The New York bucket list

From the greatest pizza in Gotham to the perfect NYC stroll, here are the ten New York experiences you simply can’t miss

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Whaddya mean you've never seen a Broadway show or ridden the Coney Island Cyclone? Whether you're a lifelong New Yorker or a tourist, there are some New York experiences that you can't skip. From catching a cutting-edge cabaret performance to stealing a quiet moment in the New York Public Library, our New York bucket list will make sure you’ve hit the unmissable spots that you simply won’t find anywhere else. No, you don’t have to tackle everything in a day—but we wouldn’t blame you for trying.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Sample the pizza at Di Fara

    Pizza pilgrims don’t trek to this Brooklyn locale for the pies alone; the obsessives are here to watch Dom DeMarco. He’s the last of a type of dough-pushers—including Gennaro Lombardi, Patsy Grimaldi and Anthony “Totonno” Pero—devoted not to building empires, but to making pies. DeMarco hunches over each one, ladling sauce and sprinkling cheese, seemingly oblivious to the hungry hordes. Take the time to witness the twilight of an era before it’s gone. 1424 Ave J at 15th St, Midwood, Brooklyn (718-258-1367)

  • Photograph: Johan Persson

    Blow a wad of cash on a Broadway show

    You can get cheap tickets for most shows on the Great White Way, but if this is your last time inside one of those storied theaters, it’s time to go big or go home. There’s no bigger ticket than The Book of Mormon; orchestra seats at the popular musical can go for nearly $500. It’s well worth it: Smart, vicious but surprisingly sweet at its center, the show is New York theater-lover heaven. Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 W 49th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-239-6200, jujamcyn.com)

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Enjoy a day at Coney Island

    No time spent in New York is complete without a ride on the Cyclone (834 Surf Ave at 12th St, lunaparknyc.com), still rattling teeth nearly 87 years after it opened, or chowing down on a frank from the nearly century-old Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Ave at Stillwell Ave, nathansfamous.com). And don’t miss the Coney Island Circus Sideshow (1208 Surf Ave at 12th St, coneyisland.com), a throwback to Coney’s bizarro past.

  • Photograph: Courtesy Metropolita

    Explore the scenery at the Cloisters

    This museum may have been constructed in the ’30s, but it feels much older. Set in bucolic Fort Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson River, the structure re-creates architectural details from five 15th-century monasteries and houses items from the Met’s medieval collections. John D. Rockefeller, who donated the land for the museum, even purchased a tract across the river to preserve the pristine view. Fort Tryon Park, 99 Margaret Corbin Dr (212-923-3700, metmuseum.org)

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Catch a show at the Comedy Cellar

    The Cellar feels like the city itself: It’s a cramped, hot cement womb where a performer might sweat in your drink by leaning off the stage. We wouldn’t want it any other way. If you want to really get the Cellar, squeeze in and laugh yourself silly with one of the city’s best lineups on a Friday or Saturday night. The basement space is full of surprises; Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle might just drop by unannounced. 117 MacDougal St between Bleecker and W 3rd Sts (comedycellar.com)

  • Photograph: Moira Brazier

    Gawk at the Rose Main Reading Room

    Every New Yorker should put down the Kindle and sit with an actual book in the New York Public Library’s public space. The majestic room—with massive windows flooding light onto wooden tables—feels more spacious than all of Manhattan. Looking around and inhaling the smell of aging books, you can sense how it may have felt here in the early 20th century. But it’s not just about the library’s history; the history of the city is here, too. New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Ave at 42nd St (nypl.org)

  • Photograph: Adam Oxley / Alamy

    Stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge

    Call it a cliché if you want, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of an evening trek across this landmark. The bridge’s hulking neo-Gothic towers stand proudly in the East River, connected by delicate-seeming but sturdy steel wires that only add to its beauty. With Manhattan’s skyline in one direction and the Statue of Liberty in another, it’s worth meandering behind slow-walking tourists to take it in.

  • Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein

    Get your mind blown by Bridget Everett

    This cabaret star exists at the intersection of wide-eyed innocence and hard-living cynicism. She’ll share a one-night stand gone wrong, then segue into a performance filled with enough explosive sexuality to make Mick Jagger blush. A night with Everett is not for the timid, but neither is New York—the only city that could have created her. Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St (joespub.com). Feb 25 at 9:30pm; $25.

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

    Hear live jazz at the Village Vanguard

    After 75 years, this basement club’s stage still hosts the crème de la crème of mainstream jazz talent (Joe Lovano, Barry Harris), plus assorted young trailblazers. Plenty of history has been made here: John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Bill Evans all grooved in this hallowed hall. Get an introduction by checking out the 16-piece Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, which has been the Monday-night regular for more than 30 years. 178 Seventh Ave South at 11th St (villagevanguard.com)

  • Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

    Watch a flick at Bow Tie Cinemas Ziegfeld Theater

    This historic movie house is the best kind of throwback to a bygone era; it also boasts one of the biggest non-IMAX screens in the city, meaning you can see films the proper way: big and loud. The theater shows only one film at a time, which adds to the romance—even popcorn flicks seem like something magical on that giant screen. 141 W 54th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (bowtiecinemas.com)

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Sample the pizza at Di Fara

Pizza pilgrims don’t trek to this Brooklyn locale for the pies alone; the obsessives are here to watch Dom DeMarco. He’s the last of a type of dough-pushers—including Gennaro Lombardi, Patsy Grimaldi and Anthony “Totonno” Pero—devoted not to building empires, but to making pies. DeMarco hunches over each one, ladling sauce and sprinkling cheese, seemingly oblivious to the hungry hordes. Take the time to witness the twilight of an era before it’s gone. 1424 Ave J at 15th St, Midwood, Brooklyn (718-258-1367)


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