Like a suncreen-slathered toddler careening down a Slip-n’-Slide, summer has once again passed by us too quickly. It’s okay, though. Besides reminding us of our own mortality and thus giving us a quarterly kick in the proverbial pants (take that, laid-back Californians!), the coming changing of the seasons rules for a whole bunch of reasons. Among them: new sweaters, not being sweaty all the time and horror movies on every channel.
But as leaves and snow fall, the next summer can seem impossibly distant. Sometimes you just need a brief respite from the cold. Fortunately, a few intrepid New Yorkers have recognized the need.
Here’s where to go when you need that summer feeling:
131-10 11 College Point, N.Y.
$35 weekdays, $45 weekends
Taking a bus here from Flushing isn’t that hard, and this place packs a big bang for the buck. The 100,000-square-foot spa mixes Korean and European style amenities, as well as “oxygen enriched air” according to their website. While we generally prefer our air to feature oxygen as an active ingredient, we laud Spa Castle for having four floors filled with every kind of warm, soothing treatment your brittle wintry skin could ever want. Enjoy a Mai-Tai while hanging out by the lazy river or groove on one of several waterfalls.
2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, N.Y.
A flight to the Cayman Islands, in this economy? Take the 4 train instead. These indoor gardens, kept at a humid 80 degrees, will transport you to a tropical jungle replete with palm trees, rare orchids, desert landscapes and waterfalls. It’s steamy beneath the Victorian glass ceiling, bring removable layers.
139 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Depends on your thirst, brah.
Like most unpleasant things, the fall and winter blues can be cured with the addition of liberal amounts of rum and those little toothpick umbrellas. Enter a floor composed of sand into equation, along with a chowder menu written on a surfboard and Rockaway Beach posters and all that’s missing are some tasty waves. The owner is a veteran surfer, and he was fortunately wise enough to keep the lights dim enough so that you don’t think about how much gnarly bar-detritus is contained within all that sand.
172 Allen Street, New York, N.Y.
$20 per class
In the ’70s, a renegade guru named Bikram Choudhury ushered in a new era of fitness which compiled thousands of years worth of disparate yoga practices…and 105 degree heat. After doggedly downward facing a sweltering hell of a yoga workout, getting out into the bitter cold should feel like Nirvana.
Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, N.Y.
$25 adults, $14.50 for kids 12 and under
Bright colors! Rebirth! Migratory patterns! Butterflies! While flamingos have for years held the title of summer-iest creature, 2012 might be the year that Lepidoptera (butterflies, duh) reclaim the throne. Vladimir Nabokov knows. The Natural History’s Museum is a semi-permanent installation with a plantiful setting. The exhibit might be pricey, but you get to touch the butterflies, which is sort of like delicately stroking the hand of summer herself.
Solo Mission to Coney Island
Coney Island, Brooklyn, N.Y.
One of the first stories Henry Miller ever wrote was an essay about being isolated on Coney Island in the winter. “And so to Coney Island on a wintry day. Alone, of course. It wouldn’t do to have one’s reflections and observations diverted by a trivial-minded friend,” wrote Miller in “Plexus.”
Maybe you’re hoping to confront your seasonal affective disorder with the kind of existentially purifying experience provided by a wintry beach, as has been documented in untold hundreds of foreign films. Maybe you aren’t that deep. Don’t bother with the cerebral escape from the cold’s torment, do it physically. Maybe dip your toes in and take bitter hypothermia with the sweet embrace of the sea.