Outdoor activities in New York for spring 2013

Hello, sunshine! Hello, cookouts! Hello, parades! Hello, walks! Hello, flowers in bloom! Hi, this spring’s essential outdoor activities, nice to meet you.

1/20
Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5

2/20

Visit 5 Pointz

3/20

Stretch out in Socrates Sculpture Park

4/20
Photograph: Ilenia Martini

Hang out at the High Line

5/20
Photograph: Courtesy Madison Square Park Conservancy

See things another way at "Topsy-Turvy: A Camera Obscure Installation"

6/20

Wear green at the St. Patrick's Day Parade

7/20
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson, Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nels

Stop and smell the cherry blossoms at Hanami

8/20
Photograph: Doug McNeall

Ride the Cyclone at Luna Park

9/20
Photograph: Syd London

Wear a bonnet at the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

10/20
Photograph: Courtesy New York Yankees

Take yourself out to the ball game on MLB Opening Day

11/20
Photograph: Courtesy of the Wednesday Night Skate group

Roll with your homies at Wednesday Night Skate

12/20
Photograph: Paul Hardwick

Go wild at Pillow Fight NYC

13/20
Photograph: Phyllis B. Dooney

Wear Tartan at the New York Tartan Day Parade

14/20
Photograph: Sam Horine

Paint the town at the Phagwah Parade and Festival of Colors: Holi NYC

15/20

Ride during Bike Month

16/20
Photograph: Ilenia Martini

Brainstorm at Ideas City 2013

17/20

Take the Great Saunter around Manhattan

18/20
Photograph: Zenith Richards

Get fit at the Central Park Circuit

19/20
Photograph: Arthur Fink

Shake what your Mama gave you at the New York Dance Parade

20/20
Photograph: Courtesy of www.flickr.com/David_Reeves

Instagram your heart out during Manhattanhenge

Stow that duvet-down coat, it’s time to take a stroll in the fresh air during the Goldilocks of seasons (i.e., not too hot, not too cold). We’ve found 20 essential outdoor activities for you to enjoy, such as a new spot to have a park barbecue in Brooklyn, and where to try free yoga, tai chi, kayaking and art in Long Island City.

RECOMMENDED: Spring in New York guide

Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5

Critics' pick

This new five-acre development opened in December, and we’re predicting that its Picnic Peninsula will be one of this season’s hottest hangs, with its views of lower Manhattan, reclaimed-wood tables and 22 barbecue grills (no permit required). It also boasts two tetherball poles at its northern end—a backyard pastime that’s overdue for a kickball- or cornhole-like resurgence. The quay’s other draws include fishing stations and three 200,000-square-foot synthetic-turf fields suitable for soccer, lacrosse, cricket, rugby, Ultimate Frisbee and more. Spring permits for the sports grounds are all taken, so join a group such as BBP’s soccer league (Wed 7–11pm; Wed 6–May 29; $130) if you want to get cleats on the green. You can apply now for a summer permit (June–Aug; $25) at https://nyceventpermits.nyc.gov/bbp; fall permits (Sept–Nov; $25) will be available starting May 1. Free.

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Brooklyn Heights Free

Visit 5 Pointz

Critics' pick

The Institute of Higher Burning hosted an ambitious season of programming in 2012, and continues in the same vein  beginning May 4 with a full lineup of parties, scratch battles and live art. Until then you can explore the premises and catch a spray-painting demo on a guided tour (next dates: Sat 23, Sun 3 2–3:30pm; $35; sidetour.com) with curator Jonathan Cohen (aerosol master Meres One). Free hourly sojourns are also being offered March 9 as part of the Armory Show adjunct Armory Arts Week (2–6pm; armoryartsweek.com). Free.

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Long Island City Free

Stretch out in Socrates Sculpture Park

Instead of holding downward-facing dog mere inches from your neighbor’s rear at an overcrowded studio, bring a mat and stretch out in the fresh air at this outdoor oasis. The open-air sculpture museum offers free yoga (Sat 9:30–10:30am, 11am–noon; Sun 10–11am) and tai chi (Sun 11am–noon) classes beginning in May. And for those who aren’t content with appreciating the water views from the shore, gratis kayaking is available on weekends beginning in mid-May. The formerly abandoned riverside landfill also hosts performances and special events; on May 12 check out the opening of the “do it (outside)” exhibition (2–6pm; through July 7), for which 50 international artists (including Ai Weiwei and Joan Jonas) provided instructions for other creatives to interpret. See the resulting works and performances, and follow the guidelines the artists left for the exhibit’s viewers. Free.

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Astoria Free

Hang out at the High Line

From April 19, visitors to the High Line can fuel their stroll along the design-minded, elevated green space with snacks from an all-star lineup of local vendors. Sweet tooths can cool down with La Newyorkina ice pops or Melt Bakery ice-cream sandwiches, while those hankering for a meal can grab Michoacán-style grub from the Taco Truck. To drink, sip on cups of java from Blue Bottle Coffee or glasses of wine, courtesy of the team behind Terroir, at the Porch (from May 16). Check out the High Line's largest ever art installation, Broken Bridge II, a 37-foot sculpture by by West African artist El Anatsui which is on view now. Tuesday night stargazing returns May 7.

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Meatpacking District

Wear green at the St. Patrick's Day Parade

Critics' pick

No St. Paddy’s Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes its 252nd march up Fifth Avenue. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers are expected to show up for the annual spectacle, whose 2013 grand marshal is Alfred E. Smith IV—philanthropist, former Wall Streeter and great-grandson to former Gotham mayor Al Smith. Fifth Ave from 44th St to 86th St. Subway: B, D, F, M to 42nd St–Bryant Park; 7 to Fifth Ave; 42nd St S, 4, 5, 6, 7 to 42nd St–Grand Central.

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Location TBA Until Tue Mar 17 Free

Stop and smell the cherry blossoms at Hanami

Critics' pick

The Japanese have a term for appreciating cherry blossoms from bud and bloom to the blankets of fallen petals that eventually accumulate: hanami. This cycle will be on full view as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s approximately 220 cherry trees show off their floral display. Tours of the collection—the largest of these trees outside of Japan—as well as of the other Japanese plants on the grounds, will take place at 1pm on Wednesdays and 11am on Saturdays during the show.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Until Sun May 18

Wear a bonnet at the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival

Critics' pick

Sunday best gets new meaning during this annual procession, wherein participants show off elaborately constructed hats—we’re talking noggin-toppers shaped like the NYC skyline or the Coney Island Cyclone, not just a boring old fedora. The tradition started in the mid-1800s, when high-society ladies would promenade in their Easter finery after church, and has since evolved into a showcase for chapeau artistry. Fifth Ave from 49th to 57th Sts.

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Location TBA 05 Apr 2015 Free

Take yourself out to the ball game on MLB Opening Day

Critics' pick

Grab a hot dog (still the best item on the menu) and usher in a rite of spring as the Bronx Bombers open their season against the Red Sox. Or if pinstripes aren't your color, the boys in orange and blue face off against the Padres.

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Citi Field Until Mon Apr 1

Roll with your homies at Wednesday Night Skate

Meet at 7:45pm at the south end of Union Square. At this hump-day social, dozens of skaters cruise around the city for two hours along a different route each week—the group has previously wheeled through Central Park, Queens, Brooklyn and even Jersey. All skill levels are welcome as long as you can stop and turn, and because you'll be rolling on the road, helmets and wrist guards are obligatory. The hobnobbing continues postskate at Mumbles bar and restaurant (179 Third Ave at 17th St; 212-477-6066, mumblesnyc.com), which is also where the gang heads when the event gets rained out.

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Union Square 30 Oct 2013

Go wild at Pillow Fight NYC

Critics' pick

Bring your softest weapon of choice (but organizers ask you to leave the feather- and down-stuffed pillows at home to lessen the mess), and join in New York's eighth citywide pillow fight. After you've fended off your cushion-wielding attackers, you'll feel even warmer knowing the surviving pillows will be donated to homeless shelters. For more details, visit newmindspace.com.

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Location TBA Until Sat Apr 4 Free
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