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17 reasons to visit NYC’s best attractions this spring

Annalise Mantz

New Yorkers seldom look more excited then they do on that first unseasonably warm day after a bitter winter. The shorts, sunglasses and sweating glasses of iced coffee appear out of nowhere—even if it’s still only 60 degrees out.

Whether spring is here to stay or just to fake us out before one last snowstorm, you can still celebrate the coming season of al fresco brunches and picnics in the park. Get excited these 17 events, exhibitions and activities at New York’s best attractions this spring. March through June is already looking pretty busy!  

1. The Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art
Every other year, the Whitney Museum presents an eclectic show billed as a peek into what’s happening this moment in contemporary American art. It’s technically been three years since the last show, due to the museum’s move to the Meatpacking District, but the 2017 biennial is still pretty much guaranteed to be the talk of the town. Visit the Whitney between March 17 and June 11 to view works from more than 60 cutting-edge artists.

2. The Macy’s Flower Show at Macy’s Herald Square
Missing your Christmas window fix? Macy’s debuts the spring equivalent on the first floor of their Herald Square store on March 26: their annual flower show. This year’s display will be carnival themed, and we can only hope to see ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds made out of colorful blooms. Best of all, it’s completely free.

3. “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern” at the Brooklyn Museum
Instead of focusing on O’Keeffe’s desert landscapes and sensual depictions of flowers, the Brooklyn Museum examines the artist’s persona as a progressive, independent woman. The exhibition, which is on view through July 23, shines a spotlight on everything from O’Keeffe’s wardrobe to the way she posed for photographs to give us a better understanding of who she was.

4. The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden
Nothing says spring quite like vibrant blooms, and nowhere in New York will you find more of them than at the New York Botanical Garden’s annual orchid show. This year spotlights the vanda variety native to Thailand, and you can expect to see arrangements in the shape of elephants, traditional Thai pavilions and other tropical scenes. If you can’t make it to the Bronx before the exhibition ends on April 9, plan to get your flower fix during the Daffodil Celebration and Wine Weekend later in the month.

5. “Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms” at the Met Breuer
The first ever retrospective on Brazilian artist Lygia Pape opens March 21 at the Met Breuer. Pape’s work evolved from abstract, geometric paintings and sculptures to satirical social commentary on the ruling military government of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Taking in  see how her point of view evolved over five decades of her work.

6. Opening Day at Coney Island’s Luna Park
The opening of Luna Park on April 8 signals the start of the season of sunny days, endless rides and all the hot dogs you can eat. Stop by the Opening Day Ceremony at the park to enjoy free egg creams from Brooklyn Seltzer Boys, meet Mr. Met and be one of the first to ride the Cyclone in 2017.

7. Robert Rauschenberg at the Museum of Modern Art
Innovative collagist Robert Rauschenberg was known as a radical: someone who wasn’t afraid to try something unusual and routinely played with a wide variety of materials. His experimental approach helped transition the New York art scene away from Abstract Expressionism and set the stage for the emergence of Pop Art. Check out this retrospective of his 60-year career, on view at the Museum of Modern Art starting May 21.  

8. Celebrate National Bike Month with a ride along the Hudson River
Make the most of May’s warm temperatures and sunny afternoons (we hope) by renting a bike and cycling down the Hudson River Park Bikeway. It’s the busiest bike path in the country, and for good reason: The route offers incredible water views from 59th Street all the way south to Battery Park.  

9. “Irving Penn: Centennial” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Starting April 24, you can view more than 200 of the great American photographer Irving Penn’s shots at the Met. Expect to see portraits of icons like Truman Capote and Ingmar Bergman alongside exquisite still lifes and fashion studies. The exhibition opens on what would have been Penn’s 100th birthday. What better way to honor his work?

10. “The Hugo Boss Prize 2016: Anicka Yi” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Prepare to have your mind blown. Anicka Yi’s highly conceptual exhibition at the Guggenheim explores the intersection between technology and biology using unconventional mediums like tempura-fried flowers, molds and funguses. The pieces almost resemble rogue lab experiments or alien life forms. Decide for yourself when the show opens on April 21.

11. Beginner’s Drawing Class in Central Park
Let the blooming flowers, grassy knolls and tranquil ponds of Central Park inspire you in a drawing class for beginners. Your instructor will bring all the supplies you’ll need—all you have to do is show up and get those creative juices flowing.

12. Fleet Week at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
For one week every May, Navy Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen descend on New York City for Fleet Week. It’s always nice to buy ‘em a drink if you spot someone in uniform at the bar, but this year, why not celebrate their contributions in a more educational way? Board the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier at Pier 86 to learn more about our nation’s seafaring history, get a peek into everyday naval life and celebrate the hardworking servicemen and women.

13. The Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street
The night before International Women’s Day and the Day Without a Woman protests, the investment firm State Street installed a statue of a fierce little girl staring down the charging bull on Wall Street. Sadly, the statue isn’t permanent, so hurry downtown to take a few photos and celebrate powerful ladies everywhere.

14. Opening Day at Governors Island
New Yorkers will be able to experience spring on Governors Island for the first time ever when the island reopens early this year on May 1. Tour Fort Jay, the island’s former Army post, or bike around to find the best possible view of Manhattan.  

15. In the Mood: Spring Fling at the Central Park Zoo
The birds do it, the bees do it, so the zoo animals must do it, too—right? Since spring is the season of rebirth, it’s only fitting that Central Park Zoo hosts its adults-only event on the animals’ sex lives on May 20. Sip complimentary cocktails as your guides give you the lowdown on how the lions, tigers and bears get down. Oh my! 

16. Catch a Mets or Yankees game
Take me out to the ball game! Even the least athletic among us can enjoy a baseball game, thanks to the plentiful beer, pretzels and peanuts. Do the seventh inning stretch for the first time this year when the Mets have their first home game against the Atlanta Braves on April 3 and the Yankees host the Tampa Bay Rays a week later on April 10. 

17. Badass Bitches Tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Before the end of Women’s History Month, you have to take the Badass Bitches Tour of the Met. Though the museum (like so many others) features a disproportionate number of male artists, it’s time to honor the women in the Met, whether they were the creators, subjects of muses. You get to smash the patriarchy and check out some truly remarkable art—what could be better?


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