Once the temperature rises in NYC, the city and its inhabitants morph. The streets have new baked-in summer scents, the locals are moody and sweating, and consuming eight of those frozen coffee things at Skinny Dennis seems totally fine and normal. Everyone has their own way of coping with the heat, and below you'll find our official staff picks...
The Honorable William Wall. (via Facebook)
THE HONORABLE WILLIAM WALL: There's no other bar in NYC like the William Wall, a watery watering hole named after the 19th century rope magnate, mayor of Williamsburg, and founder of Williamsburgh Savings Bank. 20 bucks gets you a round trip boat ride out to a quirky two-level steel barge anchored in New York harbor, just a bit north of Ellis Island. The ground floor serves as the indoor clubhouse for the Manhattan Yacht Club (the interior looks like a clubhouse, with old sailing photos and tufted leather chairs) but you'll be chilling at the open-air bar on the second level, where refreshing Hudson Bay breezes roll through to tousle your hair and shoo away all thoughts of how much that bar tab will come to. (Don't fret, drinks are the same as you'd pay at any yupster bar in downtown Manhattan. $7-$8 wine by the glass, etc.)
It's all worth it: you're almost out at sea some place, and the only downside is that you're definitely not allowed to rip off your clothes and jump into the river. On the plus side, there is shade or sunshine, depending on where you choose to hang, and you can bring along plenty of food for a picnic.
The Willy Wall is open seasonally on Tuesday through Friday evenings between 5:15 and 9:45, and on weekends, when the bar operates in two sessions, from 1-4 and 5-9. The sunsets can be stunning out there, so consider the later session, and definitely purchase launch tickets in advance. A small boat whisks you to the Willy Wall from the Warren Street Ferry stop in Jersey City—to get there from Manhattan, take the PATH or hop on a ferry from the WFC Ferry Terminal to the Warren Street Ferry stop. — John Del Signore
Washington Square Park fountain (Getty)
WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK FOUNTAIN: There are few experiences more pleasant and widely available than standing in/near a good fountain on a hot day. New York has lots (62 according to the Parks Department), which run the gamut from purely decorative to basically a small pool. Lots of fountains are multi-functional like that—unlike, say, a pool or beach—and one of the top fountain experiences is getting a little bit spritzed without even meaning to. Fountain preferences differ, but I'd recommend the Washington Square Park basin for a quick ankle-dunk and the Bailey Fountain at Grand Army Plaza for a pre-park walk-by splash. — Jake Offenhartz
The Whitney's largest outdoor space. (Jake Dobkin/Gothamist)
THE WHITNEY: Really, any museum will do — they're all air-conditioned. But the Whitney has a few things going for it: it's near the High Line, so you can take a stroll or read on a lounge chair there before or after your visit, if you're one of those people that likes to be outdoors in summer. It also has its own outdoor spaces. But most of all it has air-conditioning and a light and airy vibe that will kind of make you feel like you are outside, while really you are inside, soaking up the sweet A.C. and some art.
The Whitney is located at 99 Gansevoort Street, and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).
Experimental lab test of new central air conditioning unit which diffuses cool air at floor level. July 1945. (LIFE)
YOUR APARTMENT: This is easy—the best and most exciting place to be during these hellishly hot days is in my room, away from you all. Sorry all you pedestrian folk burning on the beach or drinking "frozé" at some over-crowded rooftop bar, but I have air conditioning, a cat, AND a fridge stocked with lime seltzer. Even if it's kind of weird that I can make eye contact with folks standing on the train platform from my window, and even if it's kind of infuriating that my neighborhood still seems obsessed with their leftover Independence Day fireworks, not having to mingle with other sweaty humans for hours on end makes up for it. Plus I have a lot of plants in my room, so I bet the air quality is better than whatever it is you're breathing in, with all your recirculated office dust/rotting garbage breeze/sidewalk pee smells. I suggest hiding in your own respective rooms until the outside world becomes bearable again—someone send a carrier pigeon when that happens. — Fraylie Nord, alone by choice.
Hank's Saloon (David Colon/Gothamist)
A VERY DARK BAR: Some people say summer is for outdoor bars, but that only applies to very specific summer days, i.e., ones in which the outside doesn't feel like a steamroom and it's not intermittently thundering. Also, patios and rooftop bars are so crowded in the summer that you can't even raise a beer glass without coming into contact with a stranger's sticky body. Screw that, and spend a hot summer day inside a dark, nearly windowless bar. The hot sun can't touch you there and provided the bar has some cooling system—even a fan will do, as long as it's appropriately positioned—the temperature will be quite pleasant, plus all the dumb idiots will be off sweating all over each other in a backyard. SUCKERS. Some very nice dark bars include: George & Jack's in Williamsburg, Angel's Share in the East Village, the criminally underrated Half Court Sports Bar in Prospect Heights, and pretty much anything on this list (RIP Tobacco Road). — Rebecca Fishbein
Riis Park Beach. (Scott Lynch/Gothamist)
THE BEACH: What is best in the summer? To crush some cold ones with the boys. To sit in the sand. Hear the lapping of the waves on the shore. Does it matter which beach you go to? Everyone has their favorite (and I even wrote a handy guide to many of the NYC-adjacent ones), but I'm not here to argue for one beach or another. I'm merely here to argue that when the heat is on and your brain stops working, there's no better place to be than a beach. You can read, you can lie there in the heat doing nothing, you can dig a giant hole, you can jump in the ocean to cool off and those are just some of the things you can do. Plus, nothing on this Earth feels better than running into the ocean after a long bike ride to the beach. I guarantee it.
Here are our 2017 guides to Jacob Riis Park Beach, and Rockaway Beach. — Dave Colon