The Very Best of NYC 2013: Playdates

This group of places to might bring back memories of how you launched your dream here

BEST FOLKING VENUE
Jalopy Theatre and School of Music 315 Columbia St, Brooklyn, jalopy.biz. Situated between Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, this hidden gem will make the commute worth it. Take a tuneful trip back in time as bands play classic folk, blues, roots and Americana anthems. Sign up for ukulele, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and guitar classes too.  

BEST LITTLE-KNOWN SCENIC TOUR
Carol Bove Caterpillar at the High Line W 34th St, btw 11th and 12th Aves, art.thehighline.org/project/carolbove/. The High Line is scenic on its own, but you can escape the crowds on a free 45-minute tour of this High Line art installation. And bring your camera. Even if art isn’t your jam, you’ll fall in love with the breathtaking city views.  

BEST B-BALL AND BABE ACTION
New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, wnba.com/liberty/. WNBA fans, get ready to celebrate New York Liberty's triumphant return to Madison Square Garden! If you haven't yet nabbed season tickets for 2014, check the team's website, where you'll find info about new amenities, such as Delta Club access, and other season ticket holder perks.  

BEST GIFT OF GAB
The Moth StorySLAM locations vary, themoth.org/events. One of the smartest series on the spoken-word circuit, The Moth StorySLAM features ordinary folks telling humorous, poignant stories before a live audience. See the show in person, or download the free podcasts.

BEST UNCROWDED MOVIE THEATER
Regal Battery Park 102 North End Ave, regmovies.com.Why sit surrounded by movie theater masses when you can watch the latest flicks practically alone at this out-of-the-way megaplex? See the top blockbusters without being elbowed or distracted by audience commentary.

BEST VENUE FOR THE VERTICALLY CHALLENGED
Irving Plaza 17 Irving Pl, venue.irvingplaza.com. An astonishing assortment of music and theater acts takes the stage at Irving Plaza, and if you’re on the shorter end of the height spectrum, the sightlines guarantee that you'll be able to see the show.

BEST WAY TO GET ON THE WATER
Staten Island Ferry 1 Bay St, Staten Island, si ferry.com. Feeling contemplative? Need a scenic date spot? Or just want to catch a stunning view of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty? Hop on the big orange ferry and enjoy the 30-minute ride each way.

BEST OFFLINE LOLS
Comedy Cellar 117 MacDougal St, comedycellar .com. It’s easy to get stressed out while living in New York. Since laughter is the best medicine, submit your Rx to the Comedy Cellar for the maximum dose of giggles, chortles and belly laughs. Comic heavy-hitters like Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Dave Attell and Aziz Ansari have all rocked the mic here.

BEST ROCK N’ BOWL
Brooklyn Bowl 61 Wythe Ave, brooklynbowl .com. There’s nothing better than a venue offering the best of both worlds: Live music and bowling. Brooklyn Bowl has a lineup of top bands onstage and a dance floor primed for shaking what Mama gave you. If the music isn’t your jam, take your aggression out on some bowling pins!

BEST PLACE FOR MONKEY BUSINESS
Prospect Park Zoo 450 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, prospectparkzoo.org. Take your niece or nephew for an educational and entertaining field trip to this petite zoo. You'll see nature’s cutest inhabitants plus walk along the Discovery Trail, visit the farm, or stop by the Animals in Art exhibit. And don’t forget to say hello to the zoo mascots—a troop of Hamadryas baboons.

BEST SECOND-DATE SPOT
Café Wha 115 MacDougal St, cafewha.com. You've gone through the first-date butterflies and getting-to-know-yous. Why not be a rock star and take your new lady friend to the venue where Jimi Hendrix was discovered? Bust a move to the house band before making the next move on your date.

BEST PLACE TO CHEER
Brooklyn Cyclones 1904 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, brooklyncyclones.com. You can’t beat a day at the ballpark, and the Cyclones make the fun affordable. Tickets are just $10 on Wednesdays; on Thursdays, your regular-price ticket gets you a Cyclones jersey.

BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR ROCKS OFF
Brooklyn Boulders Rock Gym 575 Degraw St, Brooklyn, brooklynboulders.com. Tired of the treadmill? Try out the rock-climbing walls at Brooklyn Boulders. The gym is open until midnight, and offers $30 student discounts. With challenging courses to hone your skills, you’ll work muscle groups you never knew existed.

BEST FREE CULTURE
The Bronx Museum of the Arts 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx, bronxmuseum.org. This under-the-radar cultural gem currently features an exhibition of work by Tony Feher (through February 16). The American sculptor has created post-minimalist artworks from recycled and found objects. Best of all? It’s free.

BEST SPOT TO BANISH BOREDOM
La Soiree 100 E 17th St, la-soiree.com. Laugh, gasp, go red in the face—and think about going back for another round. Naughty is the name of the game during this freaky feast of fun. If you've got kids, leave them at home with the babysitter. This show is strictly for grownups.

BEST TIME TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
The Cloisters 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, Fort Tryon Park, metmuseum.org. The Cloisters museum and gardens, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, takes you on a spectacular trip through time via the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Marvel at the magnificent stained glass pieces and mysterious sculptures of revered saints. The enclosed gardens feature plants used for medicine, food and magic in the Middle Ages.

BEST EDUCATIONAL EATERY
The International Culinary Center 462 Broadway, internationalculinary center.com. Sharpen your skills in the kitchen, or just impress your in-laws at Thanksgiving. Sign up for a day course and learn how to make your own pasta, how to use fresh herbs and spices, and how to take culinary creations to the next level. Get deliciously messy making your own chocolate truffles!

BEST PARTICIPATORY THEATER
Sleep No More 530 W 27th St, sleep nomorenyc.com. It's not for the squeamish. But for those who don’t mind a little blood, nudity and a well-executed dramatic performance, this is the experience for you. The McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea provides the home for Punchdrunk's interactive, film noir spectacle.

BEST UNPRETENTIOUS GALLERY
The Invisible Dog 51 Bergen St, Brooklyn, the invisibledog.org. There is greatness around every corner at this Cobble Hill performance art space. Recent visiting artists include Raja Feather Kelly, dancer/choreographer of the feath3r theory, in Andy Warhol's DRELLA (I love you Faye Driscoll).

BEST VARIETY SHOWS
The Slipper Room 167 Orchard St, slipperroom.com. How about a night of cheeky entertainment? The Slipper Room is bursting at the seams with burlesque and variety show skits. Glitter Gutter, a weekly burlesque, variety and sideshow, and a rotating lineup of tassel twirlers.

BEST PROOF THAT PRINT ISN’T DEAD
Gowanus Print Lab 54 Second Ave, Brooklyn, gowanusprintlab.com. Newbies, and those with a little more paint under their fingernails, can sign up to learn basic screen printing techniques, make stationery items, create wallpaper designs, print in 3D and other futuristic skills.

BEST PUBLIC PUBLIC RADIO
The Greene Space at WNYC 44 Charlton St, thegreenespace. org. WNYC, repository of NYC's culture and arts, built the Greene Space to bring the public closer to its productions. Check the calendar for upcoming special events. You can even sign up for a chance to be included in the fifth annual Battle of the Boroughs Talent Quest.

BEST VIEW OF MIDTOWN
Gantry Plaza at Hunter’s Point 474 48th Ave, Queens, gantrypark.com. This scenic, waterside haven gives Long Island City residents a place to unwind. Its best feature is an especially spectacular view of midtown Manhattan, but there are also built-in chess board tables, a riverside boardwalk and a dog run.

BEST BESPOKE TAILORS
Bindle & Keep bindleandkeep.com. Brooklyn-based bespoke clothiers Bindle & Keep’s charming take on customer service brings the fancy to you. Bespoke suits, shirts and coats for any occasion/occupation are dreamed up and perfected in a series of private fittings in the client’s home or office. Whether you’re a boi or a grrl, you will look irresistibly dashing—behold actress/filmmaker Kelly Sebastian (above) in her B&K wedding suit.

BEST PLACE TO TRY YOUR LUCK
Resorts World Casino 110-00 Rockaway Blvd, rwnewyork.com. When you’re feeling lucky, head to Resorts World Casino and explore the tables and slots scattered throughout its two floors. Don't miss the action at the onsite entertainment venue, Central Park. If you love '90s freestyle, you’ll be psyched to hear that George Lamond, Stevie B, Lisette Melendez and similar artists will rock the New York Freestyle Reunion III Dance Party on January 18!

BEST HISTORICAL DISTILLERY
Kings County Distillery Tour Brooklyn Navy Yard Sands Street Gate, Brooklyn, kingscountydistillery.com. On Saturday afternoons, $8 gets you into a 45-minute tour of New York’s oldest still-operating whiskey distillery. You’ll discover how its whiskey is made, learn about making your own moonshine and see the barrels where products are aged. The tour ends with a stroll through the Boozeum, where you can sample some of this nectar of the gods.

BEST PLACE TO FIND YOUR CHAKRAS
YogaSole 254 Windsor Pl, Brooklyn, yogasole.com. Practicing yoga can be a little daunting, particularly for those of us who lack the gifts of flexibility and patience. Thanks to the warm, knowledgeable and nurturing teachers on staff at YogaSole, you too will believe that yoga is for everyone.

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