1. Analyze art in Central Park
The trees are budding, the birds are chirping, and the days are getting longer—time to get thee to Central Park. A picnic on Sheep Meadow (midpark, from 66th St to 69th St; enter at Central Park West and 67th St) or a row about the pond (Loeb Boathouse, Fifth Ave at 72nd St; 10am--5:30pm; beginning in April; $12) will allow you to explore iconic destinations (see our essential Central Park guide for more), but for a more original experience, take in some outdoor art. Starting March 1, see Eva Rothschild's sculptural gateway commissioned by the Public Art Fund (Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, Fifth Ave at 60th St; 212-980-4575, publicartfund.org), a 20-foot-tall steel structure that will rise over the plaza like a ten-legged spider. Far out.
2. Tour Brooklyn Brewery's expanded factory and try its new suds
There's more than ever to love at this Williamsburg beer destination, which just expanded into the warehouse next door. That means 12,000 more barrels of hoppy goodness per year, and a chance to learn about the brewing process amid brand-new German equipment. After your tour, toast the educational process with the newest brew, Brooklyn Main Engine Start, a dry, golden ale perfect for a springy outlook ($4, six for $20). 79 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave; Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-7422, brooklynbrewery.com). Sat, Sun 1--5pm; free.
3. Dine alfresco
The ultimate sign of spring? Having to wait twice as long for an outdoor table. We're not complaining—we'll gladly bite that bullet for a chance to eat in the fresh air. Try the garden at Back Forty (190 Ave B between 11th and 12th Sts; 212-388-1990,backfortynyc.com), where you can chow down on seasonal farm-to-table veggies and grass-fed burgers ($11). You'll find indulgent Italian fare in the courtyard at fellow East Village spot Gnocco Cucina & Tradizione (337 E 10th St between Aves A and B; 212-677-1913, gnocco.com), while Clemente's Maryland Crabhouse (Venice Marina, 3939 Emmons Ave at Knapp St, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; 718-646-7373,clementescrabhouse.com) serves up all-you-can-eat crabs ($29.95) on a deck overlooking Sheepshead Bay. For more choices, see all of our outdoor dining recommendations.
4. Fly a kite at Socrates Sculpture Park
Remember what it was like to be eight with a day of kite-making and flying, at this riverside park on April 25 (32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens; 718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org; 11am; free), when you can fashion your flying craft out of free recycled materials. A former landfill remade into an outdoor community space, the sculpture park is a fitting environment for a day of repurposed merrymaking, as well as an ideal harbor for kayak trips courtesy of the Long Island City Community Boat House (starting May 22; visit licboathouse.org for more information).
5. Scour seasonal flea markets
Come May 7, the Lower East Side will be bustling with activity at the Hester Street Fair(Hester St at Essex St; hesterstreetfair.com; Sat 10am), where you can score retro jewelry, antique decor and old-fashioned hats, while enjoying thick mint ice-cream sandwiches (peppermint ice cream between two crunchy chocolate cookies, $4) from Melt Bakery. For a concept with a twist, check out the Bedford Village Market (8 Macon St between Arlington Pl and Nostrand Ave, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; 646-247-2437, bedfordvillagemarket.com; Sat, Sun 2pm, select weekends; visit website for details), opening in April (date TBA), which will devote each weekend to a specific theme, like baked goods or indie fashion.
6. Root for the home team
Head to the ballpark for the season's opening games, where a cold brew and a kosher hot dog will provide a warm welcome. Check out the Yankees' first match, on March 31 versus the Detroit Tigers (River Ave at 161st St, Bronx; 718-293-4300, yankees.com),or see the Mets' opener, against the Washington Nationals on April 8 (126th St at Roosevelt Ave, Flushing Meadows--Corona Park, Queens; 718-507-8499, mets.com).Come June 18, head to Coney Island to cheer for minor-league team the Brooklyn Cyclones as they take on the Staten Island Yankees in their first game (MCU Park, 1904 Surf Ave at 17th St; 718-449-8497, brooklyncyclones.com).
7. Drink on rooftops
Take advantage of New York's enviable views by getting buzzed at a rooftop bar. The scenery doesn't get much better than at 230 Fifth (230 Fifth Ave between 26th and 27th Sts; 212-725-4300, 230-fifth.com; 4pm--4am), where an unobscured view of the Empire State Building and a luxurious environment filled with leafy fronds, space heaters and blankets on request (at least until it really warms up) will charm you—as long as you stop by on a weeknight to avoid the throngs of tourists. On the downtown scene, check out LES gem the Delancey (168 Delancey St between Attorney and Clinton Sts; 212-254-9920, thedelancey.com; 5pm--4am), where chaise lounges and palm trees will transport you to a tropical haven. For more, browse our guide to NYC's best rooftop bars.
8. Stroll the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Take a cue from Annie Hall and spend an evening strolling along this iconic flower-lined stretch, where the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building are a few of the spots visible. Pause from ogling the skyline and show some neighborhood pride at nearbyJack the Horse Tavern (66 Hicks St at Cranberry St, Brooklyn Heights; 718-852-5084,jackthehorse.com) with a Brooklyn Heights cocktail (Rittenhouse Rye, maraschino liqueur, amaro, dry vermouth, Campari and bitters; $11).
9. Hang out in beer gardens
Biergartens are traditionally Bavarian, but Eataly's anticipated rooftop suds spot, La Birreria (200 Fifth Ave between 23rd and 24th Sts; 212-229-2560, eataly.com; opening date TBA), is resolutely Italian, with exclusive brews by Birreria del Borgo and Birreria Baladin. For a more classic experience, head to the tree-filled Studio Square (35-33 36th St between 35th and 36th Aves, Long Island City, Queens; 718-383-1001,studiosquarenyc.com), where you can sip German lagers like Hofbrau Dunkel (half liter $7, liter $13) at wooden picnic tables. The concrete lot enclosed by a bard-red fence atHot Bird (546 Clinton Ave at Atlantic Ave, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn; 718-230-5800) is an ideal spot for a casual boozefest, while Park Slope's Mission Dolores (249 Fourth Ave between Carroll and Presidents Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-399-0099,missiondoloresbar.com) welcomes canines and smokers in the courtyard of a former auto-body shop, with an impressive selection of East Coast brewers (Sly Fox, Dogfish Head, McNeill's).
10. Hop on a bike
If you prefer getting around on two wheels to two feet, then you'll want to check out the New Amsterdam Bike Show at Center 548 (548 W 22nd St at Eleventh Ave; 212-284-9737, newambikeshow.com; Apr 30 at 10am; $20, advance $15). The 33,000-square-foot space will display the latest gadgets and bicycles in order to kick off Bike Month NYC this May. For a selection of cheap cycling wares, head to the Brooklyn Bike Jumble flea market (Washington Park, Fifth Ave between 4th and 5th Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; nybikejumble.com; May 14 at 10am; free). If you're looking to actually put your bike to use, sign up for the 42-mile Five Boro Bike Tour (regular entry is sold out, but you can still register with charities or as a VIP; visit bikenewyork.org), or you can check out the best parks for biking and spring's best biking events.