Your guide to staying cool in NYC during the first heat wave of the summer

Photo by Dean Moses.

With New York City about to be hit with the first big summer heat wave of 2024, it’s important to find a way to keep cool even when you’re out and about.

Here are some places to stay out of the sun for all ages:

Photo by Dean Moses.

Keep cool with water

In Manhattan, Central Park, Columbus Park, The Battery, Inwood Hill Park, Morningside Park, Thomas Jefferson Park, Riverside Park, and many other parks offer sprinklers and drinking water fountains. To find the complete list of all the parks in Manhattan and other boroughs, click here

Outdoor pools

Throughout the five boroughs, free outdoor pools are a good option to keep cool and refreshed. In Manhattan, 13 pools are currently open to the public: Abe Lincoln Pool, Asser Levy Pool, Dry Dock Pool, Frederick Douglass Pool, Hamilton Fish Pool, Highbridge Pool, Jackie Robinson Pool, John Jay Pool, Marcus Garvey Pool, Sheltering Arms Pool, Thomas Jefferson Pool, Vesuvio Pool and Wegner Pool. The pools will open daily for the season on June 27, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Under the trees

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation offers cooling areas throughout the city like beaches, pools, spray showers, drinking fountains, and places with a high density of trees. 

This interactive map helps people find park tree canopies and the leafiest blocks. In Manhattan, Central Park, Joan of Arc Park, St. Nicholas Park, Morningside Park, Fort Tryon Park, Highbridge Park, Inwood Hill Park, Bryant Park, John V. Lindsay East River Park, among others, are good options to rest under the tree shades. The map also shows the blocks with the highest density of trees which are located in West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Upper West Side, Columbus Circle, Upper East Side, Alphabet City, Chelsea and West Village.

The New York Public Library

Throughout the city, the library headquarters are a great way to find relief from the sun with plenty of activities to entertain yourself.

Beyond books, the New York Public Library offers exhibitions, special events and classes. In Manhattan you can visit the 53rd Street Library, 58th Street Library, 67th Street Library, Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, Art & Architecture Collection, Art and Artifacts Division, Battery Park City Library, Baychester Library, Billy Rose Theatre Division, Bloomingdale Library, and others. Check the complete list here

Older Adults Centers

Across the city there are more than 300 of older adult centers for New Yorkers of 60 years old and up. These recreational sites offer meals, educational and fitness classes, resources, and a good way for older adults to make new friends. 

Museums in Manhattan

The Met, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), The Museum of Broadway, Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, National Museum of Mathematics, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of American Finance, The Ukrainian Museum, Museum of Chinese in America, The Frick Collection, and many more. 

Recreation centers 

Provide a space for a wide variety of indoor activities that promote healthy living. In Manhattan: Alfred E. Smith, Asser Levy, Chelsea, Constance Baker Motley, Gertrude Ederle, Hamilton Fish, Highbridge, J. Hood Wright, Jackie Robinson, Pelham Fritz and Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center. Find the complete list here

Nature centers

Take a break from the heat inside these three Manhattan nature centers as you learn from New York’s ecosystems: Belvedere Castle Visitor Center and Dana Discovery Center in Central Park and Inwood Hill Nature Center in Inwood Hill Park. 


Peruse from store to store or catch a quick bite and cool down in the meantime at Brookfield Place, Westfield World Trade Center, and The Fulton Center in downtown Manhattan. In Midtown, you’ll find Hudson yards. If you find yourself near Central Park you’ll find The Shops at Columbus Circle. 

For a curated list of nearby places try the “Cool Options Map,” an interactive tool available to all New Yorkers to find indoor or shaded areas to keep you safe from the high temperatures. 

“Encourage the people in your life to beat the heat by limiting strenuous outdoor activity, staying hydrated, wearing light clothing, turning on the air conditioning, heading to the pool or beach, or spending time at your local library, museum, or coffee shop,” said in the press release Zach Iscol, management commissioner of the NYC Emergency Management. 

General tips

New York City defines extreme heat events as periods when the heat index is 100°F or higher for one or more days, or 95°F or higher for two or more consecutive days. According to the New York City Emergency Management’s official website, every year, hundreds of New Yorkers are reported to die from preventable heat illness, last year about 350 of New Yorkers died. Those who suffer from health conditions like heart disease or asthma and the elderly are at a higher risk. 

It is recommended to keep homes cool with air conditioner units (The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) offers assistance to qualifying individuals that are struggling to pay for an air conditioner), install high performance windows and sunshades, limit physical activity outside, stay hydrated with water and try to avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and high in sugar beverages and learn the signs of heat strokes and heat exhaustion.

To protect against sun exposure it is recommended to regularly apply SPF 15 or higher, wear hats that protect the head and face and to find refuge in shaded or air-conditioned areas.