Best of NY 2011

Remind yourself why this is the greatest city in the world by experiencing the best of it. We've rounded up 50 of our favorite venues and events, ranging from arts and culture to booze and sex. Grab your friends; you'll want to visit---or revisit---everything here.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy Top of the Strand

    Best view from an all-weather rooftop bar: Top of the Strand

    Best view from an all-weather rooftop bar: Top of the Strand

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

    Best bar to sing your heart out in front of strangers (solo): The Duplex

    Best bar to sing your heart out in front of strangers (solo): The Duplex

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby

    Best year-round market: Brooklyn Flea

    Best year-round market: Brooklyn Flea

  • Best hotel for a staycation: Gansevoort Park Avenue

    Best hotel for a staycation: Gansevoort Park Avenue

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby

    Best place to remember why you love the Bronx: Bronx Museum of the Arts

    Best place to remember why you love the Bronx: Bronx Museum of the Arts

  • Photograph: Courtesy NYC Parks and Recreation

    Best place to remember why you love Staten Island: Freshkills Park

    Best place to remember why you love Staten Island: Freshkills Park

  • Photograph: Julienne Schaer

    Best waterfront: Brooklyn Bridge Park

    Best waterfront: Brooklyn Bridge Park

  • Best skating rink: Wollman Skating Rink

    Best skating rink: Wollman Skating Rink

Photograph: Courtesy Top of the Strand

Best view from an all-weather rooftop bar: Top of the Strand

Best view from an all-weather rooftop bar: Top of the Strand

View from an all-weather rooftop bar: Top of the Strand
Who says rooftop lounges are a summer-only destination? All hail the retractable glass roof, providing a warm viewing platform on crisp, clear fall and winter days: The Strand Hotel's 21st-floor drinkery tops our list because of the uninterrupted sight line of the towering Empire State Building and first-come, first-served benches that offer a front-row seat. Don't let the imposing main attraction blind you to the rest of the skyline—to your left is the lit-up crown of the Setai at 400 Fifth Avenue, and over to your right is the illuminated double-fin roof of the Epic. The price of admission for this light show? Specialty cocktails are $15 and bottles of beer $9. 33 W 37th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-448-1024, topofthestrand.com). Mon, Sun 5pm--midnight; Tue--Sat 5pm--1am.

Bar to sing your heart out in front of strangers (solo): The Duplex
The city is rife with karaoke bars, but why settle for a prerecorded track when you can be accompanied by live pianists? Aspiring performers mix with regulars, tourists and occasional celebrity drop-ins on the first floor of this beloved watering hole, a West Village institution for more than half a century. The repertoire runs from classic rock and Broadway to modern pop; the chummy singing bar staff make everyone feel welcome at the mike. Just scrawl your name and request on a napkin, leave it atop the baby grand and wait for your shot at cabaret glory. 61 Christopher St at Seventh Ave South (212-255-5438, theduplex.com). Daily 9pm--4am.

Year-round market: Brooklyn Flea
No matter the season, this weekend bazaar brings together 150 local vendors carrying all manner of vintage, handmade and antique wares. Depending on the day, the treasure trove may consist of Cold Picnic's cool-kid accessories, like printed tube bracelets ($50), and Daily Memorandum's old rustic furnishings, including twig baskets ($65) and wooden crates ($10). Of course, there's also the droolworthy munchies: We're fans of the artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches ($5.75--$7.50) from Milk Truck and oat-and-peanut-butter sandwich cookies (one dozen $15) from the Good Batch. The Flea will move to its winter location on Nov 26; check the website for more info. 176 Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Sat 10am--5pm. * East River Waterfront between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sun 10am--5pm. * brooklynflea.com

Hotel for a staycation: Gansevoort Park Avenue
There may be newer boutique hotels featuring terrace pools and conveniently placed cocktail bars, but the trailblazing Gansevoort (which opened its original location in the Meatpacking District in 2004) has truly perfected the urban-resort concept. The tri-level rooftop pleasure complex at the plush Park Avenue location is a year-round oasis: Relax in a glassed-in area by the pool, kept at a balmy 85 degrees, then swim through the warm water to take in an open view of the Empire State Building before a night of loungehopping in the deejayed five-bar space. Counteract the damage the next morning with a yoga class ($23) and massage (starts at $95 for 30 minutes) at the on-site Exhale spa. 420 Park Ave South at 29th St, enter on 29th St (212-317-2900, gansevoortpark.com). Rates start at $285.

Place to remember why you love Queens: Flushing Meadows--Corona Park
There's plenty to keep you occupied at this 1,255-acre destination, even when the Mets aren't in town. Among the diverse offerings are the New York Hall of Science, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (home to the US Open) and the iconic Unisphere. See the city rendered in miniature at the Queens Museum of Art, home to the Panorama of the City of New York installation, which was created for the 1964 World's Fair. 111th St to College Point Blvd between Whitestone Expwy and Grand Central Pkwy, Queens (718-760-6565, nycgovparks.org/parks/fmcp). Daily 6am--1am.

Place to remember why you love the Bronx: Bronx Museum of the Arts
Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Boogie Down at this uptown treasure, which focuses on the work of underrepresented artists, as well as those based in the borough. The museum places equal weight on forms such as graffiti art and folk-art--inspired paintings, as well as more conceptual art. Don't miss the lively First Friday parties, which offer films, musical performances and lectures. 1040 Grand Concourse at 165th St, Bronx (718-681-6000, bronxmuseum.org). Thu, Sat, Sun 11am--6pm; Fri 11am--8pm. $5, seniors and students $3, children under 12 free. Fridays free.

Place to remember why you love Staten Island: Freshkills Park
When this former landfill's transformation is completed in 2036, the space will be three times bigger than Central Park. Until then, the park inspires visitors with the possibilities of the future: If 60 years of garbage can become usable parkland, then surely there's hope for greening other spots in the city. Get a look at the site during a two-hour bus excursion led by the NYC Parks Department, focusing on the land's history and redevelopment. Richmond Ave between Arthur Kill Rd and Travis Ave, Staten Island (nyc.gov/parks). Tours only.

Spot to discover your new favorite hobby: Museum of Arts and Design
The craft-art--and-design-focused museum gives you an up-close view of its artisans-in-residence during its daily open studio: Artists in MAD's sixth-floor studio utilize diverse methods such as ceramics, wood carving and paper sculpture. Watch them create something, and get inspired to make some art of your own. Interactive workshops, like the electronics-focused Hacking with NYC Resistor, provide more hands-on training from the experts. 2 Columbus Circle at Broadway (212-299-7777, madmuseum.org). Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun 11am--6pm; Thu, Fri 11am--9pm. $15, seniors and students $12, members and children 12 and under free. Thu, Fri 6--9pm pay what you wish.

Waterfront: Brooklyn Bridge Park
Located at the feet of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, this space gives visitors a unique view of the lower Manhattan skyline (it's a bit like sitting in the front row at an IMAX movie). The park, built on former industrial and commercial sites, has a strong focus on waterfront access: Aquatic features, such as a salt marsh filled with native smooth cordgrass, showcase the East River's naturalistic side. One recent riverside addition is Jane's Carousel, open from 11am to 7pm until Sat 5 (Sun 6--Apr 5: Thu--Sun 11am--6pm; $2, children under 3 or under 42" tall free with paying adult), a restored, wood-carved ride from 1922 housed in a transparent acrylic pavilion. Main St (Fulton Ferry Landing), Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-802-0603, brooklynbridgeparknyc.org). Daily 6am--1am.

Skating rink: Wollman Skating Rink
This locale has some stiff competition for the top spot, but Central Park's iconic pond features the largest skating surface of any midtown rink—at 30,800 square feet, there's plenty of room to glide around. Plus, there's an awe-inspiring view, with the city's skyscrapers peeking over the surrounding trees. Central Park, enter at W 59th St and Sixth Ave (212-439-6900, wollmanskatingrink.com). Mon, Tue 10am--2:30pm; Wed, Thu 10am--10pm; Fri, Sat 10am--11pm; Sun 10am--9pm. $10.75--$16, seniors $4.75--$8.25, children 12 and under $5.75--$6.00; skate rental $6.75.

Contributors: Amanda Angel, David Fear, Andrew Frisicano, Howard Halle, Ethan LaCroix, Matthew Love, Tim Lowery, Amy Plitt, Lisa Ritchie, Kristina Rodulfo, Jonathan Shannon, Steve Smith and Sarah Theeboom

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Users say

2 comments
maria
maria

I have a Great experience meeting different people!