Destination guide: New York, United States

New York is one of the most important cities in the United States and one of the classiest and most glamourous cities in the world. Hundreds of people of different nationalities live there, giving the city a cosmopolitan and multicultural feel.

If you’re thinking of travelling to New York, you musn’t miss the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, Broadway and the Empire State Building, as well as many other attractions.

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  • New York - Things to do

    Sights

    Canal Street

    Bustling, busy and perpetually congested, Canal St is packed with everything from treasure to junk; sifting through takes a keen eye and loads of patience. Or, you can simply walk around, taking in the strange creatures flopping in the food markets, the homeopathic drugstores with Chinese remedies, and the sound of a thousand tongues speaking at once.

    Latitude: 40.7146714555691 / Longitude: -73.9912247657776
    Sub-Type: Gifts
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: M, N, Q, R, W, Z, 6 to Canal St

    Eldridge Street Synagogue

    This landmarked house of worship, built in 1887, was once the center of Jewish life, before falling into squalor in the 1920s. Left to rot, it's only recently been reclaimed, and now shines with original splendor. Its onsite museum gives tours every half hour ($10; 10am to 5pm), with the last one departing at 4pm.

    Latitude: 40.7147527765919 / Longitude: -73.9934456348419
    Sub-Type: Religious, Spiritual
    Telephone Number: +1 212 219 0888
    Opening Hours: 10am-5pm Sun-Thu
    Pricing: donations suggested
    Address: 12 Eldridge St / Extras: btwn Canal & Division Sts
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: F to East Broadway
    Website: www.eldridgestreet.org

    Flatiron Building

    It's a three-dimensional triangle brought to life: the Flatiron Building is a 22-story limestone and terra-cotta structure that was known as 'Burnham's Folly' (after architect Daniel Burnham) when it was built in 1902. Skeptical residents doubted that its odd ironlike shape would hold up. Six feet across at its narrowest point, it's now the defining landmark of the neighborhood.

    Latitude: 40.7409018900000 / Longitude: -73.9896956500000
    Sub-Type: Architecture
    Address: Broadway, cnr Fifth Ave & 23rd St
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: N, R, 6 to 23rd St

    New Museum of Contemporary Art

    New York's newest museum is an off-kilter stack of seven white, ethereal boxes, creating a seven-story structure designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. The city's sole museum dedicated to contemporary art features edgy works in new forms, like seemingly random, discarded materials fused together and displayed in the middle of a vast room. Founded in 1977 by Marcia Tucker and moved to five different locations over the years, the museum's mission statement is simple: 'New art, new ideas.' The museum also houses a small and healthy cafe, and has the added treat of a city viewing platform, which provides a unique perspective on the constantly changing architectural landscape.

    Latitude: 40.7223558533888 / Longitude: -73.9930164813995
    Sub-Type: Gallery
    Telephone Number: +1 212 219 1222
    Opening Hours: noon-6pm Wed & Sat, to 9pm Thu & Fri
    Pricing: adult/senior/student $12/8/6
    Address: 235 Bowery / Extras: near Prince St
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: 6 to Spring St, N, R to Prince St

    Union Square

    A former 'needle' park opened in 1831, Union Sq has become synonymous with protests - starting with the nation's first Labor Day gathering in 1882 and continuing into the present. But the little park was named not for its strong union activities (many labor groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Communist and Socialist parties and Ladies' Garment Workers Union, set up offices on its outskirts), but because it was at the 'union' of Broadway and Bowery. It's now home to a fabulous greenmarket, several statues (including George Washington and Mahatma Gandhi), public works of art, and – after a face-lift on the north end – a new restaurant and playground.

    Latitude: 40.7358000300000 / Longitude: -73.9907068900000
    Sub-Type: Outdoors
    Address: 17th St / Extras: btwn Broadway & Park Ave S
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St-Union Sq

    Shop

    ABC Carpet & Home

    North of Union Sq there is a plethora of home-furnishing stores: besides the museumlike ABC Carpet & Home, there are numerous other interior design/furnishing options stretching all the way up to 23rd St. ABC's six stories are filled with home goods, small and large, including easy-to-pack knick-knacks, designer jewelry, global gifts and more bulky antique furnishings and carpets. Come Christmas season, the shop is a joy to behold, as the decorators go all out with lights and other wondrous touches.

    Latitude: 40.7382097434677 / Longitude: -73.9898943901062
    Sub-Type: Homewares
    Telephone Number: +1 212 473 3000
    Opening Hours: 10am-7pm Mon-Wed & Fri, 10am-8pm Thu, 11am-7pm Sat, noon-6pm Sun
    Address: 888 Broadway
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St-Union Sq
    Website: www.abccarpetandhome.com

    Bergdorf Goodman

    This classy, legendary, high-end department store is all about labels and fabulousness – the serious, not pretentious kind. Women’s collections include Eli Tahari, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Emilio Pucci, Stella McCartney, Alice + Olivia and Moschino, to name just a few. And then there are the departments selling jewelry, fragrance, shoes, handbags, housewares and menswear – with apparel from John Varvatos, Fred Perry and Theory, among others.

    Latitude: 40.7635172500000 / Longitude: -73.9738664700000
    Sub-Type
    : Department Store
    Telephone Number: +1 212 753 7300
    Opening Hours
    : 10am-8pm Mon-Fri, to 7pm Sat, noon-6pm Sun
    Address: 754 Fifth Ave
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: N, R, W to Fifth Ave, F to 57th St
    Website: www.bergdorfgoodman.com

    Tiffany & Co

    This famous jeweler, with the trademark clock-hoisting Atlas over the door, has won countless hearts with its fine diamond rings, watches, silver Elsa Peretti heart necklaces, and fine crystal vases and glassware. It’s the high-end bridal registry spot of choice, and the store’s little blue boxes have been known to provoke squealing from any teenage girl lucky enough to get a gift from here. The classy elevators are operated by old-school humans – and whatever you do, don’t harass them with tired ‘Where’s the breakfast?’ jokes.

    Latitude: 40.7626979000000  / Longitude: -73.9738222900000
    Sub-Type: Accessories
    Telephone Number: +1 212 755 8000
    Opening Hours: 10am-7pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat, noon-5pm Sun
    Address: 727 Fifth Ave
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: F to 57th St

    Eat

    Megu

    A shrine to both style and substance, this is the place to have all your senses wowed. The space itself is wondrous – various levels of high ceilings, low lighting, Japanese art installations and sleek banquettes – and the food is equally exciting. Lobster salad with yuzu and passion fruit sauce, elegant edamame soup, slippery-fresh sushi and Kobe beef (grilled, carpaccio and tartare ) are stunners. Or go for the gusto with a drawn-out tasting menu, starting with a spoonful of raw ‘egg’: pineapple juice, coconut milk and a yolk-ish filling.

    Latitude: 40.7167677900000 / Longitude: -74.0074078800000
    Sub-Type: Japanese
    Telephone Number: +1 212 964 7777
    Opening Hours: lunch & dinner
    Price Range: High
    Address: 62 Thomas St / Extras: btwn Church St & West Broadway
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers St

    Peasant

    This homey house of gourmet comfort grub has a vibe of old-fashioned simplicity and quality – due to a warm dining area of bare oak tables structured around a brick hearth and open kitchen, which lovingly turns out hearty, pan-Italian, mostly meat-based fare. Peasant has made it onto various best-restaurant lists in town, and always seems to be filled with a crowd of sophisticates, who want in on solid stunners like gnocchi with wild mushrooms, grilled hen or octopus and thin-crusted pizzas – not to mention the winning bread and fresh ricotta that starts off every meal.

    Latitude: 40.7217460100000 / Longitude: -73.9943361300000
    Sub-Type: Italian
    Telephone Number: +1 212 965 9511
    Address: 194 Elizabeth St, Little Italy, 10012 / Extras: btwn Spring & Prince Sts
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: 6 to Spring St

    WD 50

    This early leader in chef Wylie Dufresne’s empire, a sleek space with bamboo floors, exposed wood beams and a fireplace, has held strong with thrill-seekers for more than five years. Now that the frenzy has slowed a bit, you’ll have a better chance of getting in to savor the cutesy-clever-­complicated fare: ocean trout, black beans and forbidden rice in root-beer-and-date sauce, or a slab of Wagyu beef served with coffee gnocchi, for example. Pack more flavors than you thought imaginable into one meal with the 12-course tasting menu ($125).

    Latitude: 40.7196256100000 / Longitude: -73.9845343300000
    Sub-Type
    : American Creative
    Telephone Number: +1 212 477 2900
    Opening Hours: dinner Mon-Sat
    Price Range: High
    Address: 50 Clinton St / Extras: at Stanton St
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: F, J, M, Z to Delancey St-Essex St

    Entertainment

    Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

    Easily one of New York’s great happy-drinking­ grounds, this outdoor beer garden is well worth visiting when the weather is warm. The mouth­watering list of cold Czech imports on draft are served with Czech accents, as are the potato dumplings and burgers. Some warm nights, folk bands set up (with occasional cover charge of $5 or so); arrive early on key nights to ensure a spot. The building itself dates from 1919, when it housed the Bohemian Citizen’s Benevolent Society (founded for Czech immigrants in 1892).

    Latitude: 40.7729311900000 / Longitude: -73.9161932400000
    Sub-Type: Bar
    Telephone Number: Number: +1 718 274 4925
    Address: 29-19 24th Ave, Astoria / Extras: btwn 29th & 31st Sts
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: N, W to Astoria Blvd

    Little Branch

    Down from Seventh in an unassuming, gray, triangular building, this alluring, stylish speakeasy keeps the lights and jazz low, so the focus in two- and four-person booths is on the gin, rum and scotch cocktails, all stirred with precision. If undecided, ask for a refreshing South Side, with gin straight-up plus lime and mint.

    Latitude: 40.7301206663898 / Longitude: -74.0049147605896
    Sub-Type: Cocktail Bar
    Telephone Number: +1 212 929 4360
    Opening Hours: 19:00-03:00 Mon-Fri, 21:00-03:00 Sun
    Address: 22 Seventh Ave S at Leroy St
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: 1 to Houston St

    Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

    This classy, legendary, high-end department store is all about labels and fabulousness – the serious, not pretentious kind. Women’s collections include Eli Tahari, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Emilio Pucci, Stella McCartney, Alice + Olivia and Moschino, to name just a few. And then there are the departments selling jewelry, fragrance, shoes, handbags, housewares and menswear – with apparel from John Varvatos, Fred Perry and Theory, among others.

    Latitude: 40.7478643300000 / Longitude: -73.9984421200000
    Sub-Type: Comedy
    Telephone Number:  +1 212 366 9176
    Address: 307 W 26th St, Chelsea / Extras: btwn Eighth & Ninth Aves
    TransportationType: underground rail
    Details: C, E to 23rd St

    Events Overviews

    It seems as though there’s always some sort of celebration going on here. National holidays, religious observances and just plain ol’ weekends prompt parades, parties or street fairs, with highlights such as the fireworks on July Fourth and the street parades for Halloween (October), Thanksgiving (November) and Gay Pride (June).

    Federal holidays such as Labor Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving may affect business hours and transit schedules. While they won’t affect your ability to eat out, explore or be entertained, they could put a crimp in your plans to visit the post office or bank. Check with your hotel concierge (or local host) before setting out.

    Hot Summer in the City

    The following organizations present frequent events and series, mainly in the summer months:

    Bryant Park/HBO summer film series

    Every Monday night from mid-June through August, a mob of New Yorkers bring blankets and picnic dinners to this patch of green (www.bryantpark.org) in Midtown, trying to catch a good spot for watching the classic films – Casablanca, Annie Hall, Psycho and others – that show on the big outdoor screen.

    Celebrate Brooklyn

    From late spring through summer, the Prospect Park band shell in Park Slope, Brooklyn, presents a stellar lineup of concerts, films, spoken-word shows and dance performances. The series, going strong for more than 30 years, hosts shows during the week and on weekends, many of which offer free admission.

    www.briconline.org/celebrate

    Central Park Summerstage

    Throughout the summer, the New York City Parks Foundation hosts an incredible series of outdoor performances at its SummerStage – dance, theater, spoken word and music concerts in all genres – many of which are free. Recent talents have included Q-tip, Josh Ritter, Pavement, Cassandra Wilson and Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company dancing to music by Martha Wainwright.

    www.summerstage.org

    Newfest: the New York LGBT Film Festival

    In addition to hosting this annual gay film festival in early June, NewFest presents LGBT film programming throughout the year, including NewFest at BAM in Brooklyn, which shows the best of the June fest in one packed. weekend, and NewFest at IFC Center, a monthly series in Greenwich Village.

    www.newfest.org

    River to River Festival

    Lasting throughout most of summer and offering something to do on almost every night of the week, this is the largest free arts event in NYC, with hundreds of creators and performers bringing theatre, music, dance and film to a slew of downtown parks.

    www.rivertorivernyc.org

    Month by Month

    January

    Three Kings Parade

    Every year in the first week of January, the streets of Spanish Harlem are filled with parading schoolchildren, donkeys and sheep, celebrating Christmas in the tradition of many Latin American and Caribbean countries. Check the website for route details. [tel] 212-831-7272

    www.elmuseo.org

    Winter Restaurant Week

    One of two official Restaurant Weeks (the other is in July), this marks a wonderful opportunity to try the expensive, high-­profile restaurant of your dreams – nearly 200 participating eateries offer three-course lunches for $20 or so and three-course dinners for $30. [tel] 212-484-1222

    www.nycvisit.com

    February

    Lunar (chinese) New Year Festival

    One of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations in the country, this display of fireworks and dancing dragons draws mobs of thrill-seekers into the streets of Chinatown. The date of Chinese New Year fluctuates from year to year, sometimes falling in late January but often in early February.

    www.explorechinatown.com

    Mercedes-benz Fashion Week

    The infamous Bryant Park fashion shows are sadly not open to the public. But whether you’re invited or not, being in the city this week – when the couture world descends upon Manhattan to thrill over new looks – could provide a vicarious thrill, especially if you can find the after-parties. A second fashion week is held in September.

    www.mbfashionweek.com/newyork

    Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

    Who will be Best in Show? Catch the oft-mocked parade of pure breeds at this dead-serious canine showcase, held annually at Madison Square Garden.

    www.westminsterkennelclub.org


    March

    St Pat’s for All Parade

    Held early in the month in Sunnyside, Queens, this festive community affair is an inclusive answer to the mainstream St Patrick’s Day Parade, which bans gay groups from marching. [tel] 718-721-2780

    www.stpatsforall.com


    St. Patrick's Day Parade
    A massive audience, rowdy and wobbly from cups of green beer, lines Fifth Ave on March 17 for this popular parade of bagpipe blowers, sparkly floats and clusters of Irish-lovin’ politicians. [tel] 718-793-1600

    April

    Easter Parade & Easter Bonnet Festival

    This loosely organized tradition brings mobs of well-clad folks to the stretch of Fifth Ave (closed off to traffic for the day) in front of St Patrick’s Cathedral, where they strut in the sun to show off their elaborate bonnets, caps and other headgear. The fun usually lasts from 10am to 4pm.

    www.saintpatrickscathedral.org

    Havana Film Festival

    This beloved film fest screens shorts, docs and features from Cuba, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America.

    www.hffny.com

    Tax Day

    April 15 is the deadline for Americans to pay off Uncle Sam. In NYC, it’s just another reason to dress up and make some noise. Check out both the partiers and protestors who gather on the grand steps of the 24-hour General Post Office, with many procrastinators rushing by to get their postmarks, in a quirky, festive display of free speech.

    May

    Tribeca Film Festival

    Robert De Niro co-organizes this annual downtown film fest, held in the first week of May. The week of screenings, featuring world and US premieres, has become a prestigious, celeb-studded event, with plenty of red-carpet action. [tel] 212-941-2400

    www.tribecafilmfestival.com

    Cherry Blossom Festival
    Known in Japanese as Sakura Matsuri, this annual tradition, held the first weekend in May, celebrates the pink, puffy flowering of the Kwanzan cherry trees along the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s famous esplanade. It’s complete with entertainment, refreshments and awe-inspiring beauty.[tel] 718-623-7200

    www.bbg.org

    TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour

    May is Bike Month, featuring two-wheelin’ tours, parties and other events for pedal-pushing New Yorkers. Bike New York’s Five Boro Tour, the main event, sees thousands of cyclists hit the pavement for a 42-mile ride, much of it on roads closed to traffic or waterfront paths through each of the city’s five boroughs.

    www.bikenewyork.org

    Fleet Week

    For one week at the end of the month, Manhattan resembles a 1940s movie set as clusters of fresh-faced, uniformed sailors go ‘on the town’ to look for adventures. The ships they leave behind, docked in the Hudson River, invite the curious to hop aboard for tours.[tel] 212-245-0072

    www.intrepidmuseum.org


    June

    Puerto Rican Day Parade

    The second weekend in June attracts thousands of flag-waving revelers for the annual Puerto Rican pride parade. Now in its fifth decade, it runs up Fifth Ave from 44th to 86th Sts.

    www.nationalpuertoricandayparade.org

    JVC Jazz Festival

    More than 40 jazz shows go on in clubs around the city for this festival held in mid-June, featuring big names such as Etta James, Branford Marsalis, Keith Jarrett and Eartha Kitt. [tel] 212-501-1390

    www.festivalnetwork.com

    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride

    June is Gay Pride Month, and it culminates in a major march down Fifth Ave on the last Sunday of the month – a five-hour spectacle of dancers, drag queens, gay police officers, leathermen, lesbian soccer-moms and representatives of just about every other queer scene under the rainbow. Various outer-borough Pride events take place on other June weekends, with the Queens Pride March (www.queenspride.com) in Jackson Heights among the most multiculti. The annual Dyke March (www.nycdykemarch.org), a separate and female-only event, heads down Fifth Ave at 5pm the evening before the big march, starting at 42nd St and Sixth Ave. [tel] 212-807-7433

    www.nycpride.org


    Mermaid Parade

    Celebrating the sand, the sea and the beginning of summer is this wonderfully quirky afternoon parade, nearly 30 years old. It’s a flash of glitter and glamour, as elaborately costumed folks display their mermaid finery along the Coney Island boardwalk. Held on the last Saturday of the month. [tel] 718-372-5159

    www.coneyisland.com

    July

    July Fourth Fireworks

    America’s Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks over the East River, starting at 9pm. Good viewing spots include the waterfronts of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or any high rooftop or east-facing Manhattan apartment. Roosevelt Island also hosts a fireworks-viewing festival at its Southpoint Park. The pyrotechnic display, hosted by Macy’s and courtesy of the renowned Grucci fireworks company, is an impressive sight to behold (though the accompanying patriotic music is rather on the schmaltzy side). [tel] 212-494-4495

    Nathan’s famous hot-dog-eating contest

    This bizarre celebration of gluttony brings world-champion food inhalers to Coney Island each Fourth of July. The 2009 repeat winner, Joey Chestnut of California, beat his own record by downing 68 dogs (and buns!) in just 10 gut-busting minutes.

    www.nathansfamous.com

    Philharmonic in the Park

    Free nighttime concerts in the park from the country’s premier orchestra are among the most wonderful treats of summer in the city. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and choose from Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park or parks in Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island; the symphony visits each borough, beginning in early July, and brings a different music program to each.[tel] 212-875-5656

    www.newyorkphilharmonic.org

     August

    Fringe Festival

    This annual mid-August theater festival presents two weeks of performances from companies all over the world. It’s the best way to catch the edgiest, wackiest and most creative up-and-comers around. [tel] 212-279-4488

    www.fringenyc.org

    HOWL! Festival

    This week-long celebration, named for Beat writer Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem, brings visual art, theater, dance, film and literature to venues around the artsy East Village. It sometimes falls in September.

    www.howlfestival.com

    Jubilation

    This black gay pride festival – meant both for celebration and education about preventing the spread of HIV – brings five event-packed days to various venues around NYC. One highlight is the annual beach-party blowout, featuring live performances, held at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways.

    www.prideinthecity.com

    US OPEN Tennis Tournament

    Tennis fans turn out en masse for this, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments of professional tennis, to see top-ranked men and women compete in singles and doubles matches. Sometimes falling in September, it is held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, a sort of miniature tennis universe out in Flushing, Queens.

    www.usopen.org

    September

    West Indian American Day Carnival Parade

    To most New Yorkers, Labor Day is a wistful day signaling the official end of summer. But for two million Caribbean Americans and other fun-loving onlookers, it's time to head on over to Eastern Pkwy in Brooklyn for the annual Carnival parade – a colorful, day-long march and party featuring over-the-top costumes, delicious Caribbean eats and nonstop music.

    www.wiadca.com

    San Gennaro Festival

    Rowdy, loyal crowds descend on the narrow streets of Little Italy for carnival games, sausage-and-pepper sandwiches, deep-fried Oreos and more Italian treats than you can stomach in one evening. For more than 80 years, it’s remained an old-world tradition.

    www.sangennaro.org

    Dumbo Art Under The Bridge Festival

    Celebrating and promoting Dumbo’s local artist community – with newfound vigor each year, thanks to the neighborhood’s ever-growing gentrification – this Brooklyn fest features open studios and galleries, performances and street displays.

    www.dumboartscenter.org

    October

    Blessing Of The Animals

    In honor of the Feast Day of St Francis, which falls early in the month, pet owners flock to the grand Cathedral of St John the Divine with their creatures – poodles, lizards, parrots, donkeys, you name it – to be blessed. It’s a wild and wonderful afternoon for participants and onlookers alike.

    www.stjohndivine.org

    Open House New York

    The country’s largest architecture and design event, held at the start of the month, features special, architect-led tours, as well as lectures, design workshops, studio visits and site-specific performances all over the city. [tel] 212-991-6469;

    www.ohny.org

    Halloween Parade

    The nation’s largest public Halloween celebration, nearing its 40th year, lures all sorts of freaks and geeks into the streets of Greenwich Village for a wild night of parading and prancing about in costume. The outfits range from very clever and of-the-moment to over-the-top raunchy, and the spectators lining the streets love one and all.

    www.halloween-nyc.com

    November

    New York City Marathon

    Held in the first week of November, this annual 26-mile run through the streets of the city’s five boroughs draws thousands of athletes from around the world – and just as many excited viewers, who line the streets to cheer folks on.

    www.nycmarathon.org

    Rockefeller center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

    At this traditional mob-scene event, folks flock around the massive spruce tree to watch it come aglow with energy-efficient bulbs before it’s taken down and recycled into lumber. It’s a green Christmas!

    www.rockefellercenter.com

    Thanksgiving Day Parade

    This famous cold-weather event, for hardy viewers only, parades its famous floats and balloons (watch your head) in a new route as of 2009: instead of sticking to Broadway, it now moves down Seventh Avenue, from 72nd St to Herald Sq. For an even better view, join the throngs who gather at the southwest corner of Central Park to watch the balloons being inflated the night before

    www.macys.com

    New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show

    Opening the day after Thanksgiving and lasting through January, this annual spectacle recreates New York City landmarks in miniature using natural materials like pinecones, cinnamon sticks and poppy pods, with miniature trains wending in and out. Come stroll through the Bronx wonder in the afternoon or – even better – at night, when the display is all lit up. [tel] 718-817-8700

    www.nybg.org

    December

    New Year’s Eve

    In addition to the world-famous countdown to midnight and dropping of the Waterford Crystal ball held in Times Sq – a raucous, freezing, alcohol-fueled spectacle that you’re honestly better off missing – the city has plenty of other celebratory events, namely the Midnight Run in Central Park (nyrr.org) and midnight fireworks in Central Park, Prospect Park and the South Street Seaport. An unofficial but thoroughly NYC option is the Hot Nude Yoga New Year’s Eve (www.hotnudeyoga.com), a spiritual-meets-sensual night for men only.

    www.timessquarenyc.org/nye/

    Activity Overviews

    Going out in New York doesn’t always mean going to a bar or the opera. There are plenty of activities that vary by the season. Pretty much anytime it’s not snowing or raining, you’ll find soccer and basketball players looking for extra players, or cyclists and joggers doing loop trails in many New York parks, while other parks offer bird-watching tours that point out a surprisingly rich life lurking in the trees. New York’s canals and rivers are unexpectedly good fun for kayaks and sailboats. Even winter gets in the action, with open-air skating rinks in the parks (and even one in Midtown).

    Bike Riding

    New York has never been the world’s most bicycle-friendly city, but things have started to shift gears in recent years. That said, you still may prefer designated bike areas (eg waterside trails and bike lanes in Central Park or across the Brooklyn Bridge) to taking on the streets, where there always seems to be a double-parked car or open door blocking your way. The city, however, has made enormous strides in making the city more bike-friendly, adding more than 200 miles of bike lanes from 2006 to 2009 – some of which are physically separated from traffic (along parts of Ninth Ave, Broadway, Eighth Ave, Grand St and Allen St), while others offer nothing more than a painted line to protect you from maniacal drivers (eg Lafayette St, most of Broadway, Second Ave and 20th and 21st Sts)
    .
    On streets, wear a helmet and signal your turns. It’s possible to take a bike on the last door of subways, but avoid rush hours and stand with your bike. Bike racks are around to lock up a bike in some places; only use the strongest locks.
    For detailed bike maps of Manhattan and the boroughs, check the Facilities section of www.nycgovparks.org or search for ‘bike map’ at www.nyc.gov

    Where to Ride

    • The work-in-progress, 32-mile Manhattan Waterfront Greenway (www.nyc.gov) circumnavigates Manhattan – a great ride, though it can only be done with a detour on a surfaced road or two. The ‘greenway’ is uninterrupted from Manhattan Bridge, around the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park and up the Hudson River to Riverside Park in the Upper West Side, but it’s not that hard to do the whole thing.
    • Central Park has wide, well-paved roads that run north–south and in between, making excellent loops of 1.7, 5.2 and 6.1 miles. There are bike lanes; cars access the roads from 7am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm Monday to Friday.
    • Brooklyn’s gorgeous Prospect Park has the 3.35-mile Park Dr to ride anytime. Note the road’s southbound West Dr is open to motorists 5pm to 7pm weekdays and the northbound North Dr is open 7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm.
    • Long cratered and eroded, the 1940s-era Shore Parkway Path in Brooklyn, which bends along the New York Harbor past the Verrazano­-Narrows Bridge, now sports a greenway running from the bridge north to the 69th St Pier in Bay Ridge and south to Bensonhurst Park (with on-street bike lanes connecting to Coney Island). Eventually 14 miles will be developed, running from Greenpoint in northern Brooklyn down to Sunset Park. See Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway (www.brooklyngreenway.org) for more info.

    Organizations

    • Some clubs sponsor various rides. The Five Borough Bicycle Club leads free trips for its members ($20 annual fee); the club office is at Hostelling International – New York.
    • Another good club is the New York Cycle Club (www.nycc.org).
    • Fast & Fabulous ([tel] 212-567-7160; www.fastnfab.org) is a membership-based cycling club for gays and lesbians, with frequent rides.
    • Several hundred cyclists (and in-line skaters) promote safer streets and bike lanes in Critical Mass, a traffic-halting ride leaving from the north side of Union Sq at 7pm on the last Friday of the month. There’s also a Brooklyn Critical Mass leaving at 7pm on the second Friday of the month from Grand Army Plaza at Prospect Park. Time’s Up (www.times-up.org) has more information.
    • May is NYC Bike Month – see Transportation Alternative (www.transalt.org) for scheduled events. It also organizes a 100-mile New York Century Ride around the boroughs in September.
      Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists (CLIMB; www.climbonline.org) offers rides on area mountain-bike trails.

    Bird-Watching

    Some of the country’s most important birding areas are in New York City (no, seriously). Even Central Park sees over 200 species. The best viewing times in the parks are during migrations (roughly April to June and September to October), when many birding tours welcome the uninitiated.

    • The best viewing spot is probably Queens’ Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. About 350 species visit during the year, most in July and August.
    • One excellent option during migratory periods are the three-hour walking tours (adult/student $8/4) of Central Park led by ever-busy ornithologist Starr Saphir. These leave at 7:30am Monday and Wednesday from 81st St and Central Park West, or at 9am Tuesday or 7:30am Saturday from 103rd St and Central Park West.
    • Throughout the year, the New York City Audubon Society stages bird-watching field trips (from free to $65; including heron-spotting rides in the Long Island Sound and eagle-watching in the Hudson Valley), free lectures and beginning birding classes ($85; including two field trips). The group also stages a City Birding Challenge in May.
    • In Brooklyn, Prospect Park’sAudubon Center Boathouse is the set-off point for free year-round walks – including Early Bird Walks (8am first Sunday of the month), Introduction to Bird-Watching (noon Saturday) and a kid-friendly Discover Tour (3pm weekends). There are also bird-watching boat rides (adult/3-12yr $10/6) at noon and 1:15pm on weekends.
    • The best in-depth guide to city birdlife is The New York City Audubon Society Guide to Finding Birds in the Metropolitan Area. Many of the wing-flappers are captured in Carl Vornberger’s photo essay Birds of Central Park.
    • Brooklyn Bird Club (www.brooklynbirdclub.org) posts detailed info on bird-watching spots and events in Brooklyn and Queens.

    Boating Kayaking

    The free Staten Island Ferry is New York’s ultimate recreational boating trip – and it’s free. Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park have rowboats or pedal boats to rent, and City Island, a fishing community in the Bronx, has charter opportunities. Manhattan’s Circle Line offers classic round-the-island boat cruises, while the newfangled yellow New York Water Taxis provide hop-on/hop-off Manhattan and Brooklyn access.

    New York Water Fest A six-mile race from Pier 96, is held in mid-October.

    Public Boathouses

    Nonprofit boathouses around New York City make the most of the protected coves and inlets around the city’s waterfront. The following offer free kayaking or canoeing – including equipment and tips – from mid-May through October.

    Golf

    Other than a driving range, all golf options are outside Manhattan. Courses have slightly higher fees at weekends and you’ll need to reserve a tee-off time. If you feel like belting a few balls without the walking, head to the driving range at Chelsea Piers.
    See NYC Tee Times (www.nycteetimes.com) to make reservations at several courses online, or call American Golf ([tel] 718-225-4653).

    Ice Skating

    Outdoor rinks are open during the winter months, though the rink at Chelsea Piers is open year-round. There are also rinks at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens and Riverbank State Park in northern Manhattan.

    In-Line Skating

    For decades, freestyle skaters have flaunted their footwork in a disco skate circle in Central Park near the Naumberg Bandshell, or along Center Dr (aka ‘Skaters’ Rd’) along the east side of the Sheep Meadow. Other areas to show your inline-skating stuff include the counterclockwise 6-mile loop at Central Park (with no cars on weekends, or from 10am to 3pm and 7pm to 7am on weekdays), Brooklyn’s Prospect Park loop, or along Hudson River Park from Battery Park all the way up to Riverside Park.
    Check NYCSK8 (www.skatecity.com/nyc) for a detailed guide to skating in the city. Renting is far less common than it was back in the 1990s, but you can rent skates all year at Blades West.

    Running

    Central Park’s loop roads are best during traffic-free hours, though you’ll be in the company of many cyclists and in-line skaters. The 1.6-mile path surrounding the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir (where Jackie O used to run) is for runners and walkers only; access it between 86th and 96th Sts. Running along the Hudson River is a popular path, best from 23rd St to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. The Upper East Side has a path that runs along FDR Dr and the East River (from 63rd St to 115th St). Brooklyn’s Prospect Park has plenty of paths.

    The New York Road Runners Club organizes weekend runs citywide, including the New York City Marathon.

    Rock Climbing

    Central Park contains a couple of rocks that attract the attention of boulderers, including Chess Rock, just north of Wollman Skating Rink, and the more challenging Rat Rock, north of Heckscher Playground (around 61st St). However, the best is City Boy, a 20-footer around 107th St, west of the Harlem Meer. Indoors, a new climbing gym in Brooklyn offers an excellent place to practice. There’s also indoor rock climbing at Chelsea Piers.

    Serious climbers will want to go 90 minutes north to the Shawangunks (aka ‘da Gunks’) for gravity-defying rock-climbing options up backward-tilted walls in the Catskills outside New Paltz, New York. Check www.gunks.com for more information and several local guide services.

    Soccer

    Soccer leagues generally don’t allow drop-in, single-game players. You can find pick-up soccer games in Central Park’s East Meadow around 97th St and the North Meadow at weekends during the season (April to October). Games at Flushing Meadows Corona Park are legendary and are in action whenever the weather allows (even February); Chelsea Piers has organized games of the indoor variety. Riverside Park in the Upper West Side has weekly pick-up soccer times in its outdoor field.

    Surfing

    Finally that Beach Boys–style Ramones song ‘Rockaway Beach’ makes sense. Since the surfing ban was lifted in 2005, Queens’ Rockaway Beach has become New York’s surf central, with growing crews of surfers hitting the waves between 88th and 90th Sts, especially during August to October when hurricanes down south prompt the biggest action. In 2007 a new stretch was opened to surfing between 67th and 69th Sts. Reach either by taking the A train to Beach 90th St or Beach 67th St.

    Check the surf cam for the Rockaways at www.surfline.com. A couple of websites focus on area waves: www.surfrider.org/nyc and www.newyorksurf.com.

    Tennis

    Playing on New York’s nearly 100 public tennis courts requires a permit (annual fee adult/senior/child $100/20/10) from April to November (photo required); it’s free at other times. You can pick up single-play tickets for $7 at the Central Park permit center at Arsenal for a list of other locations. Also, Paragon Athletic Goods sells permits.

    Those with an annual permit can make reservations at the Central Park Tennis Center and Prospect Park Tennis Center. Otherwise, take a single-play ticket to a public court, where it’s first-come, first-serve. Riverbank State Park in Northern Manhattan also has courts.

    Park Hotline

    Check www.nycgovparks.org or call [tel] 311 for New York parks info – you’ll get details on park services, including free pools and basketball court opening times.