If you've yet to experience a summer in NYC, you're more than likely not prepared for the heat and humidity that's on its way. As chilly as winters get in the Big Apple, summers can be stifling hot at times. While temperatures tend to decrease outside the city in the evenings, Gotham holds its heat after the sun goes down and even into the overnight hours due to the vast amounts of concrete, asphalt, and street traffic. That means that keeping cool will undoubtedly be more of a challenge in New York City than it would in more rural areas.
Although you can't control the forces of Mother Nature, you can find myriad ways to "chill" and survive the hottest New York summer weather. Here are my top tips to stay cool in summer.
1. Dress cool.
Avoid jeans and other fitted clothing and go for breathable garments made from cotton and linen. T-shirts, sundresses, shorts, and khakis will keep you comfy, even on the steamiest days. Skip the pantyhose for work if you're permitted, albeit that means sporting longer skirts. Flip-flops and sandals of all styles are popular New York summer fashion, so the hot weather gives you an excuse to go shoe shopping or order another pair or two from your fave online retailer.
2. Carry water.
Water is available on the street carts all over Midtown Manhattan and in bodegas, but if you're traveling from other areas of the city or to the outer boroughs, you'll always want to keep a bottle or two of water with you. Staying hydrated will keep you from feeling sluggish, and your skin will thank you later.
3. Avoid the subway if possible.
The subway platforms are easily 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the city itself, which is why some New Yorkers opt for buses, CitiBike, and even their feet during June, July, and August. Of course, depending on where you work, you might have no other option than to ride the subway. If that's the case, I recommend waiting in the station if you can, then swiping your Metrocard and entering the platform at the last minute. Each subway station's layout will vary, and you might have this luxury.
If you're forced to wait on the steamy platform, try to stand near the turnstiles where you'll feel a little more air circulation than you would deeper down the platform. And whatever you do, when you get on the train, do not enter an empty car. Usually, the air conditioning is working well on the packed cars but broken on the cars with few people.
4. Hit the A/C.
Spots like the Time Warner Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and Chelsea Piers fit the bill on sweltering days. Go shopping, have lunch, take in some culture, or get active – inside. You can even pretend that it's winter and go ice skating in Chelsea Piers during the dog days of summer.
5. Hang out by the water.
There's always a breeze by the water, so head for one of the city's outdoor cafes. I grab my dog and meet a few friends at the 79th Street Boat Basin, which provides stunning views of the Hudson River. Go early for happy hour, or later for the sunset. Trust me, the sun setting over the Hudson can be pretty spectacular. Pier 1 Café at West 70th Street is also a terrific spot for food, drinks, and people watching, as is the Frying Pan at West 26th Street in Hudson River Park. No matter which location you fancy, New York City summer temperatures can be five to ten degrees lower on the water.
6. Sip a frozen cocktail.
Other than taking a dip, there's no better way to stay cool in the heat outside than sipping an ice-cold libation. The craft cocktail movement has taken the city by storm, so you'll have no problem finding a fancy concoction to quench your thirst and relax you during a heat wave. Aim for a slushie at Mother's Ruin on Spring Street, a Pink Baby at Baby's All Right in Williamsburg, or a delightful Daiquiri on the Roof at the Park South Hotel in Murray Hill. Pick your poison – so as long as it's icy, you'll be chillin' in no time.
7. Take a day trip.
Hop on a bus or train, or rent a car to escape the stifling heat of the city. You don't have to travel far to appreciate the lower temperatures or get a change of scenery, either. Try spending a day in City Island, a charming section of the Bronx that feels more like a New England fishing village than a borough in NYC. Or, drive north to Cold Spring, a quaint town in Upstate New York that's a mere 50 miles from Manhattan.