Keeping Your Cool

By Anne Levin

New Yorkers gulp billions of gallons of it every day. And when summer’s humidity rises, we immerse ourselves in it. Think of those historic images of tenement kids frolicking in the gush of an opened street hydrant, teenagers plunging into the East River (in the middle of which, incidentally, there are now plans to develop a swimming oasis), and hipsters reclaiming the beaches at Far Rockaway. When it comes to cooling off, New Yorkers have always been inventive. In past years, some desperate-to-cool-down residents created dipping pools in the backs of their pick-up trucks by means of tarp and hose. But no need to go that far. Today, there are more places to cool off than ever before—on roof tops, in community centers and schools, hotels that offer public access for a fee, and sophisticated bar pools where “watering hole” takes on a new dimension.


The saltwater pool at the King & Grove hotel in trendy Williamsburg is spacious and inviting, with lots of space for relaxing and dining. The pool is open till 9 p.m. and those not staying at the hotel are welcome to take a plunge after 11 a.m., with reservations. Fees run $45 and $55 and include towel service, Wi-fi, and a glass of wine. 160 North 12th Street, Brooklyn. 718.218.7500.

Across the East River from Manhattan in Queens, the Astoria Pool (ABOVE) has Olympic-size lanes and a WPA-era Art Deco interior, with plenty of room for poolside lounging. Locatedbetween the Robert F. Kennedy and Hell Gate bridges, the pool also offers a winning view of the Upper East Side. Admission is free. Astoria Park, 19th Street and 23rd Avenue in Queens. 718.274.4925.

Swimmers from all over Manhattan join neighborhood kids at the Olympic-size Hamilton Fish Pool downtown. There is no deck furniture, but there is plenty of space to lounge on a towel. Admission is free. Pitt Street between East Houston and Stanton streets. 212.777.0116.

There is a Keith Haring mural on the back wall of the pool at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center. Though smaller than some of its counterparts, it has a diving board in the deep end, which most other city pools do not. Admission is free. 3 Clarkson Street at Seventh Avenue South. 212.337.0404.


La Piscine at Hôtel Americano, a boutique hotel in Chelsea, has become a popular spot for chilling out. The pool area is open to the public at 6 p.m. The adjacent bar and grill is open from noon on weekends. There are great views of Manhattan and the Hudson River and the drink list is impressive. 518 West 27th Street. 212.525.0000.

Bar d’Eau at Trump SoHo is another poolside paradise that opens in the evenings to non-guests, for relaxing, but not for swimming. The bar is situated on a seventh floor patio with deck chairs and lounge seating. A waterfall arches into the mosaic-tiled pool. A bocce court is part of the fun, along with bar snacks and cocktails. 246 Spring Street, at Varick. 212.842.5500.

In the Meatpacking District, there is The Beach at Dream Downtown, a hotel with a second floor terrace complete with a glass-bottomed pool and sand shipped in from Montauk. Daytime swimming is only for hotel guests or those who book one of the cabanas. For everyone else, it’s all about the bar, open from 5:30 to 11 p.m. 355 West 16th Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues. 212.229.2559.


Surrounded by water, Manhattan is a sailor’s paradise. Refreshing breezes waft from the Hudson and East rivers, which offer vantage points from which to view the city. There are numerous companies providing specialty tours, with themes ranging from architecture and history to wine and jazz. Fully crewed yachts, sailboats, and speedboats are available, for day, sunset, and night sails.

Classic Harbor Line operates from Pier 62 on the West Side Highway at Chelsea Piers. In addition to cruises focused on food—brunch, wine and cheese pairing, champagne and aphrodisiacs—there are those that explore different aspects of architecture. The American Institute of Architects leads river-based tours of Lower Manhattan, Manhattan Bridge, and more. The company, which also operates in Key West, Newport, and Boston, has its largest fleet in New York—a 1920s style yacht, an 80-foot schooner and a 105-foot schooner. 888.215.1739.

Fans of Sex and the City reruns probably remember the episode where Carrie runs into Mr. Big at a party on a yacht sailing around Manhattan island. That’s the kind of sleek craft operated by Spirit Cruises, from Chelsea Piers. These spacious boats host full meals while cruising, with themes ranging from gospel to Karaoke. 866.483.3866.

When the sails are hoisted, the moon is full and lapping of water is the loudest thing you hear, it’s hard to believe you are in Manhattan. But aboard the 85-year-old Shearwater, or the tall ship replica Clipper City, both operated by Manhattan by Sail, the heat of the city seems to melt away. The Clipper City departs from Slip 1 at the south side of Battery Park, while the Shearwater leaves from the downtown North Cove Marina. 212.619.6900.