101 things to do in NYC in spring 2012

Your guide to New York's vernal pleasures.

  • Photograph: Syd London

    11. Join an Easter processional

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    12. Visit the High Line

  • Photograph: Jena Cumbo

    13. Watch a piece being painted at 5Pointz

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    14. Bust a move on Broadway. Pictured: New York Dance Parade 2011

  • 15. Imbibe atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Photograph: David Reeves

    16. Praise the sun god. Pictured: Manhattanhenge

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    17. Try chef Andy Ricker's wings

  • Photograph: Norman Blake

    18. See the freaks come out for Coney Island. Pictured: Coney Island Spring Gala 2011

  • Photograph: Daniel S. Burnstein

    19. Ride your steed

  • Photograph: Courtesy New York Yankees

    20. Root for the home teams. Pictured: Yankee Stadium

Photograph: Syd London

11. Join an Easter processional

11. Join an Easter processional
Sunday best
gets new meaning during this annual procession, wherein participants show off elaborately constructed hats—we're talking noggin-toppers shaped like the NYC skyline or the Coney Island Cyclone, not just a boring old fedora. The tradition started in the mid-1800s, when high-society ladies would promenade in their Easter finery after church, and has since evolved into a showcase for chapeau artistry. And expect several puppies in bunny ears. Fifth Ave from 49th to 57th Sts (nycgo.com). Apr 8 10am-4pm; free.

12. Visit the High Line
Spring is the best time to visit the elevated park: Lush plants and flora (such as Aurora dogwood, Allegheny serviceberry and Young Lady smoke tree) come to life after winter dormancy, and you can relax sans puffy coat on the verdant lawn at 23rd Street. The park's programming also blooms, with the return of Stargazing on the High Line (various locations, call 212-206-9922 or follow @highlinenyc for updates; Tue dusk--9:30pm, weather permitting; free; begins Apr 3), held by the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (aaa.org) and using its high-powered telescopes. Guided walking tours also return in May (meet at the 14th Street Passage, Tenth Ave at 14th St; Tue 6:30pm; free; begins May 8). We also can't wait to see the work by darkly comic Scottish artist David Shrigley that will adorn the billboard at West 18th Street (starting Apr 1). From Gansevoort St at Washington St to Tenth Ave at 30th St (thehighline.org). Daily 7am--7pm.

13. Watch a piece being painted at 5Pointz
Since February, small tours of the Queens graffiti epicenter have been running every two weeks. We recommend booking tickets now to be one of eight people to be shown around by curator and artist Meres One. He'll point out the best pieces among the myriad murals that adorn the walls of the disused warehouse, then lead you up to the roof for a stunning view of Manhattan, before giving a live painting demonstration. 45-46 Davis St at Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens (sidetour.com). Every two weeks, Sun 2--3:30pm; $35.

14. Bust a move on Broadway
The organizers behind the Sixth Annual New York Dance Parade have, we assume, been binge-watching the History Channel: This year will showcase dance through the ages, offering a chronological, globe-trotting trip from ancient to contemporary styles. Some 10,000 participants will hot-step down Broadway among floats, bands and DJs, finishing in Tompkins Square Park for the postparade Dance Fest (3--7pm) featuring performances, workshops and a free-for-all party. Parade begins on Broadway at 21st St (danceparade.org). May 19 at 1pm; free.

15. Imbibe atop the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Enjoy a glorious view of Central Park from the top of the Met at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, where you can relax with a cocktail and gaze at the green expanse below. This year's installation is "Cloud City" by Argentine artist Toms Saraceno, a series of interconnected, room-size pods that visitors can explore. 1000 Fifth Ave at 82nd St (212-535-7710, metmuseum.org). Tue--Thu, Sun 9:30am--5:30pm; Fri, Sat 9:30am--9pm. Suggested donation $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free. May 1--Nov 4.

16. Praise the sun god
Early risers got to enjoy a Manhattanhenge sunrise—in which the sun aligns exactly with the isle's cross streets—in January, but on May 30, you'll be able to sleep in and still catch the natural phenomenon at sunset. Grab yourself a perch before 8pm anywhere above 14th Street, and ready your camera: At 8:16pm, the city will be spectacularly illuminated, and buildings on both sides of you will sparkle with the sun's rays. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium (and the guy who popularized the event), recommends setting up on 34th or 42nd Street, so the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building, respectively, enhances the scene.

17. Try chef Andy Ricker's wings
In January, food bloggers breathlessly chronicled the New York opening of Pok Pok Wing, the Southeast Asian takeout joint from Portland's Andy Ricker. In April, the James Beard Award--winning toque will launch a full-fledged outpost of his Oregon flagship. Look for signature dishes like Da Chom's larb muang (Northern Thai minced pork salad) and khao soi (Northern Thai yellow curry soup). Check out more of spring's hot restaurant openings. 127 Columbia St between DeGraw and Kane Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (pokpokpdx.com). April.

18. See the freaks come out for Coney Island
A new season of sideshow shenanigans explodes forth at the Coney Island USA Spring Gala, held at monster venue Webster Hall (125 E 11th St between Third and Fourth Aves; 212-353-1600, websterhall.com; Mar 24 7--11pm; $60--$250). The benefit supports a season of programming, including the 30th anniversary of the clothes-shunning Mermaid Parade (registration is open now at coneyisland.com; $15). Circus performers will give the audience an eyeful of aerial performances, fire dancing, burlesque and more; your ticket also gets you access to Webster Hall's marquee Saturday-night party, Circus. More dates for your calendar: Noisefest, a raucous musical celebration of the Coney Island spirit, is on April 1; the famed Circus Sideshow performs on weekends (1--8pm) beginning April 7; the gawk-worthy Congress of Curious Peoples runs from April 13 to 22; and a new season of Burlesque on the Beach (Thu--Fri through Sept) starts on April 26.

19. Ride your steed
Each year, the Parks Department, Transportation Alternatives, and several biking businesses and nonprofits collaborate to make May Bike Month, the most cycling-friendly time of year. The celebration starts with the New Amsterdam Bike Show (Apr 28, 29) and continues with pedal-powered events like the Brooklyn Bike Jumble (May 19), the TD Five Boro Bike Tour (May 6) and the Bike Brooklyn Beer Blitz (date TBA). On the latter, a history-focused tour features a stop at a Williamsburg bar mid-jaunt. Locations and times vary; visit bikemonthnyc.org for details.

20. Root for the home teams
Head to the ballpark for the season's opening games, where a cold brew and a hot dog are waiting for you. Consider calling in sick for the Yankees' home opener against the formidable Los Angeles Angels, who snagged the off-season's highest-profile free agent in Albert Pujols. Fans eager to see a game can visit Citi Field eight days earlier for the Mets' first game, against the Atlanta Braves. The Amazin's didn't make many off-season moves, but the team may benefit from one change: the new, smaller dimensions of the stadium's outfield, which will ideally send a few more home runs into the stands. Yankee Stadium, 1 E 161st St between Jerome and River Aves, Bronx (newyork.yankees.mlb.com). Opening day: Apr 13 at 1:05pm; $15--$300 * Citi Field, Roosevelt Ave at 126th St, Flushing, Queens (mets.com). Opening day: Apr 5 at 1:10pm; $30--$325.