101 best things to do in NYC
What is it? A wild Bushwick hotspot that boasts DJs, aerialists, fire dancers and tons of fun.
Why go? "On any given night, you can find club kids, frat bros, glitter gods and year-round burners soaring into the stratosphere of sweaty dance-floor decadence," notes associate Things to Do editor David Goldberg. And indeed, since opening in 2016, House of Yes has quickly established itself as a reliable way for Brooklyn revelers to wear insane costumes and lose their inhibitions just about every weekend.
Don’t miss: Pro tip: Snag tickets in advance and get there early. The entry line often runs the block.
What is it? Broadway shows are practically synonymous with New York City, and the word Broadway is often used as shorthand for theater itself.
Why go? Visiting the Great White Way means attending one of 41 large theaters concentrated near Times Square. Each year millions of tourists flock to the city to see the best Broadway shows, from long-running phenomenons such as The Lion King to more recent hits like Hamilton. Some are proud winners of Tony Awards, but you needn't limit yourself to shows with the greatest accolades.
Don’t miss: "Enjoying a Broadway show at a 100-year-old theater, like the Lyceum, the New Amsterdam or the Belasco," suggests Theater & Dance editor Adam Feldman.
What is it? A once-abandoned elevated train track that was transformed into a crazy-popular, bucolic walkway.
Why go? After years of legislation and major landscaping, the community group Friends of the High Line was able to morph the former elevated train line into a public space back in 2009. Now, people walking along the 1.45-mile park’s gardens, taking in sweet views of the Hudson, the Whitney Museum of Art plenty of pretty flowers and plants that are mostly indigenous to the region.
Don’t miss: “Recline on the High Line’s wooden lounge chairs," suggests Dia from Bushwick. "It’s a really calming, litter-free spot of nature just above a bustling, stressed-out avenue.”
What is it? The best improv theater in New York.
Why go? “Laugh at the AssssCat 3000 shows at UCB—the improv is some of the best in town, and they frequently get established comedians and musicians to perform, ” says Mark of the Upper West Side, and it’s true. UCB has long been home to so many incredible improv comics, and AssssCat 3000 is, deservedly, its most popular long-running show, taking place every Sunday night. Everyone from Amy Poehler and Stephen Colbert to Michael Delaney and Lena Dunham have appeared on it—not a bad deal for $10.
Don’t miss: Grab a wine or beer at the bar in the front of the group’s brand-new Hell’s Kitchen theater before the show.
What is it? Institution housing one of the world’s finest collections of art from the 18th century through today.
Why go? Around nearly every corner of the venerated museum is a seminal piece by an artist trumpeted in art history or coveted by contemporary collectors. During the height of tourist season, around Christmas and again in late spring and summer, expect a shoving-match just to catch a momentary glance at Van Gogh’s Starry Night or Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.
Don’t miss: Can't swing the $25 entrance free? Art editor Howard Halle suggests coming during MoMA's free Friday nights (4–8pm).
What is it? NYC's first dine-in, drink-up movie theater.
Why go? This Williamsburg favorite screens new indie releases and has a robust retro program. Each individual theater has full-service meals (some dishes and drinks are concocted for specific films on view), plus there's the downstairs Lo-Res bar that stays open late. Keep your eyes on Nitehawk's calendar for multi-course movie-themed dinners, big-deal Q&As and rare screenings.
Don’t miss: “Watch a midnight movie here," suggests Bill in Greenpoint. "I love seeing the horror films of my youth.”
What is it? A cavernous cafeteria known for its thick-sliced pastrami piled high on rye bread.
Why go? "Going in for one of their monster sandwiches" is a must, according to Food & Drink editor Jake Cohen. Glossies of celebs spanning the past century crowd the walls at this throwback Lower East Side gem. And the classic Jewish deli offerings, including our favorite pastrami in town, are unmatched.
Don't miss: The When Harry Met Sally table is labeled in the center of the restaurant. Snag it if you can.
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: ead to the shore of the Lake at 72nd Street and rent a rowboat or take a gondola tour.
What is it? A beautiful venue for catching the next big thing.
Why go? It's probably the best venue in the city for seeing indie bands, either those on their way up or the ones holding their own. Still, the Bowery also manages to bring in a diverse range of artists from home and abroad. Expect a clear view and bright sound from any spot, even during sold-out shows.
Don’t miss: "Make sure to chill at the subterranean bar between sets," recommends national features editor Tim Lowery.
What is it? A beloved Red Hook waterfront saloon.
Why go? “Sip a PBR and listen to live tunes at Sunny’s in Red Hook,” says Tim of Greenpoint. Fans raised $68,000 in 2017 to help save this tchotchke-filled bar for a reason: There’s nothing else like it in town. A casual, hip (but not hipster) crowd taps their toes to cover-free live music including everything from sultry jazz singers to accordion players. But the biggest draw is its Old World vibe, with a hodgepodge of folk art, dim lighting and a perfect location just off New York Harbor.
Don’t miss: The bluegrass jamborees every Saturday at 9pm (bring an instrument and join in!)
What is it? Every April, cherry blossoms are at their picturesque peak during this two-day celebration at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Why go? “It doesn’t feel like spring until I’m surrounded by cherry blossoms, and I love the elements of Japanese culture at this festival,” notes Liz in Windsor Terrace. When the winter finally begins to thaw in early April, the pink buds on the cherry blossom trees greet the rising temperatures, and it’s a sight to see. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden pays homage to the Japanese spring festival Sakura Matsuri with Kabuki dance, tea ceremonies, anime/manga cosplay and cherry blossom as far as the eye can see.
Don’t miss: A packed lineup of entertainment including taiko drummers, samurai sword masters, J-rock bands and more.
What is it? A series of restored tenement apartments on the Lower East Side that show visitors the day-to-day lives of past immigrant tenants.
Why go? "You'll learn so much,” says Evelyn of Greenpoint about the guided tours here, which bring the history of New York’s immigrant population from the mid-1800s through to the early 20th Century to life. Before its incarnation as a museum, this site was once home to dozens of working class German, Jewish, Chinese and Italian families.
Don’t miss: The heartbreaking "The Moores: An Irish Family in America," which revisits a Dublin family who lived in the building in 1869.
What is it? Where to hear great music in the great outdoors.
Why go? “Get down to one of the Celebrate Brooklyn! concerts in Prospect Park,” says Jesse of Red Hook. This killer outdoor series is a summertime must, hosting big-name indie-rockers, pop acts and more in a beautiful setting under the stars. Bring a blanket, hoist a beer and toast summer in Kings County.
Don’t miss: The best part? Many of the shows are free. Just make sure you arrive early to nab a spot.
What is it? A Coney Island go-to since 1920 that boasts sweet oceanside views.
Why go? “No roller coaster can top the thrill of not knowing if you’ll survive a jerky antique Ferris wheel,” jokes Cara in Gowanus. The Wonder Wheel is the center of Coney Island’s famed boardwalk entertainment. Built by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company (yes, that’s a real thing) out of Bethlehem-forged steel, this ride is perfect if you want a birds-eye view of and some old-timey carnival thrills.
Don’t miss: When you reach the top, peep the Atlantic Ocean on side, the Manhattan skyline on the other and all of the amusement-park action down below.
What is it? A seven-minute ride on a ferry takes you to this seasonal island sanctuary.
Why go? Off-limits to the public for 200 years, this former military outpost finally opened to visitors in 2006. You can tour some of the island's remaining military-era architecture, including Fort Jay, started in 1776, and Castle Williams, which was completed in 1812 and used as a prison. But the island also provides a peaceful setting for cycling (bring a bike on the ferry, or rent one from Citi Bike or Bike and Roll once there) or taking a ride down Slide Hill. Plus, where else can you have a picnic directly across from the Statue of Liberty?
Don’t miss: “Napping in Hammock Grove," suggests John of Sunnyside. "I never thought I’d be able to fall asleep in public, but it’s so peaceful.”
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.
What is it? Ugly Delicious host David Chang’s classic ramen is the original gangster: salty, carby, spicy and damn delectable—so much so that during our first visit we may have shed a happy tear into our bowl.
Why go? The narrow restaurant, awash in honeyed wood, is always alive with chatter and never feels obnoxious. We suggest sitting at the noodle bar so you can watch his masters in action, and get a side order of whatever looks good that night. Definitely order the pork (belly and shoulder) ramen, and since it is a proper noodle joint all your Western dining manners are thrown out so that you can “slurp noodles,” says A.J. fo Bay Ridge, “it’s the best.”
Don’t miss: The experience no matter how long wait might. Get there at least an hour before you want to eat, leave your number and grab a beer an avenue away at HiFi Bar until your table is ready.
What is it? A transgressive, totally outrageous drag festival.
Why go? The little party that drag faves Horrorchata and Babes Trust co-founded in 2012 is now a globally-beloved underground holiday, with satellite celebrations in L.A., Mexico City, Berlin and beyond. But the fest's hometown celebration each fall is where the real party is. "Bushwig will always be Brooklyn's unofficial queer holy day," says associate Things to Do editor David Goldberg.
Don’t miss: More than 15 envelope-pushing performers.
What is it? The Williamsburg steakhouse is over 130 years old, that staying power proves it is the ideal New York experience for any meat-eater.
Why go? As Christina from Hell’s Kitchen says, it’s your opportunity to, “go to an eatery in the 100 Club.” Every self-respecting, meat-eating New Yorker should make the trek to Peter Luger’s for a porterhouse (or two) to celebrate their next special occasion. The digs inside, quite similar to they were over a century ago: beer hall-style with stucco walls and well-worn wooden floors. Tip: Bring a bunch of cash—the restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards.
Don’t miss: Obviously you aren’t here for the chicken, but before your steak we suggest ordering “Sliced Tomatoes and Onions with Luger’s Own sauce (for 2)”—it’s something.
What is it? For two nights every year (once at the end of May and again in mid-July), the setting sun aligns precisely with Manhattan’s street grid—which is actually set a few degrees north of true east-west—dousing the skyline and streets below in a magnificent orange glow.
Why go? “The way the sun sets perfectly in the middle of those mammoth buildings really makes you appreciate the architecture.” —Dan, Crown Heights
Don’t miss: Even celebrities aren’t too cool to take to the streets to witness this phenomenon. The term was even coined by the coolest nerd and Hayden Planetarium’s director Neil deGrasse Tyson.
What is it? There’s something magical about walking into Lincoln Center itself, but nothing is as posh as watching an opera at the Met. With its plush velvet stairs, golden ceilings and sparkling lights—not to mention a set design so grand, it’ll impress even the most jaded opera-goer—it’s something you should treat yourself to at least once a year. Get in for as little as $25 to $35 bucks with the joint’s standing-room and student discounts. (Or ask your wealthy friends to treat you to the good seats).
Why go? Marcy of Park Slope tells us “Watching an opera at Lincoln Center, just feels so sophisticated and I love supporting those phenomenal performers.”
Don’t miss: Do you think opera is only for the old? Check out the Met’s “Friday under 40” that’s not under $40, that’s an entire opera-going audience capped at 39 years of age.
What is it? One of the largest weekly open-air food markets in the U.S., Smorgasburg attracts thousands of people each weekend to try exciting new offering from more than 100 local vendors.
Why go? This roving market is a must for every foodie. "It's where you can sample tomorrow's next big food trend," notes deputy features editor Will Gleason. (Past viral hits like the ramen burger and Wowfulls waffle cone both debuted at the event.) Hit it up on Saturdays in Williamsburg's East River State Park or on Sundays in Prospect Park for a taste.
Don’t miss: Fried mozzarella goodness from Big Mozz.
What is it? Held monthly in various locations across the city, each StorySLAM sees 10 storytellers competing to see who spins the best tale on a specific theme, without using written notes.
Why go? With so many writers, comedians and actors living in New York, it makes sense that the tales told at the slams are better performed and more engaging than in other cities. Unsurprisingly, this hugely popular event is always packed, so line up early to snag your spot. “Even though anyone can put their name in the hat, it's rare to encounter a bad storyteller,” promises Dana of Crown Heights.
Don’t miss: Don’t trust us or Dana? Check out their podcast and then after you attend one, see if you can pick your giggle out of the cacophony of laughter.
What is it? A Beaux-Arts landmark with insanely high ceilings, stunning chandeliers and massive arched windows that flood the halls with natural light.
Why go? “Waste time in the main branch of the New York Public Library, because it’s a beautiful building and just by being there I feel smarter somehow,” says Jane of the Lower East Side. Don’t mind if we do. Just try to keep your Ghostbusters reenactments to a minimum—people are trying to read!
Don’t miss: Those icon lions outside. Something the rest of the Instagrammers won’t have in their caption though, is that their names are Patience and Fortitude and they are made from Tennessee marble.
What is it? "Home of the Mister Sunday party, which might be the best excuse for starting Monday with a hangover," says national features editor Tim Lowery.
Why go? With its top-flight sound system, sophisticated menu and deeply chill vibes, Nowadays is a slice of Neverland for club kids. Opened by Mister Saturday Night cofounders Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter, Nowadays’ ample outdoor space is the home of its day-party incarnation Mister Sunday and the Ridgewood Market as well as a regular slate of readings and discussions.
Don’t miss: A 5,000-square-foot indoor venue was unveiled in 2018, so now DJs can spin harder stuff into the wee hours for those who still haven’t adopted grown-up schedules.
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.
What is it? Grab a Neapolitan- or Sicilian-style slice at this pizza joint, located in the space where the original Ray's Pizza once stood.
Why go? Pizza is a big deal in NYC and should not be taken lightly. Unlike your typical dollar slice or fancy Gotham pizzeria, Prince Street attract tons of locals and celebrities for good reason: Its four signature pies (with neighborhood-inspired names like the thin-crust Mercer Margherita, made with fresh mozzarella, basil and marinara sauce) are killer.
Don’t miss: The Spicy Spring Pie. "It has a thick and doughy Sicilian-style crust is topped with Fra Diavolo sauce, spicy pepperoni and gooey mozzarella," explains Food & Drink editor Jake Cohen.
What is it? Set in a lovely park overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters houses the Met’s medieval art and architecture collections.
Why go? “My favorite place in New York is the Cloisters, even though I barfed there once in sixth grade on a field trip," says Lena Dunham. "I just think it’s the most beautiful, peaceful place." Indeed it is. Soak it all in by following a path that winds through the peaceful grounds to a castle that seems to have survived from the Middle Ages. (It was built less than 100 years ago, using material from five medieval French cloisters.)
Don’t miss: The famous Unicorn Tapestries, the 12th-century Fuentidueña Chapel and the Annunciation Triptych by Robert Campin.
What is it? A private, not-for-profit, library containing the best curation of the poetic canon. Like the words in its collection of 70,000 volumes the whimsical space itself is designed to inspire creative types.
Why go? “By attending poetry readings at the Poet’s House—I’ve been introduced to some amazing writers there and I’ve heard a few of my favorites.”says Kaitlyn of Ridgewood. Even on days when the Poets House isn’t hosting workshops, readings, and other special events featuring poet laureates and more, the literary minded make use of its modern, airy study space and vast, world-class poetry library.
Don’t miss: Sunset views over the Hudson with Langston Hughes.
What is it? Heralded by many as New York’s “Real Little Italy,” the Bronx’s Belmont neighborhood saw a huge influx of Italian immigrants in the early part of the 20th century and is now home to dozens of Italian bakeries, butchers, specialty stores and restaurants, on or near Arthur Avenue.
Why go? “Visit any of the restaurants along Arthur Avenue in the Bronx—I love Italian food, and these places put any of those spruced up expensive versions of Olive Garden to shame,” says Dave of Gramercy. Make it you own culinary tour of Italy with brick oven pizza from Cafe al Mercato, oysters from Randazzo’s Seafood and classic pasta with red sauce at Tra Di Noi.
Don’t miss: Save room for veal parmigiana at Dominick’s restaurant. They won’t hand you a menu, so if you want to sound in-the-know order that with a baked clams starter (or fried calamari on Fridays and Saturdays).
What is it? A 526-acre sprawling public park in the heart of Brooklyn
Why go? “Go to Prospect Park on a clear evening, lie in the grass, and watch the bats and the stars,” suggests Cat of Park Slope. While bicycling, warm-weather picnics and weekend runs are a must at this park, you can do pretty much any outdoor activity your heart desires: there’s bird-watching, baseball, basketball and more.
Don’t miss: We recommend roller skating or renting a paddle boat at LeFrak, which transforms into an ice skating rink in the winter.
What is it? A legandary, boundary-pushing cabaret performer.
Why go? Probably the city’s premier small spot for sit-down audiences, Joe’s Pub hosts regular gigs by Justin Vivian Bond. We wish we could tell you what you're in for at one of JVB's cabaret performances, but it's likely they can't tell you either. Every show with the "transgressive" singer and entertainer swerves and veers between old-school folk ballads and boozy musings.
Don’t miss: "You're in for an awakening," notes associate Things to Do editor David Goldberg of Bond's defiantly queer political performances.
What is it? Our favorite dim sum dumpling restaurant in Flushing, one of New York’s most diverse neighborhoods.
Why go? “Slurp soup dumplings from Nan Xiang Xiao Long Boa in Flushing, which has better food than Chinatown,” says Hallie of Astoria. As more and more Manhattanites and Brooklynites delve into Flushing they feel similarly about the nabe. Good soup dumplings are like miniature volcanoes, waiting to erupt with broth and meat, we suggest the pork and crab which is packed into delicate dumpling wrappers with that good juice. Just wait for them to cool down a little first.
Don’t miss: Ask the servers to bring you their favorite dishes, with no plate costing over $10, you can explore the menu without worrying about rent next month.
What is it? An expertly curated, 149-year-old institution that fills visitors of all ages with a curiosity about the universe.
Why go? 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 visit is bound to teach you a few things you never knew. With four floors filled to the brim with artifacts, you could spend a whole day just looking at the taxidermied animals that hail from from North America, Asia, Africa, rain forests and the ocean. Or, conversely, you could spend a day like an anthropologist, studying just the human species, with halls dedicated to an array of different cultures.
Don’t miss: “Taking out-of-towners here and looking at the big blue whale from their eyes reminds you just how amazing it really is,” says Alise of the Upper East Side of the 94-foot-long suspended stunner.
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 packed 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.
What is it? After nearly 50 years in its Marcel-Breur-designed building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street, the Whitney Museum decamped in 2015 to a new home in the Meatpacking District.
Why go? Founded in 1931 by sculptor and art patron Gertrude Vanderbilt, the Whitney is dedicated to presenting the work of American artists. Its collection holds about 15,000 pieces by nearly 2,000 artists, including Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper (the museum holds his entire estate), Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O’Keeffe and Claes Oldenburg.
Don’t miss: Art editor Howard Halle suggests Hooper's 1930 masterpiece Early Sunday Morning.
What is it? A cinema lover's paradise that reopened in 2018 after a spiffy renovation.
Why go? When it opened in 1970, this nonprofit cinema had folding chairs for seats. Today, it’s open every day year round, so you can catch foreign and indie cinema favorites whenever you want. Visit their site to watch trailers for upcoming releases, or give a gift membership to your favorite movie-obsessed friend, which offers everything from discounted tickets, merch and limited-edition art.
Don’t miss: “Have an egg cream on a weekend here,” suggests global deputy film editor Joshua Rothkopf.
What is it? The newest outpost of TKTS, a massively popular go-to for discounted Broadway and Off Broadway tickets.
Why go? The flagship TKTS location on Broadway at 47th Street is flashier, but the Lincoln Center version is a whole lot more pleasant. "It’s indoors, it’s less crowded and it’s far from the madding Times Square crowd of tourists and costumed buskers," says Theater and Dance editor Adam Feldman.
Don’t miss: The Lincoln Center TKTS opens at noon, three hours before the one in Times Square, so get there early for a better chance of snagging tickets to the shows you want. You can even buy tickets for matinee performances the following day.
What is it? An iconic jazz bar in the West Village.
Why go? "Catch a jazz set at the Village Vanguard. On a good night, the downstairs club still feels like the center of the musical universe,” says Hank of South Slope. This historic basement stage has been swinging with the sweet sounds of everyone from Miles Davis to Harry Belafonte since it opened in 1935, and it still hosts some of the biggest names in jazz today.
Don’t miss: The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra which has been playing every Monday night at the venue since 1966
What is it? An actual (serious) museum dedicated to the cultural significance of human sexuality.
Why go? “Take a date to the Museum of Sex—seeing how he reacts to the exhibits will tell you a lot about him and maybe give you both a few ideas,” say Zoe of the Lower East Side. If you’re in a sexual rut—or if you’re just looking for a break from your typical museum experience—you’ll want to bring your partner to MoSex’s Jump for Joy, a bouncy castle of breasts. Consider it foreplay before you lovebirds get down and dirty in private.
Don’t Miss: The museum’s store offers an excellently curated selection of sex toys and other items.
What is it? A true feat of 19th century engineering and arguably the one walk every local and visitor must take.
Why go? This essential trek is "is so romantic that is has the power to turn platonic relationships into something more,” claims Javier in Little Italy. And you'll hear no arguments from us. The 1.3-mile-long stunner was the world's largest suspension bridge when it opened in 1883 it has remained an iconic landmark of the city ever since.
Don’t miss: The Brooklyn side of the bridge ends in gorgeous Dumbo, where you can explore Brooklyn Bridge Park, gaze at Lady Liberty, visit the Brooklyn Flea on Sundays.
What is it? The chance to see the Bard's work excellently staged, with top-notch actors and direction, right in Central Park.
Why go? “These amazing actors somehow always manage to make the plays accessible, even to those of us who didn’t understand them in high school," says Beth in Glendale. And indeed, every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved, free-of-charge NYC democratic tradition presented at the open-air Delacorte Theater. There’s nothing quite like hearing the Bard’s immortal words performed outside, with a backdrop of natural splendor and the Belvedere Castle looming in the background. It's the world’s most impressive set decoration.
Don’t miss: Gratis tickets are distributed every show day at the Delacorte Theater at noon. Get there early. Remember: You snooze, you lose.
What is it? A centrally located Manhattan park that serves as a bustling gathering point and houses the popular Union Square Greenmarket.
Why go? “I pick up everything I need for a romantic evening at home at the Union Square farmers market: wine, fresh meat and produce, and flowers,” says Dan of the West Village. Operating four days a week, the Union Square Greenmarket has vendors of every variety. The market began with just a few farmers in 1976, and in addition to some of the freshest produce in town, today’s park-goers can buy artisanal cheeses, wines from upstate vineyards, sweet jams and other goods from dozens of rotating stands. In the winter months, the park also houses a popular winter village packed full of local vendors offering unique holiday gifts.
Don’t miss: The seasonal restaurant located inside the park, Bocce USQ.
What is it? A restaurant specializing in delicious dumplings at super low prices.
Why go? “Eat dumplings at Vanessa’s, because it’s the greatest gustatory experience known to any primate,” says Alice of Woodlawn. We can’t confirm for sure that the piping-hot, juicy and crazy-cheap (a measly buck for four) chive-and-pork dumplings at Vanessa’s Dumpling House on the LES are more enjoyable to humans than bananas are to chimpanzees. But the freshly made, savory gems always bring us back.
Don’t miss: If you feel like branching out from dumplings, try one of their tasty sesame pancakes.
What is it? A retro supper club with multiple cabaret shows every night.
Why go? “Check out new artists at 54 Below. Everyone in the audience acts like they’re supporting family,” says Kenneth of the Upper West Side. Elegant and sexy, this 1920s-style supper club is affectionately known as Broadway’s Living Room—with its dark mahogany and red banquettes, it’s easy to see how you could get comfortable there. Pre-theater dinner is offered nightly until 5pm, the lounge is open late and all tables for nightly shows are no more than 24 feet from the stage, which makes it the perfect vantage point to take in up to three shows per night.
Don’t miss: The 54 Below Manhattan, a speciality cocktail with McKenzie Rye
What is it? An historic bar with ties to the literary luminaries of the roaring ‘20s.
Why go? “Have a champagne lunch at the Algonquin Hotel, and indulge your literary and boozy fantasies in the Round Table Room,” says Megan of Williamsburg. Sure, not many writers these days have the expendable income to sit around sipping $19 glasses of bubbly while brainstorming their next masterwork in the most opulent of settings. All the more reason to spend just a single afternoon in one of NYC’s most iconic literary lounges, channeling the spirit of Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.
Don’t miss: The hotel’s most famous resident “The Algonquin Cat,” currently a tabby named Hamlet.
What is it? A festive, fun lesbian bar in the West Village.
Why go? “All of the crazy stuff hanging from the ceiling, like the fish and toys, and the great jukebox give the Cubbyhole so much character," says Jane of Inwood. Indeed, “kitschy” doesn’t begin to describe the glorious rainbow of rubber ocean creatures, paper lanterns and parasols that dangle from the ceiling of this feel-good bar, a haven of loud pop music, free popcorn and cheerfully inebriated patrons.
Don’t miss: Barstools are upholstered with glossy vinyl bearing pictures of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Instagram away.
What is it? A 9.75-acre public park that serves as the beating heart of Greenwich Village.
Why go? “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.
Don’t miss: On hot summer days, dip your feet into the giant circular park fountain.
What is it? A sweet rock-centric club on a happening Williamsburg strip.
Why go? “Baby’s All Right gets a good mix of local and touring bands, and the sound is always stellar,” says Dave of Williamsburg. Since opening five years back, this place is known for awesome live music and great stage views no matter where you are in the venue, hosting buzzy bands of the moment, as well as poppy late-night dance parties.
Don’t miss: Instead of bar snacks, you can munch on coconut-topped lettuce cups with smoked pork or tofu and other goodies in Baby's side eatery.
What is it? Quite possibly New York’s most dapper nightspot.
Why go? While the steep cover charge and white-jacketed service makes sure riffraff doesn’t scuff up the literally golden space (the ceiling is adorned with 24-karat gold-leaf), the spiffy potions preserve the bar’s classic character. At this spot inside the Carlyle hotel, try the popular chilled Manhattans that are served with a sidecar.
Don’t miss: The bar’s most valued draw is the original Ludwig Bemelmans (creator of Madeline) murals along the walls. Fun fact: "Instead of getting paid, Bemelmans exchanged his work for a free 18-month stay at the hotel," notes associate Food & Drink editor Alyson Penn.
What is it? The biggest metropolitan zoo in North America.
Why go? If you’ve got a hankering to reconnect with wildlife, check out this Bronx go-to. 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. Be sure to pay a special visit to the American Bison, too, which was just declared America’s national mammal.
Don’t miss: Strapped for cash? “The Bronx Zoo is free on Wednesdays,” points out Danny of Flushing.
What is it? The Bronx home of the New York Yankees.
Why go? “Attend Calendar Day at Yankee Stadium. Go Yankees!” recommends Alex of Hamilton Heights of the world-famous sports stadium. Sure, the free team calendar is nice, but chilling out in the bleachers at the House that Ruth Built, in all its manicured-lawn glory, is nicer. And even if A-Rod doesn’t launch his 661st career home run, passing Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time list, you’ll wind up going home with a more valuable souvenir—a memory (aww). Celebrate history after the game by hitting Yankee-fan bar Stan’s just down the block.
Don’t miss: The stadium’s excellent new food options including Bareburger, Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque and Tater Kegs.
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.
What is it? A local beer company that grows in Brooklyn.
Why go? “Taste the beers at the Other Half Brewing Company—I’m so impressed by the selection they’ve crafted. Even though I’ve been several times I still feel like I get to try something new each visit,” claims Colin of Gowanus. Pre-prohibition New York City was a beehive of breweries, our ale game laid dormant for very long until hopheads of late have established new brews in town. Three buddies started Other Half Brewing, which is putting out stellar IPAs, stouts and more in an unmarked, tiny tasting room across from a McDonald’s. Sample their newest brews before they hit bars, and lug your faves home in a growler.
Don’t miss: If you think the local water does wonders for pizza and bagels, wait until you taste it in an Imperial IPA.
What is it? An accessible (none of that Meatpacking judgemental stuff) multiroom dance club for the real party people.
Why go? Joel of Mill Basin comes out and says it, “Dance to DJ sets at Output, because it’s a great place to hook up.” If putting out is what you’re after, there are plenty of dark corners at this sleek, pretension-free club to do so. Not that you’d even want to do much talking—the sound system is one of the best in the city, whether you’re losing yourself in electronica, techno or house beats.
Don’t miss: While you explore the adult playground make sure to slip out to the chill rooftop.
What is it? Surrounded by the concrete jungle are 250 acres of verdant oasis—year round. The NYBG is a historic, verdant oasis all year round. Special exhibits include Saving the Plants of the World, gardening’s relationship to the arts and humanities and a how-to course on creating your own green oasis.
Why go? To see how the greatest city in the world sets up a garden (hint: there’s normally whimsical artistic elements).
Don’t miss: “Celebrate the holidays at the Botanical Garden’s train garden—seeing all those miniature NYC buildings is worth the crowds,” says Michael of Brooklyn Heights.
What is it? A free ferry that transports people between Manhattan and Staten Island.
Why go? “Take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free and you can drink!” says Suzannah of Kew Gardens, Queens. You heard the woman: It’s free and you can drink! Need we say more? Okay, fine, how about “amazing views of the Statue of Liberty”? Oh, by the way, the hour-long round-trip ride boasts some of the lowest beer prices in the city—cans of Bud go for $4—so you can live it up booze-cruise-style for less than a five-spot. Classy.
Don’t miss: The sparkling Seaglass Carousel next to the Manhattan terminal is an entertaining diversion.
What is it? An annual waterfront costume parade that takes over Coney Island
Why go? “The Mermaid Parade is the wildest thing I’ve ever seen,” say Mina of Park Slope. The annual parade is one of NYC’s freakiest, most iconic New York attractions and one of the best things to do in the summer. Each year, thousands of spectators flock to Surf Avenue, Coney Island’s main drag, to watch King Neptune and Queen Mermaid lead a procession of beglittered seminude marchers in costumes through the neighborhood.
Don’t miss: Escape some of the massive crowds and grab a drink at Freak Bar which is right on the route
What is it? It’s the Sunshine State by way of Gowanus at this pastel-streaked Floridian playground.
Why go? “It has all of my favorite things under one, spacious roof: activities that include friendly competition, local food trucks, alcohol, music and amazing decor for all those Instagrammable moments,” says senior marketing manager Nicole Lilienthal. At the 17,000-square-foot game hall, neck-tattooed skaters and fly girls gather over rounds of biscuit and tang (shufflespeak for pucks and poles), forming a scene that’s as flamboyantly Boca as it is staunchly Brooklyn.
Don’t miss: Sunny umbrella drinks inspired by alligator-belt shuffleboard greats, like the rum-and-grapefruit Christine Page Punch.
What is it? One of the most authentic (and best) Thai spots.
Why go? Unfortunately, authentic Thai food can be hard to come by in NYC with the typical Thai spot offering overly sweet and simplified versions of vibrant dishes. SriPraPhai is not one of those run-of-the-mill Thai joints. The extensive menu features a myriad of Thai flavors, all true to form.
Don’t miss: "The khao-soy is a beautiful bowl of curry egg noodles hailing from northern Thailand," says Food & Drink editor Jake Cohen.
What is it? On June 13 from 6-9pm, anyone can get into eight of NYC’s best museums—like the Guggenheim, Neue Gallery, and the Met—for free! You’d normally pay $25, so we consider this a bargain. It’s been a city tradition since the 1970’s, and thousands attend the culture crawl on 5th Avenue each year.
Why go? “Hit the Museum Mile Festival to see some of the city’s [the world’s] most iconic art for free,” offers Terri of Dyker Heights.
Don’t miss: Your opportunity to contemplate your personal From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler opportunity.
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. “In the summer, blues, jazz and Hill Billy Blue Grass music fills the park and makes it pleasant,” says Suri of the adjacent neighborhood of Chelsea. 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.
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 Food & Drink editor Jake Cohen.
What is it? Right off the Hudson River Park a number of watersports companies will get you onto a paddleboard, kayak or sailboat and into the Hudson.
Why go? Picture yourself standing on a wide surfboard in the middle of the Hudson, balancing like a champ while paddling to and fro using a long oar. Revel in that for a sec. Now picture the reality: a lot of wobbling and yelping and splashing into the water, unless you have insanely strong abs. Either way, it’s still totally fun, and taking in an up-close view of the Upper West Side while cruising along the Hudson is pretty breathtaking. “Rent a stand-up paddleboard from Manhattan Kayak Company, because you see the city from a unique vantage point and get a great workout.” says Benny of the Upper West Side.
Don’t miss: The Frying Pan is a permanently docked lightship on which, during season, you can have a drink and regal the patrons with your tales of the high sea
What is it? A sprawling public park in the Bronx.
Why go? “Explore the trails around Pelham Bay Park. It’s actually the largest public park in New York City and there’s so much to see there, ” says Greg of City Island. Pelham Bay Park isn’t just the end of the 6 line—it’s a green space three times bigger than Central Park. Among its treasures: two golf courses, a massive historic mansion, a 13-mile saltwater shoreline along the Long Island Sound, plenty of hiking trials and, for you bird watchers, a hearty population of osprey.
Don’t miss: The Bronx’s only public beach, Orchard Beach
What is it? A hip comedy and live music hub in Park Slope.
Why go? “See comedy at Union Hall—it’s the perfect place to see the next generation of comedic voices in an intimate setting,” says Jon of South Slope. A 5,000-square-foot wonderland of beer, wine and hipster beards, Union Hall also features a downstairs stage, which hosts comedy sets from SNL writers, Wyatt Cenac and up-and-coming funny people.
Don’t miss: The bar’s massive bocce courts.
What is it? New York's first dim-sum house (and one of its finest).
Why go? “Start on a dim-sum crawl on Doyers Street in Chinatown,” suggests Nadia of the East Village. We also can't think of a better spot to kick off a tasty tour of Chinatown than this gem that dates back to 1920. The dining room is charming and welcoming, from the checkered tablecloths over Art Deco tables to the couples huddled beneath old posters of a glam Chinese movie star. The food, too, stands apart; the dim sum here tastes fresher and is more affordable than the nearby competition.
Don’t miss: Try the ultra-fluffy oversize roasted-pork bun, the flaky fried crepe egg roll and the tender stuffed eggplant filled with a spiced shrimp-and-squid mixture.
What is it? A stretch of sand that is one part New York attitude, one part beach-bum lifestyle.
Why go? As Joey Ramone once sang about the Queens coastal anthem “Rockaway Beach,” “It’s not hard, not far to reach!” Indeed, it’s only about an hour A-train ride from Fulton Street to the beach, complete with a view of the coast for a good portion of the ride. With hip shops and eateries (including a snack shack by the crews of Roberta’s and Meat Hook called Rippers) the area is far less carnival than Coney Island so the crowd on the boardwalk is far more chill.
Don’t miss: “Take the train to Rockaway Beach on a quiet weekday, then have fish tacos and watermelon juice at Rockaway Taco.” —Michele, Carroll Gardens
What is it? A famed (and visually and sonically stunning) outdoor film series.
Why go? “There’s nothing like seeing a flick on the big screen with the city as your backdrop,” says Joe of Williamsburg. Each summer, Bryant Park Movie Nights takes over the iconic green space on Monday evenings, projecting classics like The Shining and E.T. right in the heart of midtown.
Don’t miss: Gates open at 5pm and lawn space fills up fast, so bring that blanket and picnic basket and act accordingly.
What is it? A hot Greenpoint club that blasts the techno, electronica and nu-disco bangers.
Why go? Well, it’s a few rooms, actually. Designed with the DJs in mind, the main one has a perfectly placed booth, a solid sound system, an expansive dance floor and a small stage for performances. Another space has a massive square bar, while a smaller spot—the Bad Room—houses a wall of vinyl and another DJ setup for more tunes. No matter where you are here, however, “the DJs are always great,” says Ari in Ridgewood.
Don’t miss: Joshua D. Houtkin and David R. Pianka’s popular FIXED party.
What is it? Donald and Shelley Rubin’s impressive collection of Himalayan, Indian and Buddhist art and artifacts on display.
Why go? Spiritual types will love this museum, which is dedicated to Himalayan and Buddhist art and features lectures, movies, music and more. The museum is layered over five gallery floors in the old Barney’s New York space on 17th street. The awe-inspiring works range from classical to contemporary giving visitors a well-rounded experience with Eastern cultures.
Don’t miss: “Catch Buddhist talks at the Rubin.”—Sophie, Prospect Heights
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.
What is it? Gain a new understanding of our fair city's splendorous design with the help of this chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Why go? “Take one of AIA New York’s architecture tours," suggests Time Out Digital CEO Christine Petersen. "They’re such a cool and informative way to explore our city.” The organization offers 20 expert-led walking tours, which cover everything from urban planning and modern architecture to neighborhood revitalization, as well as a handful of boat tours for the seafaring set.
Don’t miss: Hankering for more great guided explorations? Check out our roundup of the best NYC tours and walks.
What is it? A meticulously manicured park in the backyard of the New York Public Library
Why go? Aside from the free skating and the opportunity to fill yourself with holiday cheer, the Bank of America Winter Village now features a festive rinkside bar and food hall, The Lodge by Urbanspace. Stop by to snag eats from top-notch vendors like Mah-Se-Dahr bakery, Pierogi Boys and Todaro Bros. Skate rentals are just $20 a pair, and no worries if you can’t skate—the ring offers private, semi-private and group lessons. Just remember to reserve 48 hours in advance.
Don’t miss: The opulent public bathroom in the northeast corner of the park is the nicest one in the entire city (Seriously. Peek in if you have time.)
What is it? Home to a fluffy freshly baked bagel adorned with crystals of salt and coarsely ground black pepper.
Why go? "You can see the bagels being made right in the center of the dining room before they get transported on giant wooden sticks straight to your table," says Food & Drink editor Jake Cohen. Each ring is something to cherish, but the combo of crunchy salt and pepper on your bagel is truly everything to us.
Don't miss: Taking in the baroque feast-for- the-eyes atmosphere, all marble countertops, paper-hatted smoked-fish attendants and ol’ Broadway razzle-dazzle.