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

Here they are: 101 classic, fun and decidedly New Yorky activities, carefully compiled with both seasoned Gothamites and first-time visitors in mind. We scoured the city to find the sightseeing staples, tried-and-true New York eats, big New York museums and best parks in NYC that everyone should hit up at least once—and threw in a few buzzyworthy on-the-fringe things to do in New York for good measure, too. Enjoy!

Get a panoramic view of the city atop the Empire State Building

We know. It’s touristy. Really touristy. But trust us, the sights atop this essential pice of NYC’s skyline are something every Gothamite should witness. During your visit, pay special attention to the lobby, restored in 2009 to its original Art Deco design. High-speed elevators shoot visitors up 1,050 feet to the 86th-floor observatory, where you can either peer out at the city from the comfort of a glass-enclosed pavilion or brave the elements on the open-air decks. A ticket to the 102nd Floor Observatory is an additional $17. And daily from 8am 10pm, the New York Skyride takes visitors on a motion-picture tour over, through and below the city streets ($29; seniors, students and children 6–12 $19).

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Midtown West

Explore Central Park

Critics' pick

In a city where open space comes at a premium, anything that encompasses hundred of acres of greenery has to be good, right? In the spring, fall and summer, you can settle in for a day of people-watching at Sheep Meadow, or rent a bike and pedal to oft-photographed attractions, such as Strawberry Fields or Turtle Pond. There’s also a full roster of concerts, films and roving theater to enjoy in the warm weather. Or at the first sign of snow, grab the nearest slippery object and go sledding down Pilgrim Hill.

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Central Park Free

Lose yourself at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Critics' pick

Some museums you can happily spend a day in—the Met could easily keep you busy for more than a week. Despite its scale, it’s still surprisingly easy to navigate, with artifacts from ancient civilizations; art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas; works from this country in the New American Wing; and paintings by the Old Masters. In addition to the permanent exhibits, there are special blockbuster shows, with the Met’s Costume Institute recently stepping into the limelight: 2011’s “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” was immensely popular, and the Met hopes to reprise that buzz with “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” on view during summer 2013. And speaking of the warmer months, be sure to check out the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. It boasts an alfresco bar, stunning views of Central Park and annual seasonal exhibits.

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Upper East Side

…or the Guggenheim

Critics' pick

Frank Lloyd Wright’s concrete edifice became home to the eponymous philanthropist’s collection in 1959; today, the iconic spiral is considered as much a work of art as the paintings it houses. In addition to pieces by masters such as Manet, Picasso and Chagall, the institution contains the most Kandinskys in the U.S., as well as one of the largest collections of Mapplethorpes in the world. Grab a midart bite at the Wright, the Gugg’s James Beard–winning on-site restaurant.

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Upper East Side

…or MoMA

Critics' pick

Sure, you could spend a day in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent exhibits, which showcase all manner of priceless pieces from renowned artists. But just as essential are this museum’s other elements, including an attached cinema that combines art-house fare and more accessible offerings; a sculpture garden with works by Picasso and Rodin; and the Modern, a high-end restaurant and bar run by Danny Meyer. Free Fridays, an alluring prospect considering the sizable entry fee ($25 for adults), are best left to the tourists and penny-scraping students; visit the museum when you have plenty of time to wander.

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Chow down on an old New York classic—Katz’s pastrami sandwich

Critics' pick

At $17.37 with tax, the pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Delicatessen might not be the cheapest meal you can find, but we’d be impressed if one serving is all you get out of this monstrous sammie. Hand-carved and bookended with rye bread, the tender smoked meat is piled high and served with just a slick of mustard. It’s simple, satisfying and worth every calorie-laden bite.

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Lower East Side

...then compare it with the nouveau classic at Mile End Deli or Mile End Sandwich

If you’re already an expert on Katz’s pastrami, head to one of Mile End’s two locations for a new spin on the Jewish dish. Husband-and-wife team Noah and Rae Bernamoff craft their cultish, Montreal-inspired smoked-meat sandwich ($14) with hand-carved slices of brisket and Orwashers rye bread. The portions here are slightly more manageable, which means you can also nibble on other Quebec fare like the restaurant’s poutine ($8–$12), a craveworthy combination of French fries, gravy and cheese curds. Mile End Deli, 97A Hoyt St between Atlantic Ave and Pacific St, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-852-7510) • Mile End Sandwich, 53 Bond St between Bowery and Lafayette St (212-529-2990) • mileenddeli.com

Pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial

Years of planning went into this monument, which opened to the victims’ families (and to the public a day later) on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Called “Reflecting Absence,” the design by architect Michael Arad and landscapers Peter Walker Partners features two reflecting pools that sit within the footprints of the Twin Towers. Free.

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Laugh at comics

Where comedy is concerned, New York is still very much a stand-up town. Check out one of the classic venues like the Comedy Cellar, the cramped subterranean space where big names such as Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari drop in for a set, and Carolines on Broadway, which books an onslaught of nationally touring comics. For up-and-comers, duck into one of the latest and greatest clubs to crop up in town.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

No mere river crossing, this span is an elegant reminder of New York’s history of architectural innovation. When it opened in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was a stunning feat of engineering: It was the first structure to cross the East River and, at the time, the longest suspension bridge in the world. (It also made use of steel-wire cables, invented by the bridge’s original designer, John A. Roebling.) Now it attracts thousands of tourists and locals, who enjoy spectacular views of lower Manhattan and other city landmarks (such as the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island) as they stroll its more-than-a-mile-long expanse. Heads up, though: You may run into the occasional cyclist trying to navigate through the crowds on the pedestrian walkway.

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Dumbo

...and nab cheap matinee tickets on weekends

This classic weekend-afternoon activity allows plenty of time to explore the Theater District. Even better: Rush tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway shows are available for as little as $20 apiece. Go to the theater’s box office on the day of the performance to check. Same-day discount tickets are also available at the TKTS Booth in Duffy Square (W 47th St and Broadway). At the TKTS Booth in Downtown Brooklyn (One MetroTech Center, at the corner of Jay St and Myrtle Ave), you can nab tickets for matinee shows on the day before the performance. More centrally, TDF has added a “Play Only” window at the Duffy Square booth under the red steps. All booths accept credit cards. Find discounted tickets courtesy of TONY here. For hours and details, visit tdf.org/tkts.

Feast on the city’s finest pies

New York’s pizza wars are legendary, with every chest-thumping Gothamite jockeying for the last word. The mystical combination of dough, sauce and cheese is as much a part of the culinary identity of NYC as hot dogs and soft pretzels. To make things easier for ya, we’ve combed the city’s grimiest slice joints and upmarket Neapolitan pizzerias to bring you this list of the very best pizza in town.

Stroll up and down the High Line

Critics' pick

There’s something uniquely New York about this aerie. Built on an abandoned railway track, the space is ingenious in its use of reclaimed industrial detritus, a necessity in footage-starved Manhattan. But what we like best is how the pathway takes you above the city while keeping you rooted in urban life: Where else can you walk through a field of wildflowers or sprawl on a lush lawn as cabs zoom along the street beneath you? The third and final section, the High Line at the Rail Yards, is scheduled to debut in 2014, completing one of the city’s most popular sites (with more than 4.4 million visitors in 2012).

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Meatpacking District Free

Hit the beach

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, tow along your blankets, booze (discreetly, of course) and suntan lotion to one of NYC’s waterfront respites, including Brighton Beach and Coney Island in Brooklyn to Orchard Beach up in the Bronx. For a complete list of open-to-the-public sandy spots, consult our roundup. And for beautiful oceanside swimming areas within an hour of the city, check out these off-the-beaten-path beaches.

See a burlesque show

Getting a taste of NYC’s thriving burly-Q scene needn’t cost a lot—or any—dough. Check out freebies like Room 69: The Hotel Chantele Way, starring the lovely “Asian sexsation” Calamity Chang each Friday, or the Wednesday-night shindig Shaken & Stirred, which boasts go-go dancers and pumping tunes courtesy of DJ Jess, and free shots. For more of our favorite burlesque bashes, consult our roundup.

Drink a Manhattan

Wall Street suits still finish their days with this strapping potion, just as J.P. Morgan did after trading closed every day (according to David Wondrich in his book Esquire Drinks). Though the Manhattan’s origins are debatable—one story points to the Manhattan Club, while another pegs a Broadway saloon keeper as its creator—most historians agree that it was the first drink to combine spirits with the newly popular vermouth, sometime in the late 1800s. The original recipe called for equal parts rye, whiskey and vermouth, with a dash of orange bitters, which later gave way to a two-to-one ratio plus a maraschino cherry. Find a fine version made with Rittenhouse rye, Cinzano sweet vermouth, two dashes of Angostura bitters and a single Luxardo maraschino cherry at the Flatiron Lounge. $13.

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Gramercy & Flatiron

Stroll through Washington Square Park

Critics' pick

The beatniks, folkies and hippies who famously flock to this public space are still there, though sporting slightly different facial hair than their boundary-breaking predecessors. During warmer months, the park is one of the best people-watching spots in the city, as musicians and street artists perform in the shadow of the towering 1895 Washington Arch, a modest replica of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe designed by Stanford White (whose fingerprints are found on more than a few NYC landmarks). Since 2007, the park has been undergoing a controversial, multimillion-dollar renovation—currently in its third phase—which has yielded more benches, paths, lawn space and vegetation.

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Greenwich Village Free

Shop for indie wares at Brooklyn Flea

This Kings County bazaar hosts hundreds of vendors selling antiques, vintage clothes, records, art, jewelry and more. On Saturdays, the Flea hunkers down in its original location, outside of Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School (between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene; 10am–5pm; Apr–Nov); on Sundays, it sets up shop along the Williamsburg Waterfront (110 Kent Ave at North 8th St, Williamsburg; 10am–5pm; Apr–Nov). In the cold season, the Flea escapes indoors to One Hanson Place (1 Hanson Pl at Ashland Pl, Fort Greene; Sat, Sun 10am–5pm; Dec–Mar). If you feel peckish while you’re shopping, look out for vendors like Blue Marble and Whimsy & Spice. brooklynflea.com; free.

…or eat your way through Smorgasburg

Piggybacking on the runaway success of the Brooklyn Flea, founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler unveiled this food-only market—a glutton’s paradise packed with up to 100 vendors. Along with Greenmarket stalls and flea stalwarts like Porchetta, the gastro-bazaar features a flurry of side projects from restaurant-world vets. On Saturdays, visit the original hub on the Williamsburg waterfront (27 North 6th St between Kent Ave and the East River; Sat, Sun 11am–6pm, Apr–Nov); on Sundays, check out its more recent outpost at the Tobacco Warehouse in Dumbo, under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge (26 New Dock St at Water St; Sun 11am–6pm, Apr–Nov). In the winter, you can find some Smorgasburg vendors in the Winter Flea in Fort Greene (One Hanson Place, 1 Hanson Pl at Ashland Pl; Sat, Sun 10am–6pm through December, 10am–5pm Jan–Mar). brooklynflea.com; free.

Explore Little Italy

The 2010 census didn’t find a single Italian-born resident on or around Mulberry Street, but pasta-and-Parmesan purveyors still line the narrow lanes of Little Italy, and the restored Most Precious Blood Parish (109 Mulberry St between Canal and Hester Sts, 212-226-6427) holds fast. Old-world flavors abound at joints like the 121-year-old Ferrara Bakery and Café (195 Grand St between Mott and Mulberry Sts; 212-226-6150, ferraracafe.com), and every September, the deep-fried–zeppole carts mark the start of the Feast of San Gennaro. But modern joints are moving in too: Hidden under a souvenir shop, the speakeasy Mulberry Project (149 Mulberry St between Grand and Hester Sts; 646-448-4536, mulberryproject.com), which opened in 2011, mixes bespoke cocktails in a den dark enough for a mafia don.

Get sloshed at a dive bar in the East Village (while you still can)

Critics' pick

It’s crazy to think that finding a good dive bar in the East Village, a ’hood once packed with ’em, has become something of a chore. (It certainly doesn’t help that mainstays like Mars Bar, Holiday Cocktail Lounge and Lakeside Lounge have bit the dust in recent years.) But they’re still out there! We’re big fans of International Bar, a punk-rock tavern that was resurrected in 2008 after shuttering in 2005. Jostle for a can of Genesee and a shot of Evan Williams (both for $4), then pop a buck into an eclectic jukebox, with tunes from the likes of Black Flag and Lou Reed, for a dose of old-school East Village cool.

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East Village

Venuehop in Williamsburg

Three of the city’s coolest, best-booked indie-rock spaces—Death by Audio (49 South 2nd St between Kent and Wythe Aves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn), Glasslands (289 Kent Ave between South 1st and 2nd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-599-1450, glasslands.blogspot.com) and 285 Kent (285 Kent Ave at South 1st St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn)—are all within a block of each other. So catching a few buzzy bands in one evening (especially when you don’t have to work in the morning) just got a whole lot easier. In 2012, these venues hosted big rock names like King Tuff, Ty Segall, the Men and Cloud Nothings—and rising groups are on their stages often.

Refresh your wardrobe in Soho

The streets south of Houston may be brimming with shoppers, and there’s a good reason: Within this neighborhood, you can spend a whole day storehopping among the upscale boutiques of Chanel (139 Spring St at Wooster St; 212-334-0055, chanel.com) and Derek Lam (10 Crosby St between Grand and Howard Sts; 212-929-1338, dereklam.com), plus more-wallet-friendly retailers, such as Uniqlo (546 Broadway between Prince and  Spring Sts; 917-237-8800, uniqlo.com) and Topshop (478 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-966-9555, topshop.com). When you need a break, grab a bite at one of the area’s restaurants. In particular, we like Andrew Carmellini’s the Dutch (131 Sullivan St at Prince St; 212-677-6200, thedutchnyc.com) and Miss Lily’s (132 W Houston St between MacDougal and Sullivan Sts; 646-588-5375, misslilysnyc.com).

Take the aerial tram to Roosevelt Island

This mostly residential isle (technically part of Manhattan) is full of quirks; for example, the preferred method of getting there involves a four-minute trip on the city’s only commuter tram. There’s plenty to draw in visitors, notably the fancy new Four Freedoms Park (named for the principles outlined in Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address), which opened in October. A Gothic lighthouse stands at the island’s northern tip, and the creepy ruins of the Smallpox Hospital (which operated from the mid–19th century until the 1950s) at the southern end are a part of Southpoint Park. Tram: 59th St at Second Ave (rioc.com)

Admire graffiti at 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center

Critics' pick

This Long Island City warehouse, treated as a 200,000-square-foot canvas, is one of the world’s best places to see the full spectrum of spray-paint art. Ride a Queens-bound 7 train past the Hunters Point Ave stop for an elevated, panoramic view of the names of NYC’s graffiti forebears—like Iz the Wiz—scrawled on 5Pointz’s walls. New pieces appear regularly during the painting season, with concrete surfaces assigned by founder and curator Meres One. Go while you can: The property owner is securing permission to replace the warehouse with condos. Take advantage of the weekly behind-the-scenes tours (alternate Saturdays and Sundays 2–3:30pm; $35; visit sidetour.com for details), led by Meres One, to watch a painting demonstration.

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Long Island City Free

Take a dip

Cannonball! (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) The 60-plus public swimming holes scattered around the five boroughs open in late June, including McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg, which was unveiled in the summer of 2012, and great standbys Astoria Pool and Red Hook Pool. For more of our favorite free places to make a splash come summertime, scroll through our roundup. And if you’re willing to drop some dough, consider these swanky rooftop and hotel pools.

Gawk at dinos at American Museum of Natural History

Critics' pick

No matter which wing you wander through or where your curiosities lie (dinosaurs, gems or something else entirely), it’s hard to explore this Upper West Side fixture without being awestruck. You’ll immediately spot the rotunda’s hulking Barosaurus skeleton replica, but delving further into the museum’s collection, you’ll find actual specimens, such as Deinonychus, in the fourth-floor fossil halls. When you tire of dinos, head to the human origins and culture halls to learn more about our evolutionary history, or gawk at the famed 94-foot-long blue-whale model in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Suggested donation $25, seniors and students $19, children 2–12 $14.50, children under 2 free.

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Upper West Side

See jazz at the Village Vanguard

Critics' pick

After nearly 78 years, this basement club’s stage still hosts the crème de la crème of mainstream jazz talent. Plenty of history has been made here: John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Bill Evans grooved in this hallowed hall. Don’t miss the 16-piece Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which has held its weekly Monday-night slot since the mid-’60s (9pm, doors 8pm; $25 plus one-drink minimum).

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West Village

...or at the Stone

No bar? No advance tickets? No promoters? No phone number? No specific address? This is still a Manhattan music venue, right? John Zorn’s small East Village space is so no-frills that it’s, by necessity, only about the music—hobnobbing, partying and tweeting that the bands are, in fact, “killing it” are not in the cards here. Envelope-pushing acts (think free jazz, experimental classical music, droney guitar work), however, are. $10 unless otherwise noted.

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East Village

See jazz at Rue B (for free!)

Critics' pick

Evenings at one of NYC’s retro-style jazz haunts typically come with hefty price tags. Not at Rue B. The tiny Alphabet City lounge has tons of old-school charm and—best of all—no cover charge. Show up early to nab half-price signature cocktails (normally $12) between 4 and 8pm. Jams kick off nightly at 9pm around the Steinway, where noted pianists like Herbie Hancock and Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen have dropped in for impromptu sets.

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East Village

Get down at the top mixed-LGBT party in town

Critics' pick

Le Tigre member and MEN leader JD Samson’s weekly tea dance, Scissor Sundays—launched in the heat of Pride Month 2012—has been drawing people from all parts of the gender and sexuality spectra ever since. Thrillingly, pan-queer parties are plentiful these days—other great choices include Hot Rabbit, Hey Queen! and Rebel Cupcake[link to all]—but the mostly mellow atmosphere, great guest DJs, delicious tiki drinks and gorgeous sunset views keep us commuting to the way West Side. Free.

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West Village

Spend an afternoon at the Bronx Zoo

Tweeting cobras and peahens aside, this wildlife park garners fans far and wide for a number of reasons—approximately 5,000 animals call it home. Strolling through the 265 acres, visitors  spot such exotic and endangered creatures as the Coquerel’s sifaka (a type of lemur), the fossa (a predatory, tree-climbing mammal) and snow leopards. More common favorites, including gorillas and polar bears, also reside at the nature park. Keep an eye out for the daily penguin and sea lion feedings, plus other rotating activities.

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Bronx

Attend a reading

News flash: NYC is a literary epicenter, continuously drawing famous authors (both homebred and from around the globe) to read passages from their latest works at any number of our favorite bookstores. For some different, often quirkier reading environments (bars, cultural institutions) that regularly draw big names, check out our roundup of NYC’s best reading series.

Ride the Coney Island Cyclone

Nothing offers a thrilling jolt of Brooklyn nostalgia quite like a ride on the Cyclone. The roller coaster dates to 1927, when Coney Island was a booming seaside resort, but it shuttered for six years starting in 1969, marking one of many troubled economic periods for the ’hood. Thankfully, in 1975, the Astroland theme park took control over the wooden coaster and saved it from demolition. It was declared a city landmark in 1988 and a National Historic Landmark in 1991, and it’s now part of Coney’s new Luna Park theme park.

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Coney Island

Get classy at Lincoln Center

Remind your mate of just how darn cultured you are (but please—abstain from uttering the phrase darn cultured) by going to Lincoln Center. Get dolled up for performances at either the Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center Plaza at 65th St; 212-362-6000, metoperafamily.org; $20–$440) or the New York City Ballet (David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 63rd St; 212-721-6500, lincolncenter.org; $29–$155). The dance troupes, singers and stagings are consistently top-notch—and the venues’ intoxicatingly grand settings alone are worth the admission.

Eat your way through Chinatown

Between Kenmare and Worth Streets, Mott Street is lined with restaurants representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong; the Bowery, East Broadway and Division Street are just as diverse. The choice is overwhelming, but our guide to the ’hood’s best eats will help you narrow it down, whether you crave fiery Szechuan cuisine or Peking duck.

Take a free trip on the Staten Island Ferry

Critics' pick

The price of a harbor crossing between Staten Island and lower Manhattan may be the only activity in New York City that’s cheaper today than it was in 1817. Back then, it was 25¢; today, it’s free. This 24-hour ferry (one of our top 50 New York attractions) is a lifeline for commuters making their way from NYC’s southernmost borough, but it’s also a boat trip that affords some of the finest views in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for Governors Island to the east and Ellis Island and Lady Liberty to the west as the Manhattan skyline recedes in the vessel’s wake. See website for schedule; free.

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Battery Park Free

Design your own food crawl through Flushing, Queens

Sample various types of regional Chinese cuisine by hitting up multiple food stalls and small restaurants within a few blocks of each other. Some of our favorites are Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (38-12 Prince St at 38th Ave, 718-321-3838), for its superlative Shanghai soup dumplings (six for $7), and Corner 28 (40-28 Main St at 40th Rd, 718-886-6628), where you can nibble on shellacked Peking duck hacked into moist, skin-on morsels, then shoved into plump buns and finished with scallions and hoisin for $1. If you’re in the mood for stellar Cantonese edibles, hit up Jade Asian (136-28 39th Ave at 138th St, 718-762-8821), which dispenses superfresh dim sum and, come dinner, massive portions of roasted duck (a half for $12.55) and shell-on, salt-baked prawns spiked with chili sauce ($18.95). Regardless of your savory stops, end your jaunt at Ice Fire Land (135-11 40th Rd between Main and Prince Sts, 718-886-8600). While this futuristic Taiwanese-Japanese parlor traffics in serviceable shabu-shabu, its trump card is dessert: a mountain of shaved ice ($3.95) sweetened with four toppings, such as condensed milk and taro spheres.

Shake it at the Soul Clap and Dance-Off

If all-night house, techno or bass music sessions aren’t your thing, try DJ and nightlife impresario Jonathan Toubin’s monthly affair for a decidedly nonelectronic mix of rare 45s that range from rip-roaring rock to soul movers and groovers. The shindig also includes a late-night dance contest at 1am—as good a reason as any to join the drunken shimmy-shake antics. newyorknighttrain.com/soulclap. $6.

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Williamsburg

Smell the roses at Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

Critics' pick

The skinfest in the Sheep Meadow isn’t the only thing worth eyeballing in Central Park come spring. The Conservatory Garden is a flowering paradise, with some varietals like the Lenten rose blooming as early as mid-March. For an extensive tour, download the Central Park Conservancy’s Bloom Guide from its website and rent a bike from Bike & Roll.

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Central Park Free

Elbow your way through a sample sale

New Yorkers can turn almost anything into a competition, especially when there’s a bargain to be had. Find designer duds on the cheap at the city’s myriad sample sales. Many brands hold their own events and advertise them on their websites, while others rely on generalist companies like Clothingline (clothingline.com) and 260 Sample Sale (260samplesale.com), both of which have mailing lists to keep you abreast of their calendars. The best sales organize garments by gender, type (pants, dresses, jackets, etc.) and size, but be prepared to dig through boxes and fight for truly righteous deals.

Show off your smarts at a trivia night

Remember what we said before about New Yorkers loving a good competition? The dozens of quiz events at venues around the city draw legions of smarties looking to demonstrate their prowess on myriad topics. Several bars like   Dempsey’s Pub dedicate a specific evening each week and offer tabs or free rounds as prizes. There are also a few companies, such as TrivWorks and Time Out copy chief (a.k.a. almighty knower of all things) Noah Tarnow’s Big Quiz Thing, that host events on a regular basis.

Get high on a rooftop bar

Take advantage of New York’s enviable views by getting an aboveground buzz. Among Manhattan’s wealth of hotel toppers, we recommend Upstairs, on the 31st floor of the Kimberly, which has a retractable glass roof. The urbane setting, with ivy-covered walls and nary a cabana in sight, is best experienced at night, when the canopy of lightbulbs strung above the terrace sets off the sight of the Chrysler Building. For more great vistas, check out our guide to rooftop bars in New York.

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Midtown East

Sip an egg cream

Critics' pick

There are certain old-timey treats that we’ll never get sick of, and this is one of ’em. Many places throughout the boroughs claim to make the city’s best version, but we’re partial to the ones at Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. Both the traditional chocolate (yes, it’s made with U-Bet syrup) or the vanilla will run you a meager $2.50, and the fancier flavors (maple, coffee and butter beer) only cost only a dollar or two more.

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Carroll Gardens

Hit the Union Square Greenmarket

At this outdoor produce mart, you’ll find yourself shopping elbow to elbow with top chefs, perusing regionally grown culinary pleasures from more than 140 different producers each week. You’ll want to keep coming back until you’ve sampled them all.

Spend an afternoon relaxing on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

It’s easy to forget that you’re standing atop the hectic Brooklyn-Queens Expressway while strolling along this esplanade, which opened in 1950. But the thoroughfare is inextricably linked to the Promenade’s existence: Community opposition to the BQE—originally intended to cut through Brooklyn Heights—led city planner Robert Moses to reroute the highway along the waterfront. He also proposed building a park atop the road to block noise. Stroll, run or make out along its third-of-a-mile length, pausing to appreciate postcard-ready views of lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty; then check out some of the 19th-century row houses down Brooklyn Heights’ tree-lined side streets, or head down to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

...or in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Pier 1, BBP’s largest pier (9.5 acres) and most happening stretch, boasts two lawns, one waterfront promenade and multiple tree-lined walkways, creating a green retreat right along the East River. For an elevated view across the water, climb the Granite Prospect, a set of stairs fashioned out of more than 300 pieces of granite salvaged from the scrapped Roosevelt Island Bridge project. brooklynbridgepark.org

Shop (and snack) at the Hester Street Fair

This pretty, tree-lined Lower East Side market packs in shoppers every weekend with a killer combination of stylish vintage wares—retro jewelry, antique decor, old-fashioned hats—and one of the best collections of food vendors in Manhattan. Delicious stalls have included Williamsburg darling Pies ’n’ Thighs, artisanal ice-cream parlor Ample Hills Creamery and boozy cupcakery Prohibition Bakery. hesterstreetfair.com

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

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Wander through Prospect Park

Critics' pick

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.

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Prospect Park Free

Head to the historic Apollo Theater

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).

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Harlem

Bask in the glory (and chaos) of Times Square

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.

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Midtown West Free

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.

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

Treat yourself to a New York bagel with lox

Critics' pick

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).

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Lower East Side

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.

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.

Attend a live taping of Late Show with David Letterman

The veteran host began cracking up studio audiences in 1982, and folks have been chasing down the show’s notoriously hard-to-get tickets ever since. You can try your luck filling out a request form online from three months out till the day of the show, or request same-week and—on weekdays—same-day tickets in person at the studio (Mon–Thu 9:30am–noon; Sat, Sun 10am–6pm). Desperados can call the standby phone line at 11am on the day of a taping; they’ll be assigned a number and studio arrival time, but will be admitted only if any seats remain after regular ticket holders have entered. 212-247-6497, lateshowaudience.com. Must be 18 or older.

…or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Stewart’s absurdist, satire-soaked news-humor has helped make this show Comedy Central’s longest-running program. Check the site often for periodic ticket releases, but be aware that tapings are always overbooked, so admission is not guaranteed. Confirmed seats are allotted to ticket holders on a first-come, first-served basis from 2:30pm on the day of taping; given the popularity of the show, we’d advise turning up very early. thedailyshow.com/tickets. Must be 18 or older.

Commune with other bibliophiles at an indie bookstore

Pick up a new book to read (a real one!) on your commute at one of the city’s many literary emporiums. The Strand (828 Broadway at 12th St; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com) is a favorite for its endless array of discount tomes—okay, 18 miles worth, but at that point, who’s counting?—while we’re fans of WORD (126 Franklin St at Milton St, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718-383-0096, wordbrooklyn.com) for its homey feel and diverse events calendar.

Burn up the dance floor at Cielo

Critics' pick

Don’t hold the fact that it’s in the B&T-heavy Meatpacking District against it—Cielo’s a perennial go-to for those with a passion for top-shelf dance music, and has been for ten years. The ingredients are simple: a gorgeous, welcoming interior with mirror balls strung overhead; a beautifully warm yet crystal-clear Funktion-One sound system; and a housecentric (but far-ranging) DJ lineup. Swing by to check out François K’s weekly Monday-night Deep Space shindig, Louie Vega and Kevin Hedge’s Roots bash on Wednesdays, and the semiregular Dance.Here.Now party.

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Meatpacking District

Nosh on a knish

A Lower East Side staple since 1910, Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery still churns out some of the city’s tastiest versions of this dense Jewish pastry. If the classic potato doesn’t tempt you, go for one of Schimmel’s variations, which include spinach, kasha, vegetable and mushroom. 212-477-2858, knishery.com

Escape urban life on Governors Island

Critics' pick

Since reopening to the public in 2005, this former military base has provided safe harbor on summer weekends for city-weary New Yorkers. Hop a free ferry from the Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan or from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and alight for leisurely strolls or bike rides, art installations and minigolf courtesy of nonprofit Figment, plus concerts and parties at the sandy bar Beach on Governors Island, food tastings and the annual Jazz Age Lawn Party series. At some point during the 2013 season, the completion of the first phase of a redevelopment will open large swathes of the island to visitors, including a Hammock Grove, playfields and a newly landscaped south side.

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Governors Island Free

Cheer on the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center

Critics' pick

Brooook-lyyyn. Brooook-lyyyn. That’s the elongated chant you’ll hear in the Barclays Center when the borough’s only major-league sports team goes on a run. And there have been plenty of opportunities to hear it this year, with the Nets—led by the all-star-caliber trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez—doing respectably well in the 2012–13 season. Follow the Nets on Twitter and Facebook for last-minute promo codes to snag $15 tickets. brooklynnets.com

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Prospect Heights

…or the Knicks at MSG

You may have visited the storied Madison Square Garden to see a concert, but avoided the woeful basketball team as it went through successive seasons of sucking since its ’90s heyday. But hell, we’re winning again! (And just as the Nets were hoping to welcome disaffected Knicks fans.) Expect to pay a pretty penny: A multiyear renovation of the interior has pushed ticket prices up, but it’s worth it to say you watched Melo & Co. in the iconic arena.

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Midtown West

…or the Mets at Citi Field

Critics' pick

While they haven’t been as successful as their Bronx rivals in recent years, the Mets can certainly be happy about their newish stadium, which opened in 2009. With great sight lines, fun activities for kids, and a prodigious selection of food and booze (including Shake Shack—with the traditionally long line—and Blue Smoke outposts), even those with the barest interest in the game will enjoy themselves. During the 2012 season, the Amazin’s brought in the outfield walls by a few feet to eke a few more long balls out of the notoriously pitcher-friendly park. The result? An additional 45 dingers sent to souvenir city. mets.com

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Flushing

…or the Yankees in the Bronx

Critics' pick

There’s something to be said for doggedly supporting a perennially losing team. But there are also good reasons for hopping onto a winning bandwagon—mostly the euphoria of victory. You’ll find that in spades at the Yankees’ schmancy stadium. The Bombers’ current field opened in 2009 to much fanfare, and stands opposite the now-flattened original. It may not be the House That Ruth Built, but many elements of the new arena—the limestone exterior, the gatelike frieze around the top—mimic the old, plus wider seats, more leg room and cup holders at every seat, and a high-def scoreboard are noticeable improvements. You’ll also find sushi and a steakhouse (along with more-standard fare, like Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and Tommy Bahama) among the concessions. newyork.yankees.mlb.com

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Bronx

Have brunch

New Yorkers may not be a religious bunch, but we’ve got our own time-honored weekend morning ritual: brunch. Whether you’re dining with a group or rolling solo, here are the finest places to quell your a.m. hunger pangs (and/or hangover). Click through for our complete guide to pancakes, huevos rancheros, eggs Benedict, mimosas and other late-breakfast standards.

Settle in for a screening at Film Forum

Critics' pick

This cinephile haven has arguably the best roster of classic films in town—it’s almost as if the Criterion Collection opened its own theater. Many of FF’s revival screenings are presented in spiffy new prints and are occasionally introduced by the stars. The lineup of new international indies is top-notch too. If you view moviegoing as a nonchatty—or even solo—endeavor, this is the place for you. $12.50, seniors (Mon–Fri before 5pm) and members $7.

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Soho

Make like a ghost and boo(k) it to the Village Halloween Parade

Staggering, wild-eyed apparitions and shrieking harpies; you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just another night in the heart of the West Village. But this annual processional always packs some serious artistry. The event begins with a parade of puppets created by famed workshops such as Superior Concept Monsters, the Madagascar Institute, the Puppeteers’ Cooperative and Basil Twist’s studio. Sign up online during the summer to volunteer to operate one of these creations, and to help make some of them with various puppet groups on a day trip to the Hudson Valley. Would rather focus on your getup? That’s fine, just turn up on the night in costume to march behind the puppets, bands and dancers and floats (meet at Sixth Ave between Canal and Spring Sts; 6:30–8:30pm). Voyeurs can always line the route to watch the spooky sights, but plan on arriving early to bag a spot. Parade: Sixth Ave from Spring St to W 16th St (halloween-nyc.com). Oct 31 7–10:30pm; free.

Tour a brewery…

Drop in for one of of the 45-minute guided tasting tours or ten-minute (gratis!) walk-throughs at Brooklyn Brewery. During the former, you’ll sip four beers—including seasonal and rare Brewmaster’s Reserve pours. Don’t worry, you can still imbibe during the freebie tour by nabbing a pint ($5, five for $20) in the tasting room. During your stroll, peep the eight new fermentation tanks that were shipped over from Germany, each holding up to 45,000 pints at a time. Free tour: Sat 1, 2, 3, 4, 5pm; Sun 1, 2, 3, 4pm; free. Paid tour: Mon–Thu 5pm; $8; reservations required via brooklynbrewery.com/tours.

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Williamsburg

…or a winery

Red Hook has become a stronghold of the Brooklyn DIY food-and-drink movement, with artisanal chocolate, vermouth and other goodies spilling from the cobblestoned community. In April 2012, the ’hood upped its quota of locally sourced fare with the opening of Red Hook Winery, which uses New York State grapes exclusively to make riesling, sauvignon blanc and other wines. On weekends, the warehouse hosts 30-minute public tasting tours (three samples $5, six samples of reserve wines $12) and private paired tastings with Saxelby cheese ($15 and up). 347-689-2432, redhookwinery.com. Public tour: Sat, Sun noon–4pm. Private tour: E-mail info@redhookwinery.com for reservations.

…or a distillery

Labels from Sunset Park’s Breuckelen Distilling seem more and more commonplace at bars throughout NYC. The two-year-old craft-spirits producer uses only New York–grown barley, rye and corn for its gins and whiskeys. During the hour-long free tour, check out the American-oak barrels that age Breuckelen’s booze, and meet the distillers. Afterward, wet your whistle with a sampling ($3) in the tasting room next door. 347-725-4985, brkdistilling.com. Sat 2pm; free; e-mail info@brkdistilling.com to confirm the space is open.

See movies in Bryant Park

Critics' pick

The novelty of watching a movie while surrounded by midtown’s hustle and bustle makes HBO Bryant Park Film Festival’s showings a huge draw, so arrive before the gates open: Blanket-toting New Yorkers are known to storm the lawn at 5pm sharp like hyper tweens vying for the front row at a Bieber concert. Year after year, the lineups are stellar, and while Monday-night dates for 2013 haven’t been announced yet, we’re told the fest will be back between June and August. Free; see bryantpark.org for details.

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Midtown West Free

Escape the sounds of the city in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Critics' pick

Those searching for a little peace and quiet would do well to spend a few hours in this verdant oasis. The garden—which abuts two other neighborhood gems: the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park—was founded in 1910 and features thousands of types of flora, laid out over 52 acres. Each spring, check out the Sakura Matsuri Festival, during which more than 70 trees bloom along the Cherry Esplanade. Equally impressive are serene spots like the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, the first Japanese-inspired garden in the U.S., and the Shakespeare Garden, brimming with plants (such as primrose and crocuses) mentioned in the Bard’s works. Start your journey at the Visitor Center, an eco-friendly portal (it has a green roof filled with 45,000 plants) that opened in May 2012.

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Watch big-ticket premieres at the New York Film Festival

This annual treat for cinéastes celebrates its 51st season in September 2013, boasting world premieres of big-budget features and indies. Check out our NYFF in mid-September for the full schedule. Prices vary; see filmlinc.com for details.

Show your Pride

Each June, New Yorkers band together to toast its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents during Gay Pride Week. The big event remains the closing Pride March—it goes down on June 30—when an überfestive procession (and audience) show their stuff along Fifth Avenue; there are a slew of bashes held throughout the city during that week as well.

Kayak for free

New York City isn’t surrounded by water for nothing. During the warmer months, organizations across Gotham offer gratis kayaking time to any and all, from Red Hook to Long Island City. We’ve put together a list of spots where you can swing a paddle by your lonesome or go out on group treks, all free of charge.

Head to a concert in Central Park

Between June and late August, the folks behind SummerStage (which celebrates its 28th season this year) present a huge lineup of outdoor gigs in parks throughout the five boroughs. The SummerStage Mainstage has the most swoonworthy setting, nestled in the middle of quiet Central Park and surrounded by leafy trees. During summer 2012, big-ticket draws included Norah Jones, Beach House and M83—and free shows by the likes of Alabama Shakes, Dawes and other notable acts often went down.

Listen to ace storytellers

Critics' pick

Ten tales. Three teams of judges. One winner. The Moth’s StorySLAM event, the outrageously (and deservedly) popular, spontaneous reading series (held every few weeks in a variety of venues throughout the city), pits local scribes against one another, challenging them to come up with an impressive work based on a specific theme. Get in line early, as spots for writers and spectators alike go quickly. And discover more of our favorite unscripted sessions in our handy list.

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The Bell House

See a drag show

Looking for a night of naughty fun? Check out one of these queer parties. On Wednesdays, The Sherry Vine Show brings brilliant song parodies and acid wit to Hell’s Kitchen hot spot Industry Bar. Come Saturday, join wisecracking host Linda Simpson at Le Poisson Rouge’s Le Bingo throwdown, where you can battle for cool prizes. And cap off your weekend on Sundays with some infused vodka and a performance from the tireless Paige Turner at Vlada Lounge.

Eat and drink at the movies

The current king of NYC eat-and-booze cinemas (for now—the massive Alamo Drafthouse opens in Downtown Brooklyn in 2015, and then the jury will be out), Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema serves themed top-shelf cocktails and eats during first-run showings. The theater also programs old faves, brunch and midnight screenings, bands playing over experimental shorts by locals, and viewings that include a beer-pairing dinner. At the reRun Gastropub Theater in Dumbo, you can settle into a repurposed car seat and order craft brews, wine and pub grub while enjoying indies by up-and-coming auteurs.

Explore the city’s literary bars

Booze and books have had a long, well-documented relationship—especially in New York. Nab a stool at Kettle of Fish (59 Christopher St between Seventh Ave South and Waverly Pl; 212-414-2278, kettleoffishnyc.com), where Beat Generation heavyweights Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac tipped back a few in the ’50s and ’60s. Or grab a pint at Old Town Bar (5 E 18th St between Broadway and Park Ave South; 212-529-6732, oldtownbar.com), a favorite watering hole of Frank McCourt and Nick Hornby. For more of the best literary bars in town, check out our roundup.

Enjoy world music at Barbès

This cozy bar in Park Slope hosts one of the city’s liveliest, most diverse music scenes in its cramped but friendly back room. Separated from the well-stocked front bar by a humble curtain, you might encounter indie rock, progressive jazz, classical chamber music, West African funk, French musette…you name it. Don’t miss the fun-as-hell collective Slavic Soul Party!, which brings Eastern European jams to the space every Tuesday (9pm; $10).

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Park Slope

Check out the New York International Fringe Festival

Every August, theatergoers brace themselves for this envelope-pushing fest. It hits us in the dog days of summer like a punishing heat wave of talent—or, if not talent, then unbridled, reckless enthusiasm. First mounted in 1997 out of a few poky Off-Off Broadway spaces on the Lower East Side, the Fringe has grown in size and cultural cachet. Now it calls itself “the largest multiarts festival in North America,” with yearly attendance topping 75,000. Visit our NYIFF page in early August for the full lineup. Prices vary; see fringenyc.org for details.

Get down at Mister Saturday Night

Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin’s bimonthly party, held at spaces throughout the city, is devoted to the outer reaches of house, disco and techno. The duo’s ethos is one of community and coming together, along with, of course, hard-grooving fun. Past guest DJs have included Four Tet, Greg Wilson and Floating Points. Click here to read our interview with Carter and Harkin. Visit mistersaturdaynight.com for more information. Prices vary.

See the Rockettes

For more than 80 years, this iconic dance troupe has captivated audiences with its signature eye-high kicks and smiles as dazzling as their sequined ensembles. To prepare for up to five shows a day during the holiday season (which is most of November and December), these ladies rehearse for six weeks, ensuring the nine routines and eight costume changes can be performed seamlessly. Even the Grinch would be impressed by their precision.

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Midtown West

Sign up for a social sports team

You’ve thought about it, now do it: Put down that PS3 controller and join an outdoor league. ZogSports coed sports leagues, one of NYC’s biggest rec groups, hosts coed softball, soccer and touch football throughout the year Don’t sweat it if you haven’t swung a bat since T-ball days: When signing up, participants must assess their own skill level—from “extremely casual” newbies to jocks who’ve played high-school or college sports—and are then matched to a compatible division. As a bonus, teams are encouraged to retreat to a nearby bar for postgame drinks, and a portion of the bar tab is donated to charity. Visit zogsports.com for more information. Prices vary.

Gorge at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Make the meat lover’s pilgrimage to Madison Square Park for this annual gut-busting ’cuefest. Some of the nation’s top pit masters (in the past including local luminaries from Hill Country, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Blue Smoke) have manned the flames, dispatching grub for $8 a plate. In between plates of meat, listen to live music and check out the free seminars and cooking demos. bigapplebbq.org. Free.

Sing your heart out at a karaoke jam

Cohosts Goldteeth and Lord Easy keep the crowd pumped by acting as backup dancers or instigating water-gun fights during the bonkers Karaoke Killed the Cat affair (Union Hall 702 Union St, between Fifth and Sixth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-638-4400, unionhallny.com; Fri 11:45pm; free). And the Strokes played some of their first gigs at LES mainstay Arlene’s Grocery, so you can take comfort in the fact that you’re rocking out where a rowdy Jules & Co. did during Arlene’s World Famous Live Rock ’n’ Roll Karaoke. Just make sure you bring it—cuts by Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC and other tried-and-true rock staples (the more anthemic, the better) require some serious wailing (95 Stanton St between Ludlow and Orchard Sts; 212-358-1633, arlene-grocery.com; Fri midnight; $10).

Go ice skating

When the temperature drops, it’s time to strap on the blades and take to the slick stuff. NYC has a wealth of outdoor ice-skating rinks that are open well beyond Christmas—and if you want to avoid the mobs, postholidays is probably the best time to visit hot spots like the Rink at Rockefeller Center or Citi Pond at Bryant Park. You can also perfect your lutz year-round at indoor arenas such as Chelsea Piers’ Sky Rink. Click here for a full rundown of the city’s slippery offerings.

Play minigolf on an island

No, it’s not quite like that episode of Lost where Hurley builds the golf course, but Randalls Island Golf Center is still a pretty absorbing place to while away a summer afternoon. Surrounded by beautiful trees, the spot boasts a whopping 36 holes of minigolf, in which you must shoot your ball through rocky caves and other obstacles. After your time on the green, grab a table at the on-site beer garden to sip a pint of Blue Moon or split a pitcher of Stella. Check out our roundup for more hole-in-one spots in the city. See website for hours of operation; $9, children 12 and under $7.

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Randall's Island

Lose it at one of NYC’s best roaming parties

This underground-electronic shindig has been held in a score of clubs, warehouse venues and makeshift spaces throughout the city. The brainchild of Taimur Agha and Fahad Haider, the six-years-and-running affair attracts a range of house and techno all-stars. $TBA. Advance tickets and schedule available through residentadvisor.net/blkmarket.

Bowl at the Gutter

Laid-back Williamsburg alley the Gutter has early-1980s Milwaukee decor and boasts a dozen killer microbrews on tap, plus a  happy hour ($1 off drafts and $3 off pitchers) before 8pm. Also, early-weekend warriors can play two games for the price of one ($7) between 2 and 6pm.

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Williamsburg

…or at Brooklyn Bowl

Critics' pick

Just a few blocks away, this popular space takes its design cues from Coney Island, with old freak-show posters and carnival-game relics, and all of the beer sold inside—by Sixpoint, Kelso and the Brooklyn Brewery—is made in the borough. You can tackle a pitcher ($20–$30) and the stoner-food menu from the Blue Ribbon team (delicious fatty brisket, fried chicken) laneside between frames (games are 30mins for $25). The plush tufted couches  are the most luxurious alley seating we’ve ever seen.

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Williamsburg

Cheer on marathoners

Because of Hurricane Sandy, 2012’s ING New York City Marathon was a no-go. But the race will be back on Nov 3, when tens of thousands of runners will hit every borough of our fair city. Catching the ginormous procession is quite a sight; we recommend nabbing a lively spot along Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn; First Avenue between 60th and 96th Streets in Manhattan; or Central Park South near the finish line.

Feast on the cheap during NYC Restaurant Week

Every summer and winter, NYC Restaurant Week returns, with more than 300 restaurants offering three-course dining deals for lunch ($25) and dinner ($38). The fest adds trendy newcomers to a long list of fine-dining standbys, drawing bargain-hunting New Yorkers to try out new spots and revisit old favorites on the cheap. Reservations and a full list of participating venues are available at nycgo.com/restaurantweek. Winter 2013 edition: Through Feb 8.

Comments

7 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!!