Cool, indoor family fun for hot, mid-summer days — plus, buildings with playrooms

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The doggiest of summer days are upon us and for many NYC families, it's a challenge trying to keep kids entertained while still avoiding the blistering sun and humidity-soaked outdoors. Here, some indoor — read: air conditioned — activities that still get the kids out of the house.

Do something wintry. If 90 degree-days have you day dreaming of winter activities, head over to Chelsea Piers for some ice-skating. Sky Rink offers general skating four days a week (Friday-Monday for 2-4 hour periods) on its West Rink through September 4th. Admission is $10/person. Skates can be rented for $5/ pair and helmets are $4.25.

In Brooklyn or Queens, you can do the same at Aviator Sports, where public skating is offered 7 days a week on twin NHL-sized ice rinks. Adults are $10 and kids under 11, $8. Skate rentals are $5/pair.

Check out a cheap movie. Summer is a great time to catch up on movies you and your kids missed out on during the year—and even better if it's done on the cheap. Regal Theaters’ Summer Movies Express screens friendly flicks for $1 on Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings at 10am. Among the summer offerings are: Nut Job, Annie, Paddington and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day.

Similarly, select City Cinemas theaters offer cheap tix as part of its $1 Summer Film Series. Upcoming films include: March of the Penguins, The Lego Movie, Rio 2 and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

Indulge their media and technology obsession. Instead of prying the digital device from their sweaty palms, give in to their screen fixations in a more educational way. Sony Wonder Technology Lab’s four story interactive technology and entertainment museum has something for everyone, no matter the age. Check out the Robot Zone (where kids can learn how robots sense, think and act), Animation Studio (where they can design an animate character) and Dance Motion Capture (where they can witness their signature dance moves performed by a favorite Sony animated character). While admission is free, reservations (which can be made seven days to three months in advance) are highly recommended, especially during the extremely popular summer months.

At the Museum of the Moving Image, the Behind the Screen exhibit gives visitors a peak into the skills, materials and decisions that go into making a moving image. From artwork and artifacts to interactive experiences and audio-visuals, there’s plenty to see and experience. And for fans of The Hunger Games, the odds are ever in your favor since Discovery Center Times Square has The Hunger Games: An Exhibition with “immersive themed environments”, props and costumes that let visitors experience the films as though they were part of the blockbuster film series.

Immerse them in culture. Obviously there’s no shortage of cultural institutions in NYC aimed at families (Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Children’s Museum of the Arts, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, to name a few) but most museums offer some type of family programming. Here are a few on our summer to-do list: Alice: 150 years of Wonderland at the Morgan Library & Museum. Robot Swarm at The Museum of Mathematics, Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters at the American Museum of Natural History.

Hit a winter birthday party venue. Many of the venues you schlepped to throughout the schoolyear for classmates’ b-day parties are equally great (and less stressful) to visit in the summer. The ever-popular Bounce U in Brooklyn offers open bounce by reservation most weekday afternoons. The Queens location has open sessions every day by Saturday.

Bowling is an equally good way to while away a few hours in the cool indoors. Check out Frames (a family package includes two hours of bowling, shoe rental, food and drinks for $29.95/person), Brooklyn Bowl (family hours are weekends from noon-6pm) and Astoria Bowl (which offers balls starting at four lbs.).

And if you happen to be in the market for a family-sized apartment, anyway, these listings are in buildings with really awesome playrooms for the kids —cool, indoor entertainment without the subway ride:

• This three bedroom, three-bath at Azure on the Upper East Side (333 East 91st Street, Apartment 22A, for $2.675 million) for example, has 10-foot ceilings, open city views and access to an oversized playroom with its own ball pit.

• In Tribeca, an almost 2,000 square foot three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath (93 Worth Street, Apartment 502, for $4.25 million) includes a really groovy playroom — don't miss the cut-out wall seating — with plenty of room for both quiet and active activities.

• And a family-sized Lincoln Square condo (100 Riverside Blvd, #28D for $3.1 million) comes with its own washer and dryer and entry to a suite of indoor fun, including a well-stocked playroom, a game room, a library and a screening room. With so much to do, the kids may not even notice how unbearably hot it is outside!  


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