101 things to do in New York: Your essential guide to Gotham

Discover what every local needs to tick off their NYC checklist in our roundup of the coolest and most quintessential things to do in New York.

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  • 101 best things to do in New York City

    51. Watch theater alfesco at Shakespeare in the Park

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    101 best things to do in New York City

    52. See a midnight movie

  • 101 best things to do in New York City

    53. Wander through Prospect Park

  • Photograph: Shahar Azran

    101 best things to do in New York City

    54. Head to the historic Apollo Theater

  • 101 best things to do in New York City

    55. Bask in the glory (and chaos) of Times Square

  • Photograph: Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

    101 best things to do in New York City

    56. Galleryhop in Chelsea

  • 101 best things to do in New York City

    57. Check out the New York Philharmonic

  • Photograph: Cinzia Reale-Castello

    101 best things to do in New York City

    58. Treat yourself to a New York bagel with lox

  • 101 best things to do in New York City

    59. Re-create a Woody Allen movie moment

  • Photograph: Dana Edelson

    101 best things to do in New York City

    60. Attend a live taping of SNL

101 best things to do in New York City

51. Watch theater alfesco at Shakespeare in the Park

51

Watch theater alfresco at Shakespeare in the Park

The Public Theater has staged this summer tradition for 50 years, and the productions seem to get better each time. Sure, it’s still a pain in the ass to get tickets—only a limited number are given out each day, lines are a mile long, and the online system leaves your odds to fate—but watching some of the country’s most acclaimed stage and screen actors (Al Pacino, Anne Hathaway, James Earl Jones, Meryl Streep) spout the Bard’s verses as night descends is well worth the hassle. publictheater.org

  1. Delacorte Theater, Central Park at 81st St
52
Nitehawk Cinema

See a midnight movie

Convene with a revved-up late-night crowd for screenings of classics and cult flicks at IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave at 3rd St; 212-924-7771, ifccenter.com; $13.50), Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema (143 E Houston St between First and Second Aves; 212-777-FILM, ext 687; landmarktheatres.com; $10) and the booze-serving (read: bound to be rowdier) Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Ave between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-3980, nitehawkcinema.com; $11).

53

Wander through Prospect Park

  • Critics choice
  • Free

If you’re craving a bit of wide-open space but don’t want to commit to a weekend getaway, grab a book and head to the Long Meadow in this oasis designed by Central Park cocreators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The park’s abundance of trails will make you feel like you’re hundreds of miles from New York—while still in the proximity of a decent bagel store. Keep your eyes peeled for the Celebrate Brooklyn! calendar, which includes tons of free concerts in the park’s Bandshell every summer.

  1. Prospect Park West to Flatbush Ave, (between Prospect Park Southwest and Ocean Ave)
More info
54

Head to the historic Apollo Theater

  • Price band: 4/4

The Harlem institution has been the site of more than a few big moments: Ella Fitzgerald’s first performance happened here in 1934; Live at the Apollo, recorded in 1962, practically launched James Brown into the mainstream; and a young Jimi Hendrix won an Amateur Night contest in 1964. Despite its storied history and grand decor, this living link to the Harlem Renaissance feels rather cozy inside. As of late, the theater has attracted top comedians (Aziz Ansari, Tracy Morgan, Jim Gaffigan) and huge rock stars (Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen), while still welcoming under-the-radar talent to its famed Amateur Night on Wednesdays ($20–$32).

  1. 253 W 125th St, (between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd (Seventh Ave) and Frederick Douglass Blvd (Eighth Ave))
Book online
55

Bask in the glory (and chaos) of Times Square

  • Free

Don’t let claustrophobia or good judgment deter you from enjoying the phantasmagoric experience of shoving your way through the crowds that flock to these neon-lit streets. Yes, the area is tourist-ridden and a blatant display of American consumerism, but the flashy ads and hum of traffic can also be mesmerizing. The best way to appreciate the ’hood is by carving out a place on the illuminated red steps above the TKTS booth, where you can sit back and gawk at the hordes without fighting a deep-seated urge to play Whack-A-Mole with whatever bag you’re carrying.

  1. Broadway, (between 42nd and 47th Sts)
More info
56
Gagosian Gallery 555 W. 24th St.

Galleryhop in Chelsea

Inside the ’hood’s converted industrial spaces, you’ll find art galleries hosting group shows by up-and-comers, blockbuster exhibitions from art-world celebrities and a slew of provocative work—all within walking distance of each other. Before planning your arty stroll, click through our favorite spots to see what they’re showing.

57
New York Philharmonic

Check out the New York Philharmonic

The oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S. is also one of the finest. Founded in 1842, the Phil performed its 15,000th concert in May 2010. Over the years, a host of great composers and conductors have stepped up to the podium, including Dvorak, Mahler, Stravinsky, Copland and most famously, Leonard Bernstein. Since its inception, the Phil has been dedicated to performing contemporary pieces as well as classics, and that tradition continues under the baton of current music director Alan Gilbert. You can see the ensemble during its regular season (September–June) at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and catch some lighter fare at its annual Summertime Classics series (dates and locations vary). nyphil.org, 212-875-5656

58

Treat yourself to a New York bagel with lox

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

Few truly legit appetizing shops still exist in NYC, but Russ & Daughters is one of them. You might be tempted to go for one of the offbeat combinations, such as the Super Heebster (whitefish and baked salmon salad, with horseradish dill cream cheese and wasabi flying-fish roe on a bagel; $10.95), but there’s something to be said for keeping it simple with a bagel and lox. Even then, you’ll have eleven different varieties to choose from ($5.75–$12.75), including pastrami-cured smoked salmon and gravlax ($7.75–$10.75).

  1. 179 E Houston St, (between Allen and Orchard Sts)
More info
59
New York movies: Manhattan (1979)

Re-create a Woody Allen movie moment

The Woodman’s cinematic love letters to NYC probably spurred more people to move here (us included) than…well, anything that comes to mind, really. Stroll through the South Street Seaport, past the same spot where Allen and Diane Keaton professed their love for each other in Annie Hall. Make your way to the Riverview Terrace at Sutton Square (E 58th St at the East River) for the view of the Queensboro Bridge that capped, in Manhattan, the same actors’ unofficial first date, which lasted till dawn.

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Remember when Fey and Poehler were on SNL together? Good times.

Attend a live taping of SNL

Getting up at the crack of dawn to snag a standby seat for this long-running sketch show is no laughing matter. Campers have been known to line up as early as Wednesday to boost their chances of securing one of the varying number of same-day live-show or dress-rehearsal passes. It’s a long shot, but an alternative exists for those not willing to pitch tents and brave the Saturday-morning 7am frenzy as tickets are released. Advance tickets for shows, between September and May, can be obtained through a once-a-year lottery; enter by e-mailing snltickets@nbcuni.com in August. 212-664-3700, nbc.com/tickets. Must be 16 or older to attend.

  1. 30 Rockefeller Plaza between 49th and 50th Sts
  2. Dress rehearsal 8pm; live show 11:30pm

Users say

3 comments
Cesar marin
Cesar marin

I love your 101 things to do in ny city, you are missing a couple of good ones like, Chelsea market, eataly at 23rd and 5th ave, go for a bike ride , run in the Hudson River park , Central Park , Kite fly ad the Hudson River park, Sunset under the Brooklyn bridge, cup cakes at magnolias bakery etc, etc.

kelly
kelly

This is great!! I've used loads, I also found a little gem called The Moth! They host weekly events around the city. If you go on their website. I'm new to the city and met lots of people there. Had a very fun night!!

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