Best of New York: Entertain yourself, Gotham style
BEST PLACE TO SEE ANCIENT ARTIFACTS
Discovery Times Square
226 W. 44th St., 866-987-9692, discoverytsx.com
While the current exhibit is about spies and "Harry Potter: The Exhibition" returns on Nov. 3, this exhibition space often holds incredible historical showcases, covering everything from China's Terracotta Warriors to the Dead Sea Scrolls and, our favorite, Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop. The displays wind through spaces filled with artifacts, treasures and intricate recreations. It's an especially great venue if getting to Pompeii or Egypt is out of your budget.
BEST PLACE TO SEE HIP, MODERN ARTWORK
Jonathan LeVine Gallery
529 W. 20th St., #9, 212-243-3822, jonathanlevinegallery.com
This Chelsea gallery is your best bet to see a works inspired by comics, graffiti, and pop culture. Its upcoming exhibitions include Ashley Wood's "Machine Sabbath," which opens on Oct. 20 with Jeremy Geddes' "exhale." Wood is a veteran comic book artist with a loose, stark style and Geddes is an artist out of Australia who is bringing 17 works to display in the U. S. for the first time.
BEST PLACE TO GET CHEAP READS
The Strand Bookstore
828 Broadway, 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com
This New York City institution's 18 miles of books is long documented, but the truth is that the Strand's dense aisles of literature are a treasure for New Yorkers looking for the next great read. From the latest thriller to classic novels to a unique vintage tome, you'll likely find whatever you're looking for here, often used and at a great price. Beyond the books, the store also offers a strong book talk and signing program.
BEST PLACE TO HELP A CHARITY WHILE BUYING STUFF
Housing Works Bookstore Café
126 Crosby St., 212-334-3324, housingworks.org
Housing Works is a charity organization that helps people affected by HIV/AIDS. To help fund its mission, it has thrift shops and its bookstore cafe, which are run by volunteers with all profits going to the charity. Their bookstore has an impressive collection of books, DVDs and other media, as well as the cafe in the back, so you can enjoy some coffee as you browse. And if you've got books you're looking to donate, bring them here.
BEST PLACE TO SEE A BIG-TIME AUTHOR
Barnes & Noble Union Square
33 E. 17th St., 212-253-0810, bn.com
How cliche are we to pick a massive commercial bookstore for a best of list? Pretty cliche. But when it comes to top-notch book signings and discussions, we have to hand it to Barnes & Noble Union Square, which regularly has a stellar list of authors coming to town. Just through the end of this year, the store is hosting Tom Wolfe, R.L. Stine, Mark Bowden, Alexander McCall Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer, Oliver Stone, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, Tony Bennett, Denis Leary and a ton of others. Convinced?
BEST PLACE TO GET YOUR FIX OF BATMAN
200 W. 40th St., 459 Lexington Ave., 64 Fulton St., 212-302-8192, midtowncomics.com
The three locations of Midtown Comics are sure to fill your comic book needs whether you're a regular on new comic book Wednesdays - where Midtown's shelves are always well stocked - or you just stop by to stock up on graphic novels. While their selection skews toward the superhero fare of Marvel and DC Comics, you'll have no problem finding manga or comics such as the latest Alison Bechdel or "The Walking Dead."
BEST PLACE TO SEE AN ACTOR FROM "30 ROCK"
307 W. 26th St., 212-366-9176, ucbtheatre.com
It's not unusual to see folks like Scott Adsit and John Lutz at this sketch comedy haven. But even if you're not seeing someone you recognize from television, this venue offers serious value - most shows are $5-$10 - and serious hilarity. Some of the must-see events include "Harold Night" on Tuesdays and the popular "Asssscat 3000" shows on Sundays.
BEST PLACE TO GET THE NEW RELEASE FROM THE BAND ALL THE HIPSTERS ARE LISTENING TO
15 E. Fourth St., 212-477-8150, othermusic.com
If the name Godspeed You! Black Emperor means something to you, or if you've seen Grizzly Bear, but not in a zoo, then Other Music should be your destination for new music. Even the most ardent music snob will find a sonic treasure at this independent music store.
BEST PLACE TO SEE BROADWAY STARS DO THEIR OWN THING
254 W. 54th St., 646-476-3551, 54below.com
Presented as "Broadway's Living Room," this new cabaret spot - located below the old Studio 54 - was designed by and features a creative team of Tony winners. What we're getting at here is that this hotspot has great pedigree and in its young existence (it only opened in June), has already drawn a slew of top notch Broadway talent. Upcoming performances include Laura Osnes ("Anything Goes"), Melissa Errico ("Amour") and Liz Callaway ("Miss Saigon").
BEST PLACE TO SEE PAT KIERNAN LIVE
The Bell House
149 Seventh St., Gowanus, 718-643-6510, thebellhouseny.com
The NY1 morning anchor and deliverer of "In the Papers" each morning (and Pat, we expect to get a shout out!) hosts trivia nights here, with the next one - "The Ultimate Halloween Pop Culture Trivia Night" - coming up on Oct. 29. But there's a lot more to this Brooklyn venue than just trivia. It draws top musical acts, (Nov. 2, Crooked Fingers; Fountains of Wayne, Nov. 8), comedy performances (Todd Barry, Sarah Silverman and Janeane Garofalo, Nov. 1) and other unique events (The Moth Storyslam, Nov. 5; the Fifth Annual Imagine Science Film Festival with the Secret Science Club, Nov. 14).
BEST PLACE TO SEE A ROCK SHOW
6 Delancey St., 212-533-2111, boweryballroom.com
There might be bigger venues and cozier spots, but Bowery Ballroom is just right for a rocking concert experience. The nearly 800-person capacity concert hall lands top acts, and while it skews toward indie- and alternative-rock bands, it does bring in groups from a wide variety of genres. And it's even better if you can score a coveted railing spot on the balcony.
BEST PLACE TO EXPAND YOUR VINYL COLLECTION
J&R Music & Computer World
23 Park Row, 212-238-9000, jr.com
This NYC electronics store opened in 1971, and when you check out its ample supply of vinyl records for sale, you might think it's still the early '70s. Go fill out your record collection with everything from the latest indie releases to all the classics, and while you're there, check out the massive electronics section for a new turntable or speakers, so you can enjoy every hiss and pop.
BEST "BREAD-AND-BUTTER" MULTIPLEX
Regal Battery Park Stadium 11
102 North End Ave., 212-945-3418, regmovies.com
Lower Manhattan's lone multiplex, tucked away just north of the World Financial Center and practically obscured from view by the Goldman Sachs Tower, the Battery Park theater offers comfortable stadium seating, enormous screens, the latest Hollywood releases and - most importantly - few of the unruly crowds that populate many of its counterparts uptown.
BEST PLACE TO CHECK OUT A MIDNIGHT FLICK
323 Sixth Ave., 212-924-7771, ifccenter.com
The IFC Center isn't just for midnight movies, of course. It offers a range of high-quality first-run and repertory programming. But if you're looking for some cinematic fun at 12 a.m., you can't do better than this Greenwich Village outpost, which has hosted everything from a "Ghostbusters" shadowcast to the cult classic "Birdemic: Shock and Terror" and actual classics such as "Jaws."
BEST PLACE TO SEE A MOVIE YOU WON'T FIND ANYWHERE ELSE
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Ave., 212-505-5181, anthologyfilmarchives.org
New York is a film buff's dream. You can find everything from big-studio schlock to the tiniest of indie films on the Big Apple's big screens. But even within that crowded, robust world, Anthology Film Archives stands apart. It's the place to go for the rarest of rare cinematic breeds: a film from Quebecois filmmaker Denis Côté, say, or Andy Warhol's eight-hour opus "Empire," and other experimental oddities. Whatever the case, Anthology is a treasure, showing movies you simply will not find playing anywhere else.
BEST OLD-SCHOOL CINEMA
141 W. 54th St., 212-765-7600, clearviewcinemas.com
The hotspot for flashy Hollywood red carpet premieres has reportedly faced some hard times, with the New York Post reporting that the midtown institution could face closure. If so, it'd be a tremendous loss: With its ornate lobby, huge screen and movie palace decor, the theater is one of the few remaining places in New York City that offer some kind of a taste of what moviegoing used to be.
BEST PLACE TO SEE A MOVIE AND THEN LEARN ABOUT IT
Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave., Astoria, 718-777-6888, movingimage.us
As the home of Silvercup Studios and Kaufman Astoria Studios, Queens is the ideal place for a movie museum. The borough's refurbished Museum of the Moving Image offers a sleek, comprehensive behind-the-scenes immersion in the world of movies, great educational programs and all sorts of well-curated film series featuring movies new and old.