1. Ride Jane's Carousel at Empire--Fulton Ferry Park
By September 16, this waterfront park should be reopened with some new and old amenities. A painstakingly restored 1922 carousel is the main attraction, but a new set of lights will keep the park open after dark for the first time. Empire--Fulton Ferry Park, Dock St at the East River, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-802-0603, janescarousel.com). Mon, Tue--Sun 11am--7pm, through Nov 5; Thu--Sun 11am--6pm through Apr 5. $2.
2. Check out Streb's acrobatics at the Armory
The massive Park Avenue Armory is one of New York City's most breathtaking venues. For two weeks in December, it'll be the setting for "Kiss the Air!," a program of acrobatic performances by Brooklyn's Streb Extreme Action. Using techniques inspired by action-film stunts and the circus, the company stages a site-specific show that utilizes the Armory's unique spatial potential. Expect more than a few gasps as dancers fly though the air. 643 Park Ave between 66th and 67th Sts (212-616-3930,armoryonpark.org). Dec 14--16, 20, 22 at 7pm; Dec 17, 21 at 2, 7pm; Dec 18 at 3pm. $35, children under 12 $25.
3. Drink beer on Bear Mountain
Get out of the city and hoist a stein alfresco at Bear Mountain State Park. Through the end of October, Circle Line is offering return cruises along the Hudson River, allowing day-trippers three hours to roam t he park. Nature lovers can hike and bike more than one hundred miles of trails; beer lovers can make a beeline for Oktoberfest festivities at Bear Mountain Inn, which include Bavarian food, brews and entertainment ($3--$23).Pier 83, W 42nd St at the Hudson River (circleline42.com). Sat, Sun 8:30am--5:30pm; $50, with bike rental $79. Sept 17--Oct 30.
4. Behold the colorful, slow death of the leaves
Natural death in the animal kingdom is a sad, ignoble thing, but when it comes to plants, it's colorful and photogenic. You don't have to schlep out of the city to see the leaves lose their green; Central Park has you covered. Stroll around the 1.58-mile track surrounding the Central Park Reservoir, dodging runners as you take in the changing leaves and their mirror images. Prospect Park has a similar mix of colorful foliage: Head for the ravine trails, located between the Nethermead and the Long Meadow. The trees—ash, tulip and others—are reflected in ponds, doubling the stunning spectacle. Fort Greene Park is home to nearly 40 different species, while Alley Pond Park's Tulip Tree trail will lead you past one of NYC's tallest such specimens. For more on NYC's prime leaf-peeping locales—including Green-Wood Cemetery, the Cloisters and the New York Botanical Garden—see our list of the best places to see fall leaves.
5. Go behind the scenes during Open House New York
This annual festival gives attendees access to some of the coolest and most exclusive architectural sites and city landmarks. This year, attendees can go off the beaten path at spots such as Williamsburg's new Nitehawk Cinema (located in a converted warehouse); the third, undeveloped section of the High Line; and the New York Marble Cemetery, which is rarely open to the public. Keep an eye on the website during the first week of October, when the full lineup is announced: Tours that require reservations tend to fill up fast. Location, time and price vary; visit ohny.org for details. Oct 15, 16.
6. Toast Nirvana's Nevermind
Is grunge's essential album really turning 20-years-old this September? God, that makes us feel old. Celebrate your moshing days and the legacy of that seminal record by attending the launch party for Mark Yarm's tome Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge at the powerHouse Arena (37 Main St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn; 718-666-3049, powerhousearena.com; Sept 7 7--9pm; free). Or see musicians who were there, man, when the Meat Puppets hit Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St at Thompson St; 212-505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com; Nov 4 at 6:30pm; $15). The band famously accompanied Kurt & Co. onstage during Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York taping (to play its own songs, no less) and recently covered "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for Spin's Nevermind tribute album.
7. Go apple crazy at the Queens County Farm Museum Apple Festival
Nothing says "Autumn is really here, mofo" like wooden bins full of just-picked apples and bottles of freshly pressed cider. These wonderful icons of the season will be in abundance at this annual fest, which brings a variety of pommes from upstate producers to the farm's apple orchard. Chow down on a slice of an aromatic 8' x 8' apple cobbler ($3), listen to a country & western band, take a hayride ($2) or sup the good stuff from Jericho Cider Mill (glass $1.25, quart $3, half gallon $4.50, gallon $7.75). There's also a cider-pressing demonstration, where you can crank a hand-turn press, but beware of yellow jackets—they're attracted to the sweetness and pack quite a sting. 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy between 73rd Rd and 74th Ave, Floral Park, Queens (718-347-3276, queensfarm.org). Oct 2 11am--4pm; free.
8. March in the Village Halloween Parade
We usually forget about this annual masquerade and drunken circus until the moment we get on the 1 train and find ourselves surrounded by hundreds of proton-packed Ghostbusters, inebriated not-so-Real Housewives and overweight comic-book heroes. So circle the date in your calendar and plan ahead. If you want to walk with the throng, just turn up in costume (Sixth Ave between Canal and Spring Sts; Oct 31 6:30--8:30pm). Alternately, sign up online to become a volunteer puppeteer and carry a marionette through the streets—it's best to register before Oct 15 to avoid missing out on the plum jobs. There's also the chance to help build the puppets over three Saturdays (Oct 1, 15, 22) in Rhinebeck, NY. Sixth Ave from Spring St to 16th St (halloween-nyc.com). Oct 31 at 7pm; free.
9. Watch Samuel L. Jackson on Broadway
Mr. Cool stars as Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before his assassination in playwright Katori Hall's highly anticipated The Mountaintop. (It's worth noting that Jackson served as an usher during King's funeral.) As the scribe put it in a recent interview with us, the play attempts to humanize the civil-rights leader's final hours. "[W]e see him afraid; we see him dealing with daily death threats and what that does to a person's soul. We see him smoking because he's so stressed out." Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W 45th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-239-6200,telecharge.com). Previews begin Sept 22, opens Oct 13; $75--$130.
10. Check out masterpieces at MoMA
This season, the Museum of Modern Art examines two of artists with whom the institution shares a strong connection: "de Kooning: A Retrospective" (Sept 18--Jan 9) and "Diego Rivera: Murals for the Museum of Modern Art" (Nov 13--May 14). The first is a complete retrospective of De Kooning's career, bringing together 200 of his works—many drawn from MoMA's extensive collection. The second exhibit shows a series of eight murals the Mexican artist created for the museum in 1931 (along with studies made for the large-scale works at MoMA and ones for a 63-foot-long work in Rockefeller Center made at the same time). 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-708-9400, moma.org). Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun 10:30am--5:30pm; Fri 10:30am--8pm. $25, seniors $18, students $14, children under 16 free. Fri 4--8pm free.