Visiting New York City in the summer may not seem as appealing as the Cape or the coast of Maine, but consider this—many city dwellers are out of town for most of the summer months, and—except for Times Square—New York is quieter. In some ways, it feels like a different city or, perhaps, a more authentic version of itself as those who hustle take their busyness to the Hamptons or upstate. Suddenly, you can get a reservation at that restaurant that books 30 days out, and you don’t have to see the latest exhibit at The Whitney with crowds of other people.

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Summer is the best time to explore neighborhoods. Even if you live in New York, you’ll never see everything in this city. To walk it, especially when it’s quiet, is a way to surprise. There are gardens on the Lower East Side to explore, tiny neighborhood dives to drop into for a cold drink, and rooftop dance parties.

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Here are a few ways to stay cool while enjoying a hot summer in NYC.

Things to Do, Eat, and Drink

Photo via Getty

Central Park Summerstage

From Indigo Girls and Larkin Poe to The Metropolitan Opera, the place to see live music in the summer is Central Park. Pack a gourmet picnic and hang out on the lawn for a few hours, or take advantage of the vastly improved food and drink offerings available at the show, which you can order on-site via a QR code to make the ordering/pick-up process easy.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Catch Van Gogh’s “Cypresses” at The Met between May 22 and August 27, an exhibit focusing on trees and featuring some of Van Gogh’s most remarkable works like Starry Night and Wheat Field With Cypresses. On Friday and Saturday evenings, you can end your visit with cocktails in the roof garden, which overlooks Central Park. Open 11am – 8pm.

Museum of Modern Art

On exhibit at MoMA through August 12 is “Georgia O’Keefe: To See Takes Time”, which displays more than 120 pieces of work created by the artist in various forms—charcoal, watercolor, pastels—mediums that she experimented with in an earlier period of her life. MoMa also has two excellent all-day dining cafes on site and The Modern, a Michelin-starred restaurant with an award-winning wine program and seasonal menu. Take your visit up a level with dinner at The Kitchen Table, a table for 4 in The Modern’s kitchen that offers an enhanced tasting menu and a front-row seat to what happens behind the scenes.

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Meatpacking District

Step away from 5th Avenue and head downtown to the Meatpacking District, a neighborhood that fuses grit and glam, home to great restaurants and chic boutiques laid out on quaint cobblestone streets. Grab a coffee at Chelsea Market—it opens as early as 7 am on weekdays, and 8 am on weekends—and wander through small boutiques, pop-up stores, and the ever-fascinating Artists & Fleas. The Hermès store on Gansevoort is also a treat—even if you’re just browsing, their art gallery-worthy scarves are a delight to behold. Speaking of art galleries, no trip to the Meatpacking District would be complete without a stop at The Whitney, which relocated from the Upper East Side to its downtown location in 2015. With 50,000 ft. of indoor gallery space, a ground-floor cafe, and rooftop bar, you can make your way through works by Edward Hopper, Jean Michel Basquiat, Georgia O’Keefe, Nick Cave, Alexander Calder, and more. Cap off your visit with dinner at RH Rooftop Restaurant. Located on the 6th floor of Restoration Hardware New York’s 90,000 sq ft design gallery, the elevated residential environment feels like dining at your friend’s fabulous New York apartment.

Enjoy the Waterfront

When warm weather arrives, New Yorkers are outside as much as possible. And while finding a patch of grass in Central Park to sit on with a gourmet picnic is enjoyable, the thrill of drinking and dining outdoors by the water should not be underestimated. Stroll along the pier at Hudson River Park, four miles of unobstructed waterfront, where you’ll find everything from outdoor concerts and festivals to beach volleyball, mini golf, and kayaking in the river. At sunset, grab a glass of rosé and some oysters at Grand Banks, a bar and restaurant located on a historic wooden schooner anchored on the Hudson.

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Where To Stay

Photo via Aman New York

Aman New York

After you’ve clocked your 10,000 steps and wandered through Manhattan from uptown to downtown and back again, retreat into the calm sanctuary of Aman New York. Located in the iconic Crown Building at 57th Street and 5th Avenue, the building is one of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in the U.S. and was the first home of the Museum of Modern Art. It’s been transformed into a luxurious space of serene beauty inspired by Japanese minimalism. It’s not until you reach the soaring atrium on the 14th floor and step out onto the terrace with views of Central Park and the Plaza that you remember you’re in the heart of New York City.

Each guest room is nested deep within the hotel. It features working fireplaces, smart tablet-enabled controls, soaking tubs, pivoting partition walls that enable guests to choose their preferred layout between bedroom and bath, and a floor concierge to assist with anything you might need during your stay.

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As a nod to its deep connection to the arts community, the hotel offers cultural experiences like private tours of museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Whitney and walking gallery tours of Chelsea and Brooklyn. Aman also features a 25,000 sq. ft spa with wellness programs that focus on longevity, regeneration, performance, and recovery—and they will design a multi-day immersion program for guests who have the time and the means to invest.

Once you’ve had a chance to rest and rejuvenate, hit the Jazz Club at the Aman. Hotel guests can access the club via an industrial entrance shared by hotel staff (giving it a speakeasy vibe) and enjoy performances by musical icons and up-and-coming performers in a room that boasts a revolutionary sound system, ensuring a natural acoustic experience in every seat. Without a doubt, a very cool way to spend a hot evening in New York City.