What to Do on a Hot Day in NYC? Here Are 25 Things to Get You Started

Fact: NYC can get super hot. And while the last thing we want to do is be drenched in sweat, we don’t want to waste the summer stuck inside, perched in front of the air-conditioner either (even if that actually sounds like a great idea right now). Luckily, we found ways to stay cool and be social during the sweltering summer days. Not sure what to do on a hot day in NYC? Here are 25 things to get you started.

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1. Grab A Sweet Ice Cream Cone

Nothing beats the heat like a nice cup (or cone) of ice cream. We recommend swapping out a regular ‘ol vanilla flavor for one of the many game-changing flavors NYC has to offer. We suggest a Pink Floyd (a double strawberry and cheesecake treat) from Mikey Likes It Ice Cream, Chocolate S'mores Galore (S’mores and Krave cereal mix, chocolate teddy grahams, chocolate drizzle and chocolate chips) from Milk & Cream Cereal Bar or the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (yup, macaroni and cheese flavor) from Van Leeuwen Ice Cream. Just make sure to eat it really fast if you take it outside.

things to do in nyc when its too hot la newyorkina
Courtesy of La NewYorkina

2. Or A Refreshing Frozen Treat

If ice cream isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of frozen popsicles, shakes or boozy treats out there. Head over to Tipsy Scoops for a Mango Margarita Sorbet or catch La NewYorkina at a local market for a Chamoyada (a sweet and spicy shaved ice combo). As long as you’re getting a sweet (and cooling) treat in your belly while you’re in the hot sun.

things to do in nyc when its too hot locals surf school
Locals Surf School/Facebook

3. Take A Surfing Lesson

The best way to stay cool? Catching them waves, of course. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at surfing, head over to Rockaway Beach. The Locals Surf School offers lessons for all ages—whether you’re a beginner or ready to brush up on your skills. Once you sign up, you’ll be provided a board and wetsuit. So, are you ready to hang ten?

things to do in nyc when its too hot stephen a schwarzman
Noam Galai/Contributor/Getty Images

4. Head To The Library

Good news, all the New York public libraries are open again, so pick up a book and relax for a bit. If we had to choose one to chill out in, it’s the NYPL’s main branch, aka the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. Check out the famous Rose Main Reading Room or sign up for a one-hour tour of the whole place and learn about its history. Seriously, it’s gorgeous, huge and always ice cold. Sounds like a win-win to us.

5. Catch A Movie In The Theaters

The movies are back, baby! Look into your local movie theaters or elevate your movie experience at Nitehawk Cinema. Located in Williamsburg and Prospect Park, the (super comfy and air conditioned) movie theater is where you can order food (like burgers, tacos and flatbread) and drinks (alcoholic or not) during the movie. The newest movies like Black Widow and Space Jam are currently playing, so what are you waiting for?

things to do in nyc when its too hot skyline drive in
Noam Galai/Contributor/Getty Images

6. Or Catch One Outdoors (or In Your Cars)

Once the sun is down,staying outdoors to catch a flick seems like a more viable option. There are free summer movies in every borough (like Shaun of the Dead at Brooklyn Bridge Park or Spiderman Into the Spider-Verse at Pelham Bay Park) to lay your blanket down and enjoy the show. But if you can’t bear to be without AC, stay cool in your car after pulling up to the Skyline Drive In for an evening flick.

things to do in nyc when its too hot public hotel
Public Hotel - The Roof at Public

7. Order A Cocktail At A Rooftop Bar

Take in the breathtaking view of the city and enjoy a drink at a rooftop bar. We promise you’ll catch a breeze (or at least shade for a bit) at the very top of these cool spots. Visit the Magic Hour for their insane cocktails, Public Hour for their 360 view of the Manhattan skyline or JIMMY at the Modernhaus Soho Hotel for a dip into their pool.

things to do in nyc when its too hot frose

8. Or Make A Cocktail Right At Home

When life gives you 90-degree weather, make frosé (aka frozen rosé). These amazing slushy cocktails are made with sugar, water, lemon juice and, of course, a bottle of rosé. If making frosé is not your forte (sorry had to), try a Brazilian Breezer (a pineapple-infused tequila and coconut rum mix) or a frozen Aperol spritz instead.

things to do in nyc when its too hot whitney museum
Spencer Platt/Staff/Getty Images

9. Visit A Museum

While everyone else is out in the Hamptons, it’s a great time to check out usually crowded museums like the American Museum of Natural History, the Whitney and the Met. Or, if you want to check out more interactive museums, reserve a ticket at the Museum of the City of New York, the Museum of Ice Cream or the Spyscape (aka a fun spy museum) for the whole family.

10. Or An Immersive Art Show

If you’ve breezed past all the classic museums in the Big Apple, find tickets to the new art shows popping up. These exhibits are taking some pieces out of the frames and letting you experience art in a new way. Spend time at Immersive Van Gogh (a digital display of some of his iconic paintings), Geometric Properties (an installation that combines math and nature into digital art) or The Friends Experience (for the die-hard fans to fall right into the show).

11. Set Sail On A Foodie Cruise

Look, going on a boat ride is a great way to get some air. But adding delicious bites to the trip makes it ten times better. The North River Lobster is bringing these two things together and we’re here for it. Take a trip down the Hudson while you munch on mouth-watering lobster rolls and other seafood delicacies. Grab your friends and set sail. You’ll not only get a meal out of it but a stunning view of the NYC skyline.

things to do in nyc when its too hot brooklyn bridge boathouse
Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse/Facebook

12. Try Kayaking

Calling the outdoorsy, adventurous types. Skip the boat trip and try kayaking to get you closer to the water. Look into the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse, The Downtown Boathouse and Kayak Staten Island, to name a few. Get a group together and experience the Hudson River, the NYC skyline or just a nice time paddling away. You’ll get a workout and maybe even a nice breeze—just don’t forget the sunscreen. Plus, did we mention all these spots are completely free? (Just reserve ahead of time to secure a time.)

13. Or Jet Skiing

You’ll find a bunch of water activities in the Hudson river including canoeing, paddle boarding and jet skiing. Grab the crew and embark on an adventure with a trusty tour guide. The New York Harbor Jet Ski and Sea The City lets you see NYC in a new way on your own jet ski. Learn how to use it and you’ll probably feel some wind as you hit speeds up to 55 mph.

things to do in nyc when its too hot the lit bar
Courtesy of The Lit. Bar

14. Hang Out At A Local Bookstore

Immerse in a story (or two!) and support the local bookstores in your neighborhood. Check out Book Culture (there are three locations to choose from), head to Queens for Astoria Bookshop or the Bronx for The Lit. Bar. What better way to chill than with a good book in your hands?

15. Go Bowling

Show off your competitive side in a friendly game of bowling. Whether you go to Bowlmor Lanes (that also includes an arcade, sports bar and billiards), Frames (where you can request a VIP room for you and your friends) or Rab’s Country Lanes (that offers a glow-in-the-dark bowling experience), you’re bound to be out of the sun and getting the strike of the summer.

things to do in nyc when its too hot asbury park

16. Hit The Beach

The best way to cool down is by taking a trip to the beach. Once you get past the sand and dip your toes in the water, you’ll be relieved. There are plenty of beaches in the city (like Rockaway Beach and Coney Island) but beat the crowds and check out the underrated beaches near NYC. Our favorites to catch some waves (or spend time in the shade) are Asbury Park and Long Beach.

things to do in nyc when its too hot 1 hotel brooklyn bridge
1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

17. Or Dip Into A Pool

Whether beaches aren’t your thing or you don’t have time (or funds) to travel outside of the city, opt for a pool day instead. While the free pools across the city are fine, treat yourself to the exclusive spots (and feel like you just stepped into a 5-star resort for the day). Head to the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge where their rooftop pool has a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, buy a $65 day pass and enjoy the perks of the Dream Downtown or dip into an indoor pool at Park Hyatt.

18. Do A Relaxing Day

It might be time for a PTO day. You can relax your body and mind (while doing some serious cooling down) at a spa. Plunge into the 46-degree ice pool at Aire Ancient Baths, get a Surf & Turf body treatment at Haven Spa or practice self-care in a floating pool at Infinity Float. Repeat as necessary until summer is over.

19. Or Head To An Indoor Amusement Park

OK, technically it’s in New Jersey, but it’s not that far from the city. The American Dream Mall has fun activities indoors to stay cool for the whole family. You can spend all day shopping, dining and entertaining the group. Go on the tallest coasters at Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, enjoy the largest indoor waterpark at Dreamworks Water Park or ski in real snow at Big Snow. With all the fun you’ll have, you’ll forget you’re in the Tri-State area.

20. Participate In A Wine Tasting

Stay hydrated with a nice glass of wine. New York (and its neighboring states) are home to the best wineries and vineyards. Reserve your ticket to a wine tasting where you’ll try samples of your favorite bottles. Plus, add a charcuterie meal and a tour of how it's all made. And while you’re making a weekend trip out of it, you just might come across a few music performances.

21. Or A Brewery Tour

The beer enthusiasts can enjoy a cold one and learn how the alcoholic drink is brewed. Take a tour at The Bronx Brewery and then hang out at their taproom (where you can have a drink and some brunch from Empanology) or try three local beers and learn about the establishment’s history in their Small Batch Tour at The Brooklyn Brewery.

things to do in nyc when its too hot governors island
Noam Galai/Contributor/Getty Images

22. Bike Around Governor's Island

You can bike just about anywhere in the city but Governor’s Island is a biker’s dream. The island is 172 acres of open space. Ride through car-free lanes while passing by the best view of the skyline (and Statue of Liberty). Bring your own bike (or Citi bike) or rent one right when you get off the ferry. And if you’re there on the weekdays, you’ll get a free hour of biking, so you can explore for less.

things to do in nyc when its too hot temple court

23. Dine Outdoors

Outdoor dining is back in full force. Make a reservation and dine in style. Try a glazed lobster at Temple Court on Ten or enjoy the open-air garden at Le Crocodile. But, if you’re a major foodie that wants to try your hands at small bites, consider food markets like Smorgsaburg, Queens Night Market and Bronx Night Market. We can’t promise shade but the food will keep you sane for a few hours.

things to do in nyc when its too hot glamping

24. Go Glamping

Get in touch with nature but skip the tents you used to build with the ‘rents as a kid. Glamping is the new wave and some spots are just a ferry ride away. Enjoy time away from the bustling city and book a stay at these top-notch cabins. The Eastwind Hotel & Bar offers chic cabin options in the Catskills while Outliner Inn lets you stay in a retro bubble surrounded by so many animals.

things to do in nyc when its too hot lake george

25. Or Just Plan A Weekend Getaway

When all else fails, get the hell outta Dodge--um, NYC--and spend the rest of the summer upstate. Outside of the Big Apple there are scenic areas to check out. We go to Orient for the beautiful beaches, Lake George for hiking and Montauk for the food. Sorry NYC, but we'll see you guys in September.

Original reporting by Carolyn Kuang-chen Stanley

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...