Best Places to Cool Down When New York Heats Up

By Ben Fractenberg on July 17, 2012 6:54am 

NEW YORK CITY — With the sidewalks and subway platforms set to feel like ovens this week during the city's latest heat wave, finding places to cool down when you're outside can take some creativity.

Temperatures on Tuesday are expected to reach 95 degrees, with high humidity and a heat advisory in effect. The city has cooling centers available, but DNAinfo.com New York has come up with some additional ideas for where to chill during these dog days of summer.

Climate Control

Public atriums provide space to cool down while watching everybody else heat up outside.

The Winter Garden Plaza at the World Financial Center is appropriately named for summer. The plaza boasts more than 20,000 square-feet of climate controlled space with a vaulted glass ceiling and views of the Hudson River.

The plaza also has a semi-circular marble staircase that leads up to views of the World Trade Center. There are eateries and cafes such as Starbucks next to the plaza, so you can grab an iced coffee to aid in the cooling process.

The atrium, which is open from 6 a.m. to midnight daily, is located at 220 Vesey Street across the pedestrian bridge the crosses over West Street.

The New York City Department of City Planning has a map of all privately own public spaces in the city, including air conditioned enclosed spaces.

Winter Sports

Ice-skating in the city doesn't need to be something relegated just to the winter. The Chelsea Piers Sky Rink provides time for public skating four days a week through the summer.

Prices for general skating in the summer are greatly reduced with an all ages pass going for $10 and skate rentals for $5. During weekends the rink is open from noon to 3:50 p.m. On Monday and Friday, it's open from 12:30 p.m. to 2:20 p.m. There is no public skating Tuesday through Thursday.

Chelsea Piers is located at Pier 61 at 23rd Street and the Hudson River.

Chilled Markets

Fairway Market offers free demonstrations and food tastings with their lead merchants and chefs showing off the food purveyor's best choices in foods like cheese and shrimp salad.

The demonstrations are held on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and rotate between the market's six locations around the city. Check out its website for the monthly schedule.

If you need some immediate heat relief you can head to its Harlem location and into the cold room, which is a 10,000 square-foot space with a full-service butcher shop, seafood counter and large beer selection. If the room is too cold, the store provides insulated jackets for perusing goods in the chilly space.

The Harlem location is located at Riverside Drive between 132nd and 133rd streets.

Movie Houses

Before air conditioning became affordable enough to be in most suburban homes, people would flock to the movies for some entertainment and cool air.

Movies in the city now cost nearly as much as a cocktail at a chi-chi lounge, but there are still some affordable options.

Kew Gardens Cinema in Queens offers bargain Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tickets for both day and night movies cost just $7. All shows during the week before 5 p.m. are also $7 as well as the first shows on weekends before 2 p.m.

The theater shows first-run big budget movies as well as indie flicks, and is located at 81-05 Lefferts Boulevard between Audley and Austin streets.

If you want to create your own, fully air conditioned mini-film festival, seek out a double feature anywhere in the city using the site Double Feature Finder to see what movies are playing back-to-back at all city theaters.

Cool Runnings

You can no longer booze it up on the Long Island Rail Road during weekend nights, but that still leaves plenty of daylight hours to enjoy a cold beer in an air-conditioned car.

The MTA offers a package deal to Long Beach, Long Island, which give you a round-trip ticket and beach pass for $21, from Penn Station, Manhattan, or Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. If you're leaving from Jamaica, Queens, it's only $18.

The trip from Penn Station to Long Beach is 51 minutes, giving you plenty of time to sip on suds before dipping your toes into the cool Atlantic Ocean.

Fresh Literature

The New York Public Library Children's Center provides some free, cool space for your overheated kids. The center has beloved children's books, CDs, video games and DVDs and readings by librarians.

Thursday through Monday the center, located in Room 84 on the main floor of the NYPL's building on 42nd Street, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, it's open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The library will be closed on Sundays during July and August.

The library's website has a daily schedule of readings and other events.

Cold Apples

Apple stores are packed with sleek electronic consumables in their air-conditioned, minimalist retail outlets.

But instead of just browsing, why not take advantage of classes to learn how to better use your new gadget?

The Upper West Side location at Broadway and 67th Street has free workshops such as learning how to use your new iPhone 4S, using iCloud and editing with iMovie.

The training sessions, which generally last between an hour to an hour and a half, are popular and free, so make sure you reserve a seat on Apple's website.

Museum Mild

Walking through Midtown can feel about 10 degrees warmer with the skyscrapers and pavement trapping heat. Why not rise above it all in some open space?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's rooftop offers an area above the sweltering streets where you can catch a breeze cutting across Central Park. The rooftop's cafe and Martini Bar stays open until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and has a selection of frozen cocktails and sandwiches.

If you'd like to get some culture while you're above all that famous art below check out the museum's rooftop exhibit "Cloud City." The 28-foot-high interactive sculpture is made up of 16 interconnected metallic modules you can climb through.

Visitors can spend up to 20 minutes climbing through the structure overlooking Central Park. Tickets are free with museum admission but, since the installation is "weather permitting", visitors are advised to call 212-396-5300 to check the schedule.

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