101 things to do in the winter in New York City 2011

Mark your calendar for classic holiday events, warming treats, cultural highlights and more!

  • Holiday Train Show at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  • Photograph: AMNH/R. Mickens

    Origami Holiday Tree at AMNH

  • Flickr4Jazz

    Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra at the Winter Ball

  • Thurston Moore, appearing at the Poetry Project's 38th annual New Year's Day Marathon

  • The 9/11 Memorial

  • Photograph: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks and Recreation

    Winter Jam

  • Gloria Steinem at the 92nd Street Y

  • Clint - Bitfire Inc

    Menorah Horah

  • Photograph: Robert and Robbie Bailey

    Coney Island Polar Bear Club's New Year's swim

Holiday Train Show at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

61. See the city in miniature at the New York Botanical Garden
The Bronx conservatory's annual Holiday Train Show presents teeny versions of city landmarks—including the Washington Square Park arch, Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport and Radio City Music Hall—made of natural materials such as bark, twigs and seeds. This year, the garden has opened up the display's artists' studio, where visitors can look at how buildings are created. Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd (718-817-8700, nybg.org). Tue--Sun 10am--6pm; $20--$25, seniors and students $18--$22. Through Jan 16.

62. Hang out at the American Museum of Natural History
It took volunteers six months (and countless paper cuts) to fold the 500 paper animals and objects that adorn the museum's Origami Holiday Tree (through Jan 2). Each of the tiny paper formations represents one of the museum's biggest displays, such as dinosaurs and planets. Before you leave, check out "The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter" (through May 28), where you can enter a chamber (kept at a balmy 80 degrees) with 500 of the winged creatures flying around. Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5100, amnh.org). Daily 10am--5:45pm; suggested donation $19, seniors and students $14.50, children 2--12 $10.50, children under 2 free.

63. Dress to the nines and attend a fancy ball
Set in a historic mansion, Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra's annual Yuletide affair with a Jazz Age vibe, the Winter Ball (The Bogardus Mansion, 75 Murray St between Greenwich St and West Broadway; winterball.eventbee.com; Dec 10 8pm--2am; $50) features performances from the Minsky Sisters and accordionist Nicole Renaud, among others. The 92nd Street Y takes things even further back with a Victorian Vintage Ball (1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts; 212-415-5500, 92y.org; Jan 28 8:30--11pm; $25, advance $20) showcasing 19th-century music and dancing (show up at 7:15 for a dance lesson). Dress code: Edith Whartonesque.

64. Spend New Year's Day with hundreds of poets
Poetry fans have multiple ways to sate their obsession on January 1. Within a few blocks, nearly 300 wordsmiths will perform at two separate New Year's Day festivals: At the Bowery Poetry Club's Kaleidoscope (308 Bowery between Bleecker and E Houston Sts; 212-614-0505, bowerypoetry.com; Jan 1 at 2pm; free), 150 performers, including Corrina Bain, Richard Kostelanetz and Ocean Vuong, will share their work. Meanwhile, the Poetry Project's 38th annual New Year's Day Marathon (St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 E 10th St at Second Ave; 212-674-0910, poetryproject.org; Jan 1 at 3pm; $10--$20) is the oldest such celebration in the city, and presents famous participants such as Thurston Moore, Jonas Mekas, Suzanne Vega and Steve Earle.

65. Pay your respects at the 9/11 Memorial
Two reflecting pools, 2,938 names and 8,151 tons of steel make up the new national memorial honoring the victims of the September 11, 2001 (and February 26, 1993) terrorist attacks. While some of Christmas week is already booked solid, passes are still available for Christmas and New Year's Day, and beyond. A pass is required for entry, and can be reserved online. Enter at Albany and Greenwich Sts (212-312-8800, 911memorial.org). Sept 12--Jan 8: Mon--Fri 10am--8pm; Sat, Sun 9am--8pm. Beginning Jan 9: Daily 10am--6pm. Free; advance reservations required.

66. Try out winter sports for free
Each February, New Yorkers flock to one of the city's green spaces for Winter Jam, where they can partake in gratis cold-weather activities like skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. (Over the last two years, it has taken place in Central Park and Prospect Park.) And if there isn't any of that wet white stuff on the ground this year, don't worry: Fresh snow will be dropped on the park before your arrival. Location and time TBA; visit nycgovparks.org for details. Free.

67. Pretend that it's summer by getting a tan
It is possible to get a sun-kissed glow in the winter months without looking like a streaky extra from Jersey Shore. Completely Bare (locations vary; visit completelybare.com for details) offers body-sculpting spray tans ($55--$75) that adds contours to your I-just-got-back-from-vacation color. And consult our list of the best self-tanning products, which will help you keep up appearances until summer. Locations vary; visit completelybare.com for details.

68. Hear boldface names speak at 92nd Street Y
The uptown institution's winter lineup features an impressive roster of noteworthy speakers, including Walter Isaacson, who will discuss his recently released biography of Steve Jobs (Jan 24 at 8pm; $29), and feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, who will chat with NY1 anchor Budd Mishkin about her life and career (Feb 28 at 8pm; $29). 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5500, 92y.org)

69. A religious tale gets a titillating twist at the Menorah Horah
The Schlep Sisters—better known as Darlinda Just Darlinda and Minnie Tonka—present this sexy Hanukkah celebration, hosted by comedian Seth Herzog. This isn't your bubbe's holiday party: Expect NSFW performances from Anita Cookie, Little Brooklyn, Cherry Pitz and more. Highline Ballroom, 431 W 16th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-414-5994, highlineballroom.com). Dec 17 at 8pm; $20--$25, advance $15--$20.

70. Take a frigid plunge with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club
If you need a post--New Year's pick-me-up, join the Polar Bears for their annual icy dip in the Atlantic Ocean, a tradition that's meant to help reinvigorate your mind and body. The average temperature of the water in January is about 38 degrees—if nothing else, it'll distract you from how awful your hangover is. Meet on the Coney Island Boardwalk at Stillwell Ave, Coney Island, Brooklyn (polarbearclub.org). Jan 1 at 1pm; free.