101 things to do in NYC in spring 2012

Your guide to New York's vernal pleasures.

  • Photograph: Courtesy World Science Festival

    91. Explore the World Science Festival

  • Photograph: Courtesy Theater for the New City

    92. Get a downtown culture fix at the Lower East Side Festival for the Arts

  • Photograph: Dez Santana

    93. Take your taste buds globe-trotting at the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival

  • 94. Sweat out your winter sins. Pictured: Russian wet steam room at Body by Brooklyn

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Wednesday Night Skate group

    95. Roll with your homies at Wednesday Night Skate

  • 97. Hear work by idiosyncratic composers. Pictured: Michael Tilson Thomas

  • Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher

    98. Take a private tour of Central Park Zoo

  • Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Galerie

    99. Check out work by young contemporary artists at the New Museum Triennial. Pictured: Hassan Kahn, JEWEL

  • Photograph: Courtesy Liana Finck

    100. Celebrate a milestone at the Museum at Eldridge Street. Pictured: A drawing from Liana Finck's graphic novel A Bintel Brief

  • 101. Imagine a better neighborhood at "Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City,"

Photograph: Courtesy World Science Festival

91. Explore the World Science Festival

91. Explore the World Science Festival
The fifth-annual festival celebrates scientific pursuits—from pandemic prevention to quantum entanglement—with brainy panels and performances over five days. Last year's participants included James Watson, half of the duo that discovered the double-helix structure of DNA; guitarist Pat Metheny; and Moth storytellers, including monologuist Mike Daisey. Locations and prices vary; see worldsciencefestival.com for more information. May 30--June 3.

92. Get a downtown culture fix
Downtown stalwart Theater for the New City throws the 17th annual Lower East Side Festival for the Arts, featuring playwrights' works, plus puppeteers and other performers. Expect to see downtown art-scene staples like Penny Arcade, Reno, Bina Sharif and Steve Ben Israel in and around the neighborhood. The centerpiece is a street fair (10th St between First and Second Aves; May 26 noon--6pm) on Saturday afternoon. Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave between 9th and 10th Sts (212-254-1109, theaterforthenewcity.net). May 25 6pm--1am; May 26 noon--1am; May 27 4pm--midnight. Free.

93. Take your taste buds globe-trotting
Street-fair season is upon us, but the two-day Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, now in its 39th year, puts the tube-sock-touting minifests in the shade. Shop for crafts, clothes and jewelry at more than 200 stalls, and check out food carts from local restos like BBQ joint Southern Hospitality and biergarten Hallo Berlin Express. Once you've finished consuming, take in international music and dance performances at the 55th Street stage. Ninth Ave from 42nd to 57th Sts (ninthavenuefoodfestival.com). May 19, 20 noon--5pm; free.

94. Sweat out your winter sins
Spring is all about new beginnings, and there's no better place to achieve catharsis than in a spa. At Body by Brooklyn, you can spend a day cycling through a Swedish dry sauna, a Turkish steam room, pools galore and a lounge where you can brunch on weekends. To really pay penance, ask for the platza treatment to be brushed and gently beaten with a bundle of oak leaves ($40, with sea salt scrub $80) before being drenched in ice-cold water—invigorating doesn't come close to describing it. Explore your relaxation options with more of NYC's best spas. 275 Park Ave between Washington and Waverly Aves, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn (718-923-9400, bodybybrooklyn.com). Mon, Wed, Thu, Sun 10am--8pm; Fri, Sat 10am--9pm. All-day admission Mon--Fri $45; Sat, Sun $45, with brunch $55.

95. Roll with your homies
While the hardy bikers of Critical Mass ride throughout the year, Wednesday Night Skate begins its free weekly two-hour group skate on April 4. Starting and ending in Union Square, staff lead up to 80 participants embark on a different route each week, finishing with food, drinks and camaraderie at Gramercy bistro Mumbles (179 Third Ave at E 17th St; 212-477-6066, mumblesnyc.com). Meet at the south end of Union Square, E 14th St between Broadway and University Pl (weskateny.org). Wed 7:45pm; free.

96. Check in at Internet Week New York
It used to be that you weren't a real New Yorker until you were mugged. With the explosion of New York's tech scene, we're inching closer to the day when you don't belong here unless you've worked at a start-up. If you're a noob, step into that world at this annual festival. A pass gets you access to the hub at event space 82Mercer (82 Mercer St between Broome and Spring Sts), which offers art and tech installations to play with and a Creators' Project speakers series. Alternatively, just have fun at the Girls Who Rock concert at Gramercy Theatre (127 E 23rd St between Park Ave South and Lexington Ave; thegramercytheatre.com; date, time and price TBA). The gig benefits She's the First, a not-for-profit that sponsors girls' education, and JoJo and Nina Sky headlined last year's ladycentric lineup. Locations, times and prices vary; see internetweekny.com for details. May 14--21.

97. Hear work by idiosyncratic composers
The San Francisco Symphony's trailblazing maestro Michael Tilson Thomas brings the multicity American Mavericks festival, dedicated to the revolutionaries and oddball characters of contemporary American music, to New York City. The jamboree offers lectures, exhibits and concerts that exalt music by classic nonconformists like John Cage, John Adams and Morton Feldman, as well as a new generation of boundary pushers. Highlights include free neighborhood concerts by Alarm Will Sound, violinist Jennifer Koh and pianist Lisa Moore, as well as four nights with the San Francisco Symphony featuring Emanuel Ax, Jessye Norman and Meredith Monk. Locations, times and prices vary; visit americanmavericks.org for details. Mar 14--30.

98. Take a private tour of Central Park Zoo
Get a fresh (and less crowded) perspective on the majesty of wildlife at a new lecture series about urban ecology and sustainability by Fordham University and the Wildlife Conservation Society—which operates the Central Park, Prospect Park, Bronx and Queens Zoos. Hear about new research during "Penguin Discoveries" (Apr 19 6:30--7:30pm; $30, members $25, students $18) and take a private tour of the penguin exhibit, which includes four king penguins. Or discover how wildlife deals with urban living at "Urban Impacts on the Landscape" (May 17 6:30--7:30pm; $30, members $25, students $18), with a private tour of the zoo's collection of sea ducks—a remarkably resilient breed. 4D Theater, Central Park Zoo, southeast corner of Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave at 64th St (212-439-6500, centralparkzoo.com)

99. Check out work by young contemporary artists
The second edition of the New Museum Triennial, "The Ungovernables," features a crop of emerging artists born after the mid-1970s whose work deals with globalism and the continuing cultural fallout from the '60s. The roster comprises 34 artists, groups and temporary collectives, totaling 50 participants in all. Although there's nothing unruly or envelope-pushing about any of the works here, a few standout pieces—such as a video by Egyptian artist Hassan Khan, set to the propulsive strains of traditional Cairo street music, and a stairwell installation by American artist Abigail DeVille—are worth the price of admission. 235 Bowery at Prince St (212-219-1222, newmuseum.org). Wed, Fri--Sun 11am--6pm; Thu 11am--9pm. $12, seniors $10, students with ID $8, children under 18 free. Through Apr 22.

100. Celebrate a milestone at a landmark building
To celebrate its 125th anniversary, the Museum at Eldridge Street has planned a diverse lineup of programs highlighting the institution's history (it was one of the first major synagogues to be built on the Lower East Side) and connection to its surrounding neighborhood. This season's offerings include "125th Anniversary in Conversation," a series of discussions with noteworthy Jewish cultural figures (including songwriter Mike Stoller and filmmaker Henry Bean); an exhibit of drawings from Liana Finck's graphic novel A Bintel Brief; and tours of the historic building. 12 Eldridge St between Canal and Division Sts (212-219-0888, eldridgestreet.org). Times and prices vary.

101. Imagine a better neighborhood
For "Civic Action: A Vision for Long Island City," four artists, including Rirkrit Tiravanija and George Trakas, were invited to create innovative proposals for ways to keep the Queen nabe's character—a vibrant mixture of residential life, art, industry and open space—for this exhibit. A small-scale version of the show has shown at the Noguchi Museum since October, but an iteration at Socrates Sculpture Park brings larger and more complex models of the artists' designs. All creations incorporate some degree of interactivity, such as Tiravanija's proposal for a community kitchen in the park and Trakas's idea for a promenade hugging the East River. Socrates Sculpture Park, 32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens (718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org). Free. Opens in May.

Additional reporting by Sloan Rollins

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