Best theater for children: The New Victory Theater


Each year, experimental but youth-friendly productions are imported from around the world to this refurbished historic playhouse. When it reopened 20 years ago, it was a key feature of the newly cleaned-up 42nd Street. 209 W. 42nd St., 646-223-3010,


Best character actor: Danny Burstein


This versatile, five-time Tony nominee, who is currently appearing in "Cabaret" and has earned acclaim in numerous supporting roles, will finally take the lead next season in a new Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof."


Best Broadway hangout: 54 Below


With the demise of the Café Edison coming soon, the next best place to run into theater industry professionals and fans would be this recently opened nightclub, which has been offering terrific theater-related programming. 254 W. 54th St., 646-476-3551,


Best Off-Broadway hangout:The Public Theater


After years of construction, the Public Theater's new multistory lobby includes a bar, plenty of space for reading or hanging out, a supper club and an elaborate "Shakespeare Machine" chandelier. 425 Lafayette St., 212-539-8500,


Best place to see a musical: City Center


Although some productions are better than others, the Encores! series at City Center, which presents rarely seen musicals each year with Broadway-caliber casts and production values, is an invaluable part of the theater landscape. 131 W. 55th St., 212-581-1212,


Best place to recycle your books: The Strand


We're a literate city with a tiny amount of space, so when you're done reading the latest Haruki Murakami or Lena Dunham, why not turn that into your next literary adventure? Bring your old (and gently used) books down to this venerable institution, where you can sell your books for cash or credit and turn that thing taking up space on your shelf into your new subway reading material. Again and again. 828 Broadway, 212-473-1452,


Best place to see A-list stand-up: Carolines


This stalwart stand-up club not only brings you the best up-and-coming comedians, but also some of the biggest names in the business of laughs. Just through the rest of the year you can laugh your way through sets from Gilbert Gottfried, Norm MacDonald, Kevin Nealon, Damon Wayans, Judy Gold and Dave Attell. 1626 Broadway, 212-757-4100,


Best place to prepare for the 800 superhero movies out next year: Midtown Comics


Whether you need to bone up on your Batman or study your Spider-Man, this comic store (there are three around the city, and satellite stores in FAO Schwarz and the Toys 'R' Us in Times Square) has everything you need to know to be up to date when you get to the cinema for the next "Avengers," "Fantastic Four," and so on. Downtown, 64 Fulton St., Grand Central, 459 Lexington Ave., Times Square, 200 W. 40th St., 212-302-8192,


Best place to see classic rock: Beacon Theatre


Rock it old school at this massive concert hall where some of your favorite bands from back in the day come to take you back to your youth, from dancing with yourself and Billy Idol to showing your true colors with Cyndi Lauper. 2124 Broadway, 212-465-6500,


Best place to see the next 'Saturday Night Player': UCB Theatre


Getting tickets to see "Saturday Night Live" isn't easy, but getting to see some of the next big Not Ready For Prime Time Players, or just the next big comedy star, for that matter, is considerably easier. Chelsea, 307 W. 26th St., 212-366-9176, East Village, 153 E. Third St., 212-366-9231,


Best place to rock and shop: Rough Trade NYC


A record store and a music venue seems so obvious, but it's taken a long time for that to properly hit New York City. This newish Brooklyn spot is a mecca for CDs and vinyl, not to mention the place to hear both popular indie-rock bands and the ones that people will soon be talking about. Here's your chance to get ahead of the curve. 64 N. Ninth St., Williamsburg, 718-388-4111, rough tradenyc.comBest midnight movies: IFC CenterVenues across the city offer a great selection of midnight movies, but IFC Center stands out by placing a premium on great films such as recent offerings "Taxi Driver," "The Shining" and "Jurassic Park," and interesting themes, like "Time Travelers." 323 Sixth Ave., 212-924-7771, ifccenter.comBest themed screenings: NitehawkWilliamsburg's Nitehawk is an awesome place to see a movie for a lot of reasons -- the food, the seats -- but it never quite gets its due for the high-quality programming. This month, there's a midnight series devoted to U.K. horror and a brunch series called "Oh, the Drama," which includes "Pretty in Pink" and "My Own Private Idaho." 136 Metropolitan Ave., 718-384-3980,


Best theater for splurging: AMC Loews Lincoln Square IMAX


It's real simple: If you want to see an IMAX movie in New York City this is your only option at a multiplex. Everything else is faux-MAX, a fake, an imitator. So it's worth the price. 1998 Broadway, 212-336-5020Best deal: Williamsburg CinemasNo multiplex in the five boroughs offers more opportunities to see a first-run flick for $8. Tuesdays and Thursdays are $8 days from morning until night for most movies; matinees before 5 p.m. during the week and 2 p.m. on weekends are $8 as well except for certain films. 217 Grand St., 718-210-2955,


Best theater for hidden gems: Anthology Film Archives


If you're in search of an esoteric masterpiece, a movie you simply can't find anywhere else or just a flat-out great repertory screening, this is the place for you. The movie marathons are a must for film buffs. 32 Second Ave., 212-505-5181,


Best film festival: BAM Cinemafest


Everyone knows the New York Film Festival is great, but it's about time more movie fans caught on to the great work being done at BAM and, specifically, this centerpiece June event which screens many of the best and most interesting independent films each year (the 2014 event kicked off with "Boyhood").


The most buzzworthy art show of the year that you can still see: 'Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs'


The latest blockbuster exhibition of the year is currently up at the MoMA. "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs" explores the groundbreaking artist's practice of making colorful, abstract pieces out of cut paper. The works range from small, simple ones to dazzling, wall-stretching creations to full-room installations. Thanks to the popularity of the exhibition, timed tickets are required. Days typically sell out, too, so time your visit carefully. Through Feb. 8, 2015; 11 W. 53rd St., 212-708-9400,


Most remarkable art event of the year: Kara Walker's 'A Subtlety'


Kara Walker's first large-scale public installation drew lines around the block of the former Domino Sugar Factory this past spring to see the "marvelous sugar baby" -- a sphinx-like woman comprised of 30 tons of sugar that references slavery during the 19th-century sugar trade. If you weren't among the more than 130,000 people who saw the monumental piece, you'll have a second chance, sort of. On Nov. 21, Sikkema Jenkins & Co. will open an exhibition of Walker's work titled "Afterword" that will feature notes and drawings involved in the installation's creation, as well as the left fist of the sugar sphinx. Through Jan. 17, 2015; 530 W. 22nd St., 212-929-2262,