RECOMMENDED: The most up-to-date 150 weekend activities in NYC
One of the most popular regular parties in the city also offers one of the biggest discounts. Girls & Boys at Webster Hall, which draws high-profile international acts like Simian Mobile Disco, The Crystal Method and Liquid Stranger, allows you to sign up via the Webster Hall website to gain entry for $5 before 11pm, and $10 before 12am.
Acclaimed guide Justin Ferate not only dissects the lore and legends of Grand Central Terminal’s history, but places them within the context of its lesser-known neighborhood.
At this nearly 40-year-old joint, poetry is a contact sport—especially on Friday’s slam night. Lyricists from the boroughs and beyond square off, and the winner is determined by an animated, jam-packed house.
If you like how people in musicals can go without warning from normal conversation to singing their hearts out, this is the West Village bar for you. One minute, the barmaid is pouring you a drink, the next she’s belting out “Me and Bobby McGee.” The main attraction of this basement joint is the piano, around which show-tune lovers gather nightly, starting at 5:30pm.
Choice acts keep New York’s most dapper nightspot on the map, while the steep cover charge and white-jacketed service make sure riffraff doesn’t scuff up the bar’s most valued draw: original Ludwig Bemelmans murals. Mixologist Brian Van Flandern’s spiffy (and pricey) potions preserve the bar’s classic character.
Close out your workweek at the American Folk Art Museum, where the Free Music Fridays series features performances from Americana, folk, indie-pop and other acts.
Ride your steed at Critical Mass
Join other pedal pushers for a public bike ride, to assert your rights as a cyclist and your right to have an enjoyable cycle with a friendly crew. The Manhattan event happens the last Friday of every month at 7pm, and the more open, less traffic-clogged Brooklyn ride is on the second Friday of every month.
Wind down every Friday with a peaceful, gratis 45-minute deep relaxation class. The session begins with gentle stretching, then moves on to a long period of yoga nidra (deep relaxation) and concludes with breathing practices and a brief meditation. Arrive early—the class fills up fast.
From 6 to 9pm, admission is whatever you want it to be. Which is a bargain considering that you can spend those hours staring at new exhibitions or the excellent permanent collection of modern art.
On Fridays, we recommend heading to ICP, where entry is based on a voluntary contribution and you can take in two floors’ worth of photos and video exhibitions on the cheap.
On Fridays from 4 to 8:30pm, sip wine ($12), beer ($7), or a mojito ($12) at the second-floor Great Hall Balcony Bar, which peers onto the stately foyer. Live classical music courtesy of a piano player or string quartet adds to the sophisticated atmosphere.
The organic kernels at this West Village theater are popped in canola oil, lightly salted and bathed in real melted butter. Not in the mood for a movie? Top a pot off with a shake of Old Bay seasoning and be on your way — you don't have to be a ticket holder to score this $5 snack.
Cabaret's crown prince Michael Feinstein draws A-list talent to this swank room in the Regency. It's pricey, but you usually get what you pay for. The list of past guests include David Hyde Pierce, Chita Rivera, Diahann Caroll and Ben Vereen. On Fridays, enjoy the 8pm show or the late show at 10:30pm.
Downtown booze connoisseurs frequent this so-called library, the only one we can think of where liquor lines the walls. A novella-size drinks menu lists a glossary of spirits and 100 cocktail options, among them the Corpse Reviver (gin, lemon juice, Lillet Blonde, Cointreau and Pernod) and the Jarnac Ginger (cognac, bitters and ginger beer). Getting a table earns you a basket of gratis gougères (warm cheese puffs).
This bowling alley and live music venue fully embraces the new mania for local nostalgia. The space takes its design cues from Coney Island with old freak-show posters and carnival-game relics, and all of the beer sold inside—by Sixpoint, Kelso and the Brooklyn Brewery—is made in the borough. This is a great place to kill a few hours with a big rowdy group: You can tackle a pitcher and the stoner-food menu from the Blue Ribbon team (delicious fatty brisket, Old Bay–fried chicken) laneside between frames. The plush tufted couches are the most luxurious alley seating we’ve ever seen.
Double up at Tacos Matamoros
Have $5 and an unlimited MetroCard, will travel for tacos: If this describes you (and if it doesn’t, you should take a long, hard look at yourself), head to Sunset Park and the vast Tacos Matamoros. Grab two Vegetarianos ($1.25) and take the tacos—stuffed with rice, beans, cilantro and onions, dusted with two cheeses (one creamy, one crumbly) and laced with a bracing tomatillo salsa—to Sunset Park to watch the sun go down. Mull over which is better, the tacos or a view of the sky changing colors behind a sublime panoramic view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
It might not seem wise to order the roasted-pork sandwich ($16) at a seafood joint, but if it's made by chef April Bloomfield, it's a sure thing. From noon to 4pm, thick slices of succulent loin are piled with macerated red onions and tiny mixed greens on a sturdy round roll, each side slathered with "tuna mayo." Like a tartar sauce times ten, the umami-rich smear is laced with anchovies and flaky wedges of tuna. For more great lunch-only dishes, click here.
Take advantage of New York's enviable views by getting buzzed at a rooftop bar. Among Manhattan's wealth of hotel toppers, we recommend Upstairs on the 31st floor of the Kimberly. The urbane setting, with ivy-covered walls and nary a cabana in sight, is best experienced at night, when the canopy of lightbulbs strung above the terrace sets off the sight of the Chrysler Building. For more great vistas, check out our guide to rooftop bars in New York.
Once the stately residence of Gilded Age industrialist Henry Clay Frick, this Upper East Side institution is now home to its patron's world-class collection of art, particularly paintings by Old Masters (including Johannes Vermeer and Giovanni Bellini). Once you've perused the museum's galleries, head to the Portico Gallery, a small space that opened in late 2011. The narrow room houses a collection of Meissen porcelain, but you can also admire the flowers blooming in the adjacent Fifth Avenue Garden.
Weekends are all about new beginnings, and there's no better place to achieve catharsis than in a spa. At Body by Brooklyn, you can spend Friday nights until 9pm cycling through a Swedish dry sauna, a Turkish steam room, pools galore and a lounge. To really pay penance, ask for the platza treatment to be brushed and gently beaten with a bundle of oak leaves ($40, with sea salt scrub $80) before being drenched in ice-cold water—invigorating doesn't come close to describing it.
Sun-deprived city slickers can pretend they're boozing oceanside at Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club. The former Water Taxi Beach location has kept the 300 pounds of sand left by its former occupant, but the rejiggered drinkery now features a menu from Buddakan alum Jason Mayer. Settle into a communal wood table with a wurst, burger or lobster roll, or hit up one of the game tables for a round of Ping-Pong, pool or foosball. Beer lovers can grab one of six drafts—such as Sixpoint Crisp Lager, Ommegang Witte Beer and Magic Hat #9—at two long driftwood bars.