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The 50 best things to do in NYC for locals and tourists

Experience the absolute best things to do in NYC with this epic guide to essential eats, drinks, culture, parks and more

By Shaye Weaver, Collier Sutter, Will Gleason and Tim Lowery
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November 2020: Looking for a winter like no other by hitting up the best things to do in NYC? Things are a bit precarious right now, but our beautiful city is pulling through with style. Our iconic museums, big attractions, and favorite restaurants are back (with new rules, of course), so there's more to do now than ever this year. As always in 2020, just make sure to double check with venues to make sure programming is still on before you head out. We will be updating this list more often than we did prior to lockdown to reflect New York City as it fights to stay open.

From its art museums (The Met and MoMA) to its attractions (The Bronx Zoo and Dyker Heights Holiday Lights), New York City is the best city in the world. Its dining and drinking scenes, which are undergoing major changes, are still unbeatable and boast killer bars (Dante) and restaurants (Lilia). Every day, we're discovering something new and wonderful about our city, whether it's one of the best cozy spots, some incredible views, must-see art, or hidden-gem stores. Take this winter to do some incredibly fun things in NYC.

Consider below your NYC Bible. 

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList.

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

The best of NYC under one roof

Jacob's Pickles at Time Out Market New York
Photograph: Courtesy Nitzan Rubin

Time Out Market New York

Restaurants Food court DUMBO

What is it? The Time Out Market New York—seven eateries and two full-service bars—located in DUMBO's Empire Stores.

Why go? We've packed all our favorite restaurants under one roof at the Time Out Market New York, including fried chicken from Jacob’s Pickles, Japanese comfort food from Bessou, inventive ice cream flavors from Ice & Vice and more amazing eateries—all cherry-picked by us. Chow down over two floors with views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline. 

Don't miss: You can now order from your phone or order ahead for take-out via the Time Out Market app and enjoy your meal in the nearby park or from the comfort of your own apartment.

50 best things to do in NYC

LuminoCity Festival NYC
Photograph: Courtesy LuminoCity Festival/Yunkai

1. LuminoCity Festival

Things to do Randalls Island Park, Randall's Island

What is it? A pop-up, immersive, outdoor holiday spectacular of light sculptures and art installations called LuminoCity. 

Why go? It's a 45-minute walking, narrative journey, with twinkling and towering LED sculptures along the way. Think: fairy palaces, alluring lollipop trees, and mystical mushrooms. You'll cross multiple "lands" with their own sets. This year the sets include Mysterious Forest, Dangerous Dunes, Forgotten Ruins, Hidden Land of Hria, and Mystical Moon Land.

Don't miss: For the upcoming holiday season, LuminoCity will run from November 27 to January 10. A limited number of tickets will be available for each designated time slot throughout the festival to keep to a strict capacity. Tickets must be purchased in advance online here. General admission tickets run $38 and general admission plus is $68 (and includes express check-in, a complimentary Lumi Night Light, and discounts at the LuminoCity Festival gift shop). 

pier 17 the greens winter cabins
Photograph: Courtesy The Howard Hughes Corporation/Giada Paoloni

2. The Greens at Pier 17

Restaurants Pier 17, Financial District

What is it? The Greens at Pier 17, the socially distanced dining destination that made a splash this summer thanks to its Instagram-ready, reservable mini lawns, is transforming into a new experience with mini cozy cabins for the colder months on Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport.

Why go? Each cabin will be able to fit up to 10 guests and will be decorated with fun winter décor and amenities including virtual fireplaces, electric heating, cozy banquettes and, of course, jaw-dropping, floor-to-ceiling views of NYC from its prime location on the East River waterfront

Don't miss: The cocktails have been created by the newly crowned second best bar in the world Dante. A few of those offerings are the Alpine Negroni and the Hot Smoked Toddy.

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About Time: Fashion and Duration
Photograph: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Art Design The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park

What is it? As one of the biggest museums in the world, the gorgeous late 19th-century neo-classical institution displays some of the finest examples of art spanning from mummified royalty of ancient times to avant-garde fashion couture.

Why go? The Met just reopened to the public this fall. It'll be a warm welcome back to one of NYC's most famous cultural institutions.

Don't miss: The Costume Institute’s "About Time: Fashion and Duration," which this year's canceled Met Gala was going to be based upon, as well as the debut of its signature exhibition celebrating its 150 anniversary, called "Making The Met, 1870-2020." 

Bank of America Winter Village
Photograph: Angelito Jusay

4. The Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

Things to do Markets and fairs
What is it? Bryant Park's annual two-month-long holiday celebration with local vendors for shopping, an ice rink with free skating and vats of hot chocolate.
Why go? Not only is there free ice-skating on Bryant Park's 17,000-square-foot outdoor rink (you may bring your own skates or rent them), Urbanspace—the brand that’s responsible for Union Square’s and Columbus Circle’s holiday markets as well as Mad. Sq. Eats—is bringing about 60 holiday shops, including a bunch of new kiosks and eateries for your shopping and eating pleasure. There is also a different rinkside pop-up restaurant this year called The Lodge Deck that'll have festive cocktails and delicious food.
Don't miss: Iceless curling and the featured New York City minority-owned small businesses (with annual revenue of $1 million or less) in the Holiday Shops. Read more here for what not to miss.
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Paulie Gee's Slice Shop
Photograph: Andrew Tess

5. Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop

Restaurants Pizza Greenpoint

What is it? The new king of the New York slice. 

Why go? With its charred-wood–fired pies, Paulie Gee’s quickly became a cult favorite in Greenpoint. So when they unveiled a spin-off slice shop a few blocks away in 2018, it naturally got the neighborhood’s attention. The decor mimics the old-school New York dollar-slice shop, from the ’70s faux-wood Formica tables and letter-board menu to the red plastic trays and the paper plates on which each slice is served, but the ’za is the real deal.

Don’t miss: Opt for the classic cheese slice, just as as lovely as the pepperoni number or the Hellboy,which takes the pepperoni slice and douses it with sweet-and-spicy Mike’s Hot Honey. Discover all of our favorite places for pizza in NYC

tea room
Photograph: Kimberly Howard-Thomassen

6. Brooklyn High Low

Restaurants Prospect Heights

What is it? A hidden tea salon by vintage shop 1 of a Find.

Why go? The locale is meant to be a respite, where you can catch a break from the energetic buzz of New York’s metropolis. Diners can choose from over 20 teas, from lavender earl grey blends to green tea jasmine. In the kitchen, head chef Carlos Jimenez gets creative with his ever-changing menu, but guests can always find traditional scones and an assortment of finger sandwiches.

Don't miss: Antiques and artifacts from Brooklyn's long history strewn about the salon.

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2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
Photograph: Courtesy Rockefeller Center/Diane Bondareff

7. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree

Things to do
What is it? The Rockefeller Christmas Tree (NYC’s pride and joy) is a beaming and brilliant symbol of the holiday season. 
Why go? The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is the most iconic thing to see in New York City for the holidays.
Don't miss: The lighting, which takes place on December 2.
ARTECHOUSE Celestial
Photograph: Courtesy ARTECHOUSE

8. 'Celestial' at ARTECHOUSE

Art ARTECHOUSE, Chelsea

What is it? The latest digital art exhibit at ARTECHOUSE in Chelsea.

Why go? Visitors to the underground attraction will be taken on a "journey beyond the skies" based on Pantone's Classic Blue, which brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge. The new installation aims to do the same through sights, sounds and sensations.

Don't miss: an immersive Edward Hopper painting you can order a drink at and activate it using augmented reality.

 

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9. Russ & Daughters

Shopping Specialist food and drink Lower East Side

What is it? Russ & Daughters has been serving lox, herring and other specialty foods on the Lower East Side since 1914.

Why go? "Russ & Daughters is already is our go-to spot for Jewish apps shelling out the best lox in town, so while you’re there why not stock up on sweets?" asks Jake Cohen. He reccomends their black & whites, which are a stunning iteration of the classic, yet simple cookies, all baked out of their location at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

Don’t miss: The Super Heeb, a mix of horseradish cream cheese, wasabi-flavored roe and sublime whitefish salad that forms a holy trinity with an unholy name.

LeFrak Center at Lakeside in Prospect Park
Photograph: Kate Hess

10. Ice skating at Lakeside at Prospect Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Prospect Park

What is it? Prospect Park's LeFrak Center at Lakeside opens its rinks for ice skating each winter.

Why go? Ice skating at LeFrak is a fun neighborhood outdoor activity that everyone can do to enjoy the cold but beautiful winter weather. It's affordable, too, at just $7.50 to $11 per person. Lakeside also usually has curling, broomball, youth and adult hockey, and figure skating.

Don't miss: getting hot chocolate after your skate!

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Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

11. Holiday lights in Dyker Heights

Attractions

What is it? On the day after Thanksgiving, the neighborhood of Dyker Heights undergoes a transformation, as residents along several blocks in the area festoon their homes with elaborate holiday decorations.

Why go? Among the kitschy pieces you might see are life-size reindeer, huge inflatable Santas and snowmen, Christmas carols blaring from loudspeakers and tens of thousands of lights.

Don't miss: The largest Santa in NYC (15 feet tall!) can be found at the Polizzotto home (1145 84th St.)

Gilberto Rivera Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration
Photograph: Courtesy MoMA PS1/Matthew Septimus

12. "Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration"

Art MoMA PS1, Long Island City

What is it? An exhibit of art by the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated at MoMA P.S. 1.

Why go? The exhibit takes an important look at the life of people in prisons and those no longer behind bars through their art that deals with issues of state repression, erasure, and imprisonment, as well as the COVID-19 crisis in U.S. prisons. The exhibition is a powerful exploration of the social and cultural impact of mass incarceration.

Don't miss: Installations including Rorschach-like portraits of black Americans who were killed in police-involved shootings, a mural made of 39 prison-issued sheets at 40 feet long and 15 feet tall and more. 

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Duane Park Paradise Alley
Photograph: Daniel D'Ottavio 

13. Duane Park

Restaurants Soul and southern American Noho

What is it? A burlesque lounge and supper club in the East Village, which shares its space with Bowery Poetry Club (readings are held on Sunday and Monday nights).

Why go? Shows range from classic burlesque to jazz and vaudevillian acts to acrobatics and magic, while the Southern-inflected menu showcases classics like shrimp and grits and pan-roasted monkfish. Dramatic and decadent surroundings like ornate crystal chandeliers, Corinthian-topped columns and a sweeping staircase will make you feel like one of New York's elite from a bygone era.

Don't miss: Duane Park is doing outdoor burlesque on a random basis right now, so while you're social distancing, you can still catch a show!

 

Fern Botanica
Photograph: Fern Botanica

14. Floral design classes at Fern Botanica

Shopping Astoria

What is it? Fern Botanica is offering a "Crown Queen" floral crown class or "Floral Basics and Beyond" that you can book through its website.

Why go? It is a local, woman-owned shop and florist with a mind for sustainability and eco-friendly products. Plus, you get to create a masterpiece with some incredibly beautiful flowers and plants!

Don't miss: Taking a small, socially-distanced class with friends and family you feel comfortable with.

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Lilia
Photograph: Cayla Zahoran

15. Italian at Lilia

Restaurants Italian Williamsburg

What is it? Beloved pasta-focused eatery from Missy Robbins.
 
Why go? Robbins revamps a former auto-body shop as a 70-seat dining room decorated with handmade tiles, natural-wood tables and iron-casement windows. You can enjoy their outdoor dining now. Robbins oversees rustic plates like cacio e pepe frittelle, spaghetti with anchovies and a wood-fired leg of lamb with Roman spices. A small adjacent take-out café serves pastries and paninis.


Don’t miss: The ricotta gnocchi, delicate cheese dumplings covered in a thatch of vibrant, verdant broccoli-basil pesto studded with nutty pistachios, or the bow-shaped rigatoni, rendered sweet from crushed San Marzano tomatoes and spicy from a prodigious zap of chilies and black pepper.

Brian Clark: The Art of Light Museum of Arts & Design
Photograph: Courtesy Jenna Bascom

16. "Brian Clark: The Art of Light"

Art Museum of Arts & Design, Hell's Kitchen

What is it? An exhibit of Brian Clarke's vivid, saturated and dramatic stained glass at the Museum of Arts & Design.

Why go? You can walk between and around 20 free-standing, glass screens that almost come to life with changing light. Since the early 1970s, Clarke has collaborated with some of the world’s most prominent architects to create stained-glass designs and installations for hundreds of projects worldwide.

Don't miss: The glass panes animated by changing light.

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Ugly Baby
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

17. Ugly Baby, the best restaurant in NYC

Restaurants Thai Carroll Gardens

What is it? A Thai restaurant that will keep you coming back for more self-inflicted pain.

Why go? It may not be scientifically proven, but spicy food is addictive—especially at Ugly Baby. The servers at this tucked-away spot in Carroll Gardens will warn you over and over to be careful. But you’ll go against their advice and end up begging for more of the cooling cucumbers to ward off the heat.

Don’t miss: The “stay-away spicy Udon Thani’s duck salad” or the khao soi. 

fan fan doughnuts
Photograph: Time Out / Collier Sutter

18. Sweet treats at Fan-Fan Doughnuts

Restaurants Bedford-Stuyvesant

 

What is it? Doughnut fans surely know about Fany Gerson’s cult-favorite treats at Dough Doughnuts. Now she’s gone out on her own with Fan-Fan Doughnuts and the menu looks as good as ever. Be prepared for long lines outside— it’s worth the wait.

 

Why go?  From Mexican cinnamon to the glazed braided doughnuts, fans area already lined up for our city’s favorite morning dessert, and the menu is consistently changing with new sugary surprises.

 

Don't miss: Get your hands on a Mensch fan-fan, filled with praline cream and topped with choc-choc glaze and toasted hazelnuts, before they sell out.

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Lord and Taylor
Photograph: Luciana Golcman

19. NYC's holiday window displays

Things to do

What is it? As always, stores like Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's, Henri Bendel, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany & Co. join in to show off their holiday spirit and latest merchandise.

Why go? if New York is famous for anything around Christmas time, it's our ornate holiday window displays. While you’re busy cramming in the rest of your shopping with our holiday gift guide, be sure to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the hard work put into the holidays.

Don't miss: Bergdorf Goodman's windows. They're always spectacular.

Bronx Zoo Holiday Lights
Photograph: Courtesy WCS/Julie Larsen Maher

20. Bronx Zoo Holiday Light Show

Attractions Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society | Bronx, NY, The Bronx

What is it? The biggest metropolitan zoo in North America is doing a striking seasonal celebration featuring animated lights and LED displays of safari animals from around the world.

Why go? Reconnect with wildlife with more than 265-acres of animals and wildlife, you won’t be able to see everything in one day, so consider taking a two-hour tour of the Congo Gorilla Forest, World of Reptiles or the Himalayan Highlands exhibits. Entertainment during the light show includes holiday-themed music, ice carvings, costumed characters, stilt walkers, souvenirs and seasonal treats like hot chocolate and s’mores.     

Don’t miss: This year’s experience will take place in a larger area in the zoo for ample room to social distance, and visitors can expect the zoo to have close to 50 more animal lanterns than last year, and five geographically representative lantern safaris from various corners of the world.

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The Origami Holiday Tree at the American Museum of Natural History
Photograph: Courtesy American Museum of Natural History

21. The American Museum of Natural History

4 out of 5 stars
Museums Science and technology Upper West Side

What is it? Whether you’re interested in the world below our feet, or the cultures of faraway lands or the stars light-years beyond our reach, your the American Museum of Natural History is bound to teach you a few things you never knew.

Why go? With a reopening date set for September 9, you can spend a whole day just looking at the taxidermied animals that hail from across the world and the ocean, study the human species and the evolutionary origins of humans and our near (now extinct) cousins, spend the day like a geologist, and be filled with child-like awe in the presence of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Wooly Mammoth and the Apatosaurus in the fourth floor’s world-renowned fossil collection.

Don't miss: The brand-new exhibit, "The Nature of Color," the first new planetarium show in seven years, "World's Beyond Earth," and this year's Origami Tree made with 1,000 brilliantly colored origami cranes.

nybg
Courtesy: Shutterstock

22. New York Botanical Garden Glow

Things to do New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx

What is it? The 250-acre NYBG verdant oasis is adding a splash of color to its holiday celebration. This year, the Bronx family attraction will host NYBG Glow, an outdoor light experience that will brighten up the grounds with Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at its center. 

Why go? Visitors can expect thousands of energy-efficient LED lights and festive installations—an ideal backdrop for a family holiday photo op. Plus, there will be dance performances, ice carving demonstrations and other seasonal activities to enjoy (at a distance).

Don’t miss: artistic ice carving displays, roving dancers and musicians, plus more outdoor fun. 

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Union Square Greenmarket, New York City
Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

23. Union Square Greenmarket

Attractions Parks and gardens Union Square

What is it? An outdoor, year-round market seasonal fruits and vegetables, farmstead cheeses, artisanal breads, fresh-cut flowers, wine and more.

Why go? You’ll find yourself shopping elbow-to-elbow with top chefs for all manner of regionally grown culinary pleasures.

Don't miss: Cooking demonstrations, beer & spirits pop-ups and book signings. 

24. Eddie's Sweet Shop

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Forest Hills

What is it? If you want a real trip down memory lane, this old-school soda fountain and diner will tap right into the New York nostalgia you're craving.

Why go? This Forest Hills gem has been in business for more than 100 years and still that attracts all generations to come in for a homemade scoop. "Aside from the famous sundaes, the chocolate egg cream is one of the most famous in the whole dang city—and that’s saying a lot," says associate Food & Drink editor Alyson Penn.  

Don’t miss: The sundaes are still served in the same metal tins for the perfect retro touch. 

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Bethesda Terrace Central Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

25. Explore Central Park like a pro

Attractions Parks and gardens Central Park

What is it? The world's most famous green space. 

Why go? "Many visitors fight through the crowded streets to enter Central Park around 59th Street—where there’s not much to see—and by the time they reach the best bits, they are too winded to enjoy them," says Head of North American Content Rocky Rakovic. Instead, he suggests taking the subway to 72nd Street and Central Park West, then head east to hit up Strawberry Fields, the Sheep Meadow, Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, the Bethesda Fountain, the Naumburg Bandshell, the Loeb Boathouse, the Hans Christian Andersen Monument, the Conservatory Water’s model boats and the Alice in Wonderland statue, all in a “New York hour.”

Don’t miss: Head to the shore of the Lake at 72nd Street and rent a rowboat or take a gondola tour. 

Empire State Building
Photograph: Shutterstock

26. Conquer the Empire State Building

Attractions Monuments and memorials Midtown West

What is it? A world-famous landmark that towers above Manhattan.  

Why go? The main deck on the 86th floor is the highest open-air observatory offers stunning 360-degree views of the Hudson and East Rivers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and more. If you want to get higher, head to the 102nd floor's indoor observation deck for a full view of Central Park. And for some background, duck down to the "Dare to Dream" exhibit on the 80th floor, which honors the 3,400 people who built the 1,454-foot skyscraper and features original photographs, architectural sketches and construction notes. 

Don’t miss: Want to admire the ESB from a distance with a strong drink in hand? "For about $20, you can grab a drink, tip the bartender and take in amazing views from Rockefeller Plaza’s Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room," notes Head of North American Content Rocky Rakovic. 

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For All Things Good food
Photograph: Courtesy For All Things Good

27. For All Things Good

Restaurants Bedford-Stuyvesant

What is it? A recently-opened cafe and molino in Bed-Stuy that brings a taste of Oaxaca to NYC.

Why go? The appealing menu of homemade tortilla-based Mexican dishes, including mushroom tlayuditas, hibiscus and chipotle salsa tetelas, and squash blossom quesadillas. Don’t skip the drinks either—oat milk horchata and hibiscus agua fresca hit the sweet spot.

Don't miss: Buying a fresh batch of tortillas to take home for later.

28. McSorley’s Old Ale House

Bars Beer bars East Village

What is it? NYC’s oldest continuously operated saloon.

Why go? "Not only do we love a bar with character, but if you make the trip, you’ll be able to join the ranks of past patrons like Abe Lincoln and John Lennon," says Jake Cohen. In traditional Irish-pub fashion, McSorley’s floor has been thoroughly scattered with sawdust to take care of the spills and other messes that often accompany large quantities of cheap beer. Established in 1854, it has became an institution by remaining steadfastly authentic. 

Don't miss: McSorley’s Dark Ale and McSorley’s Light Ale. Both beverages have a lot more character than PBR, though at these prices, it won’t be long before you stop noticing. 

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TAL Bagels
Photograph: Laura Gallant

29. Tal Bagels

Restaurants Upper West Side

What is it? An iconic Upper West Side bagel counter. 

Why go? Is there a more distinctly New York (or at least NYC- beloved) dish than the bagel? Maybe. During morning hours? Absolutely not. The fact is that we do this weekend wakeup must—or afternoon stomach-padder, depending on how last night went—better than anyone. And although Tal Bagels provides by no means the most calming bagel experience in New York—for that, head to High Street on Hudson or Sadelle's—OG New Yorkers know that they're best eaten hunched over on park bench or at a bagelry counter top anyway. And we can't think of a better spot than this.  

Don't miss: The everything bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese. Still hungry? Discover all of the best bagels in NYC

Photograph: Jena Cumbo

30. The Statue of Liberty

Attractions Monuments and memorials Liberty Island

What is it? Since 1886, the most famous copper statue in the world has held her torch high in New York Harbor as the quintessential symbol of American liberty. 

Why go? The statue’s massive pedestal houses an observation deck as well as exhibits detailing the fascinating history of the 305-foot copper statue gifted to the U.S. from France to celebrate the friendship of the two nations. Check out the original torch and read the bronze plaque with Emma Lazarus’s poem “A New Colossus” (you know, the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free). 

Don’t miss: Strapped for cash? "The Staten Island Ferry is free and sails near the robed icon," points out Time Out New York's Rocky Rakovic. "What’s more, it travels fast enough that your trip won’t take up the whole day, but it’s slow enough that you can nurse a beer and find the right angle for a nice Instagram of you and the old green gal." 

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Infamous Fotografiska
Photograph: Courtesy Andres Serrano and Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris & Brussels

31. "Infamous" at Fotografiska

Art Photography Fotografiska, Gramercy

What is it? A solo exhibition by renowned artist Andres Serrano on view at Fotografiska that depicts the history of racism in the U.S. through 30 photographs of racist memorabilia.

Why go? Serrano hopes to confront the country’s racist history and have Americans consider racism's influence on culture and society today.

Don't miss:  programming that the museum will continue these conversations through, including with the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Photograph: Time Out/Ali Garber

32. Impressive street art

Music Coney Island

What is it? New York is the city where street art was born, and it’s still the best place to see it in the world. 

Why go? Catching art on the street is a far more visceral experience that seeing it on a museum wall. For proof, check out the Bowery Graffiti Wall on the corner of Houston and Bowery to see what world-class street artist is currently on display (past artists have included Banksy, JR and Shepard Fairey) or  peep the rotating lineup of artists at Coney Island Art Walls.

Don’t miss: If you’re looking for an arty outing after dark, head down to the Lower East Side for the 100 Gates Project, which displays impressive works on the grates that cover businesses at night. 

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The Strand Bookstore
Photograph: Nadia Chaudhury

33. Strand Book Store

Shopping Bookstores East Village

What is it? Founded in 1927, Strand is perhaps the most beloved indie bookseller in NYC.  

Why go? With more than 2.5 million new, used and rare tomes—or as the sign outside says, 18 MILES OF BOOKS—Strand absolutely crams its shelves, with many new titles sold well below list price. Bibliophiles can spend hours checking the staff picks, classic novels, poetry, novels and nonfiction. We suggest walking up to the third floor, where early editions and rare signed copies are available for purchase.

Don’t miss: “Perusing the $1 shelves,” says Rachel of Washington Heights.  

Photograph: Jake Cohen

34. Donuts from Peter Pan Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Greenpoint

What is it? An old-school bakery famous for their doughnuts.

Why go? “Start Sunday with a Bavarian cream from Peter Pan; it’s a total hangover cure,” says Ana of Greenpoint. Peter Pan isn’t a gourmet doughnut shop by any stretch, and in this neck of the woods, thank God for that. Its freshly made fried sweets and legit 1950s environs, complete with an S-shaped counter, means it’s busy daily with regulars. But trust us: The lines are worth it.


Don’t miss: Pair your doughnut with one of the bakery’s tasty egg creams.

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Brooklyn Heights
Photograph: Shutterstock

35. Brooklyn Heights

Attractions Parks and gardens Brooklyn Heights

What is it? A ridiculously photogentic neighborhood teeming with tree-lined streets and Brooklyn brownstones. 

Why go? “Walk the fruit streets of Brooklyn Heights," suggests Dana in Crown Heights. Those streets (Cranberry, Orange and Pineapple) do indeed, as she puts it, "have that Brooklyn-from-the-movies feel.” And there's a nifty backstory: In the mid-1800s, prominent Brooklyn Heights resident Lady Middagh saw the “pretentious” street names in her ’hood—those named after Brooklyn’s wealthy families—and decided to take matters into her own hands by changing the street signs by cover of darkness to Cranberry, Orange and Pineapple. 

Don’t miss: Head to the water and hit the Brooklyn Promenade, a one-third-mile stretch of pavement along the East River overlooking an unforgettable span of NYC’s skyline. 

Washington Square Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

36. Washington Square Park

Attractions Historic buildings and sites Greenwich Village

What is it? A 9.75-acre public park that serves as the beating heart of Greenwich Village. 

Why go? It's one of the most iconic spots in NYC and has a ton of history, serving as the backdrop to many civil rights movements, celebrations and more.

Don’t miss: "Listening to the Piano Man [Colin Huggins] play in Washington Square Park—it’s so cool watching him wheel out his grand piano, and he’s an amazing performer,” says Sophie of the West Village. Most buskers are content to use instruments that are, you know, portable. But Huggins, the self-proclaimed “crazy piano guy,” is more ambitious. On nice days, he wheels out a baby grand to perform beautiful renditions of classical pieces.

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White Bear
Photograph: Ali Garber

37. Dumplings at White Bear

Restaurants Chinese Flushing

What is it? A closet-size mecca for dumpling aficionados.

Why go? We recommend the the No. 6: a dozen pork wontons, doused in roasted chili oil and topped with a smattering of diced pickled vegetables, which arrives on a Styrofoam plate. Despite more than 30 items on the menu, it’s the dish everyone seems to order. 

Don't miss: Still hungry? Plan a food crawl and eat your way through Flushing

madison square park
Photograph: Shutterstock

38. Manhattan’s liveliest greenspace, Madison Square Park

Attractions Parks and gardens Flatiron

What is it? Madison Square Park is a green oasis in the Flatiron district—not to be confused with Madison Square Garden.

Why go? There’s always something going in the environs (three streets by one avenue block) from outdoor art exhibits to free concerts. The park is also home to the first Shake Shack, which still consistently see lines that would make the hottest clubs jealous. Tourists go for Shake Shack, workers go to eat their lunch, pooch owners go for the dog run, guardians go for the children’s playground… and because the park  is snaked with benches it lends for the best leisurely people-watching.

Don’t miss: Stepping onto the southwest corner of the park is debatably the hallowed grounds on which baseball was born.

 

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Photograph: Roxanna Marroquin

39. Forbidden Planet

Shopping Bookstores East Village

What is it? A comic shop with an alternative feel and a crazy-vast selection.  

Why go? We’ll let the door handle at this Union Square shop do the talking: It’s a replica of Captain America’s shield. Comic book fans visiting this geek paradise can snag graphic novels, toys, movie memorabilia, Magic: The Gathering cards and more. “The people who work there are really nice, too,” adds Joey of Murray Hill. 

Don’t miss: Manga DVDs and books, anime and sci-fi toys and action figures, offbeat horror and imported magazines like Gothic Beauty.

Sarge's
Photograph: Jake Ratner

40. Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner

Restaurants Delis Murray Hill

What is it? An old-school, 24-hour Jewish delicatessen.

Why go? NYPD Sergeant Abe “Sarge” Katz opened the restaurant in 1964, and the building still has the burgundy vinyl booths, Tiffany’s lamps and a wall of celebrity photos to prove it. Sarge’s offers all the classic deli sandwiches—corned beef, pastrami, reuben—plus the Monster. Billed as the city’s largest sandwich, it is indeed a towering stack of corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey, salami, tomato, lettuce, coleslaw and Russian dressing on rye.

Don’t miss: The bacon egg and cheese sandwich. "The contrasting textures of gooey cheese and eggs with crispy bacon makes for a breakfast to behold whether you’re eating it at 8am or 11pm," says Jake Cohen. 

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https://www.flickr.com/photos/catherinecronin/16801266398/
Courtesy CC/Flickr/catherinecronin

41. Three Lives & Company

Shopping Bookstores West Village

What is it? A cozy bookstore straight out of a bygone era that's lined with shelves packed with a skillfully chosen range of titles.

Why go? “Three Lives & Company is kind of amazing to me," says actor Charles Busch. "I don’t know how they manage to be here when large chains are closing. It’s a place where you really can feel comfortable browsing and picking up a book, and they always have interesting stuff you won’t find at Barnes & Noble. You’ll find some rare biography that was printed in England that’s usually not found in this country.” Focusing on literature (primarily fiction and narrative nonfiction), Three Lives also has a dedicated NYC section and an especially large travel shelf.

Don’t miss: The incredibly knowledgeable and well-read staff will not only help you pick out your next beach read, they’ll also fulfill custom orders.

freemans
Photograph: Courtesy Freemans Restaurant

42. Freemans

Restaurants American Lower East Side

What is it? A cozy restaurant at the end of an alley in the Bowery where tastemakers and influencers (but not the kind of people who refer to themselves as such) rub elbows.

Why go? “View art at the New Museum, then grab some drinks at Freemans right nearby.” says Sabella of Nolita. One of few museums in the world devoted only to contemporary art, the New Museum is always a conversation starter, whether you love, hate or don’t quite get its exhibits. Discuss them over a few cocktails at Freemans, where retro portraits in fittingly worn frames should inspire intellectual conversation.

Don’t miss: Quaff their expert French 75 (gin and lemon topped with sparkling wine).

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green-wood cemetery
Photograph: Shutterstock

43. Green-Wood Cemetery

Things to do Walks and tours Greenwood

What is it? A beautiful final resting place in Brooklyn filled with Victorian mausoleums, cherubs and gargoyles.  

Why go? If you were alive in the 19th century, one of your goals in life was to reserve a place to rest here. Today, this cemetery boasts over 560,000 residents—including Civil War generals. But there’s more to do here than grave-spot: Check out the massive Gothic arch at the main entrance or climb to the top of Battle Hill, one of the highest points in Kings County and a pivotal spot during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.

Don’t miss:  A fan of all things spooky? “Take one of the moonlight tours of the cemetery," suggests Joseph of Gowanus.  

Courtesy Natalie Black

44. Crown Shy

Restaurants American Financial District

What is it? Inside the highly sought-after Art Deco residential building, 70 Pine Street, resides the first collaboration between James Kent, longtime chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park and executive chef at NoMad, alongside Jeff Katz, managing partner of Del Posto. 

Why go? Here, elevated meals are crafted by New York’s fine dining elite. You can ball out like a banker without breaking your piggy bank.

Don’t miss: “Pastry chef Renata Ameni’s satsuma orange ice cream is served with a hat of toasted marshmallow and crumbles of honeycomb, tasted like a creamsicle and comes with a big enough scoop for sharing," explains Associate Food & Drink editor Emma Orlow. 

More great things to do across the globe

Uluru’s ‘Field of Light’
Photograph: Mark Pickthall, courtesy Field of Light, Uluru, Bruce Munro 2016

The 40 best things to do in the world right now

Things to do

Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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