is at Beach 96); or stay on the A to Beach 67, where you’ll find a wide beach, no bathrooms, and a Roberta’s pizza stand. Either way, the water is clear, cool, and delivers plenty of body-surfable waves.

NYC's Rockaway Beach is perfect for cooling off during hot summer days.

4. Soak in some Hollywood “culture” (and air conditioning) and go see a Summer-Blockbuster!

The rise of the NYC multiplex in the late 1990s saw the concurrent rise the NYC sneak-double/triple-feature. Now, we’re not advocating NOT paying for those second and third movies (especially if you’ve signed up for MoviePass), but as long as you keep re-upping your concessions, theater owners don’t much mind an extended stay in their air conditioning. Either of the Times Square theaters are excellent for this sort of outing–the AMC Empire 25 often shows indie flicks and documentaries–as is the AMC Kips Bay 15, the Regal Battery Park Stadium, and the AMC 34th Street.

Concessions stand at NYC's movie theater.

5. Hang out with an 800-year-old iceberg at MoMA PS1

As part of MoMA PS1‘s excellent Expo 1: New York–really, this is a consistently interesting and engaging show that takes up the entire museum–Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson imported big chunks of ice from an 800-year berg in his homeland, and is keeping them “alive” in a huge, solar-powered freezer in LIC. What does it mean? That there’s still hope that we can save our planet if we use our ingenuity (and more solar power)? That someday soon the only way to experience the natural world will be inside museums? That’s up to you. But here’s what I do know: it is delightfully, deliriously cold in this PS1 exhibition!

Olafur Eliasson's Iceberg Chunks at MoMA PS1.

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A.B. Biagi on Urbanspoon

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