Picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5
Visit 5 Pointz
Stretch out in Socrates Sculpture Park
Hang out at the High Line
See things another way at "Topsy-Turvy: A Camera Obscure Installation"
Wear green at the St. Patrick's Day Parade
Stop and smell the cherry blossoms at Hanami
Ride the Cyclone at Luna Park
Wear a bonnet at the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival
Take yourself out to the ball game on MLB Opening Day
Roll with your homies at Wednesday Night Skate
Go wild at Pillow Fight NYC
Wear Tartan at the New York Tartan Day Parade
Paint the town at the Phagwah Parade and Festival of Colors: Holi NYC
Ride during Bike Month
Brainstorm at Ideas City 2013
Take the Great Saunter around Manhattan
Get fit at the Central Park Circuit
Shake what your Mama gave you at the New York Dance Parade
Instagram your heart out during Manhattanhenge
Stow that duvet-down coat, it’s time to take a stroll in the fresh air during the Goldilocks of seasons (i.e., not too hot, not too cold). We’ve found 20 essential outdoor activities for you to enjoy, such as a new spot to have a park barbecue in Brooklyn, and where to try free yoga, tai chi, kayaking and art in Long Island City.
RECOMMENDED: Spring in New York guide
This new five-acre development opened in December, and we’re predicting that its Picnic Peninsula will be one of this season’s hottest hangs, with its views of lower Manhattan, reclaimed-wood tables and 22 barbecue grills (no permit required). It also boasts two tetherball poles at its northern end—a backyard pastime that’s overdue for a kickball- or cornhole-like resurgence. The quay’s other draws include fishing stations and three 200,000-square-foot synthetic-turf fields suitable for soccer, lacrosse, cricket, rugby, Ultimate Frisbee and more. Spring permits for the sports grounds are all taken, so join a group such as BBP’s soccer league (Wed 7–11pm; Wed 6–May 29; $130) if you want to get cleats on the green. You can apply now for a summer permit (June–Aug; $25) at https://nyceventpermits.nyc.gov/bbp; fall permits (Sept–Nov; $25) will be available starting May 1. Free.
The Institute of Higher Burning hosted an ambitious season of programming in 2012, and continues in the same vein beginning May 4 with a full lineup of parties, scratch battles and live art. Until then you can explore the premises and catch a spray-painting demo on a guided tour (next dates: Sat 23, Sun 3 2–3:30pm; $35; sidetour.com) with curator Jonathan Cohen (aerosol master Meres One). Free hourly sojourns are also being offered March 9 as part of the Armory Show adjunct Armory Arts Week (2–6pm; armoryartsweek.com). Free.
Instead of holding downward-facing dog mere inches from your neighbor’s rear at an overcrowded studio, bring a mat and stretch out in the fresh air at this outdoor oasis. The open-air sculpture museum offers free yoga (Sat 9:30–10:30am, 11am–noon; Sun 10–11am) and tai chi (Sun 11am–noon) classes beginning in May. And for those who aren’t content with appreciating the water views from the shore, gratis kayaking is available on weekends beginning in mid-May. The formerly abandoned riverside landfill also hosts performances and special events; on May 12 check out the opening of the “do it (outside)” exhibition (2–6pm; through July 7), for which 50 international artists (including Ai Weiwei and Joan Jonas) provided instructions for other creatives to interpret. See the resulting works and performances, and follow the guidelines the artists left for the exhibit’s viewers. Free.
From April 19, visitors to the High Line can fuel their stroll along the design-minded, elevated green space with snacks from an all-star lineup of local vendors. Sweet tooths can cool down with La Newyorkina ice pops or Melt Bakery ice-cream sandwiches, while those hankering for a meal can grab Michoacán-style grub from the Taco Truck. To drink, sip on cups of java from Blue Bottle Coffee or glasses of wine, courtesy of the team behind Terroir, at the Porch (from May 16). Check out the High Line's largest ever art installation, Broken Bridge II, a 37-foot sculpture by by West African artist El Anatsui which is on view now. Tuesday night stargazing returns May 7.
No St. Paddy’s Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes its 252nd march up Fifth Avenue. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers are expected to show up for the annual spectacle, whose 2013 grand marshal is Alfred E. Smith IV—philanthropist, former Wall Streeter and great-grandson to former Gotham mayor Al Smith. Fifth Ave from 44th St to 86th St. Subway: B, D, F, M to 42nd St–Bryant Park; 7 to Fifth Ave; 42nd St S, 4, 5, 6, 7 to 42nd St–Grand Central.
The Japanese have a term for appreciating cherry blossoms from bud and bloom to the blankets of fallen petals that eventually accumulate: hanami. This cycle will be on full view as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s approximately 220 cherry trees show off their floral display. Tours of the collection—the largest of these trees outside of Japan—as well as of the other Japanese plants on the grounds, will take place at 1pm on Wednesdays and 11am on Saturdays during the show.
Sunday best gets new meaning during this annual procession, wherein participants show off elaborately constructed hats—we’re talking noggin-toppers shaped like the NYC skyline or the Coney Island Cyclone, not just a boring old fedora. The tradition started in the mid-1800s, when high-society ladies would promenade in their Easter finery after church, and has since evolved into a showcase for chapeau artistry. Fifth Ave from 49th to 57th Sts.
Grab a hot dog (still the best item on the menu) and usher in a rite of spring as the Bronx Bombers open their season against the Red Sox. Or if pinstripes aren't your color, the boys in orange and blue face off against the Padres.
Meet at 7:45pm at the south end of Union Square. At this hump-day social, dozens of skaters cruise around the city for two hours along a different route each week—the group has previously wheeled through Central Park, Queens, Brooklyn and even Jersey. All skill levels are welcome as long as you can stop and turn, and because you'll be rolling on the road, helmets and wrist guards are obligatory. The hobnobbing continues postskate at Mumbles bar and restaurant (179 Third Ave at 17th St; 212-477-6066, mumblesnyc.com), which is also where the gang heads when the event gets rained out.
Bring your softest weapon of choice (but organizers ask you to leave the feather- and down-stuffed pillows at home to lessen the mess), and join in New York's eighth citywide pillow fight. After you've fended off your cushion-wielding attackers, you'll feel even warmer knowing the surviving pillows will be donated to homeless shelters. For more details, visit newmindspace.com.
Paul's on Times Square
Searching for a restaurant in Times Square that specializes in something other than hot dogs and hamburgers? Paul’s serves modern Italian fare for both lunch and dinner. Start with beef carpaccio ($19.50) or a burrata caprese salad with truffle oil ($19) or an antipasto plate including prosciutto, salami, parmesan and eggplant caponata ($14.50). For the main course, there is plenty of pasta, including linguini with white wine and clams ($20) and sun-dried tomato ravioli in thyme cream sauce ($26.50). The menu also includes personal pizzas topped with everything from prosciutto and arugula ($17) to duck confit and caramelized onions ($22) to Maine lobster and grilled corn ($29). If you’re looking for a protein-centric entree, the lamb osso buco with mushroom risotto ($37) or Tuscan seafood stew ($36) might tempt you. In need of refreshments after a long day of sightseeing? Paul’s offers a menu of signature cocktails including a chocolate martini and blue margarita ($15-$17).
Venue says: “Fun, fine dining experience with friendly service & delicious Italian food in the heart of NYC.”