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.

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Best arts & culture this year

  • Photograph: Emmanuel "Dj Boy" Abreu

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best pop-up made good: Word Up

  • Photograph: Naomi Lore

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best literary series: Franklin Park Reading Series

  • Photograph: Pavel Antonov

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best downtown theater institution: Soho Rep

  • Photograph: Courtesy BAMcinémat

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best film series: BAMcinématek

  • Photograph: Jenny Evans

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best place to see a movie, big screen: AMC Loews Lincoln Square IMAX

  • Photograph: Courtesy Landmark Theaters

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best place to see a movie, small screen: Landmark's Sunshine Cinema

  • Photograph: Sue Kessler

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best Off-Off Broadway venue: Bushwick Starr

  • Photograph: Jenny Evans

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best throwback filmgoing experience: Bow Tie Cinemas Ziegfeld

  • Photograph: Carolyn Contino/BEImages

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best director you should already know: Alex Timbers

  • Photograph: Brian Rogers

    Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

    Best outer-borough dance venue: The Chocolate Factory

Photograph: Emmanuel "Dj Boy" Abreu

Best of 2013: Time Out New York critics' picks

Best pop-up made good: Word Up

Best pop-up made good: Word Up

For proof that a volunteer-run neighborhood bookstore can succeed against the odds, look no further than Word Up. Conceived in 2011 as a temporary shop in a disused Washington Heights storefront, the indie bookseller proved so popular that its monthlong lease was extended to a little less than a year. Afterward, the organization carried on its mission—to reflect its diverse community and bring a bookshop to an underserved area—even without a space. Fortunately for uptown bibliophiles, Word Up found a permanent roost this past summer, thanks to an Indiegogo campaign that raised $60,000 (novelist Junot Díaz appeared in a promo video for it). The retailer offers a multilingual selection and hosts regular readings, concerts and arts events. 347-688-4456, wordupbooks.com

  1. 2113 Amsterdam Ave, (between 164th and 165th Sts)
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Best literary series: Franklin Park Reading Series

What’s better than seeing top-notch authors read their work for free? Seeing top-notch authors while you down $4 pints. Writers from the realms of fiction, memoir, poetry and storytelling have all been on this event’s roster, and the list of past appearances reads like a bookworm’s dream dinner party: Jennifer Egan, Colson Whitehead, Mary Gaitskill and Sam Lipsyte have all stepped up to the mike. facebook.com/franklinparkreadingseries. Second Monday of the month 8pm; free.

  1. Franklin Park, 618 St. Johns Pl, (between Classon and Franklin Aves)
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Best downtown theater institution: Soho Rep

This intimate, modular space has a reputation for tackling difficult, weird, dark new plays. Since its founding in 1975, it has served up jaw-dropping premieres by Richard Maxwell, Sarah Kane and Mac Wellman. (Now through Nov 24, it’s presenting David Adjmi’s surreal gloss on power and privilege, Marie Antoinette.) And though prices have risen since its inception (and its subsequent move to an Off Broadway contract in 2007), the venue still offers 99¢ tickets on occasional Sundays—an astonishingly good deal anywhere, but particularly for shows of this caliber. 212-941-8632, sohorep.org

  1. 46 Walker St, (between Broadway and Church St)
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Best film series: BAMcinématek

Smart, vital and downright punchy, Brooklyn’s preeminent art house has a freewheeling range that perfectly suits Kings County’s brazen eclecticism. From retros of urban icons like John Cassavetes and Richard Pryor, and a groundbreaking presentation of civil rights movies, to a nose-thumbing survey of films “Booed at Cannes,” programmers Nellie Killian and David Reilly have built a tent big, broad and odd enough to house hard-core cinephiles, weekend thrill-seekers and even (don’t judge) discerning Manhattanites. 718-636-4100, bam.org

  1. 30 Lafayette Ave, (between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St), 11217
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Best place to see a movie, big screen: AMC Loews Lincoln Square IMAX

Though it opened in 1994, now is the moment this cinematic giant has been waiting for. No longer just a novelty for hosting nature documentaries, the 600-seat theater with a 100-foot screen—tucked inside a generic Upper West Side multiplex to induce maximum disorientation—is nonpareil for enjoying visually astonishing blockbusters. Alfonso Cuarón’s stunning Gravity, for example, has been selling out around the clock—it’s a perfect union of immersive, experiential spectacle and a screen vast enough to send you into orbit. 212-336-5020

  1. 1998 Broadway, 10023
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Best place to see a movie, small screen: Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema

Constructed from the husk of a Yiddish vaudeville venue, this once-upstart art house is now a downtown institution showing topflight independent films. A few of its five uniformly good theaters feature steeply sloped, sight-line-enhancing seats and nearly floor-to-ceiling screens that hint at the old stage prosceniums. The popcorn’s good, but even better are the knishes next door at Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery, in operation for 103 years and a living bridge to the Sunshine’s cultural forebears. landmarktheatres.com

  1. 143 E Houston St, (between First and Second Aves), 10002
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Best Off-Off Broadway venue: Bushwick Starr

As small companies continue to be priced out of Manhattan, everyone’s looking to Brooklyn to pick up the slack. This funky black box, a neighborhood fixture long before East Williamsburg became entrenched in every Realtor’s lexicon, ought to be your first stop. Some of the fiercest experimental troupes—the Debate Society, Half Straddle and others—have made the Starr shine brightly. Catch the TEAM’s mind-bending mash-up RoosevElvis through Sun 3. thebushwickstarr.org

  1. 207 Starr St, (between Irving and Wyckoff Aves)
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Best throwback filmgoing experience: Bow Tie Cinemas Ziegfeld

They literally don’t make them like this anymore. Despite its Jazz Age moniker, this movie palace opened in 1969; since then, its red carpets and gilded staircases have served as a last stand against stadium-seated sameness, a hand-on-heart paean to sheer class. Temporarily endangered but saved by Bow Tie Cinemas, the largest single-screen theater in the city seats 1,162 citizens under a vast ceiling of chandeliers, harking back to when going to motion pictures wasn’t just idle entertainment, but an aspiration. 212-307-1862, bowtiecinemas.com

  1. 141 W 54th St, (between Sixth and Seventh Aves)
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Best director you should already know: Alex Timbers

In just a few years, Timbers has established himself as the go-to mastermind of a breathtaking range of musicals. He can do an emo-rock mock-presidential show (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and a festive Bard adaptation (Love’s Labour’s Lost at Shakespeare in the Park), and he can stage a 360-degree disco rave about Imelda Marcos (Here Lies Love). But can he make Rocky Balboa sing? Find out next year, when the Sylvester Stallone–produced Rocky opens on Broadway with Timbers at the helm. 212-239-6200, rockybroadway.com. Previews start Feb 11, opens Mar 13.

  1. Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway, (between 50th and 51st Sts)
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Best outer-borough dance venue: The Chocolate Factory

For nearly a decade, this Queens space has bolstered artists by offering them room to work on experimental and new pieces. When he’s not presenting his own works—most recently, 2012’s Hot Box—artistic director Brian Rogers curates each season, giving choreographers like Beth Gill, Ursula Eagly and Tatyana Tenenbaum (who’s in residence through Sat 2) technical assistance and even funding (!) to get their projects going. chocolatefactorytheater.org

  1. 5-49 49th Ave, (between Vernon Blvd and 5th St, Long Island City, Queens), 11101
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