Best of 2013: Best places to go and things to do in New York City

Your essential guide to NYC is here: Time Out’s best of 2013 picks include New York’s best music venues, shops, museums and more.

Best music & nightlife this year

  • Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best kind of comedic déjà vu: Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground

  • Photograph: Manish Gosalia

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best music venue for seeing up-and-comers: Rockwood Music Hall

  • Photograph: Matthew Murphy

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best spot for new-music neophytes: Miller Theater (at Columbia University)

  • Photograph: Dan Dennison

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best local music label: Captured Tracks

  • Photograph: Mindy Tucker

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best way to see big-name comics gratis: Week at the Creek

  • Photograph: Dylan Johnson

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best all-ages haven: Death by Audio

  • Photograph: Bruce Damonte

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best surprisingly cool big music venue: Barclays Center

  • Photograph: Amos Mac

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best offbeat diva who's about to blow up: Erin Markey

  • Photograph: Johnny Horrible

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best return to the burly-Q scene: The Slipper Room

  • Photograph: Natalie Keyssar

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best summer fling: Mister Sunday

Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

Best kind of comedic déjà vu: Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground

Best kind of comedic déjà vu: Comedy Cellar at the Village Underground

The brick wall. The round wooden stool. The stained-glass sign depicting a single spotlighted figure. Audience members who swear they’ve seen this backdrop before probably have, as it’s identical to the one at the Comedy Cellar’s original MacDougal Street location. This offshoot of owner Noam Dworman’s club opened in April and offers more space and seats, plus better sight lines, while maintaining the anything-goes atmosphere that attracts stand-up stars like Dave Attell, Louis C.K. and Chris Rock. 212-254-3480, comedycellar.com

  1. 117 MacDougal St, (between Bleecker and W 3rd Sts)
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Best music venue for seeing up-and-comers: Rockwood Music Hall

The cramped quarters at this Lower East Side club are part of its appeal: There are no bad seats (or standing spots) in the house. You can catch multiple acts every night of the week on three separate stages, and it’s likely that many of those performers will soon be appearing in much bigger halls. Multigenre polymath Gabriel Kahane is a regular, as is bluegrass great Michael Daves. Your best bet is the monthly Communion Club Night, curated by Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett (next event: Tue 5 at 7pm; $12). 212-477-4155, rockwoodmusichall.com

  1. 196 Allen St, (between E Houston and Stanton Sts)
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Best spot for new-music neophytes: Miller Theatre (at Columbia University)

After 25 years, this Upper West Side classical-music destination remains as vital as ever—and arguably, it’s had its biggest impact on the city’s music scene in the past decade. Under the auspices of former director George Steel and his successor, Melissa Smey, the venue has consistently featured programming that’s forward-thinking and fresh, often spotlighting little-known and on-the-cusp artists. Not content to simply attract a crowd already familiar with classical music, in 2012 the organization launched its free monthly Pop-Up concert series, which offers performances by new-music hotshots in an informal setting—and the gratis drinks don’t hurt either (next event: Nov 19, doors at 5:30pm). 212-854-7799, millertheatre.com

  1. 2960 Broadway, (at 116th St)
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Captured Tracks

Best local music label: Captured Tracks

Mike Sniper’s Brooklyn imprint has accomplished plenty in the short five years since its founding, from launching the careers of indie heroes Diiv, Wild Nothing and Mac DeMarco, to reissuing long-lost ’80s luminaries like the Cleaners from Venus and Nick Nicely. The indie operation prides itself on taking chances on acts without a major release, nonetheless resulting in an impeccably curated roster that’s earned its tastemaking rep. Captured Tracks moved to new digs this fall, and its Greenpoint shop feature booths with music selected by different artists. capturedtracks.com

  1. 195 Calyer St between Leonard St and Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Best way to see big-name comics gratis: Week at the Creek

Inspired by Colin Quinn’s workshopping of his one-man show Unconstitutional at the Creek and the Cave, the 75-capacity theater’s owner, Rebecca Trent, launched a series this year, offering performers 60 minutes a night (residencies often run six evenings, sometimes fewer) to do pretty much whatever they want. Since July, audiences have seen Chris Gethard, Christian Finnegan, Bonnie McFarlane, Ted Alexandro and more test new material, hone hour-long routines, record sets and experiment freely—no cover or two-drink minimum required to watch. creeklic.com

  1. The Creek and the Cave, 10-93 Jackson Ave, (at 49th Ave)
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Best all-ages haven: Death by Audio

New York City offers plenty of perks for die-hard music fans, but for those who grew up going to basement shows—staunchly DIY, all-ages events that were as much about the community as the bands—it sometimes feels as though an essential piece is missing. But Death by Audio has been fostering that sense of kinship since 2007 with cheap, sweaty shows that welcome the 18-and-under set at every single performance. Plus, the tiny club’s proprietors regularly assemble excellent lineups: In the past few months alone, acts as varied as indie-folk legend Ed Askew, alt-rock throwbacks Speedy Ortiz and Ty Segall’s side project Fuzz have all played there. entertainment4every1.net

  1. 49 South 2nd St, (between Kent and Wythe Aves)
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Best surprisingly cool big music venue: Barclays Center

Though its mere existence remains a point of contention for some Brooklynites, this year-old arena has already been a success. The staff is efficient and amiable, the acoustics are excellent, and there’s a top-notch view from nearly every one of the 19,000 seats. And since it opened, it has attracted an unexpectedly cool list of acts, with local luminaries like Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and, soon, MGMT gracing its stage. 917-618-6100, barclayscenter.com

  1. 620 Atlantic Ave, (at Flatbush Ave), 11217
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Erin Markey

Best offbeat diva who's about to blow up: Erin Markey

People tend to use words like fearless and terrifying to describe the Erin Markey experience, and not without good reason: Recently, she portrayed a version of Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper in a musical titled God Hates This Show. It’s true that this queer singer-actor-comedian-etc. is a brave and occasionally scary performer, but she can also be warm, charmingly self-deprecating and extremely funny. Really, though, no warning can do her justice. If you have a chance to see her perform, go. erinmarkey.com

Best return to the burly-Q scene: The Slipper Room

This Lower East Side club never really went away even though it was rebuilt from the ground up, which took a little more than two years. Now that the Slipper Room has reopened with a better sound system, new lighting and a mezzanine, among other swank touches, it has reclaimed its place as the city’s premier burlesque venue. Many of the shows that once called it home, including Mr. Choade’s Upstairs Downstairs (which began in 1999), have returned, and the setting is as intimate and fun as ever—but with upgrades that make the experience better than before. 212-253-7246, slipperroom.com

  1. 167 Orchard St, (at Stanton St)
More info
Mister Sunday

Best summer fling: Mister Sunday

This year, we finally said goodbye (sort of) to one of Brooklyn’s great parties: Mister Sunday, the weekly warm-weather blowout helmed by Mister Saturday Night’s Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin, has ended its run at Gowanus Grove. The no-frills lot on the banks of the Gowanus Canal closed in September, and will soon be turned into—of all things—luxury apartments. But the dancing isn’t over for good: Carter and Harkin are searching for a space for next summer, though no details have been confirmed yet. Whatever the pair cooks up, we’re sure it’ll have the same excellent tunes and laid-back vibe that made those Sunday-afternoon shindigs so great. mistersaturdaynight.com



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