New York's best things to do and places to go 2012

Our critics and readers have chosen the best things to do in NYC, including parties, shops, parks, live-music venues, shows and more. What are you waiting for?

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  • Photograph: Noah Devereaux

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best rooftop bar: La Birreria

  • Photograph: Courtesy of The Tippler

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best party bar: The Tippler

  • New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best party: Verboten

    Pictured: Maya Jane Coles

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best burlesque night: Gotham Burlesque

  • Photograph: Fumie Suzuki

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best indie bookstore: The Strand

  • New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best women’s store: Dalaga

  • New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best men’s store: Odin

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    Best live music venue: Bowery Ballroom

  • Photograph: Jolie Ruben

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    The Brooklyn Award: Best reason to cross the river: Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

    The Manhattan Award: Best reason to cross the river the other way: The High Line

Photograph: Noah Devereaux

New York's best things to do 2012: Readers' choice

Best rooftop bar: La Birreria

Readers’ choice winners

Best rooftop bar: La Birreria (37% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This massive rooftop beer garden, located 14 stories above the Italian megastore Eataly, offers a direct line to one of the world’s most exciting new beer regions: an unprecedented stash of beers from the Boot, as well as innovative house-made ales reflecting trends on both sides of the Atlantic. Hops-heads will geek out over the three proprietary cask-conditioned ales brewed on the premises—the collaborative effort of craft-brew pioneers Sam Calagione (founder of Delaware's Dogfish Head), Teo Musso (Piedmont's Birra Baladin) and Leonardo Di Vincenzo (Rome's Birra del Borgo). But you don't have to be a beer nerd to appreciate the views of the Flatiron and Empire State Buildings while sipping on the unpasteurized, unfiltered suds. Fight your way through the scrum, snag a seat at the Carrara marble bar or one of the communal salvaged-wood tables and line your stomach with accomplished rustic eats (fat probusto sausages, gorgeous salumi) before letting loose on the brews.

Runners up: The Ides (33%), Jimmy (20%), La Piscine (10%)

  1. 200 Fifth Ave, (at 23rd St), 10010
More info

Best party bar: The Tippler (44% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

This Meatpacking District cocktail joint isn’t always a great bar, but it is big and inclusive: Want a vodka drink without the judgmental sneer you’ll get at stuffier joints? There are four of them on the menu here. Prefer 1990s hip-hop to 1890s ragtime? At the Tippler, Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest bellow from the speakers. The long menu includes baffling experiments like Frozen Lushies, which drown quality spirits in a sea of slush. But for all the misses of this spasmodic mixology, there are eccentric hits like the Gin & Chronic—a cheeky gin-and-tonic variation fortified with lime, allspice liqueur and citrusy whole-dried hops. Think of the place as a large-scale recruitment booth for curious drinkers, and suddenly its flaws seem forgivable—even, in the right light, charming.

Runners up: The Whiskey Brooklyn (35%), Arlene's (13%), Greenwich Village Country Club (8%)

  1. Chelsea Market, 425 W 15th St, (between Ninth and Tenth Aves)
More info

Best party: Verboten (42% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

The house and techno crew Verboten is back at an as-of-yet undisclosed location for an audience with Maya Jane Coles, coming off an amazing run of deeper-than-deep releases culminating in this past spring’s contribution to the !K7 label’s venerable DJ-Kicks mix-CD series. Verboten resident Stadenco and a “special” guest (who, in this case, might be special for real) join in on the fun.

Venues vary, visit verbotennewyork.com for more information.

Runners up: Warm Up (24%), Mister Saturday Night (21%), Blkmarket (13%)

  1. Location TBA
  2. Until Fri Apr 19
More info

Best burlesque night: Gotham Burlesque (41% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Gary Beeber—the filmmaker behind the documentary Dirty Martini and the New Burlesque—produces this monthly revue, which features political satire, comedy, performance art, dance and general onstage allure. This month's edition sees online action coming from the Maine Attraction and "Danger Dame" Veronica Varlow, with further contributions from Medianoche, hula-hooper Justina Flash, juggler Jen Slaw and BB Heart. Dangrrr Doll is the night's stage kitten, and the World Famous *BOB* serves as the soiree's charming host.

Runners up: Epic Win Burlesque (23%), Naked Girls Reading (22%), !BadAss! Burlesque (14%)

  1. Triad Theatre 158 W. 72nd St., Between Broadway and Columbus Ave., 10023
  2. Until Fri Feb 14
Buy tickets

Best indie bookstore: The Strand (59% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Boasting 18 miles of books, the Strand has a mammoth collection of more than 2 million discount volumes, and the store is made all the more daunting by its chaotic, towering shelves and surly staff. Reviewer discounts are in the basement, while rare volumes lurk upstairs. If you spend enough time here you can find just about anything, from that out-of-print Victorian book on manners to the kitschiest of sci-fi pulp.

Runners up: Greenlight Bookstore (17%), McNally Jackson Books (14%), BookCourt (10%)

  1. 828 Broadway, (at 12th St)
More info

Best women’s store: Dalaga (32% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Much like an indie H&M, the trendy selection at this romantic boutique won't drain your bank account and the turnover is high. The mantra here is if you love it, grab it, since most pieces sell out in a couple of days, and new styles are added throughout the week. Upbeat indie-rock plays in the background while bargain hunters comb the racks for dresses ($80–$100), jackets ($90–$140) and separates ($40–$95). Whip out your credit card for sexy Jack cross-back dresses ($70), Ya Los Angeles 3-D rose-covered styles ($80), BB Dakota pleated chiffon frocks ($95) and Ark & Co. sequin numbers ($98). Add a whiff of seductiveness by misting your wrists with Dalaga's house-made perfume, redolent of lilac, apple and peach ($55–$110), and fake a Pilates tummy with a pair of cult-favorite Spanx shapewear tights ($40).

Runners up: Bird (26%), Creatures of Comfort (22%), Aritzia (20%)

  1. 150 Franklin St, (between Greenpoint Ave and Kent St)
More info

Best men’s store: Odin (30% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 4/4
  • Critics choice

The Norse god Odin is often portrayed sporting an eye patch and an array of shabby robes to complement his dour, bearded visage. That may have been fashionable in medieval Scandinavia, but to make it in NYC, he’d have to pick up some Robert Gellar, Rag & Bone or Comme des Garçons from this upscale men’s boutique bearing his name. Tasteful masculine jewelry and dapper shoes are also available to those with a healthy cash flow.

Runners up: Alter (29%), Oak (26%), Onassis (15%)

  1. 328 E 11th St, (between First and Second Aves)
More info

Best live music venue: Bowery Ballroom (28.5% of votes cast)

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

This is probably the best venue in the city for seeing indie bands, either those on their way up or the ones holding their own. Still, the Bowery also manages to bring in a diverse range of artists from home and abroad. Expect a clear view and bright sound from any spot. The spacious downstairs lounge is a great place to relax and socialize between (or during) sets.

Runners up: Music Hall of Williamsburg (28.2%), Highline Ballroom (24%), Joe's Pub (20%)

  1. 6 Delancey St, (between Bowery and Chrystie St)
Book online

The Brooklyn Award: Best reason to cross the river: Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg (35% of votes cast)

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Around 100 vendors gather at Brooklyn Flea's weekly culinary bazaar, hawking artisanal pantry items and plenty of ready-to-devour goodies. You'll recognize some of the stalls from the regular flea market (Asia Dog, People's Pops) and the neighborhood (Blue Bottle Coffee Company, Bep); new vendors in 2012 include Japanese-inspired Takumi Taco and Baby Got Back Ribs. The market also hosts a monthly event series in conjunction with the Brooklyn Kitchen.

Runners up: Brooklyn Bridge Park (25%), BAM (22%), Coney Island (17%)

  1. The Tobacco Warehouse 26 New Dock St, at Water St
  2. Sat Aug 30 - Sun Nov 23
More info

The Manhattan Award: Best reason to cross the river the other way: The High Line (45% of votes cast)

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Opened in 2009, this highly anticipated outdoor park sits on the elevated infrastructure built on Manhattan's West Side in the 1930s. Today, sumptuous gardens and outdoor sculpture adorn this magnificent walkway, which is also an excellent place to enjoy a view of the Hudson River.

Runners up: MoMA (23%), The Met (19%), Lincoln Center (13%)

  1. Washington St, (at Gansevoort St)
More info

  1. 1–10
  2. 11–20
  3. 21–30
  4. 31–40
  5. 41–50
  6. Readers' choice

Users say

1 comments
bart boudrez
bart boudrez

Very well done,goos information about NY,like it