New York City is known for its scorching summers, with heatwaves that can leave you feeling like you’re walking on the sun. That famous NYC heat and humidity usually doesn’t show up until August, but authorities have already declared that this July (July 2023) is the hottest month on Earth since they started recording temperatures.
When the temperature rises to unbearable levels like it has this current summer, it’s crucial to take measures to stay cool and safe. The NYC alerts have been sending tips and taking small measures such as extending the hours of the NYC public pools to 8pm.
But, to help you beat the heat and make the most of your time in the city during these swelteringly sweaty days, here are five refreshing activities to keep you cool, comfortable, and entertained. We all know NYC can be expensive, so these are my affordable summer tips for beating the heat!
5 Refreshing Ways to Beat the Heat in an Unbearably Hot NYC
1. Explore NYC’s Indoor Attractions
When the mercury soars, it’s the perfect time to explore NYC’s myriad of indoor attractions. Museums, art galleries, and historical landmarks not only offer a respite from the heat but also provide enriching experiences.
Dive into the city’s cultural scene by visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), or the American Museum of Natural History. The MET is cheap for locals who don’t want to donate too much, and there are plenty of other smaller budget tourist attractions, too.
You can also explore less popular museums, such as the Tenement Museum or the New York Transit Museum, which offer unique insights into the city’s history.
2. Enjoy Cool Waterfront Escapes
Seeking refuge by the water is an excellent way to escape the oppressive heat. NYC has some fantastic waterfront areas that provide a cool breeze and stunning views.
Head to the Brooklyn Bridge Park along the East River or Central Park’s waterfront areas, like the Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, to enjoy the serene atmosphere. Maybe book a swan boat while in the park.
Additionally, you can take a Circle Line boat tour around the city to experience the cooling effects of the water while taking in the iconic skyline. Or for a cheaper NYC tourist attraction: just take one of the public ferries part of the NYC subway system.
Then there are the beaches. Roackaway Beach is easiest to get to on the subway and includes my favorite strip of beach: the gay beach hotspot Riis Beach. You can take the A train to the end of the line or even one of the ferries to get to Riis Beach in the Rockaways. But the easiest way to get to Riis: take a car.
Further out, you can also visit Gunnison Beach (it’s a nudist beach) part of Sandy Hook in New Jersey. That one is accessible via Seastreak ferries but it’s best to book those tickets in advance to avoid missing the limited space.
3. Embrace Air-Conditioned Cafés and Ice Cream Parlors
Embrace the joy of air-conditioned spaces by visiting one of NYC’s many charming cafés or ice cream parlors. Sip on iced coffee or indulge in a refreshing ice cream cone to beat the heat.
The city boasts numerous cafes with cozy corners, free Wi-Fi, and delectable treats, making them ideal spots to relax and escape the sun’s wrath.
Note that a lot of coffee shops, especially from what I’ve noticed in my favorite neighborhood of Brooklyn (Williamsburg), don’t allow laptop usage during peak coffee and brunch hours, especially on the weekend. But you can always bring a book!
You could even go to a karaoke bar—that’s always fun with friends!
4. Catch a Movie or Live Performance
Take advantage of NYC’s vibrant entertainment scene and catch a movie or live performance at one of the city’s movie theaters or cinemas. This weekend is just a further continuation of Barbenheimer, so those are likely to be sold out, but still worth making an effort to find a ticket!
Whether you’re into blockbuster films or independent art-house productions, spending a few hours in a well-air-conditioned theater can be a welcome reprieve from the oppressive heat outside.
Alternatively, attend a live theater performance or a stand-up comedy show to experience the city’s thriving performing arts culture. Get last minute tickets via the TodayTix Broadway ticket app.
5. Create Your Own Splash Pad
When it’s unbearably hot outside, why not create your own makeshift splash pad at home? Fill a kiddie pool with cold water and splash around to your heart’s content.
Alternatively, enjoy a refreshing water balloon fight with friends and family. I’m hosting a rooftop barbecue this weekend but I’m going to make sure to stock our summer drink supply with plenty of water.
Don’t forget to hydrate yourself by sipping on chilled beverages or delicious fruit-infused water during this unbearably hot weekend!
Enduring unbearably hot days in NYC may seem challenging, but with a little creativity and planning, you can make the most of your time and beat the heat.
Exploring indoor attractions, enjoying the city’s waterfront, savoring cool treats, attending performances, and creating your own splash pad are just a few of the refreshing activities to keep you cool and entertained during the sweltering summer days in the Big Apple.
Remember to stay hydrated, wear lightweight clothing, and prioritize your well-being as you explore and experience the city during the scorching weather.