Cool Kids: Where to Chill on NYC’s Hottest Days

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“Hot town, summer in the city…” Good song. Not so great a feeling when the heat index is 105 degrees. There are a number of ways to deal with extreme heat in NYC with kids—you can head to a free pool or maybe a playground with a sprinkler. But sometimes, it’s just too darn hot. That’s when you head inside and stay inside and keep cool in an air-conditioned space. We’ve rounded up the best places to stay cool indoors with the kids in NYC. Check in and chill out!

Chelsea Piers

Hit the Ice

Go all in and surround yourself with ice. Chelsea Piers (pictured) is a favorite, but there are other indoor rinks around town. 

In Long Island City, head to City Pavilion, in south Brooklyn, there's Aviator Sports,  and in Flushing, World Ice Area is open year round. 

Rachel Sokol

Head to an Indoor Play Space

Indoor play spaces are getting back to normal post-Covid. (Still, you may need to book a slot or wear a mask to visit.) 

Click here for some of our favorites around the city. 

Manhattan spots are rounded up here.

Brooklyn? These are great options.

If you're in Queens, check out these indoor places to play.

Check Out an Instagram Experience

Lots of fun, immersive experiences are ready to engage your senses and provide fodder for your feed. See our picks for the best Instagram experiences for kids and families here


Enjoy the Show!

See a double—or triple!—feature at one of our favorite family-friendly movie theaters for kids. (Hit a mutliplex, or settle in for brunch, lunch, or dinner at a dine-in theater.) They keep it nice and cool in those cinemas. 

Climb to New Heights

It scares us to think of the A/C bill of some of these places (so big!), but heading to a rock-climbing facility is a great way to beat the heat! 

Popular spots include the new The Cliffs at HarlemChlesea Piers, Aviator Sports in south Brooklyn, Brooklyn Boulders in Gowanus, The Cliffs LIC, Everyday Athlete in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, and The Rock Club in New Rochelle.


Get Some Cool Culture

We don't have to tell you that a hot day is a perfect museum day. These are our favorite exhibits for kids and families running now. 

These are our favorite under-the-radar NYC museums that are worth a visit! 

Harry Potter New York

Try Some Recreational Shopping

Whether it's back-to-school shopping, an early birthday present, or just because, NYC has lots of stores (and complexes) that are actually pretty fun to shop. 

Two recent boffo openings include Harry Potter New York, now the largest collection of Harry Potter merchandise for sale on Earth (take note: there's a virtual queue you need to join to visit) and the new LEGO store in Rockefeller Center, a "retailtainment" destination.

For a magical toy store, we like CAMP, which has locations in the Flatiron District, Hudson Yards and City Point in Brooklyn, as well as a new store dedicated to art activities, Art Camp, The Shops at Columbus Circle. (All CAMP locations have a "secret entry,", which makes them especially cool.) For a huge classic, try the new-ish FAO Schwarz in Rockefeller Center, where yes, you can dance on the big piano like in Big.

Downtown, The Oculus has high end mall Westfield (as well as the multi-floor foodie destination, Eataly)

In Brooklyn, you can spend the day at City Point, with the amazing DeKalb Food Hall, Target, Trader Joe's, Flying Tiger, and Alamo Draft House. 

SEA LIFE New Jersey

SEA LIFE New Jersey at American Dream

Experience the "City Under the Sea" at the SEA LIFE New Jersey aquarium in the American Dream mall in East Rutherford. More than 3000 aquatic creatures live here, in NYC-themed environments; see sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, seahorses and even get up close and touch some of the animals! The aquarium features an amazing underwater ocean tunnel, as well as daily talks and feedings to learn more about the creatures of the deep! Tickets to SEA LIFE are $28.99/adults; $23.99/kids, and combo packs with LEGOLAND are available for $43.99/adults; $38.99/kids. 

Of course, you can hide from the heat at many spots in American Dream: the Big Snow indoor ski slope, an ice skating rink, the new LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Dream Works Water Park and Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park. So, take your pick, but no matter where you go, make reservations in advance! 

American Dream
1 American Dream Way
East Rutherford, NJ

Serendipity3's Frrrozen Hot Chocolate

This NYC classic is back, and ready to give you brain freeze! Not only can you get a traditional Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, Serendipity3's menu is filled with ice cream concoctions, pastries of all kinds and lunch and dinner food to please everyone in the family. (From mac and cheese to burgers to salads.) Make a reservation before heading over. 

225 E. 60th St. 
Upper East Side

Katrite Resort and Waterpark

Slip Slide Away

Indoor water parks can be good for severe winter weather and severe summer weather. Check out the best indoor water parks near NYC here, including the recently-reopened Kartrite Resort & Waterpark! 

Mimi O'Connor

Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Yes, you have to take a boat the Liberty Island and Ellis Island (and it's a short walk to the statue) but the statue, and the massive museum on Ellis Island are air conditioned and make a nice day out. Plus, a new museum dedicated to the Statue of Liberty just opened. Read our guide to visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with kids here! 

Hit the Links at an Indoor Miniature Golf Course

Mini golf is a classic outdoor summer activity, but there are a few indoor miniature golf courses in and around NYC if you want to get out of the sun. Click here to see our favorites!

Mimi O'Connor

Spend the Day at Liberty Science Center

You can't even do it all in one day—but you can try! Here's our guide to Jersey City's Liberty Science Center. 

Marcos Stafne

Play with Water Inside

Sort of the best of both worlds: inside, and some H20. The Brooklyn Children's Museum has a great water play area in its Totally Tots section. 

—Mimi O’Connor


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