You have a ton of ground to cover, so kick off your day bright and early at the Bronx Zoo ($16.95, seniors $14.95, children 3–12 $11.95) as the gates open at 10am. The ginormous grounds hold 6,000-plus creatures from around the globe—snow leopards, zebras, crocodiles—so map out which species you’d like to check out before visiting. (The attractions at NYC’s largest zoo can easily suck up an afternoon’s worth of sightseeing.)
Nab a seat on the next downtown-bound 2, 4 or 5 train (a comfy one—you’ll be on it for a good hour) and book it to the South Street Seaport Museum ($10, seniors and students $6, children under 9 and members free). Located just off the East River on Schermerhorn Row, the nautical museum boasts exhibits (don’t miss the ongoing, Stanley Tucci–narrated short film “Timescapes,” which chronicles the island from its Native American roots to today) and, docked in New York Harbor, six ships dating back to the 1800s. You can explore a 1907 lightship (free with admission), as well as a 1885 schooner (required additional ticket).
If all of that seafaring fun has you hankering for a boat ride, you’re in luck: To get to your next destination, you need to hop aboard the Staten Island Ferry. After taking in up-close views of the Statue of Liberty and disembarking, make your way to Snug Harbor. Exploring its lush 83 acres would take a while, so concentrate your time in the elegant, delicately manicured New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden. It’ll also give you a chance to catch your breath, find some calm and rest your feet before finishing the journey.
Hop the S40 bus back to Manhattan, then hightail it to the Whithall R train and make your way to Astoria, where you can indulge your cinéaste (read: nerdy, Blu-ray–obsessed) side at the Museum of the Moving Image. Check out the institution’s permanent hands-on exhibit, “Behind the Screen,” where you can dabble in the basics of film production and even create a short animated film. Another must-see is the newest show, “Spectacle: The Music Video,” a comprehensive survey that covering 300 notable examples of the art form.
Hurry back to the Steinway Street station to catch the R train down to Kings County. Once you exit the Union Street station congrats are in order. You’ve reached the final borough (cue celebratory horn blaring). Now it’s time for a drink and some sit-down eats. There’s been something of an influx of boozy barbecue places in Park Slope and Gowanus as of late, and Pork Slope is the best of the bunch for turning dinner into a munching-and-sipping all-nighter (the kitchen closes at 2am, the bar at 4am). Wash down your sandwich—we’re big on the pulled pork ($13) and BLT ($12)—and a complimentary side (potato salad, mac and cheese) with an affordable brew ($4–$6) or that day’s beer-and-shot special ($5). And then repeat. You’ve earned it.