We love us some beach days and water parks, but some summer days call for a retreat to the comfort of serious A/C. But that doesn’t mean you need to stay home. Hop on the train (where it’s often also quite lovely, we’ll remind you) and hit one of these spots for indoor fun. From water play inside to mini golf, climbing walls and a mini play farm, we’ve rounded up some totally cool destinations. Read on to find out where to head when the mercury rises!
The first step to feeling cool is thinking cool. Step into the refreshing blue calm of the Museum's Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Take in the cool ocean vibes, including the iconic 94- foot-long blue whale, and if you’ve got the time, continue on the museum’s self-guided Whales Tour to keep the journey going. Check out real mummies from Ancient Egypt and Peru at the "Mummies" exhibit, marvel at the museum's newest (giant) Titanosaur and learn all about Humpback Whales up close at a film dedicated to the gentle giants. Finally, make a stop in the popular The Discovery Room, the museum’s interactive exhibition for children and families.
For A Chilling Good Time: Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers
It doesn’t get much colder than ice-skating. Chelsea Piers has a pair of indoor ice rinks that are open summer afternoons, along with skate and helmet rental. Though if you're not quite ready to trade in sunburns for bruised knees, know that their bowling lanes are another cool place to play, too, (Kids 12 and under even bowl FREE!).
Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers
61 Chelsea Piers
For a Wacky Afternoon: Ripley's Believe it Or Not! Times Square
If you've got a kid with a taste for the wacky, weird and slightly macabre head to Ripley's Believe it or Not. Twenty themed galleries with 500 exhibits and experiences fill 18,000 square feet and two floors, with lots of interactive fun to be had. Visitors can snap photos of themselves as "half a person", a head in a jar, covered by live cockroaches and hanging from the top of the empire state building. Other attractions include shrunken heads, wonders of nature, a LaseRace Challenge and a trippy tunnel dubbed "The Black Hole." Special guests and exhibits drop in, too; August 29- September will feature an appearance by "The Cat Man", who is so dedicated to the feline form he's made himself over into a very cat-like guy! Hot tip: Get 20% off admission price of $29.95 for adults and $22.95 for kids if you buy tickets online.
234 W. 42nd St.
Kids climbing the walls? Then just let them climb some walls (ha ha ha...). The massive Cliffs at LIC gives you a one-two punch of A/C and tiring the kids out. For first-timers, the Intro to Climbing package ($49) gets you a 90 minute lesson, day pass and gear rental. Kids can also literally try their hands at bouldering, which is scaling angled, amorphous structures, found at The Cliffs' Brooklyn Bridge Park site DUMBO Boulders. After everyone's tuckered out, take a quick walk to Bierocracy for some grub and a cool beverage.
11-11 44th Dr.
Long Island City
To Keep it Cool in Red Hook
Here's a full-day combo for you: A swashbuckling round of mini golf with a side of video games at Shipwrecked Miniature Golf, followed by a bargain-priced Swede lunch and picking up some home goods at IKEA's Brooklyn store. Or vice-versa. (Super bonus points if you take the NY Water Taxi from Manhattan for an awesome boat ride arrival.) P.S. Don't forget there is a kid's play space at IKEA to entertain little ones while you grab some cute but inexpensive essentials and assorted impulse buys.
Shipwrecked Miniature Golf
Sun.- Thurs. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Tickets: 13 and up: 14; senior/military: $12; kids 2 – 12: $10, kids under 2: free
621 Court St. , 2nd Fl.
1 Beard St.
To Cool Down Underground: New York City Transit Museum
Remember how the basement was always the coolest room in the house? As one descends the stairs of the New York Transit Museum (via a non-active subway entrance), it's hard not to. Yes the museum is kept cool through regular A/C, but it can't hurt that the fun and educational museum is underground. The museum is home to both rotating and permanent exhibits, many of which are interactive. Kids also get to hop in the driver's seat of life-size vehicles like city buses. But the show-stopper of the museum is the real (again, not active) subway platform and tracks, with cars from the system's history — complete with ads from the era — open for investigating, sitting, etc. Two special bonuses are the seating area that's good for eating a quick snack and the gift store, where it's hard to get out without a cool trinket.
Boerum Place at Schermerhorn Street
For a Massive Planetarium, a Floating Jungle Gym, and Boogers
There's almost too much to do at the Liberty Science Center. New arrivals include "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body" which finds visitors climbing and crawling through the human body, and playing games to learn about boogers, vomit, and stinky smells. (i.e., all the things your kid find hilarious, and "Arthur's World", based on the the children's television series and books, where kids can explore and learn. The incredible Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium and LSC Giant Dome Theater (the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, FYI) is now open, with shows for kids big and small, and perennial favorites like the Touch Tunnel, the suspended Infinity Climber, and Block Party 9where kids get building) will everyone entertained for hours. Finally, if you do want to go outside, the museum is hosting "Dino Dig", where kids can dig for fossils in 35 tons of sand. (Note: admission to Grossology and the planetarium are additional cost.)
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Jersey City, Nj
For Water Fun Inside: City Treehouse
Downtown's City Treehouse indoor playspace has a water area that toddlers and preschoolers flock to. The cool water can be projected through a variety of hoses, nozzles and pumps. City Treehouse also holds classes, concerts, and tons of other events to keep everyone's mind off of the summer heat.
129 W 20th St.