How to Escape the NYC Cold—Without Leaving NYC

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
When Dark Sky forecasts frigid weather and you don’t have enough vacation days saved up to book a trip to L.A., what’s a sun-craving New Yorker to do? Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and indoors gardens in the city that are overflowing with lush greenery and tropical vibes. So until spring arrives, meet us at these seven hot spots.

The Frick Collection Garden Court

You can catch spring fever by staring at lush landscapes and floral still lifes at numerous museums and galleries around the city, but a favorite spot for New Yorkers in the know is this inner courtyard at the Frick. Park yourself on a bench and breathe in the tropical shrubbery surrounding the elegant central fountain. The sun-filled atrium, ionic columns, and angelic statuary will make you feel like you’re on a Mediterranean getaway. (We also happen to be obsessed with the museum's pink, posh ladies' room!) 1 East 70th Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues), Upper East Side
botanical spots in nyc Photo by Hanna Benavides

Tiki Bars With a View

There's nothing like a tropical drink with exotic ingredients to put you in a vacay state of mind. Sip on a Julius Sleezer (with rum, rye, orange marmalade, and tiki bitters) at the rooftop Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel or a Vaya Con Tiki (tea-infused rum, coconut cream, ginger, cinnamon, and tropical juices) at The Polynesian inside Times Square's Pod Hotel. Both lounges evoke the relaxed charm of island life. The Polynesian, 400 West 42nd Street (between Ninth and Dyer Avenues); Broken Shaker, 23 Lexington Avenue (between East 23rd and 24th Streets)
Photo courtesy of The Polynesian/Facebook

The Monkey Cup

Take a trip to sunny Venezuela via this adorable coffee bar in Hamilton Heights, near City College. Sip your Monkeyccino and nibble on a sweet Cuban-style pastelito under a canopy of leaves, reminiscent of a lush rain forest. Alfred Tinozo and Laura Leonardi, the Venezuelan couple who own the café, decided on the green decor to remind them of their childhood homes. 1730 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 145th and 146th Streets), Hamilton Heights
botanical spots in nyc Photo courtesy of The Monkey Cup/Facebook

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Tropical Pavilion

For an even more resplendent rain forest experience, visit the humid, 65-foot-tall glass pavilion at the BBG. Not only will you be surrounded by banana plants, rubber trees, and palm trees from all over the world, you’ll also hear the peaceful sounds of waterfalls and streams. Other great places to get a 360-degree tropical experience include the Tropic Zone at the Central Park Zoo, the Victorian-style Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, the Conservatory at Wave Hill, and the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History.


Located underneath Cote, the popular Korean steakhouse in the Flatiron District, is the new subterranean speakeasy Undercote. The bar, specializing in soju cocktails and champagne, has a steamy jungle vibe, with abundant plants and prints, dark lighting, and ambient beats. During these cold winter months, reservations are a good idea. 16 West 22nd Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), Flatiron
botanical spots in nyc Photo by Michi K/Yelp

Tokyo Record Bar

It may be hidden in a tiny underground space (just 18 seats, with two or three seatings per night), but this Japanese bar/listening room/hipster experience will flood you with a sense of springtime in Tokyo. Diners help choose a playlist (in real time!) from hundreds of vinyl albums and then settle in for a seven-course izakaya-style meal, which includes delicacies such as oysters, caviar, and monkfish—all eaten under a ceiling practically dripping with cherry blossoms. 127 MacDougal Street (between West 3rd and 4th Streets), Greenwich Village
botanical spots in nyc A cosmo at Tokyo Record Bar. / Photo by Noah Fecks

The Park

A popular spot for large gatherings, this Chelsea restaurant is also beloved for its woodland-like setting—trees sprout up right through the dining room, and bunches of bamboo and flowers blossom everywhere you look. The sunny, enormous space (created from three former taxi garages) surrounds its guests with nature as they nibble on wood-oven pizza, kale salad, and various Mediterranean bites. 118 Tenth Avenue (between West 17th and 18th Streets), Chelsea

For more dining (and where-to-escape-the-snow) recommendations, ask our experts by downloading the What Should We Do mobile app. New York, curated just for you.