With every year I live in New York, I learn a little more about the city — whether from people who have spent decades exploring it, or newcomers who haphazardly discover a hidden gem.
The sunshine certainly brings out a busier vibe in the ant hive, as everyone slowly emerges from their duvet-wrapped hibernation. So while hipsters scurry to their hidden watering holes and tourists swarm to big attractions, I’d like to share a few unique New York indulgences to be enjoyed with family and friends.
1. Less Clothing = More Dancing
If you've been waiting all winter to line up in front of the meatpacking district’s red ropes, pop over-priced champagne bottles, and flirt with models — then may god have mercy on your soul. For those who want to dance in a more peculiar environment, the city has plenty of bizarre gatherings to indulge in. Want to rave with hundreds of people dressed in costumes? Then keep track of Robot Heart’s pending warehouse locations. For Columbia intellectuals and downtown nerds looking to unwind, the Museum of Natural History hosts their “One Step Beyond” parties at the Rose Planetarium — letting you dance under the planets of our solar system. And for those in the know, the Pop-Up club scene is still floating around the city.
2. Blue Skies, Big Meals
Enjoy the big open sky at many of the outdoor restaurants sprinkled across New York. I would highly recommend exploring the burger, beer, and band scene on the “Frying Pan” boat docked at Pier 66. Dance with a diverse crowd, eat gluttonously, and watch the sunset fall over the Hudson River.
3. Blooming Trees and Stomping Feet
The city’s diverse plant life is coming out of its own winter slumber — and there are plenty of places to enjoy a little nature. The High Line park is expanding every year, offering a beautiful boardwalk over the city’s streets, laden with benches, bushes, and bars. The stunning Brooklyn Botanical Gardens offer immersive walks through cherry blossoms, lush meadows, rock gardens, conservatories, and a bonsai tree museum. I've also heard legend of a large park, positioned centrally somewhere on the island of Manhattan. If you don’t need trees to enjoy a good walk, join other foot enthusiasts on the Great Saunter — enjoying the outline of Manhattan at 3mph.
4. Peacocks On Parade
Now that it’s warm enough, everyone with a cause to celebrate will be filling our streets with their very own parade. Sure you could get spiritual at the Falun Gong parade, sing at the inexplicably popular Albanian parade or show support at the Gay pride parade. But why not study the cultural history of dance itself at the Dance Parade? Chronologically ordered performances will take you through the evolution of dance from African tribes and Samba to Ballet and Ballroom. The procession ends at Tompkins Square Park where the party keeps going till 7 p.m.
5. Let’s Get Weird
For the crowds that like to ride the subway in their underwear and explore abandoned stations, the sunshine season offers plenty of places to get weird out in the open. The Sakura Matsuri festival is the 2-day culmination of the Hanami season, celebrating Japanese culture with a healthy dose of costume cosplay and dance shows. If you’re looking to get some aggression out of your system, bring a pillow to New York’s annual pillow fight on April 6. A more culturally acceptable alternative is the Phagwah Parade — celebrating the Holi festival by smashing your friends (and thousands of strangers) with brightly colored powder balls.
6. Sunshine Cinema
The show must go on, and films will still sustain their audiences — even outside the cold confines of a dark theater. Bryant Park offers a film series on the lawn in front of the New York public Library — bring a blanket and picnic to enjoy some classic films with friends. The Rooftop Films series bounces between various locations, and prefaces each film with musical shows, followed by a nice after-viewing party as well. Central Park has an enjoyable setting, as does the Riverside Park south pier. Not to mention the 11th year of our city’s very own Indie film magnet: the Tribeca Film Festival.
7. Art, Art Everywhere
The city has dozens of museums and galleries to enjoy year-round, but some exhibits are saved for the sunnier seasons and heavier crowds. If you’re hoping to explore all the big venues — check out the Gravity and Grace display at the Brooklyn Museum, the Gutai: Splendid Playground exhibit at the Guggenheim, the throwback NYC 1993: Jetset, Trash and No Star series at the New Museum, the Impressionists, Fashion and Modernity show at the Met and the Atlas of Modern Landscapes at the MoMA. The Frieze Art Fair will also be returning to Randal’s island this year — promising a wide array of large outdoor art projects scattered along the water front.
8. Trash and Treasure
Students are leaving, fresh-faced employees are arriving and everyone has a lot of vintage crap they want to get rid of. Prepare to enhance your unique New York attire, with a collection of flea market goods throughout the city. Brooklyn Flea is reliable for all sorts of fashion styles, food, furniture and flowers. Green Flea is better suited for those who like an old school touch. The Market is too cool for labels, and I will therefore avoid donning it with any. And if you really want to mix antiquity with a strong sense of irony, Hell’s Kitchen antique’s garage is always available to cater to your needs.
9. Flowers, Rollerblades, and Milkshakes
Haven’t been on rollerblades since the 90s? Join the Central Park Dance Skaters near Sheep’s Meadow every Saturday and Sunday. Want to remember what flowers look like? Visit the New York Botanical Garden for the 11th annual Orchid Show. And when you’re ready for a succulent spring milkshake, you can’t go wrong with Lexington Candy Shop or Big Daddy’s.
10. Outside the City Lights
The only recommendation I will push for, outside of the city’s cement confines — is the Hudson River Valley Storm King Art Center. Explore over 100 monumental sculptures scattered over hundreds of acres of beautiful grassy scenery. You can walk, bike, or run through a massive, imaginative garden of creativity with your friends. A day trip well worth leaving NYC for … as long as you come back!