101 things to do in NYC in spring 2012

Your guide to New York's vernal pleasures.

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    61. Booze at a beer garden. Pictured: Berry Park

  • 62. Walk through a rain forest in Herald Square. Pictured: Macy's Flower Show 2011

  • Photograph: Joshua Bright

    64. Practice yoga in a tranquil garden. Pictured: Wave Hill

  • Photograph: Courtesy Central Park Conservancy

    65. Stage a pickup game in Central Park. Pictured: North Meadow Recreation Center

  • Photograph: Syd London

    66. Have a boozy spring break. Pictured: The Scorpion Bowl at Billy Hurricane's

  • Photograph: Courtesy Prospect Park Alliance

    67. Spot birds in Brooklyn. Pictured: Prospect Park Audubon Center

  • Photograph: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

    68. Go on a classical-music marathon. Pictured: The Metropolitan's Opera Der Ring des Nibelungen

  • Photograph: Courtesy the Brooklyn Lyceum Spring Craft Market

    69. Shop local at the Brooklyn Lyceum Spring Craft Market

  • Photograph: Keith Klenowski

    70. See a band take over BAM. Pictured: Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National

Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

61. Booze at a beer garden. Pictured: Berry Park

61. Booze at a beer garden
It's never too early in the season to start thinking about beer gardens: Greenpoint's Berry Park and Astoria's Bohemian Hall are perennial favorites, while in Long Island City, Studio Square provides plenty of affordable options for hops-heads. But great outdoor spaces aren't limited to the outer boroughs: Manhattan's best open-air venues include Hallo Berlin in midtown, Eataly's La Birreria (which sports a retractable roof) in Flatiron and the Standard Biergarten in the Meatpacking District. Peruse all of your options with our list of the 20 best beer gardens in NYC.

62. Walk through a rain forest in Herald Square
For more than 60 years, the Macy's Flower Show has showcased the nation's most renowned floral designers while celebrating the diversity of plant life the world over. This year the event moves to a 150-foot-long tent in Broadway Plaza at Herald Square while the interior of the 34th Street flagship store undergoes major renovation. But not to worry, flora lovers: This does not mean the expo will be any less over-the-top than in the past. This year's theme is Brasil: Gardens in Paradise, so expect rain-forest perennials, Carnival-inspired designs and a ten-foot-tall topiary toucan. Broadway Plaza at 34th St (212-494-4495, macys.com/flowershow). Mar 25-Apr 7; free.

63. Stay trendy and in the black
Italian designer Alberta Ferretti, known for her party-perfect frocks, has created an affordable collection (items are all under $119) for Impulse at Macy's enhanced by bright colors, feminine details and breezy silhouettes. White jersey tops with lace necklines ($69) and snug eyelet-lace pants ($79) are ideal springtime staples. For more hot lines, check out four new designer collaborations. 151 W 34th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-695-4400, macys.com). Available Apr 17.

64. Practice yoga in a tranquil garden
Spend some time getting reacquainted with the green stuff (that's grass and trees, in case you've forgotten) at an outdoor yoga class (Sun 10--11:15am, weather permitting; $20, members $15; begins May 6) in the bucolic grounds of Wave Hill. Each session is taught by Neem Dewji, who is certified in both hatha and therapeutic yoga by the Integral Yoga Institute. Once you've made it through a few sun salutations, wander around the grounds of the 28-acre garden, which was once a private estate. Look for spring wildflowers, such as Virginia bluebells or celandine poppies, or simply take in the views of the Hudson River from the comfort of an Adirondack chair. Independence Ave at 249th St, Bronx (718-549-3200, wavehill.org). Through Mar 14 Tue--Sun 9am--4:30pm; after Mar 15 Tue--Sun 9am--5:30pm. $8, seniors and students $4.

65. Stage a pickup game in Central Park
If you've got energy—but no money—to burn, head to the North Meadow Recreational Center with your crew to pick up a free field-day kit (requires deposit of ID). You'll find Wiffle balls and bats, jump ropes and Frisbees, so you and your brahs can play the ultimate sport. Midpark at 97th St, enter at Central Park West and W 97th St (212-348-4867, centralparknyc.org). Mar: Tue--Sun 10am--5pm, Apr--June: Tue--Fri 10am--6pm; Sat, Sun 10am--5pm.

66. Have a boozy spring break
Fruity drinks! Beer pong! People making out while Top 40 tunes blast! Yes, you can relive your college days—or those of the frat boys at your school—without leaving Manhattan. Try New Orleans--themed spot Billy Hurricane's (25 Ave B between 2nd and 3rd Sts; 646-692-6216, billyhurricanes.com), where bartenders serve a flaming, five-liquor-strong concoction called the Scorpion Bowl ($16). There's also cramped subterranean West Village hang Down the Hatch (179 W 4th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-627-9747, nycbestbar.com), which offers free games of beer pong in the back when you buy a pitcher ($9--$15). Arrive early: This spot gets packed as the night wears on. For other places to find Cancun-style revelry in NYC, check out our guide to having a fake spring break.

67. Spot birds in Brooklyn
The National Audubon Society classifies Prospect Park as an Important Bird Area for the many species (more than 250 of them, in fact) that migrate through. This season you may see the American goldfinch, Baltimore oriole and blue jay. Learn how to find them by taking an Intro to Bird Watching tour (Sat noon--1:30pm; free) or the Early Bird Walking Tour (first Sunday of the month 8--10am; free). Binoculars are provided at both, or bring your own. Prospect Park Audubon Center, Ocean Ave at Lincoln Rd, Prospect Park, Brooklyn (718-287-3400, prospectpark.org/audubon)

68. Go on a classical-music marathon
After rolling out the four episodes of Der Ring des Nibelungen over two years, Fabio Luisi presides over three complete showings of the Met's high-tech production of Richard Wagner's epic Ring cycle. Classical-music daredevils and fantasy nerds can immerse themselves in the German composer's bizarre universe, which is inhabited by Rhine maidens, demigods, mortal warriors and Valkyries—all obsessed with a potent golden accessory. A sterling lineup of singers, including Deborah Voigt, Bryn Terfel and Stephanie Blythe, take on Robert Lepage's notoriously complicated set in this final showdown. Metropolitan Opera House (at Lincoln Center), Lincoln Center Plaza at 65th St (212-362-6000, metopera.org). Times vary. $380--$2,600. Apr 7--May 12.

69. Shop local at the Brooklyn Lyceum Spring Craft Market
More than 60 artisans will showcase their wares at this grand building, a former public bathhouse. The craft convention will also feature food vendors, works from local artists, genre-defying collaborations between musicians and artists programmed by GALA NYC (galanyc.com), and readings and performances. 227 Fourth Ave between President and Union Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-857-4816, brooklynlyceum.com). May 5, 6 11am--6pm; free.

70. See a band take over BAM
Bryce and Aaron Dessner, the twin guitarist-composers behind the indie-rock band, take control of the entire Peter Jay Sharp Building—the Howard Gilman Opera House, the cinema, the works—for Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, a celebration of New York City culture. They'll host a different roster of bands each night, plus indie-film screenings and a late-night dance party. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-636-4100, bam.org). Times TBA; $45, three-night pass $135. May 3--5.