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10 Epic Things to Do in New York City Now

Come summer, the Big Apple heats up with new restaurant openings, museum exhibits and al fresco activities. Here are the 10 best spots in New York City now.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Bottom left photo courtesy of James Beard


EAT: abcV

Foodies have been chomping at the bit ever since word first leaked that chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten was opening his first vegetarian restaurant. That was in 2013. It finally came to fruition this spring, joining his ABC empire's two other outposts (ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina) in the ABC Carpet & Home in Union Square. As you may have guessed, abcV is about all things veggie and vegan—though the flavors, courtesy of head chef Neal Harden (formerly of Pure Food & Wine), are full and complex in dishes like crispy mushrooms with sunchoke chips and dosas filled with yogurt and avocado or maple syrup and butter. The room itself even echoes that "light and fresh" concept, with stark white walls and tables punctuated by pops of color in the form of neon green accent chairs, blush pink mugs, and a wall-length banquette lined with orange, maroon, and magenta stripes.

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SEE: Hello, Dolly!

Broadway’s fourth revival of the 1964 classic musical Hello, Dolly!, which opened in Sam S. Shubert Theatre April 20, is arguably its best iteration yet. Bette Midler and David Hyde Pierce shine in their starring roles—Rolling Stone has hailed Midler “the new queen of Broadway” while the LA Times writes, “Rarely has an exclamation point in a title been earned as thoroughly”—but critics are quick to inform show-goers that these stars are the “icing on the cake” rather than the sole reason to go. In a show already beloved for its soaring, spirited numbers, the costumes are even more bright and theatrical, the sets equally so, while the choreography preserves the original staging. This is this season’s answer to Hamilton, and tickets are already proving just as hard to come by.

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Photos by Paul Wagtouicz and Liz Clayman, courtesy of Porchlight


DO: Hudson Yards

The opening of Porchlight, Danny Meyer’s Southern-inspired bar concept way over on 11th Avenue, seemed premature a year and a half ago. At the time, Manhattan’s Far West Side was nothing more than a gritty, multi-block wasteland of industrial buildings, car dealerships, and parking lots. But Hudson Yards, as the area is now known, is starting to pick up. Rezoning has brought in a wave of luxury condo high-rises (many are still in development), and with them new businesses opening up in anticipation of the big boom. Whitmans, an East Village favorite loved for its made-to-order burgers, has debuted its second branch near 30th St. and 10th, while Death Ave Brewing Company is drawing cocktail lovers with its mixologist-made drinks, Greek comfort food, and speakeasy-style microbrewery. On warmer nights, you’ll find city dwellers hanging out on the newest extension of the High Line, which threads through the neighborhood.

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SEE: Irving Penn Centennial at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

There’s never a bad time to visit NYC’s Museum Mile—a lengthy stretch of Fifth Avenue that’s home to The Guggenheim, The Jewish Museum, The Neue Galerie, and more—but this spring, The Met will be the talk of the town thanks to their forthcoming Irving Penn Centennial. Opening in late April, the comprehensive celebration of the American photographer’s 70-year career will display more than 200 of his most iconic images—a huge chunk of which were gifted to the museum by the Irving Penn Foundation back in 2015. Come in expecting portraits of household names like Truman Capote, Picasso, and Ingmar Bergman, as well as still lifes of Peruvian children, urban laborers, and New Guinean tribesmen.

April 24-July 30

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DO: Rooftop Cinema Club

All too often, movie theater experiences include one or more of the following: soda-sticky floors, popcorn-strewn aisles, and obnoxious movie-goers who seemingly can’t detach themselves from their iPhone 7. Skip all that in favor of a show with a view, and join the Rooftop Cinema Club for a screening in either Manhattan—on the rooftop terrace of YOTEL in Times Square (with drinks available from Green Fig)—or Brooklyn—on the top floor of East Williamsburg’s Office Ops (BYO booze). At both locations, you’ll find cult classics, Disney favorites, and blockbusters, as well as wireless headphones (to drown out chitchat), and cozy deckchairs. On the marquee this spring and summer are Annie Hall, Hidden Figures, Clueless, Moonlight, Mulholland Drive, and more. Tickets sell out fast, so find a movie partner and pick a film fast.

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Photos courtesy of John von Pamer


EAT: Smorgasburg Williamsburg and Prospect Park

If you’ve ever developed an obsession with raindrop cake, wowfulls, or ramen burgers thanks to an endless influx of Instagram posts then—whether you knew it or not— you’re already familiar with Smorgasburg. The flea-market-style food festival (from the founders of Brooklyn Flea) sets up shop every Saturday in Williamsburg—along the waterfront at East River State Park—and Sunday in Prospect Park with more than 100 internet-sensation-delivering vendors. Heads up: this spring’s next great food fads are already being served up by Smorgasburg newbies. We’re talking the spaghetti donuts from Pop Pasta, the halo-halo from Ube Kitchen, and the BBQ chili pie (served in a Doritos bag) from Commissary Kitchen.

Open rain or shine Saturdays and Sundays 11am-6pm April through November

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SEE: CHIHULY at the New York Botanical Garden

If you’ve ever been to the IG goldmine that is Chihuly Garden and Glass—a Seattle-based collection of Dale Chihuly’s ambitious blown glass—then you know the artist’s exhibits aren’t to be missed. Starting in mid-April, the New York Botanical Garden will display 20 specially-made installations (accompanied by films, poetry, and children’s art programs) which will show off his signature use of avant-garde shape and color. See them in the daytime first, but be sure to return for CHIHULY nights when the pieces deliver an even more dramatic effect with the help of a little illumination, live music, and tequila.

Catch the exhibit April 22nd-October 29th

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DRINK: Rooftop Reds

Summer in New York is all about one thing: rooftop bars. So when Rooftop Reds, the world’s first rooftop vineyard opened in Brooklyn Navy Yards last April, we knew it’d be a smash hit. The 15,000-square-foot space centers around a patio covered with close to 200 grapevines to make the delicious house cabs, merlots and malbecs. Plus, there’s a grove of hammocks, picnic tables, cornhole games and an indoor/outdoor tasting room, all overlooking downtown Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline. Go on Thursdays for pizza and movie nights (through September) or on the last Sunday of the month (through the end of August) for a Ribs and Rosé cook-off with Fletcher’s BBQ.

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Photo by Anthony Causi


EAT: The Landmark

The most anticipated restaurant opening of the year, The Landmark, comes courtesy of Major Food Group—y’know, the guys behind NYC cult classics like Carbone, Santina, Dirty French, Sadelle’s and Parm. This massive multi-restaurant venue marks the rebirth of the old Four Seasons’ Seagram Building, a transformation to the tune of $30 million. The Grill debuts first, in May, followed by the seafood-focused The Pool and the Lobster Club (in the former Brasserie), expected to open later this fall. Though the space will be drastically different, the menus and atmosphere stay true to the Four Season’s old-school elegance: waiters dressed in Tom Ford tuxedos push vintage Viennese trolleys (that cost $10,000 a pop) and serve crab Louie, Dover sole Meunière, and spit-roasted prime rib carved tableside.

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SEE: Frank Lloyd Wright at the Museum of Modern Art

There’s always something going on at MOMA. And this summer’s biggest exhibit is a tribute to one of America’s most beloved architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. In honor of his 150th birthday, the museum will display an archive of 450 works from his 60-year career. Expect to see architectural drawings, models, and films displayed along with original furniture, textiles, and photographs.

June 12-October 1

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