101 things to do in NYC in spring 2012

Your guide to New York's vernal pleasures.

  • Photograph: The LGBT Community Center National History Archive

    21. See the work of an iconic New York artist. Pictured: Keith Haring in front of his mural Once Upon a Time at the LGBT Center

  • Photograph: Lela Scott MacNeil

    22. Get high and watch a film. Photograph: Rooftop Films

  • Photograph: Courtesy Beekman Beer Garden

    23. Drink on the waterfront. Pictured: Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    24. Pig out on Cinco de Mayo. Pictured: Carne asada taco at Dos Toros

  • Photograph: Jakob Layman

    25. Rummage in the sunshine at the Brooklyn Flea

  • 26. Treat yo self during Spa Week

  • 27. Admire the blooms in Central Park. Pictured: The Conservatory Garden

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    28. Dock at Fleet Week New York

  • 29. Work on your wit during "Star Quality: The World of Nol Coward." Pictured: Alfred Lunt, Nol Coward, and Lynn Fontanne in the final tableau of Design for Living, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York, 1933

  • 30. Have a (beer) blast at Urban Bear NYC

Photograph: The LGBT Community Center National History Archive

21. See the work of an iconic New York artist. Pictured: Keith Haring in front of his mural Once Upon a Time at the LGBT Center

21. See the work of an iconic New York artist
Keith Haring's energetic street art was a ubiquitous fixture in late-'70s--early-'80s New York, cropping up in subway stations and on buildings in Soho and the East Village. He went on to art-world fame and fortune before his untimely death from AIDS in 1990. "Keith Haring: 1978--1982," a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy at Washington Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn; 718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org; Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun 11am--6pm; Thu 11am--10pm; suggested donation $12, seniors and students $8, members and children under 12 free; Mar 16--July *), recalls the artist's early career with works on paper, rare videos and archival objects. To see even more work by Haring, head to the LGBT Center: During most of March, the space will host Keith Haring Unveiled (208 W 13th St between Greenwich and Seventh Aves; 212-620-7310; times vary; free; through Mar 31), a series of programs dedicated to the artist's life and work. Don't miss a Haring homage at the Center's Dance:208 Garage Classics party on March 10. You can also see a mural titled Once Upon a Time inside one of the Center's former restrooms, which has since been turned into a meeting space (Mar 7--31).

22. Get high and watch a film
Now in its 16th year, the Rooftop Films alfresco series will bring more than 200 films to locations throughout the city. Besides curating smart indie docs, shorts and features, Rooftop's organizers have a talent for procuring unique venues—past screenings have taken place on the roofs of Brooklyn Grange and Brooklyn Technical High School. To top it off, performances by buzzworthy music acts (Hospitality and Janka Nabay appeared in 2011) precede the feature. Locations, times and prices vary; visit rooftopfilms.com for more information. Begins May 11.

23. Drink on the waterfront
You don't have to schlep to the shore to feel the sand beneath your toes: The Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club in South Street Seaport is slated to reopen on April 12, providing a convenient waterfront hang with 300 pounds of sand to make castles out of. Grab some friends and lounge on the white couches with an Ommegang Witte ($7), play a free game of pool, Ping-Pong or foosball (tables are first-come, first-served), or gather round the fire pit when the night turns chilly. Keep an eye on its website for announcements about weekend beach parties in spring and live music from nationally known acts on Wednesdays (beginning late May). North side of Pier 17, Beekman St at South St (212-896-4600, beekmanonthewater.com). Daily noon--3am. Opening April 12, check the website or follow @BeekmanBGBC for updates.

24. Pig out on Cinco de Mayo
If Mexican troops hadn't triumphed over their French invaders, we might all be eating onion soup on what would be called Le Cinquime de Mai, which doesn't really sound as fun as tacos. Take your pick from one (or more, we won't judge) of NYC's 26 best tacos, such as the carne asada variety at Dos Toros (137 Fourth Ave between 13th and 14th Sts; 212-677-7300; $4.50, with guacamole $5). Tender cubes of rich flap steak, seasoned with a secret spice blend and grilled to a gorgeously pink medium-rare, come cradled in corn tortillas lined with Jack cheese and topped with bright guac, fresh pico and a squirt of fiery habanero sauce.

25. Rummage in the sunshine at the Brooklyn Flea
The indie market leaves its winter digs at One Hanson Place on the first Saturday of April, returning to its familiar stomping grounds in Fort Greene and the Williamsburg waterfront with more than 30 new vendors in tow. Hunt out fresh faces Bender Bound for books to stash your hip flask in and Mia Kim for vintage garbs at the Williamsburg location. If you're led purely by your stomach, hit the 'Burg on Saturdays for Smorgasburg—a glutton's paradise that welcomes Takumi Taco (adding a Japanese twist to a Mexican favorite) and Baby Got Back Ribs to its ranks. 176 Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Green, Brooklyn (brooklynflea.com). Sat 10am--5pm. Opens Apr 7. * East River Waterfront between North 6th and 7th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Smorgasburg: Sat 10am--5pm. Opens Apr 7. Flea: Sun 10am--5pm. Opens Apr 8.

26. Treat yo self
Say goodbye to the winter doldrums and indulge yourself to a treatment or two during Spa Week: Spring 2012, during which hundreds of spas, salons and fitness centers around the city offer signature treatments or class packages for just $50 a pop. Among this edition's deals are facial peels with cell-stimulating botanicals and five-packs of core fusion classes at four of Exhale's Manhattan locations, as well as appointments with participants such as Fresh and Lia Schorr Day Spa. Locations vary, visit spaweek.com for more info. Apr 16--22. Booking services begins Mar 12.

27. Admire the blooms in Central Park
The skinfest in the Sheep Meadow isn't the only thing worth eyeballing in Central Park come spring. The Conservatory Garden (east side between 104th and 106th Sts; enter at Fifth Ave and 105th St; 212-310-6600, centralparknyc.org) is a flowering paradise, with some varietals like the Lenten rose blooming as early as mid-March. For a more extensive tour, download the Central Park Conservancy's Bloom Guide from its website (available in April) and rent a bike from Bike & Roll (Merchants Gate, W 59th Street at Columbus Circle * Tavern on the Green, Central Park West between 66th and 67th Sts * bikeandroll.com; times and prices vary; opens Mar 17) or the Loeb Boathouse (East 72nd St at Park Dr North; times and prices vary; opens April).

28. Dock at Fleet Week New York
Hello, sailors! Members of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guards will congregate in the city during this celebration of the sea services, giving plenty of New Yorkers the opportunity to gawk at ladies and gents in uniform. Locations vary; visit fleetweeknewyork.com for details. May 23--30.

29. Work on your wit
One of the 20th century's greatest polymaths—dramatist, actor, composer, singer, with a side gig in bons mots—who found great success in New York is saluted during the Nol Coward Festival 2012. The centerpiece of the proceedings is a New York Public Library exhibition, "Star Quality: The World of Nol Coward," (New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza at 66th St; 212-870-1630, nypl.org; Mar 12--Aug 18; Mon, Thu noon--8pm; Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat noon--6pm; free) displaying rarely seen ephemera (including a rather natty silk dressing gown Coward wore) from public and private collections. Institutions around the city, including the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Paley Center and the 92nd Street Y, are also honoring the English raconteur with screenings, musical revues, plays and talks (locations, times and prices vary; see noelcowardinnewyork.com for more information).

30. Have a (beer) blast
Hibernation season is officially over! The bear crowd has pretty much become the middle of the road for the NYC gay-male scene, so it's no surprise that Robert Valin's annual celebration of fuzzy hunks at Urban Bear NYC draws massive crowds to its many dance parties, performances, beer blasts and more. Valin has yet to announce details for the fourth annual incarnation, but don't be surprised to find plenty of cuddly events at bear caves like the Eagle (554 W 28th St between Eleventh and Twelfth Aves; 646-473-1866, eaglenyc.com) and Nowhere (322 E 14th St between First and Second Aves, 212-477-4744). Locations, times and prices vary; visit urbanbearnyc.com for details. May 3--6.