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“Hot town, summer in the city…” Good song. A less pleasant feeling when the heat index is 105 degrees. There are several ways to deal with the extreme heat in New York with kids: you can head to a free pool or maybe a playground with a sprinkler. But sometimes it’s just too hot. This is when you head inside and stay inside and stay cool in an air-conditioned space. We’ve rounded up the best air-conditioned play spaces for lounging indoors with the kids in New York City.

Chelsea Pier

hit the ice

Go ahead and surround yourself with ice. Chelsea Piers is a favorite, but there are other indoor rinks around town like City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City, Aviator Sports in South Brooklyn or Flushing’s World Ice Area, which is open year-round.

An ice skating teacher helps a child to move on the ice

Rachel Socol

Head to an indoor play space with air conditioning

Air-conditioned indoor play spaces are returning to normal at this stage of COVID. (Still, you may need to reserve a time slot or wear a mask to visit.)

These are some of our favorites in town.

Here is an overview of some spots in Manhattan.

Want to go to Brooklyn? We have great options for you.

If you’re in Queens, check out these indoor places to play.

Related: NYC’s 2021 Summer Bucket List: What You Need To Do With The Kids

A happy girl throws confetti in the air in the rainbow room at Candytopia


Discover an Instagram experience

Immersive experiences are ready to awaken your senses and fuel your diet. Plus, they’re so much fun! Here are our picks for the best Instagram experiences for kids and families.


Enjoy a movie

Watch a double or triple movie! at one of our favorite family cinemas for the kids. Head to a multiplex or settle in for brunch, lunch or dinner at a restaurant-theatre. These might not be your typical game spaces with air conditioning, but they keep things cool in those cinemas.

Harry Potter in New York

Try some recreational shopping

Whether shopping for back to school, an early birthday present, or just because, NYC has plenty of stores (and complexes) that are actually quite fun to shop.

Two recent boffo openings include Harry Potter New York, now the largest collection of Harry Potter merchandise for sale on earth (note: there is a virtual queue you must join to visit) and the new Rockefeller Center LEGO store, a “retailtainment” destination.

For a magical toy store, we like CAMP, which has locations in the Flatiron District, Hudson Yards and City Point in Brooklyn, as well as a new store dedicated to arts activities, Art Camp, The Shops at Columbus Circle. All CAMP locations have a “secret entrance”, which makes them particularly cool. For a classic, try the new FAO Schwarz at Rockefeller Center, where yes, you can dance to the grand piano like in Big.

Downtown, The Oculus has the upscale Westfield mall, as well as the multi-story dining destination, Eataly.

In Brooklyn, you can spend the day at City Point, featuring the incredible DeKalb Food Hall, Target, Trader Joe’s, Flying Tiger, and Alamo Draft House.

Related: Top Seeds: The Best Apple Picking Near New York

SEA LIFE Aquarium

Experience the “City Under the Sea” at the SEA LIFE New Jersey Aquarium in the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, which serves as the perfect air-conditioned play space. More than 3,000 aquatic creatures live here in New York-themed environments; see sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, seahorses and even get up close and personal with some of the animals. The aquarium features an amazing underwater ocean tunnel, plus daily talks and meals to learn about the creatures of the deep. SEA LIFE tickets are $28.99/adults, $23.99/kids, and combo packs with LEGOLAND are available for $56.99/adults, $53.99/kids.

Of course, you can shield yourself from the heat at many American Dream locations: the Big Snow indoor ski slope, an ice skating rink, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center, the Dream Works water park and the Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park. So take your pick, but wherever you go, make reservations in advance!

1 Path to the American Dream
East Rutherford, New Jersey
On line:

Frrrozen hot chocolate from Serendipity3

This NYC classic is back and ready to freeze your brain! Not only can you get traditional Frrrozen hot chocolate, but Serendipity3’s menu is filled with ice cream concoctions, pastries of all kinds, and lunch and dinner dishes to please everyone in the family (from macaroni cheese, burgers and salads). Make a reservation before you travel.

225 E. 60th St.
Upper East Side
On line:

Related: Spray, you! NYC parks with water to cool off

A view towards the Statue of Liberty

Mimi O’Connor

Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Yes, you have to get out and take a boat to Liberty Island and Ellis Island (and it’s a short walk from the statue) but the statue and huge Ellis Island museum are air-conditioned – plus they make for a great day out . Additionally, a museum dedicated to the Statue of Liberty has recently opened. Read our guide to visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island with kids.

Children climb silver pedestals on the Infinity Climber at the Liberty Science Center

Mimi O’Connor

Spend the day at the Liberty Science Center

You can’t even do it all in one day, but you can try! Here’s our guide to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.

Related: Summer Waterslide: Outdoor Water Parks Near New York

Children play with colorful water toys in the Totally Tots section of the Brooklyn Children's Museum.

Marcos Stafne

Play with water inside

Sort of the best of both worlds: indoors and some H20s. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum has a great water play area in its Totally Tots section.