The Big Chill in the Big Apple: How to Beat the NYC Winter Blues

Annie Rose Ramos |

Temperature fluctuations, early sunsets,  heavy outerwear…It’s hard not to get a little down during the long New York City winters. But buck up! MetroFocus did a bit of research (we even consulted a psychotherapist) and came up with some tips for beating the winter blues. Get ready to take that frown and…

Take a Breath of Fresh Air

The Japanese Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is a great place for a daytime stroll, according to psychotherapist Lynne Spevack, who helps people deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Flickr/ Ennuipoet

Lynne Spevack, a licensed psychotherapist, says that whether you just have the winter blues or you actually have Seasonal Affective Disorder (a clinical form of depression related to the change of seasons), the best cure is exposure to sunlight and exercise. She recommended a few spots that are particularly good to visit during the winter months:
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    900 Washington Ave., Brooklyn
    Tickets $5 – $10.
    A landscape architect designed the walking paths in the Japanese Garden with winter in mind, according to Spevack.

Wave Hill is a 28-acre public garden in the Bronx that overlooks the Hudson River. Bundle up and take a walk at Wave Hill for some perspective during the long winter months. Flickr/Beyond My Ken

  • Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center
    West 249th Street and Independence Avenue, Bronx
    Tickets $2 for children, $4 for students and seniors, and $8 for adults.
    The Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory preserves rare plants from around the world and is an excellent respite from the cold.

Expand Your Mind

If you’re the type who wants to limit outdoor exposure at all costs, you may want to try one of these mood-enhancing diversions:

  • The Brooklyn Phil
    Various locations in Brooklyn
    Ticket prices vary.
    The Brooklyn Phil, one of America’s oldest orchestras, has been entertaining audiences since 1857. Today, the orchestra plays venues ranging from art spaces to the Brooklyn Museum. Widely acclaimed for their innovative events, many of which are free, the Brooklyn Phil has changed the expectations of a night at the orchestra. Past events have included everything from an invitation for the audience to perform alongside the orchestra members to a night of music accompanied by tap dancers.

Use the indoor season to take a class at Fluent Brooklyn, which offers 10-week intensive courses in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Arabic and Mandarin Chinese. Photo courtesy of Fluent Brooklyn.

  • Fluent Brooklyn
    Various locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
    All 10-week sessions cost $285 in Williamsburg and $325 in Manhattan.
    Put long evenings to good use by brushing up on that rusty foreign language you sort of learned in high school at Fluent Brooklyn. Classes are conducted by “energetic professors” who make you feel like you’re “hanging out with a cool new friend who happens to know another language and is really good at teaching it to you,” according to Fluent Brooklyn’s website. You might just be bilingual by Memorial Day.
  • Next Level Arcade
    4013 Eighth Ave., Brooklyn
    $10 for a day pass and $80 for a monthly membership
    If you’re planning a visit to Next Level Arcade, you’d better bring your game face. You can’t keep the change but you won’t break the bank with a full day of gaming on various consoles, computers and arcade games. If you’re a hardcore gamer, you can enter a tournament to face off with other players and prove your skills in fighting games like “Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.” Perhaps the adrenaline from a victory lap will lighten the mood?

Laugh It Off

You know what they say about laughter…These should make you giggle — or at least crack a smile:

Visit the Jim Henson exhibit in Queens to get some creative inspiration. Photo by John E. Barrett, courtesy of The Jim Henson Company.

  • Jim Henson’s Fantastic World
    Museum of the Moving Image, 3601 35th Ave., Queens
    Adult admission is $12.
    This retrospective of the man behind the Muppets and Yoda has been extended through March. Take a trip back to your childhood with old friends like Bert, Ernie and Kermit the Frog. The exhibit features drawings and storyboards that show how Henson’s creative mind operated. Plenty of inspiration here!
  • Carolines on Broadway
    1626 Broadway, between 49th & 50th streets, Manhattan
    Prices vary depending on performer.
    A checkup at Carolines Comedy Club may be just what the doctor ordered. Hardy har har. Upcoming acts include Sommore and the eternally goofy Tom Green.

Tee Up and Chow Down

Games + food + booze = winter bliss.

Take advantage of Wi-Fi at Park Here, the indoor pop-up park in downtown Manhattan. Photo by Emma Holder.

  • Park Here
    201 Mulberry St., Manhattan
    Admission is free.
    Located at Openhouse Gallery, Park Here is a “pop-up park” that will remain open until Feb. 15. Fully equipped with bean bags, hammocks, Jenga tiles and leafy green foliage, you might forget that this lovely park located in Nolita is completely indoors. Bring your laptop and take advantage of the fast Wi-Fi or bring a few bucks and grab some of the grub from visiting food vendors.
  • Greenwich Village Country Club
    110 University Place, Manhattan
    Mini golf, bocce ball, shuffle board, coin and dollar operated air hockey, fooseball and billiards at various hourly rates.
    Putt, play and party at this new indoor mini-golf bar and lounge, now located on the sprawling top floor of Bowlmore Lanes. This adult carnival may not have a windmill, but it does have a dance floor where you can take a break from bocce ball and boogie with your friends. Upscale comfort food from chef and comfort food master David Burke ensures you will not go hungry during your shuffleboard tournament.

A doubles Ping Pong game at SPiN New York in Manhattan. Flickr/Anthony Quintano

  • SPiN New York
    48 E. 23rd St., Manhattan
    $10 per half hour per table before 6 p.m. and $20 thereafter.
    Play your hand at master table tennis at SPiN where nightclub meets table tennis. If you’re not feeling like a pro, you can watch one of the Friday night tournaments when contenders show up to duke it out for the “dirty dozen” Ping Pong tournaments. The beauty of Ping Pong, like so many other amateur sports, is that when liquor is involved, you don’t have to be good at it in order to have fun.

A lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound at Brooklyn Flea's Smorgasburg. Flickr/roboppy.

  • Brooklyn Flea’s Smorgasburg
    1 Hanson Place, Brooklyn
    Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
    Admission is free but food is not!
    What better way to warm the spirits than to fill the stomach at Smorgasburg food flea’s new winter home, Skylight One Hanson, formerly the Williamsburg Savings Bank. Indulge in fresh tacos, lobster rolls or an AsiaDog, a standard red hot dressed with toppings like kimchi and Japanese curry. Work up an appetite by perusing creatively crafted items on sale from local vendors on the lower level of the indoor market.

Warm Up to Chill Out

Sometimes, the only answer is to slip into a warm and soothing bath…

  • Russian & Turkish Baths
    268 East 10th St., Manhattan
    $35 for all-day admission.
    Never underestimate the power of a good “schvitz” to revive your spirits. Alternate between the steam room, the wet sauna, the dry heat sauna, the cool pool and whirlpool and you will surely leave the Russian & Turkish Baths feeling rejuvenated. This stress -free zone was designed for your peace of mind. You will receive a loaner robe and slippers, but some suggest bringing your own in case the idea of sharing bath attire is bothersome.
  • Spa Castle
    131-10 11 College Point, Queens
    $35 admission on weekdays and $45 on weekends.
    The mothership of all New York City spas, this 100,000-square-foot palace mixes Korean and European style amenities, as well as “oxygen enriched air,” according to its 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. Lounge by the lazy river or groove on one of several waterfalls.

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