The best things to do in NYC for locals and tourists

Experience the absolute best things to do in NYC with this epic guide to essential eats, drinks, culture, parks and more

1. Get into MoMA for free

UNIQLO NYC Nights offers free admission to NYC residents on the first Friday of every month from 4 to 8pm.

Photo: Kurt Heumiller, © 2021 The Museum of Modern Art.

Why go? On these days, you'll get to explore the museum during extended hours and enjoy its second-floor café and Museum store.

Don't miss: MoMA's upcoming exhibits "Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme: May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth" (Apr 23–Jun 26) and "Henri Matisse: The Red Studio" (May 1–Sep 10).

2. See Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects

The Grolier Club has the first comprehensive Sherlock Holmes exhibition in New York City in more than half a century.

Photo: Charlie Rubin

The exhibit is free!

Don't miss: Doyle's never-before-displayed handwritten speech detailing his explanation for killing off Holmes.

3. Take in the Orchid Show

This year's Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden is designed by floral designer (to the stars!) Jeff Leatham

Photo: Shaye Weaver/Time Out New York

It is kaleidoscope-themed with playful, colorful and reflective floral works. Thousands of orchids of every shape and color imaginable (even turquoise) have their moment in the grand kaleidoscope of the show.

4. Do LES Gallery Nights

A free, monthly self-guided tour of local art galleries on the Lower East Side.

Photo: @artontheavenyc

Participating galleries and studios stay open after hours to allow visitors to interact with the work and the neighborhood in a new way. And yes, it’s all free!

Don't miss: It takes place the third Thursday of every month, from 4pm–8pm, with dozens of spaces to stop into, all organized via Google Map.

5. Get immersed in the major Basquiat exhibition

An immersive exhibition that features a wide range of mediums including paintings, drawings, multimedia, ephemera and artifacts that will both give a broader understanding of the artist

Photo: courtesy of "Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure"

Basquiat's sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, who run The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat along with their stepmother Nora Fitzpatrick, are actually behind the exhibition along with sponsors like Spotify, Yieldstreet, VICE, Phillips and Arper.

Don't miss: The "KINGS COUNTY" section—an overview of Jean-Michel’s childhood in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico with an environmental recreation of his home, ephemera and early works.

6. Jettison over to this major Star Wars fan exhibit

"The Fans Strike Back," the largest Star Wars Fan exhibit.

Photo: Time Out

It has collectibles and figurines, life-size figures and famous costumes, more than 50 one-of-a-kind sculptures, armor, lightsabers, blasters, helmets, masks and more.

Don't miss: The life-size Jabba The Hutt figure, a six-foot-tall reconnaissance droid, a recreation of the Emperor's throne room and the Starkiller Base command bridge, and full-size models of a speeder bike and pod racer.

7. Get romantic at The Met's Date Nights

Gives visitors an opportunity to become acquainted with artwork with informal drop-in gallery chats, the chance to listen in on gorgeous live music and sip on yummy cocktails.

It's pay-what-you-wish!

Don't miss: Performances like include the celebrated contemporary string quartet ETHEL in the American Wing Café as well as a special edition of Juilliard’s ChamberFest featuring performances in the European Paintings galleries.

8. Visit The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem has been transformed into the Half Note jazz club from Disney/Pixar's "Soul".

Photo: Shaye Weaver/Time Out New York

It showcases incredible artifacts from major players in Harlem's jazz scene.

Don't miss: Duke Ellington’s white grand piano, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis' tenor saxophone, a player piano and a working 78rpm Victrola.

9. Have a night at the intimate piano bar at Fraunces

Fraunces Tavern just opened a Piano Bar Upstairs.

The intimate room above The Independence Bar is soaked in a shade of cerulean across its paneled walls, with pops of color on tufted red banquettes and gilded picture frames.

Beer, wine, all manner of cocktails and a dedicated list of gin and tonics are all available, in addition to broad-appeal snacks, apps and entrées.

Live piano music, of course, is also on the menu.

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