101 things to do in NYC in spring 2012

Your guide to New York's vernal pleasures.

  • Photograph: Jake Walters

    71. Take in an expansive art show uptown. Pictured: Choreographer Michael Clark

  • 72. Meet a new generation of filmmakers at the New Directors/New Films festival. Pictured: Oslo, August 31st

  • Photograph: Ernesto Santos

    73. Learn petanque in Bryant Park

  • Photograph: Lauren Foy

    74. Commune with nature in Battery Park

  • 75. Join a social sports team

  • Photograph: Courtesy New York Cares

    76. Pitch in. Pictured: New York Cares Day Spring

  • Photograph: Guerrilla Girls

    77. Honor the accomplishments of women at the Brooklyn Museum. Pictured: Guerrilla Girls

  • Photograph: Courtesy www.flickr.com/asterix611

    78. Walk with a purpose for AIDS Walk New York

  • Photograph: AMNH\J. Sparks

    79. Find out how animals become illuminated at the American Museum of Natural History's "Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence." Pictured: Panellus stipticus

  • Photograph: Michael Kirby

    80. Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and go to Beacon, New York. Pictured: Dia:Beacon, sculpture by Louise Bourgeois

Photograph: Jake Walters

71. Take in an expansive art show uptown. Pictured: Choreographer Michael Clark

71. Take in an expansive art show uptown
Once known as the exhibition everyone loved to hate, the Whitney Biennial has had to contend with competing contemporary-art showcases, such as MoMA PS1's "Greater New York" and the New Museum Triennial. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; the 2010 edition was a refreshingly focused and well-thought-out affair. In addition to the art offerings, this year features residencies by choreographers Sarah Michelson and Michael Clark, as well as a film program curated by Thomas Beard and Ed Halter of Brooklyn film collective Light Industry. Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave at 75th St (212-570-3600, whitney.org). Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun 11am--6pm; Fri 1pm--9pm. $18; seniors, adults 19--25 and students $12; ages 18 and under free. Mar 1--May 27.

72. Meet a new generation of filmmakers
Want to see tomorrow's Spielbergs and Almodvars today? Both were once unknown filmmakers whose work appeared in the New Directors/New Films festival, a joint effort of the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This 41st edition screens 41 features and shorts by emerging talents from 28 different countries, and for the first time, screens a movie by a cinematic titan: Stanley Kubrick's first full-length effort, Fear and Desire, made when he was a precocious 24-year-old. MoMA, 11 W 53rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves * The Film Society of Lincoln Center, 165 W 65th St between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave * (newdirectors.org) Mar 21--Apr 1; tickets on sale Mar 11.

73. Learn ptanque in Bryant Park
You may think it's a haughty version of bocce, but you'd be wrong. Get the inside track on the game with a free lesson from a member of the La Boule New Yorkaise club (labouleny.com) at the Bryant Park courts. Just stroll up and find the instructor in the club's T-shirt, and he or she will school you on the basic rules in around 15 minutes. You're free to stay and play with the clubs's equipment as long as you like (although it does get busy during lunch) and receive further insights on strategy and tactics. Gravel courts at the corner of Sixth Ave and 42nd St (212-768-4242, bryantpark.org). Mon--Fri 11am--6pm; free. Beginning Apr 2.

74. Commune with nature in Battery Park
Avoid the crowds in Central and Prospect Parks during spring's first few balmy days by taking a stroll through Manhattan's verdant southernmost tip. The green space is home to two gardens: The seven-year-old Bosque, which covers three acres and features 140 London plane trees; and the Gardens of Remembrance, where you can see more than 100 different types of perennials. Stop for a bite at one of the food kiosks dotted throughout the park: An outpost of Zak Pelaccio's Asian-inflected BBQ joint Fatty 'Cue opened there in 2011, along with Fatty Snack, which offers treats like shaved ice ($3), cookies ($3) and milkshakes ($5). Enter at State and Whitehall Sts (212 344-3491, thebattery.org).

75. Join a social sports team
You've thought about it, now do it: Put down that PS3 controller and join an outdoor league. ZogSports co-ed sports leagues, one of NYC's biggest rec groups, hosts coed softball, soccer and touch-football leagues in the spring. Don't sweat it if you haven't swung a bat since T-ball days: When signing up, participants must assess their own skill level—from "extremely casual" newbies to jocks who've played high-school or college sports—and are then matched to a compatible division. As a bonus, teams are encouraged to retreat to a nearby bar for postgame drinks, and a portion of the bar tab is donated to charity. Locations and price vary; visit zogsports.com for more information. Season begins in early March.

76. Pitch in
Perform a good deed and sign up for New York Cares Day Spring (formerly Hands on New York Day), a benefit to raise money for the year's programming. Approximately 5,000 good souls will get their hands dirty beautifying ten miles of shoreline and 80 parks in all five boroughs by gardening, painting, repairing fences, fixing nature trails and, yes, pay for the privilage. If you want a chance to choose where you work, gather some friends and sign up as a team by Mar 23, otherwise you'll be assigned to a project in the borough of your choice. Register online at newyorkcaresday.org by Apr 13. Apr 21 9:30am--3pm; $20.

77. Honor the accomplishments of women at the Brooklyn Museum
The Kings County institution is home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, and to celebrate its fifth birthday—as well as Women's History Month—the museum has planned a slew of ladycentric events. Among the offerings: a screening of the 2011 documentary Miss Representation, about depictions of women in the media (Mar 15 at 7pm; free), and a live appearance from artist-activist collective the Guerrilla Girls (Mar 29 at 7pm; free), who famously protested the lack of representation of female artists in major museums with the slogan "Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?" Plus, the institution's monthly Target First Saturdays bash (Mar 3 5--11pm; free) is devoted to "fierce, phenomenal women," with a female-friendly dance party (the Ladies of Ubiquita, an NYC DJ collective, will spin) and a book club devoted to Sara Marcus's Girls to the Front, a history of the riot-grrrl movement. For more ways to celebrate ladies in March, visit our roundup of Women's History Month events. 200 Eastern Pkwy at Washington Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-638-5000, brooklynmuseum.org). Times and prices vary.

78. Walk with a purpose
AIDS Walk New York is the largest single-day AIDS fund-raising event in the world. Beyond benefitting the Gay Men's Health Crisis and dozens of other tristate-area AIDS service organizations, its intent is to bring awareness and acceptance to the still-raging, often invisible epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Though registration is free, teams of two or more are encouraged to raise funds through pledges and sponsorship. The 10K (6.2-mile) walkathon starts and ends in Central Park. Enter at 59th St at Fifth Ave (212-807-9255, aidswalk.net/newyork). May 20 at 9am; free.

79. Find out how animals become illuminated
You know those people who think the sun shines out of their ass? There's actually a scientific term for a living being that generates its own light. The American Museum of Natural History explores that phenomenon in its new exhibition "Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence." Examples from the animal kingdom include fireflies, jellyfish and flashlight fish (which have a glowing spot underneath their eyes). The institution has re-created different habitats where these animals can be found: simulated fireflies, for example, will be in a meadow diorama. Throughout, visitors will also be able delve deeper into each installation on iPads attached to stands, which will feature animations, photos and videos that provide context for each section. Central Park West at W 79th St (212-769-5100, amnh.org). Daily 10am--5:45pm; suggested donation $25, seniors and students $19, children 2--12 $14.50, children under 2 free. Mar 31--Jan 6.

80. Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and go to Beacon, New York
When you've tired of MoMA's lines and photo-taking tourists, take an 80-minute Metro-North ride to Dia:Beacon (3 Beekman St at Red Flynn Rd; 845-440-0100, diabeacon.org; $10, students and seniors $7). Founded in 1974 and housed in a former Nabisco printing factory, the museum has a vast collection of larger-than-life modern art—including Donald Judd's steely monoliths, Richard Serra's enveloping Cor-Ten steel assemblies and Louise Bourgeois's sinister sculptures—that conventional museums often can't accommodate for lack of space. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the sprawling grounds, perched on the edge of the Hudson River. Travel: Metro-North Hudson Line to Beacon (off-peak round trip $28).