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The best things to do in NYC this week

The best things to do in NYC this week inside your apartment, including a light show from the Empire State Building, free NY Phil shows and a baking club from Milk Bar

Empire State Building, New York City, Z100 radio, lights
Photograph: Shutterstock

Many performances, museums and venues have been closed and canceled so we've come up with a list of fun things to do while you're self-quarantining. 

Being stuck inside doesn't mean that you have to miss out. With social-distancing in place, many of New York's artists, comedians, museums, businesses and venues are taking to the internet to provide entertainment, services and fun. Check out the light show from the Empire State Building, free NY Phil performances and learn how to bake with Milk Bar's founder.

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Best things to do in NYC this week

NY Phil
Photograph: Courtesy Chris Lee/New York Philharmonic
News, Theater & Performance

Listen to New York Philharmonic's free performances online

Aching to turn off the TV and turn up the beautiful, swelling music of one of the world's best orchestras? The New York Philharmonic is making 150 hours of performances free for you to take in at home. Earlier this month, the NY Phil decided to cancel performances through June 13 to help stop the spread of coronavirus, despite the fact that "music is a powerful source of comfort and healing," its president and CEO Deborah Borda said in a statement. "We know that this closing is a profound loss to our audience as it is to our musicians and, indeed, the institution," she added. Making lemonade out of lemons, NY Phil's "NY Phil Plays On" has released over 150 hours of performances, interviews with its musicians, its award-winning radio programs and videos of its Young People’s Concerts, complemented by lessons and games. And check out its Facebook page on Thursday nights at 7:30pm for the closest experience to a live performance that NY Phill can offer right now—broadcasts of past performances. For example, you can check out Jaap van Zweden conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.  Happy listening!

The Drunk Texts
Photograph: Courtesy The Drunk Texts

The Drunk Texts: The Importance of Being Earnestly Friends

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

The Drunk Texts troupe this time take on Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest with a sitcom twist, mashed up with Friends.  "For the first time ever, join The Drunk Texts at a responsible social distance for a live stream romp through the English countryside as we follow along with the original Friends - Jack, Gwendolyn, Algernon and Cecily - in The Importance of Being Earnestly Friends! Will anyone get married? Who is who’s lobster? Is anyone actually named Ernest?" Drink along with the cast, who will benefit from your donations.

Vegas Strip, Las Vegas
Photograph: Courtesy Robert F on Unsplash

The Wednesday Spin

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

Park MGM and On the Record are hosting their Industry Nights on screens every Wednesday starting April 1. "The Wednesday Spin," which will feature three hours of nonstop beats by a rotation of The Strip’s DJs, will be broadcast live from Park MGM’s Instagram account beginning at 7pm.  Anyone can join in the party’s conversation by using the hashtag #VegasFromHome.

Treya Lam
Photograph: Courtesy Anna Azarov

Joe's Pub Live

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

Joe's Pub is offering free access to past performances and live-streamed events this month. Below is the schedule of events, each starting at 8pm: Thursday, April 2: Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Treya Lam Friday, April 3: Trevor Bachman’s FARMED Saturday, April 4: Becca Blackwell’s Schmermie’s ChoiceThursday, April 9: AJOYO's sophomore album EP release party Friday, April 10: This Alien Nation Saturday, April 11: Ghanaian-American singer, songwriter, and producer Jeremiah Abiah’s ABIAH Sings Madonna Each artist is taking donations on their Venmo accounts.

Mike Perry drawing
Courtesy Mike Perry
News, City Life

Stay within the lines of these free digital coloring books by NYC-based artists

The golden age of adult coloring books is here, and right now especially, folks need to put colored pencils or crayons to paper and focus on something playful. Even if you’re a pretty subpar artist, the act of scribbling inside the lines here is a triumph in and of itself. Coloring allows you to mindfully engage enough with one task to occupy your mind, without feeling anxious that you have to be productive while cooped up inside your apartment. Incredible NYC illustrators have taken their doodling and artistic abilities to create digital coloring books ready to download and print at home, so you can decompress while adding some color to your life. Emmy-award winning animator and artist Mike Perry fans of Comedy Central's Broad City should be familiar with Mike Perry’s psychedelic work. For the uninitiated, his vital animated illustrations for the show are found at the beginning of each episode, setting the scene for what you’re about to watch. Perry created a 150-page coloring book in 2017 filled with his hand-drawn animations inspired by the show. It allows you to feel like you're a part of Abbi and llana’s crazy world and color it into 2-D. Beyond Broad City, Perry's years of art can be found inside studios from NYC to LA, and even as murals in the community. Now, while self-isolating, the Brooklyn-based artist has given the gift of more drawings for us to color, this time inspired by his personal life, free for download here. There are 70 whole pages in the PDF. 

Photograph: Shutterstock
News, City Life

Create the quintessential NYC balcony garden

You don't need to put off making your own mini-garden anymore—with more time at home, you can grow your own veggies within arm's reach. Being able to produce your own food without having to go to the grocery store is an attractive idea right now and harkens back to the old "victory gardens" of World War I and II, when people at home grew their own food to supplement their rations and boost morale. While fire escape gardens are technically illegal to have—firefighters need a clear egress there–you can use an outdoor patio, balcony or window boxes to curate your little patch. But how do you even start, especially given we're not supposed to go out for tools? We spoke with gardening experts from the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and NYC Parks' GreenThumb program for tips to help you produce your first potted farm.

Photograph: Shutterstock
News, Eating

This Brooklyn movie theater is offering popcorn for at-home movie nights

Gone are the days of huddling together in a dark movie theater, a crowd of strangers together in silence—set to the occasional soundtrack of chewing snacks such as Milk Duds, M&Ms and popcorn—while we watch a new motion picture or indie film release. And while movie theaters across New York City (Regal Cinemas, Nitehawk and Syndicated to name a few) are currently closed due to coronavirus-related measures, movie-watching has continued to be one of our favorite pastimes. One Brooklyn movie theater, Stuart Cinema & Cafe wants to keep the movie magic going even during our Time In. The intimate, Greenpoint-based movie theater run by Emelyn Stuart has continued to offer access to its concession stand popcorn for to-go only (as well as many other lunch items such as its chicken tortilla soup, at a discounted price). And, sure, you can certainly pick up your own microwavable popcorn at home at any old corner stores, but there is something completely irreplaceable to the whimsy of movie popcorn that arrives in cute packaging. And the smell of that butter…. Here, a small popcorn will cost you $3.50 and the large is $5. So for those of you who live in the Greenpoint / Williamsburg area, or those taking a rejuvenating stroll, pop on over to the Stuart Cinema & Cafe to pick-up your bag of popcorn for tonight’s viewing of the latest movies on Netflix or other streaming services. It’ll pair perfectly with food from the best restaurants in NYC that deliver (we hear nearby favorites, Di An

Empire State Building, New York City, Z100 radio, lights
Photograph: Shutterstock
News, City Life

Watch the Empire State Building's nightly light show

The world famous tower lights atop the Empire State Building, which routinely display combinations of colors to mark various occasions and holidays, has been relatively quiet of late, lit mostly in white while the city has gone into lockdown. This staid interlude, though, is about to end in a big way tonight at 9pm when the ESB begins a nightly program of light and sound shows in collaboration with iHeartMedia's Z100 radio. The station will simulcast Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” as the ESB illuminates the skyline in a range of hues synched to the song. Designed by lighting artist Marc Brickman, the show is meant to lift the spirits of New Yorkers as they shelter in place, and will kick off each night at 8:55pm with spotlight interviews of first responders—doctors, nurses, EMT crews and other clinical personnel—who are on the front line in the war against COVID-19. New shows will premiere every Friday night starting April 3. The organizers are reminding viewers to maintain social-distancing protocol if they're viewing the event outdoors. Or if you prefer to remain indoors, you can stream the show live on the ESB's Facebook page.

Empty Rockefeller Center
Photograph: Courtesy Instagram/@viennyc

Happy Hour Art Party

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

Rockefeller Center is hosting a weekly virtual Happy Hour Art Party featuring NYC artists each Friday through April 17 on its Instagram account.  Viewers can join in on the fun by submitting photos of themselves, their pets, or their favorite personal fashion moment to @rockefellercenter via Instagram direct message by 11 p.m on Thursday, April 2. This time around, artist Angelica Hicks, who has previously participated in the Art in Focus program and created Rockefeller Center’s 2019 holiday map as well as a public art installation presented in partnership with Art Production Fund, will do a live illustration at 5pm. After the party, Rockefeller Center will send viewers a digital copy of their new illustration to print at home and share with friends using #RCArtParty.

Christina Tosi
Photography: Courtesy of Milk Bar
News, Eating

Join Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi's free Instagram baking club

Even the best pastry chefs and bakers are quarantine baking these days. Just like everyone who’s looking up sourdough bread baking tips and other DIY projects at home to self soothe in these uncertain times, Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame recently launched a free baking club on Instagram. At 2 pm EST every day, the dessert mastermind is sharing baking tips, including riffs on some of her biggest hits like the Compost Cookie and Cereal Milk (her adorable dog Butter also makes cameos). Tosi—who opened a flagship store late last year—has already shared recipes online for Compost pancakes and cereal meringues that would satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. Her recipes are meant to be approachable for novice bakers and devoted Milk Bar fans: You can easily swap ingredients and Tosi encourages you to “choose your own adventure.” You can check her Instagram the night before for an ingredient list, and Tosi even polls her followers for popular ideas. It’s a perfect activity whether you’re looking to tackle a new project or families with kids. “I’m uncertain of the future, and yet certain about the need to bake,” says Tosi in one of her recent IG posts. “That is where I find myself. That is where you can find us.”

The Metropolitan Opera Tannhäuser
Photograph: Courtesy Marty Sohl / The Metropolitan Opera
News, Theater & Performance

Watch the Metropolitan Opera performances for free

The Metropolitan Opera is giving at-home audiences an encore with another week of streamed performances of Live in HD. This week, it's all about Wagner. By tuning in to at 7:30pm each night, you'll be able to catch seven of the composer's operas, including the full Ring cycle. You can also access the streams through the Met Opera on Demand apps for Apple, Amazon, and Roku devices and Samsung Smart TV. 

escape room
Photograph: Courtesy Anthony Smith
News, City Life

Try this at-home escape room made with Google Docs

What most of us want right now is an escape—so Williamsburg resident Anthony Smith created one. It's not your run-of-the-mill escape room with social distancing underway. It's online, using Google Docs in a completely different manner. Once you're past the title page, you're taken to the prologue, which is a cryptic, stream-of-consciousness passage that leads you into the game. You wake up in a cozy cabin but something's wrong.

You're given a series of actions–checking under the pillows, opening the window, turning the door knob–but only one action gets you out. It's up to you to find out which one. Being stuck indoors while the coronavirus pandemic plays out has us a bit stir crazy, which is why the escape room serves as a welcome distraction. Smith says he created it out of "quarantine anxiety, mostly."

museums, art, virtual, tours
Photograph: Shutterstock
News, Art

See head-spinning virtual tours The Met

With almost everything shut down as a result of coronavirus, cultural life in NYC as we know it has pretty much moved online. Theaters, dance companies and The Metropolitan Opera are streaming performances, while comedians are hosting weekly joke parties on Google Docs. And let's not forget New York's museums, which are offering all manner of online features and virtual tours. That includes The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, of course, which certainly has got web-feature game, especially with The Met 360° Project. The program comprises videos covering six of The Met's most popular attractions and spaces, including the magnificent Neo-Classical Grand Hall, the Gothic Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, the more than 2,000-year-old Temple of Dendur and more. All of the videos are shot with something called spherical 360° technology, which allows you to shift your point of view up, down and around in all directions. The result can seem downright trippy, especially since each sequence is accompanied by a super-mellow ambient sound track. You can see the videos on YouTube with multiple devices, including your smartphone (which you move up, down and behind you to see all directions), your computer (using your mouse to scroll around) or your VR headset. As experiences go, The Met 360° Project is pretty cool and offers the added bonus of art appreciation.

coronavirus, New York City, street art, murals, Banksy, Keith Haring
Photograph: Ali Garber
News, Art

Take a virtual tour of NYC's best street art

Though shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, many of New York's museums and galleries are allowing viewers to commune with art through virtual tours and web-only viewing rooms. But what if street art is more your thing? As it happens, you're covered there, too, thanks to Google Arts & Culture, which offers an online experience called 9 Amazing Street Art Murals in New York, featuring work by the genre's heaviest hitters. The tour utilizes Google street view to take you to see NYC's most vivid murals with a full 360-degree line of sight. Prolific Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra, for instance, is represented by three murals: A double portrait of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Crown Heights; another in Bushwick pairing Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing boxing gloves; and a rendering of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, which climbs up the side of a condo tower in Jersey City. Photograph: Ali Garber A street art tour wouldn't be complete without Banksy, and his Hammer Boy on the Upper West Side (a spray-painted silhouette of a kid wielding a sledgehammer against an actual FDNY standpipe) is here, as is Keith Haring's famous Crack Is Wack mural at Harlem River Drive and 128th Street. Other notable street art destinations include the Big Pun Memorial Mural by Tats Cru in the Bronx, the Bowery Graffiti Wall on Houston Street, Freeman's Alley on the Lower East Side and the Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem. So if you're jonesing for street art murals, look no further.


Instagram Live Dance Parties

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

Dance to the best grooves of the 1980s and 90s with two special DJ sets through the Fun Music Presents Instagram Live. On March 27th, it's a 90's dance party with DJ K Styles from and then on April 3, jive to 80s jams with DJ Dee Wiz.

Photography: Courtesy of MasterClass
News, Drinking

Up your home bar game from the country's best bartenders

Say goodbye to your sad Quarantini. The home bar has taken center stage as New York City’s best bars are off limits these days—except for establishments selling alcohol to-go. But what do you put in the shaker when you have some vodka, a sad lemon and half empty bottles of liqueur guests brought to a dinner party last year? Bartenders in New York and across the country have turned to social media—check Instagram, Twitter and Facebook—for sharing recipes, providing tips on making better cocktails and even taking requests in live time so we can all drink better while social distancing. As you’re “qaurantending” from your apartment, here are some thirst-quenching resources, whether you set up that virtual happy hour or simply want to pour yourself one.

Happy Creative Dig
Photograph: Courtesy Happy Creative Dig
Things to do

Social diStitching: Embroidery Mixer

Various locations, Hell's Kitchen

Learn how to spice up your wardrobe with embroidery with this class taught by Happy Creative Dig. You'll learn a few stitching techniques while sipping on your own wine and chatting with other crafters. There will be drinking games! If you need a material kit, Happy Creative Dig is selling supplies they can mail to you.

Lane Moore
Photograph: Courtesy Lane Moore

How to Be Alone comedy variety show

New York City Center, Midtown West

Lane Moore, the comedian behind Tinder Live, will be streaming an interactive variety show live each night with games the audience can participate in. The show will also offer wellness check-ins, where she reminds viewers to drink water and take care of themselves, and be gentle through whatever they're facing right now. Moore, frontperson in the band It Was Romance, will also sing songs on the show, sometimes chosen by the audience. Moore describes the show as "'Pee-Wee's Playhouse' for lonely adults."

305 Fitness
News, City Life

Stream fitness classes from home

All gyms in the Tri-State area will be closed indefinitely as of 8pm tonight, as part of a joint regional plan to reduce the spread of coronavirus. That means gym rats, yoga enthusiasts and other fitness fans, like YMCA diehard Mayor Bill de Blasio, will have to move their workouts elsewhere if they want to keep in shape. (Side note: ClassPass is offering the option to pause this month for free, and they will keep all your credits until June. They'll also waive cancelation fees through the end of March.) Luckily, a number of gyms and instructors are offering their workouts via livestream. Most of them are offering limited free trials with a subscription that you can cancel later if you're not feeling it. Keep an eye out on your fitness instructors' and gyms' social media pages because many are announcing live workouts and deals through the next few weeks. Here are a few offerings you can jump on now ...

Photograph: Robert Malmberg
News, City Life

Party with Nowadays' virtual DJ sets

Instead of rolling up to a thriving party at Nowadays to dance off your stress as you usually do, the popular dance club is going virtual during these uncertain and unsettling times. On their website, they've created a sub-category for streaming ( and will be going live each night from 8pm to midnight (until they can re-open). You can tune in for all sorts of foot-tapping disco beats and even tutorials to keep your mind busy and morale up. Take a deep breath while in bed for peak relaxation during their Planetarium deep-listening sessions, or on other nights, the resident DJ may be pumping out disco-floor-fillers for your own bedroom dance party. All you'll need is your computer. Sure, your bedroom might not have hypnotic blue strobes or a fog machine, but you'll still be listening to house music in tandem with a glorious mass of humanity, dancing freely (in your pajamas), connecting with folks through chat rooms and, most importantly, respecting the advisories to practice social-distancing in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus.  Nowadays explained further details in a statement, “We’ve thought and talked a lot today about how we can stay connected with you while we’re closed, how we can rally support for our staff and how we can ensure that we’ll be able to open our doors again once it’s safe. Starting today we’ll begin live streaming technical how-to’s, DJ sets and other community programming that you can connect with while we’re closed.

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